Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Enforced slowing...

A number of our family members have been hit with varied health issues over the past few weeks and we're all tired, recovering or still managing illness at the moment.
None of us have the same malady so it's rather befuddling that Blossom, Mr E, Rafaella and I have each 'come a cropper' (as my dear Pop would say) at the same time. 

Little Rafaella was our biggest concern though. As I mentioned last week she was taken to hospital with a very high fever and later discharged when it began to subside. Unfortunately everything flared up again within hours and for the next six days she was a very sick little girl. 

Blossom had been unwell herself and sleepless nights take their toll so as Mr E had finally recovered from his own battle with a nasty infection I brought Cully May over to our house for the day in the hope that Bloss and Rafaella could sleep.

She was wonderful, a live wire as always, but wonderful. She did some shopping with me and we posted parcels away, then home to play. After an hour playing with her sticker book (she LOVES stickers) I brought out some big beads and pasta for her to thread...

This engaged her for another hour, the threading and re-threading being far more important that stopping for afternoon tea although she did request a 'coffee' with her Poppy and I. 
I make her a milk latte and she drinks it from her blue sippy cup, convinced its loaded with coffee. LOL!

When she was finally happy with her necklace I asked if she'd put it on so I could take a photo and she happily obliged but only after making sure I knew "It's for mummy"...

Blossom loved her necklace, though next time it may need to be a little longer. 

Rafaella slowly recovered over the course of a week and when Blossom sent me this photo of our little angel up and about with her dollies and pram it was relief all round.

While my own health challenges are taking a toll life has slowed and this is why you'll notice the lack of blogging. Even this week's book study post was rushed and I apologise for not replying to comments and emails lately. 

I spent all day yesterday in bed with the worst migraine in a decade praying for a reprieve, which actually came today. Thing is, the day after a migraine I feel as though I could conquer the world so naturally I set to work catching up on housework, baking, sewing and business responsibilities.

I have a few different types of migraine and have managed to handle them due to 50 years of enduring them. With seven babies I had no choice but to cope and my pain threshold became naturally very high as I cared for little children during my many migraine episodes.

I have food triggered, light triggered, noise triggered, hunger triggered, weather triggered and fatigue triggered migraines - and have had so for a very long time. Some I can avoid with careful planning or diligence to circumstances, but others arrive with no avenue out. 

(Truly, I have tried every 'remedy' and medicine known to man but to no avail...even my neurologist can't help)

Now a new migraine has joined the gang, facial migraine, and it's the worst of the lot because it causes every bone in my skull to scream with pain, while at the same time my 'regular' migraine is rocking my head and eyes, causing nausea and partial blindness. I started getting these one about a year ago but only once a they come 3 to 4 times a week. 

So all this to explain why there's a lot of enforced slowing around here at the moment, and why I do as much as I can on my good days. Like today.

We've decided to go back to being gluten free for 30 days just to see if there's any affect on the new migraines and as my beloved enjoys a sweet treat with his morning tea, afternoon tea and for dessert at night I made a big batch of gluten free rock cakes and a gluten free choc-caramel slice...

Both are delicious and we all know "happy husband, contented wife" right?

We're praying that being strict with GF will make a difference.
I was going to make my own GF bread as well but decided this is not the time. When things settle down I'll do that but for now the store bought GF bread is fine toasted and smothered in avocado.

Oh, all those pills in the photo are vitamins in case you wondered.

Every day we take vitamin c, niacin, magnesium, vitamin e, phosphotolide choline and a multi vitamin. The only medication we take is Thyroxine because we both have Hashimotos, an auto immune disease. 


I'm using the Hydrangea pattern from Lucy of Attic 24 to use up all the leftover yarn from Rafaella's birthday blanket and as there's no rush or deadline it's very relaxing to do a row each morning as I ponder the day ahead.


Rhonda from the Down to Earth blog has an apron sew-a-long at the moment and as a number of my aprons were destroyed by mould in the January/February floods I thought it was a wonderful prompt to make some new ones.

I went through my rather large box of stitcheries and chose these little redwork motifs, which I'd designed about five years ago but never used, to go across the apron bib.
The apron was to be completed by now but life stepped in. Hopefully I can finish it tomorrow as I'm in dire need of some pretty new aprons.


I'm still working on rows of tulips when I have a chance...

...and I've only a few rows of cross-hatching to do and the final block of Phyllis May's Kitchen will be complete!

Next week, God willing, I'll be putting all the blocks together in one very special project and by the first week of May this long awaited BOM will be open for sign-ups.

