Friday, October 13, 2017

The rhythms of life...

Twenty one days have passed since we first carried boxes filled to the brim with the contents of our ordinary life into this new dwelling place.
The things which at first daunted me, like the vast expanse of open plan area that would require on any given day to be swept or vacuumed or mopped, now appear more molehill than mountain. Adjustment is coming along nicely and there's a relaxed rhythm we've begun to flow with. 

Every second day I bake a fresh loaf of bread...

...and I can even watch my favourite baking shows as I prepare meals.

With only one car between us at the moment I don't go out during the week as Mr E needs it to travel to work, so many relaxed hours are spent in this large kitchen. To be blessed with so much space and light and peace in a kitchen is a joy beyond what I'd hoped. God is gracious indeed.

Shepherd's Pie made from leftover roast lamb, mashed potatoes and a host of other veggies.

But change of any kind requires a period of adjustment to tweak and undo and discover.
Moving house is no different.
Each day something else is moved or removed, and notes are written on paper with an ever increasing list of things for me to make or Mr E to fix. It's a lovely thing this heartfelt desire to create a comfortable and welcoming home, a sanctuary for the weary and a place of delight for the bright explorer. 

Sophie has always been an outdoor cat, coming inside as evening fell but usually under protest.
She was a gift from Mr E in early 2011 but soon expressed she had a far greater devotion to him then me, with all her affection lavished on him and rarely any to me. Since then I suppose Sophie and I have tolerated each other because of our mutual love for the man of the house, but you know, she too has changed with this move.

Sophie is now an indoor cat and with each passing day she is choosing to spend more and more time by my side. At first it was almost begrudgingly, but here we are, twenty one days into a different rhythm of living, and who is she snuggling up to at night? Me. 
I was quite ill late Wednesday afternoon and all through that night with a crippling migraine and our over-sized previously aloof feline lay across the bottom of my feet the entire time, as though understanding I wasn't well and needing to comfort me. 
And what did Mr E say? "Good girl Sophie. You look after mum."
Beautiful. Blessed. 

Once hubby leaves for work each day I brew a cuppa and go sit out on the enclosed verandah in the early morning breeze with my Bible, surrounded by our potted plants and many palm trees which line the yard.

Each day after housework and Elefantz business has been attended to I venture into the sewing room to work for a little while on projects for the house, things like long narrow runners to cover the top of our bookcases.
Last weekend I dug through my box of old stitcheries and pulled out this "LOVE" block which was originally meant for my "At The Heart Of It All" quilt design, but I later rejected it and made a slightly different love block instead. 

Funny how years later you can look at something you've made in the past but didn't really like at the time and instantly feel a warm glow of inspiration and creativity fill your thoughts.

Fortunately I'd kept some of the fabric scraps from that quilt and combined with a couple of new pieces my old Love block became the star of this simple disappearing 9-patch runner by Sunday evening.

Running stitch with Perle #12 thread added a touch more interest.

Homely, comforting, so basic, so simple...beautiful.

The next runner is now underway with one block made and four more to go. I doubt this will come together in a weekend, but that's fine...I'm enjoying the slower process of making, of being, of living.

This is a Jen Kingwell design from the Moda book "All in a Row Again"

These days I'm rather content pottering around and bringing life into each corner of this home, and into each corner of my heart.

Life was never meant to be rushed through or thrown together on a whim, yet I did live that way for a long time, not fully appreciative of what I had and the gift each morning had to offer.

What matters in the rhythm of life is the day before you, the people God has placed in your arms or in your path, and being grateful for it all. 

The hardest times made me stronger, the sorrowful times built my faith and taught me compassion, the joyful times encouraged my capacity for love to overflow.

Nothing in life is wasted if we learn from it, grow with it, and pass on those precious lessons to the next generation. 

The other day I wrote that I'm sensing a change in my life, and slowly that understanding is becoming clearer. 
Think it will be rather marvelous, rather gentle and domestic and rhythmic and life giving - or perhaps I should say "life living".

