Thursday, May 28, 2015

My twist on that apron block...

Last week I showed you my early progress sewing the Apron (Kindred Kitchen) block which was shared as a free pattern by the lovely team from Fat Quarter Shop.
I'd decided to add my own little twist to this pretty block as I love the idea of personalizing projects so that they take on true significance in my life, and this being my Year of Gentle Domesticity the addition of a Scripture verse which spoke of my heart for homemaking seemed quite appropriate...
 I also added an extra row of grey pin-dot above and below the block to finish it as a mini quilt and to complete the project the final touch was a pretty fabric flower with vintage button centre...
I finished this sitting quietly yesterday, reflecting on Blossom's intimate 21st birthday dinner and the joy shared across the table with those whom she loves and who love her. 
I'll share photos in a few days, but right now I feel the need to hold them close and private for a little while longer. It truly was a beautiful evening, and we felt your prayers - thank you.

So as I let the memories of twenty one years with a precious young woman to love and nurture fill all the quiet corners of my thoughts yesterday, I hand quilted slowly...
...and created my own mother's birth-day gift to hang on the sewing room door and remind me of what Blossom remembers as being the most important thing I do.

"She watches over the ways of her household." (Proverbs 31:27)

May I never slip from that again as I almost did these past few years when work and income, technology busyness and emails, threatened to become more important than family, home, and God.
You see, I intend leaving a better legacy tomorrow than I have today.
And it's not about 'things' to pass down.

It's about inspired and warm memories of mothering & being a wife, gracious and steadfast love even when it hurts, every-day Faith, forever Hope, the constancy of a life lived with goodness of  heart and a humble spirit, a state of mind that is satisfied and at peace with where God has me and His reasons for that - even when I do not know them.

I'm not quite there yet, but these are my life goals now because I want my family to have a greater inheritance than my earthly possessions.

And all these deep thoughts began with a pretty apron block to sew and a birthday to celebrate.
You just never what God will use to teach, do you?

If you'd like to sew this block it is here at the Fat Quarter Shop blog, and if you'd like to make it as a mini-quilt and stitch Proverbs 31:27 onto the pocket as I have done you can download my template to trace the Scripture here.

Bless you heaps,

Monday, May 25, 2015

A special week and a prayer request...

I might be missing from the blog for most of this week.
It's a week of rejoicing you see.
Our baby girl, the last of the litter, will turn 21 on Tuesday and that will have me off doing other things with and for her. Pretty exciting, yeh?! 

In my quiet times I'll finish three current projects because stitching brings a sweet slowness and calm to my thoughts, allowing me time to reflect...

...and Blossom is such a precious daughter that I have much to reflect on. Twenty one years of reflection, twenty ones years to give thanks to God for.

I know that many of you have seen her bloom from age 14 on this blog, and others came alongside further down the path of her life,  so I'll share some birthday photos to add to the Elefantz album later in the week.
But maybe you'd like to be more involved in this 21st birthday celebration?

You can do that by praying.

Let me tell you a secret.
Since this young woman was 6 years old her heart's desire was to be a wife and mother. She never, ever, had her sights set on a paid was always, and still is, to be a stay-at-home mummy with four, six, or twelve children, and to be the wife of a good man who loves the Lord with his whole heart. She dreams of a simple life, a life that is guided by the Lord and honours Him, a life where she can be herself all the time and be loved for who she is.

She has had some dark times in the past when life stole joy from her leaving a darkness which still runs deep, and as a family we've carried great sorrow that is made evident during special occasions, and this will be no exception.

So this is a prayer request that I would ask each of you to join me in throughout this special 21st birthday week for my girl. 

Wouldn't it be wonderful to look back on this one day and see how our prayer choir (because that's what we all together shall be),  our women's voices joined as one and soaring heavenward, were part of something amazing given by the hand of a generous, loving and merciful Father?

I think that would be the present to top them all, don't you?

Bless you ever so much,

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Domestic Reflections ~ Psalm 33:21...

The reality of Psalm 33:21 truly describes what has happened inside my head and my heart this past week.
It began when reading Ephesians chapter 1, then continued into chapter 2 - but I can't get any further than those two chapters right now because they overflow with so much life, so many promises, so much truth about who I am because of Who made me, why He made me, and Who He sent to redeem me.

Do you find there are seasons when you cannot get past a verse, a chapter, or a single book of His Word? Some years God will lead me back to the same passage over and over until I truly allow the written words to sink in and become vivid and real and life-changing. This always reminds me of Hebrews 4:12 which teaches us that the Word of God is alive and living.
This is also why I do not get concerned about whether I'm reading the KJV, the NIV or the Amplified (for example) - because HE will tell me what I need to 'hear' through His Holy Spirit because His Word is not just text on a page - it is alive and it speaks to me where I am today and tells me what He needs me to know, right there, right then.