Forgive me for putting so much into one blog post but as things are right now I'm wanting to do what I can when I am able.

The May issue of the Rewind Stitchery Club has six sweet stitcheries and a bonus mini quilt pattern...

Membership runs for 12 months and in that time you will receive twelve complete issues of The Rewind Stitchery Club with at least 5 patterns in every issue.

All new members receive a joining gift within 24 hours of their subscription and this is one of my old favourites, the Morning Glory Tea Set which includes a tea cosy, coasters and a foldable tea bag cupboard...

I hope you'll consider joining the fun.

Last night as I lay awake for hours, my head not giving me rest, I prayed for everyone the Lord brought to mind and you know, my heart was overflowing with JOY and I couldn't stop smiling. 
It was the most beautiful few hours and I honestly don't have words enough to describe the experience. 
Pain can be a shackle to your heart, a cage around your mind, and lend your emotions to moods you'd rather not remember when the pain has passed...but like Jesus as He prayed and sweat beads of blood in the garden on the night before His crucifixion, when we are suffering we only need ask the Lord to send a ministering angel to strengthen us and He will be faithful to do so. It allowed Jesus to get up and walk forth unto Calvary (Luke 22:43-44) and God loves us no less so when you need help just ask. 

I am praying for you tonight, that Jesus would meet all your needs and fill every empty space in your heart with LOVE that knows no bounds.


Monday, April 15, 2019

Gentle Domesticity week 13 and free cross stitch...

I truly appreciate how Jane Brocket's book is causing us to look beyond the kitchen, through the washing basket and over the garden gate at the various and interesting ways others express their domestic creativity.

In our reading this week, taken from the chapter on Patterns, we'll look at three mini-topics and the first of those is...


Many years ago, before motherhood, Jane was recuperating from major surgery to improve her chances of having a baby and decided to tackle a cross-stitch pattern. The design she chose will be of no surprise to those of you who've been reading The Gentle Art of Domesticity or following these book study posts - it was a vegetable garden sampler. 

I was quite ready to read Jane's glowing admonishment on the joys and rhythms of the fine art of cross stitch but she stopped me in my tracks.

"I have never been so infuriated by squares and holes in my life. I would look at the pattern one second, transfer my eyes to the fabric the next, and hey presto, the placement would vanish and I could not for the life of me remember where the next stitch went." (page 96)

She struggled on through cabbages, peas and radishes but as soon as she was well enough to get up and about the project was stored away never to be looked upon again, though she did encourage daughter Phoebe years later to stitch simple patterns on cross stitch fabric. Phoebe chose a few bright threads and created a pattern of running stitches...


Just as Jane delights in paintings, book and movies which depict an ordinary domestic life, so she also seeks out poetry on the same subject. 

"The more I look over my store of poems, the more I see that it is the poetry of the ordinary and the domestic that stays in my mind." (page 98)

"Domesticity, ordinary life and simple pleasures are perfectly at home in poetry and I think all domestic artists should have a little pocket in their aprons where they can keep their favourite poems. The poems that cheer you up and make you laugh, the poems that make you cry while you're laughing, the ones that help you see beauty in the ephemeral..." (page 98) 

My taste in poetry isn't quite the same as hers, but that's part of being joyfully unique in how each of us approach all the domestic arts.

A modern day poet, Pablo Neruda's 'Ode to Things' is Jane's particular favourite and she suggests you look it up if you only want to read one poem. Another which appears to run a close second is Wendy Cope's 'The Orange'.

"Poems on domestic themes reflect and enhance patterns of ordinary life and should be seen as valuable currency." (page 98)

….or to be more accurate, Fair Isle Knitting.

"I have a thing about Fair Isle knitting. For me it's the ultimate, the apex, the apogee of colour knitting. It is the reason I learned to knit; I longed to use heaps of colours to create clever patterns..." (page 100)

Jane loved knitting Fair Isle jumpers (sweaters) and cardigans for her young children, then years later she had a go at the more contemporary variations but found herself drawn back to the 'old fashioned' patterns again.

"The thing about Fair Isle is that traditional is best. You simply cannot improve on the stunning patterns set out by the many generations of early knitters." (page 100)

Preferring the OXO based pattern (see above) where it looks like a X is knitted either side of an oval shape, she tells us that there is only one golden rule to follow - no more than two colours can be used in a single row. 

"Amazingly these restrictions give rise to the most incredible range of creative and clever interpretations." (page 100)

I was taught cross stitch as a child and until I was 46 it was the only form of embroidery I knew.
Most of my children (including both boys) were also taught to cross stitch in their younger years as I felt it was a skill they'd one day thank me for - along with being able to sew on a button. 