God bless you dear one, you are immeasurably precious and not one good thing you have done has gone unseen by our Father in heaven, even if you feel invisible or unappreciated in your every day life. You are never invisible to He who loves you most.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Contentment even in uncertainty...

Recently an unsettling took up residence in my heart.
Not a dark foreboding unsettling, but a sense that the Lord is moving me into a new season of life.

My soul suddenly longed for a more purposeful contentment.

At odd moments in the day I stop and ponder if I'm being who God needs me to be at this stage in my relationship and walk with Jesus. Am I too comfortable, treading the same spiritual waters for too long and not venturing further out from the safety of my comfortable shoreline? Am I avoiding the ripples of change?

My spirit senses something new is coming.
"What kind of change will this be?" I ask Him, but at the moment no sure answer has become clear, only to be patient, pray, study the Word and not run ahead with plans or ideas sprouted from human assumptions.

Years ago this would have unsettled me, but over time experience has assured me that pressing into Jesus whilst walking through times of uncertainty is not the grueling experience I once imagined it to be because causing us to be overwhelmed with anxiety is not in His nature.

In our flesh we may panic, fearing a loss of control and dreading things we imagine may happen even when they have not, but dear one, cast those thoughts aside because those reactions are not God-given. Always consider the nature of our Father, the LOVE He poured out through the sacrifice of His own Son, the anguish He personally suffered for each and every one of us that we may have life.

God is gracious and gentle, knowing you and I intimately and more honestly than we know ourselves so we can trust that the plan He has for us will not be difficult to understand when it is revealed at exactly the right time.

We simply need to trust, believe and accept that God's plan for each individual's life is good and never for harm. My life and yours has a purpose, a very specific and unique purpose, one that God will fulfill if we are available and willing to follow His lead. 

How do I know this to be true?

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you", says the Lord, "thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 
And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, 
and He delights in his way. 
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down,
for the Lord upholds him with His hand."

So while I'm in this season of change and not yet sure of the direction it will take my earthly life, it is with contentment I rest in Jesus and allow Him to do what needs to be done in order that I may be ready when the road before me brings a change of scenery and direction.

For He must change me first from the inside out and much of that will be achieved by immersing myself in God's Word in order to identify areas of my life which need adjustment or repentance.
Only then will I be equipped for what lies ahead, for the Lord equips us for every good thing.

"All Scripture is given my inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Are you in a new season of growth or change in your life walk with Jesus?
What verses are you holding dear right now?
I'd love you to share them below in the comments that we may all be encouraged.

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

Blessings dear siblings-in-Christ,

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

My sewing room and a new recipe...

The first treat I baked in this new home was Rock Cakes, also known as Rock Buns.
Mr E *loves* them, as do I, and you'll discover they are perfect with a cuppa anytime of the day and also make a delicious addition to lunch boxes or picnics.

The little Bee stitchery you can see on the photo above is a free addition with both recipe files. I've made up this recipe in two formats so choose the one you like best for your Living The Gentle Domestic Life Cookbook folder (and perhaps give the other to a friend?). 

I took these photos of my new sewing room after making the book cover (yesterday's tutorial).
It's a larger room than in the old house, with the bonus of a built in wardrobe because it's designed as a bedroom. In the last house my sewing room was originally a formal dining room with no built in storage at all.
So this new room seems almost empty, sparse, because things that were once on display are now hidden away...but I like that. 

All my fabrics are in one place...

...and the sewing machine and cutting table are near the window for good light.

My stitching supplies, wadding, stabilisers, linen, threads, buttons, lace and completed projects are stored sensibly for ease of access and to keep things tidy (I love organisation - it helps me create).

Not sure yet what I'll hang in the room, I want to spend time in there first, get a feel for it.

I think next week when I've caught up with Stitchery Club work a good deal of time may be spent in here as I have a list of items to make for the house.
I'm smiling just thinking about that. 
New things for a new home and all of them have a purpose.

The next issue of The Stitchery Club is emailed to all members on October 17.
Would you like to see the patterns for this month?