During this week of increased rejoicing I've also felt impressed by the Lord to put aside Christian book studies for a season. He wants my eyes on His Word alone, my JOY to come from His Book and the revelations within.  It's kind of cool, don't you think? A Bible study with God, just me and Him. Personal. Led by my Father who made me, who planned my life before  He said "Let there be light".

Why don't you open His Word today and discover something wonderful too? He's going to sit beside you and show you glorious things, I promise.

You know, Christian book studies are good to be sure, but plan to spend more time in the Bible than in a book. After all, that's where most great men and women of God found their purpose and their hope...

Download the printable Scripture card here.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Sweet weekend project ideas!

This weekend I'm making something just for me, using a few  lovely Tilda fabrics...

It's an apron, but not the kind you wear...

THIS pretty patchwork apron pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop blog will become a mini-quilt when I finish...

 I cut the fabric Friday night, and pieced the bib, but the rest will be sewn today.
Of course, I need to add something personal, don't I?

Drop by the blog next week and you can see what I did to this apron block to make it extra special.

Need some other ideas for weekend crafting??

 This sewing kit tea pot made me catch my breath!
Isn't it adorable? You may find me missing from home next week as I scour my local op-shops for tea pots.
Sarah from Sadie Seasongoods has a simple step by step tutorial to make one of your own over HERE.
I was chatting to my friend Julie and she suggested this would be wonderful for those of us with inquisitive kittens and cats who like to 'play' with our sewing bibs and bobs as you can pop the lid on and put it on a shelf when not in use...

If you were thinking of making my Simple Sewing Caddy (tutorial here) you'll notice that I have a hexie in one corner for inserting a sewing needle when not in use.
Well, Jennie over at Clover & Violet has used a similar idea but improved on it brilliantly by turning a little hexie into a magnetised needle landing!
You can follow her quick and easy tutorial HERE...

Another simple little sewing idea is this pretty magnetic dish that keeps pins from scattering if you drop the bowl.
Kerryanne from Shabby Art Boutique shows you how to do this in about 5 minutes right HERE on her blog...

And what about this? Chantal has a a tutorial on her blog for making pretty little fabric origami butterflies - and I promise you they are easy!
You'll find them HERE ...

I think we might all have some fun this weekend, don't you?!

Friday, May 22, 2015

"Dove Garden" - something new...

I thought I'd show you one of my new patterns for June...

It's no secret I love sketching and stitching bird designs...

 ...which is why "Dove Garden" features in my new blog header.

The pattern will be inside the June Stitchery Club set as well as an individual pattern in my shop from June 17th. 

You like?


Thursday, May 21, 2015

A blessing of thread...

A couple of months ago I was blessed to be sent some sweet fabrics from Lecien to play with; some of their new spring and summer lines. 
This happened quite out of the blue and I have to say that it's been a lot of fun to create with fabric as inspiration.
But I did mention to the lovely Yoko of Lecien that I'm more of a stitchery designer than a quilter and asked if there were specific Cosmo thread colours (Lecien make Cosmo) that blended with the fabrics because I really like Cosmo embroidery floss and wanted to work 'with' the fabric.
Well, sometimes you receive far more than you expect, don't you?

On Monday a parcel arrived from Japan...
 It contained every Cosmo thread and their new metallic range as well!

Can you imagine the tears than came to my eyes? The pounding heart, and the grateful exclamations?
I was over-whelmed, blessed beyond words. Speechless. 
Once I had composed myself and brewed a strong cup of coffee I sent off a text to Mr E and Blossom who replied "WOW", before sitting down to carefully open the plastic containers and simply enjoy the moment.
Remember back here when I showed you those threads I'd purchased on sale and warned you to check floss before grabbing a 'bargain'? 
These were nothing like that. 
Smooth as silk and waiting to be given life in hundreds of future projects.

That colour chart is not printed, but real thread samples, so all I need do is lay a fabric beside it and I can choose the exact thread I need to stitch with.

Yesterday I began by choosing some fabric from my stash for a cushion, and drew up a new pattern for the June Stitchery Club. Then it was time for floss-play!
The fabrics are pretties purchased last year, and which I've had an idea for since I saw them, but as yet I hadn't pursued the project. Until now.
The Cosmo thread chart made the marrying of fabric and thread a breeze...
So I'm having the day off today to go and buy a dress to wear to Blossom's 21st dinner next week, and then to sit quietly and stitch "the quilt barn"
Perhaps with another Jane Austen movie and some smooth dark Lindt chocolate as well ...

Have a lovely day,

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rest and Renewal...

It's been almost five months since I began my year long journey to re-immerse my life in the delights of gentle domesticity.
I thought it was going to be easy, you know?
But it hasn't been. 

Not because I wasn't committed, because I am, wholeheartedly. But because I did not realise how deep my personal neglect of self had gone.

The last few years have seemed to me like living in a fast moving train with only glimpses of the life I desired as it sped past; little snapshots of yearning and delights that could never be touched for long enough, leaving me with an increased longing for the train to slow and eventually stop.