The last cross stitch project I worked on was back in early 2005, just months before I discovered quilts, patchwork, applique and the surface hand embroidery which quite literally stole my heart.

The design is called The Queenslander by Olga Gostin who has created a series of beautiful Australian homes in cross stitch. 

For the longest time it was my 'dream home', this high set Queenslander with billowing flows of bougainvillea cascading from the verandah…

In fact, these were the first French knots I ever stitched.

Funny thing though, we moved to Queensland just four years after I completed this design and a year later moved into a very similar house. I should explain to those outside of Australia that this style of home is called a Queenslander because we live in a hot, humid and often wet state (when not in drought) and the downstairs was keep open for the breeze to flow through at night and cool everything down, as well as allowing flood waters (we have cyclones and monsoons) to pass through.

I have bougainvillea growing in the garden of our own home now, and though it's spiky stems put some people off, we simply love their effervescent abundance of blooms and colour.

You can see more of Olga Gostin's 'home' patterns here

I can understand why Jane Brocket features cross stitch in her chapter about patterns because those rows and rows of tiny crosses are rather magnificent to see, stacked one above the other, line upon line, coming together and making up a beautiful picture.

Recently I received a beautiful cross stitch gift in the mail for my 60th birthday from the very generous and talented Jan Skinner. Isn't it beautiful!?

This now hangs above our bed where the words of life stitched so wonderfully within offer wisdom to my thoughts at the start of each new day.

I thought it might be nice to share a few sites where you can download some lovely free cross stitch patterns which celebrate the seasons we are now in across the globe.

The Snowflower Diaries has long been a favourite and I'm sad she no longer blogs, but kindly she's left all her free patterns there.
The Autumn pattern for we in the southern hemisphere can be found here

And for those in the northern hemisphere embracing spring this sweet bunny from Sew French Cross Stitch can be found here

If you like Samplers this exquisite stocking from Plum Street Samplers may become your next project.

I think many of us yearn to try something new but there's always the possibility our new craft won't be a 'fit' after all.

With that in mind there's no questions this week but I'd love to hear your stories of the various handcrafts you began but never followed through with. Was it cross stitch like Jane, or patchwork, knitting??

Also, are you a reader of poetry? Is there a poem about domestic life you'd like to share.

Next week we're reading pages 102-107

Every week in the Tuesday book study post I'm encouraging readers and lovers of the gentle domestic life who have a current blog and have blogged about Living the Gentle Domestic Life this year to link their relevant weekly book study post for others to come by, visit their blogs and be inspired. 
 Please do not link to the same post on your blog each week.  Your posts should be new and relevant to the current week's study.
NOTE: If your link is advertising or not a true reflection of the heart for living a gentle domestic life it will be deleted. 
God bless you all so very much!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Gentle domesticity - a life in patterns...

I have to tell you that when I began reading this new chapter on "Patterns" my mind immediately thought of the patterns I regularly write after completing a new design, or the patterns found in fabric, in nature or those drawn by textile artists. 


But Jane begins this chapter by drawing our minds to the rhythms and rituals - 'the patterns' - of every day domestic life. 

"Domesticity requires a measure of patterning and order, structure and routine, for it to function smoothly. Unless we are happy to live in squalor, we accept that we must do certain things to maintain a pleasant domestic environment: cook, clean, wash, tidy, vacuum, shop, decorate, renew and so on..." (page 90)

Jane welcomes the internal rhythms and routines of life within the home, and I find much we agree on.

Reflecting on her thoughts in the opening of this chapter my personal 'patterns', routines and rituals were suddenly made clear and I thought I'd share some of them because I receive many emails asking "how do you achieve so much in your day/week?".

Let me first begin by saying that I genuinely do have a form of OCD and have all my life required order (visual and mental), daily routines, lists and structure. I'm the person who must play by the rules, the one who complains when others horse around during a game of scrabble/monopoly/cards (which always drove my husband and son crazy), the one who crosses off her list throughout the day and then makes a new list for tomorrow of all the things she missed today, the one who is diligent to put all things in their place because all things have a place. 

Now there are many challenges and quirks to my brain's way of coping with life but it seems that in the big scheme of domestic life, having these idiosyncrasies helps enormously when you're running a household and a home-based business.

Monday to Friday my morning pattern never alters. I'm up by 6am, pour a glass of water, read my Bible and generally 'wake up'.