I'll begin with the monthly quote design and this time it's one of my favourites from C S Lewis.
Following are the rest of my new patterns...each one with a heart to inspire.

If you're not already a member of The Stitchery Club you can easily join over HERE.

Membership for this month's issue closes on October 16th, and should you decide to join before then I will send you a free gift pattern, "Family & Friends", so you have something sweet to stitch before your first Club issue arrives!

That's it from me for the rest of the week. 
It's been lovely catching up with you all on the blog and sharing a few goodies along the way, but I'd best put my mind to book work and writing patterns over the next few days so I can play next week. 
Priorities, right?

But naturally I'll take breaks to bake.

Fresh bread and strawberry shortcake from yesterday's time in the kitchen...delicious.

May the Lord who is so good be your shelter in the storm, your comfort in sorrows, and your JOY every morning,


Missed the freebies this week?

Block 9 "The Love of Home" BOM is here.
Book Cover tutorial is here.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

TUTORIAL - a simple book cover...

I think it was close to a month ago you first saw this stitchery design and I mentioned a plan to feature it on a fabric cover for my very old Readers Digest gardening book.

With a house move between then and now that plan was pushed to the back burner for a while, but yesterday I set some time aside to play in my 'new' sewing room.

The steps I'm about to share can be followed to make a fabric cover for any size book. As long as you have the measurements of your book it's relatively easy to adjust the cover to fit. 

My old hardcover measured almost 15½" around the middle, from the edge of the back cover to the edge of the front cover...

...and the book is 9½" high. 

To complete my measurements I opened the front cover to decide how much sleeve I would need to add and chose 4" from the seven inches available as that would still allow me room to slip the cover on after it was made.

So here's what I had on paper:

Height - 9½"
Wraparound Length, with sleeves - 23½" (15½" + 4" + 4")

Allowing an additional 1" for the seams my final measurements became 10½" x 24½".

Use these same steps to ascertain the measurements you will need for your own book.

Now it's up to you how you make your cover. It may be one single length of a pretty fabric, a set of small patchwork blocks or scraps of different fabrics sewn together - just as long as it is the same size as your final measurements. 

This is what mine looked like (pinned to a bit of quilt wadding)...

Once you have the outside of your book cover made, cut a piece of thin fusible wadding and fuse it to the centre of the wrong side of the fabric. I've used some Parlan because that's what I had on hand.
The fusible wadding needs to be the exact size of the book (mine was 15½" x 9½")...

Place the book onto the wadding side of the fabric and carefully wrap the cover around it, adjusting until the sleeves inside the front and back cover have the same size fold.

This allowed me to confidently position and pin the stitchery block onto what would become the front cover.

The stitchery was then blanket stitched in place.

To line the cover I lay the fabric face down on a piece of cotton homespun and pinned the two pieces of fabric together.

You can cut the lining the same size as the outer cover, but I used scrap fabric almost the same size so chose to trim the excess later.

Personally I don't like using good quilting fabric for areas of a project which won't be seen and find that homespun is an inexpensive option for backing table runners, wall hangings or hidden linings such as this.

Sew around all four sides with a 1/4" seam, leaving a 4" opening along one narrow end for turning out later. 

Trim any excess fabric if you used a larger piece of lining fabric as I did...

Turn the cover right side out and press flat.

Ladder stitch (or slip stitch) the opening closed.

If you'd like to hand or machine quilt the cover now is the time to do it. 
I chose a touch of hand quilting with running stitch and Perle #12 thread.

Place the book inside the cover and hold the ends up to position it right in the centre.

Fold the sleeves inside the covers and with a single strand of strong thread sew a securing stitch between the outer cover and each of the four sleeves.

Carefully remove the book from the cover...

...and slip stitch the cover and sleeve edges together.

Press the cover and slip the book in.
You're done!

My 50 year old gardening book has a new lease of life, and now I'm planning more book covers because they are easy to make and look so lovely on the shelf. 
In fact I have a huge atlas my father gave me when I was very young that could do with a makeover too.

If you'd like to stitch "The Garden" you'll find the pattern HERE in my shop.