The pace of business, family responsibilities and trials, health and home; they all took time and energy, and they all kept me running.

I'd been planning A Year of Gentle Domesticity for months and when the sun rose on January 1st my plan was to begin 2015 by taking time out to rest each day, to build up my physical and emotional reserves by re-visiting the me I used to be and stepping back into my own skin,  exploring the many domestic arts I'd neglected for so long but which I knew would take the over-burdened emphasis off work and bring creative and domestic balance to my life, and generally 'go home' with my whole heart.

Last week I pondered how this plan was progressing, and for a few days wallowed in self pity that things weren't  where I'd hoped they would be by the end of May.
But then I sat outside and examined our ailing Mock Orange tree and had an epiphany.

I live in the tropics of North Queensland, Australia, and every year we have a wet season from around November to April. It didn't happen this year. We had the driest wet season in over 70 years, and the landscape which is normally green, wild, and lush by May is dry and brown and dying.
 Like our poor Mock Orange tree...

Like so much of our garden it has become malnourished and dehydrated from the lack of seasonal rain and a broken home sprinkler system (this is a rental home and the owner will not fix it).
Looking at my tree that morning I realised that was how I felt too - not from lack of water or soil nutrients, but from lack of self care. From personal neglect.

Mr E and I decided that we needed to save the tree, and if water was what it needed (a lot of water), then we'd do what we could, without waiting for a miracle from the sky or our landlord.

So we put the garden hose on a gentle stream right at the base of the tree so the water would slowly sink deep down to the roots and not run off over the parched and hard soil.
For three hours each day we followed this plan, and after a week we noticed that the leaves were 'lifting' instead of wilting, and new growth had appeared...

Excited, as though this was a child we were nursing  back to health, we continued with the plan.

This morning I opened the front door to let Bob-the-dog outside and was greeted with the most incredible fragrance from the BLOOMS on our tree!
Next weekend Mr E will chop away the dead sections of the tree as now we know it can be saved and removing limbs will not cause more stress to the plant. You see, the first time we cut away some of the tree it got worse, but it's gaining in health every day now...

So what have I learned from this tree?

That neglect - whether from circumstances (like the drought for my tree) or from doing too much and forgetting to say no - will dry you from the inside out. It will empty you of spirit, health, peace, wisdom and joy.
It will leave you as the passenger on a fast moving train catching only a glimpse of the beauty around you and never truly nourished in spirit, mind and body.

I see this now, and the lesson is embedded in my heart.

Reflecting on these first five months of my year of gentle domesticity has taught me things I may not have understood without walking the journey...

* an understanding of how important emotional and physical healing is to my growth as a person
* how slowing down allows a wider view of my life and clarity to see what truly matters
* patience is required to bring positive change, and for some things patience simply means 'rest'
* it's not selfish to say no when life is already full or I know it's not right for me or my family in the big scheme of things
* saying no does not mean I'm a failure - oftentimes it means I've gained wisdom
* filling my emotional tank gives me a healthier measure of love to share
* it's okay that I'm not a social person, but someone who loves time alone or just with my husband

If you feel like my tree before we took the time to care for it, then maybe you need to join me in re-acquainting yourself with the gentle art of personal rest and renewal?

Stop and consider your life and your responsibilities.

Are you over-burdened?
Have you committed to too many things?
Do you say 'yes' because you fear you'll be rejected if you say 'no'?
Have you forgotten to spend time doing things that give you joy?
Are you tired, weary, lonely?
Do you live your life 'clothed' in a personality not your own but one you believe others expect of you?

Dear heart, what are you missing?
Where did you take a wrong turn and stop caring for, and being, your precious self?
I don't mean selfish care - I mean doing things that fill up your emotional tank, that allow you a good dose of laughter, that rest your body and your thoughts and bring renewal and refreshment, that truly reflect the lovely person you naturally are and always were.

My mock orange tree is healing and blooming in a season of renewal but it took time and care and thoughtfulness on our part.
You and I are no different to the tree. Maybe, like me, you need to give yourself time, care and thoughtfulness too. Be patient, nourish yourself from the inside and renew in strength before you begin cutting away debris that may require emotional effort. But the small stuff, yes, let that go now.

The Big Guy upstairs is there to help you too.

"You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures evermore." 
Psalm 16:11

your friend,

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pattern - "I love to bake"...

I really do love to bake.
It's that whole thing about kitchen domesticity, it simply makes my heart sing.
So I thought of a sweet little design to say what I feel...

I traced it onto a piece of white homespun, fused Vliesofix behind it, cut around the heart shape adding a scant eighth inch border, then appliqued the heart to a pretty pink check tea towel.
And from there all I had to do was choose thread colours and embroider the pattern...

 It finished sweeter than I'd hoped...
This is a single pattern (not Stitchery Club) and you'll find it HERE in my shop...


Today is baking day in my kitchen and on the menu is Nana's Rice Custard and Apple Jelly (recipes HERE)...

What are you cooking this week?