At 6.30 I begin the rituals of making my husband's lunch for work and preparing two refreshing drinks for him to take along (one ginger and one kombucha); cutting up fruit for our breakfast bowls and gathering the cereal and milk; portioning our vitamins; filling the cappuccino machine with water and coffee beans before making coffee; and then serving breakfast out on the back patio at 7am. 
Whilst waiting for my husband to join me I top up the bird feeder and watch as anywhere from one to five cockatoos come down near us to share the first meal of our day.

Once my husband leaves for work things run to a simple pattern of doing the dishes, make the bed, shower and dress, put the washing on, check emails, write a list of need-to-dos for the day and so on.

Having a daily rhythm all week might seem suffocating to some of you, but for me it's fresh air and allows me to avoid that sense of overwhelm which can come about when life tips my schedule over or too many people need more of me than there is to go around.

Other peculiarities which help my day stay on track is something as simple as a regular 1 pm lunch break so that I remember to stop and take time to rest. 
This invariably consists of a curried egg sandwich, grapes and cup of black tea. Having the same lunch every day would not bode well for my husband but I like not having to think about it...

Patterns also flow into certain days of the week - Wash the dog on Monday, change the sheets on Tuesday and Saturday (we live in the tropics), do the groceries on Thursday, vacuum and mop the house on Friday...nearly everything has a routine attached to it so that chores don't pile up. 

By having these domestic living patterns in place time is freed to spend with Blossom and the girls each week and my business work can be attended to as needed. My husband also appreciates the ebb and flow of daily life here at home as this gives him peace of mind and marries well with his own rhythms and habits. 

"The patterns of daily, domestic life can be found mirrored in the gentle arts. All require repeated physical actions and an acceptance that doing things yourself is not always quick and easy. But they also have huge potential for satisfaction, self expression and freedom." (page 90)


Jane loves quilts made from squares. 
When she enlisted the help of her son Tom for the Blue Breeze Quilt he was rather skeptical of her fabric choices - all blue with many touches of yellow or lime green.

"The joy of squares, the one I see in the start of this quilt, is that their simplicity and formality can be exploited to bring together seemingly disparate and chaotic patterns into a pleasing whole." (page 92)

"Patterns with squares appeal enormously. Squares are neat and tidy, each one has exactly the same restrictions of size, angles ands space, yet they have huge potential for the exploration of pattern." (page 92)

Later that day, after baking and icing fairy cake buns for Tom...

"....I realised I was mimicking not only the square pattern of the quilt but also the quilt colours." (page 92)


"I'm still bewildered by gestation patterns...why, for example, does it take me nearly 365 days from the idea, the conception, of a pair of cabled socks to actually knitting them?" (page 94)

Jane also recalled how it took her five years to gestate her first quilt, the pattern purchased in 1999 and yet the quilt not made until 2004.

"The reason for these unpredictable patterns is that I like to turn ideas over in my mind before starting something new. When I was thinking of my first ripple blanket I thought about crochet, bought a book about crochet, tried to teach myself crochet, cried over my inability to crochet, went to a crochet workshop, bought a crochet pattern book, thought a little more about crochet, and then finally went and bought some wool." (page 94)

Everything that makes up a gentle domestic life - the baking, sewing, knitting, crochet, reading, organising, gardening and other pursuits - has a unique organic rhythm and pattern, though you may not have really noticed this in the past.

Over the next week let's observe ourselves to reveal the everyday patterns we follow.

Next week we shall be reading from pages 96-100

*  Is your life patterned with rhythms, routines, rituals? If so, what stands out as those which rarely change.

*  If you have struggled with disorder or dare I say it, chaos, in your home, has anything shared today given you a light bulb moment? What was it?

*  Perhaps you're someone who can wing-it in your domestic life. Are there still patterns within?

*  When it comes to the art of making or learning something different are you a gestator or do you jump right in?

Leave your responses in the comments below so we can all glean and grow from the knowledge and stories shared one to another.


My giveaway winner this month is April Dawn. Congratulations! I've emailed you and can't wait to post your prize.

Every week in the Tuesday book study post I'm encouraging readers and lovers of the gentle domestic life who have a current blog and have blogged about Living the Gentle Domestic Life this year to link their relevant weekly book study post for others to come by, visit their blogs and be inspired. 
 Please do not link to the same post on your blog each week.  Your posts should be new and relevant to the current week's study.
NOTE: If your link is advertising or not a true reflection of the heart for living a gentle domestic life it will be deleted. 

God bless you all so very much!