Saturday, March 25, 2017

Blessed assurance...

There is a cyclone approaching our coastline, predicted to make landfall on Tuesday.
As in years past when these events threaten the town everyone is securing their home and belongings, clearing the yard of any debris, stocking up on essentials should we lose power, preparing safe shelter for pets and livestock and generally making sure that when the time comes to lock the doors and stay inside it is with some form of self assurance that all which could be done was in fact accomplished. 

For those in the Northern Hemisphere you would be more acquainted with calling our cyclone a hurricane, and though this one is not a threat on the scale of Cyclone Yasi (2011) which decimated our coastline and even hundreds of kilometres inland, it is predicted to be a Category 4 and that's nothing to take lightly because it will cause a great deal of damage when it arrives.

Impending threats loom often in life, don't they? 

Fear of what's ahead, a reaction we're dreading, expecting the worst outcome when all hope has faded, the long and frightening wait for a diagnosis, wondering when the next paycheck will arrive and how to survive until it does - all can fill our minds with fear and uncertainty.

But you know, God is bigger than all that and though we may still have to walk through our valleys or hide out from the storm, HE IS WITH US the entire time.

Hold fast to Him no matter what you face, and trust Him to carry you through.

I'm singing "Blessed Assurance" as I type this...'praising my Saviour all the day long'.
Is there anything better?
Not at all.

Be blessed

Friday, March 24, 2017

Two years later...

In January 2015 I wrote a blog post about how to stay on top of housework and give each room a touch of your own personality without becoming overwhelmed or wondering 'where do I begin?'.

I came up with a simple idea called "Walking the Room" and it involved a master planning sheet (which I offered as a free print out) and taking some time to walk through each room of your home and writing down all the changes you'd like to make, chores needing attention, what you want to remove and basically any other ideas or plans you dreamed of doing.

Here's a snippet of that blog post...

"With an entire year to immerse my soul in the domestic arts ahead of me, I've been meaning to fill my diary with all my 'home-centred' ideas so I don't forget them, but...I keep forgetting to write them down.
Do you find yourself doing that?
A great idea (or three!) comes to mind and you plan to follow through but are remiss in making a note of it, so pretty soon you've forgotten what it was?  The story of my life. 
Another thing that stalls my good intentions for bringing some domestic control to my home is feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work I see before me and simply not knowing where to begin...."

The inspiration for tackling one room at a time, acquainting myself with it and making notes about everything from 'we should invest in curtains' to 'need to remove at least half the ornaments' came from a particular movie I'd watched about the transformation of a run down Tuscan villa and these words...

"Pick one room and make it yours. Go slowly through the house. Be polite, introduce yourself so it can introduce itself to you." 
(Frances Mayes, Under The Tuscan Sun, movie 2003)

Even though I was not renovating a neglected Tuscan villa, I did desire to make every room in this rental house a place of 'welcome' and refreshment, a sanctuary, so I decided Frances had sage advice for me to draw from that year. 

One room at a time, politely re-acquainting myself with it's nuances, I wrote myself notes about the things I needed and wanted to do with the house to fulfil my hopes. 

And that's when I prepared the first very simple "walk the room" planner page.

Page after page, room after room, the ideas were written down...

...and I found this to be the most wonderful way to remember all the new ideas which filtered through my mind as well as keeping me on track with the bigger picture.

There was no time limit either as I did not want that pressure added to already full days, but this way I could look over my Walk the Room sheets each day and see if there was something I could do in whatever time I had free - which could have been 10 minutes or 4 hours.

The sense of satisfaction as ideas or chores were completed and accomplished over the course of that year was wonderful!

Now here I am two years later and ready to Walk the Room(s) of my home again so I wondered if you'd like to join in?

I have updated the room planner sheet and it's lovely and cheery... there's also a second sheet which is empty so you can sketch in any room re-arranging plans too (something Blossom enjoys doing).

You're welcome to download the free set of "Walk the Room" planner pages HERE.

The other week whilst op-shopping I found a sweet little handkerchief bag which at first I mistook as a very small peg bag...

At just 12" long it was filled with freshly laundered handkerchiefs and cost a mere 50c. I showed Blossom, who was with me at the time, and she was as astounded as me.

Of course I tucked it close to my chest along with the books I'd found and after paying for my purchases came home rather chuffed.

One of the hankies has machine embroidery in a corner, very pretty machine embroidery too...

I've popped a mini quilt hanger inside to display it properly and will fill it with my countless other orphan handkerchiefs when I gather them from the many hiding places they've been stashed away in.

The little hanger is hand made which made me ask "where did you come from?" as I hung it for the photo...naturally I received no response, but I'm sure it has a story to tell.

How do you store hankies? A little hanging bag like this is a rather cute idea.

Our current chat topic in the Gentle Domesticity FB group is about sharing simple ideas or strategies for de-cluttering a home or room.

The change of season is a perfect time for sifting through what we have and moving some things along which no longer serve a purpose, do not reflect our style, or have simply become too much.

Even if you're not a member of the FB group I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below as would many other readers I'm sure!

Visit the Gentle Domesticity Group here.

Have a blessed and joy filled weekend dear friends!

We've been assured by the Bureau of Meteorology there's a cyclone on the way which will probably make land somewhere along our northern coastline on Monday morning so I've stocked the pantry and Mr E will secure everything in the yard tomorrow morning.
I pray no-one is hurt and no property destroyed, wherever it lands.

God bless, and hugs

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Gift for a rainy day...

It's raining a lot and we're hopeful that our very very late wet season has truly arrived because the dam is at less than 17% capacity and our town needs water.

I stood at the living room window this morning and gratefully watched this much needed water from heaven soak the ground below...

The house becomes very dark on rainy days but I do love it so. 
Even though it's still very warm and terribly humid outside, the air conditioner humming away inside gives me a sense of autumn and  makes me want to put a pot of thick minestrone soup on the stove and bake bread for supper tonight. 

I'm missing 'real' autumns and winters today. Since moving to the tropics in 2009 we've not experienced one, no longer needing our comforting woolen winter coats or soft and toasty sheepskin Ugg boots. We haven't needed heating in the house nor sat through a wild winter storm. 

Life in the tropics is very different to what I've known most of my life. To be sure it has beauty and I've grown to embrace much about living here...but just for today I'm a little melancholy and longing for falling autumn leaves and a reason to wear one of my dear old cardigans.

Perhaps I've been melancholy for more than a day?
Mr E came home from work early yesterday to surprise me with flowers. It seems he'd noticed I haven't been buying them lately. Isn't he precious? They're so beautiful...

I think this glorious autumn-y hued flower is a dahlia. Gardening dears, am I correct?

Baking has been back in full swing I'm pleased to say. 
After Tuesday's failure of the not-very-pleasant buckwheat slice base, I scraped off the raspberry chia jam and coconut/almond topping so as not to waste the yummy bits. My first plan to re-use the toppings was to smother them with custard as a dessert that night but then I decided to 'jam' two pieces together with lemon curd and create a whole new slice! 
Mr E was most impressed...

....but in case that didn't work out I had plan D ready to go and baked my beloved more of his favourite Banana, Date and Ginger loaf. 

I have to show you the little Anna Gare measuring cups I bought myself for Christmas. Truly, they are unusable for accurate measuring because I'm just not sure where to fill to, but they look so cheery in my kitchen that I don't care if all they ever do is hold strawberries because they're so pretty...

Funny, but as I was taking these photos the first tea towel I pulled out of my kitchen drawer was the pink check one which has my Love To Bake heart stitched on to it and it also made me smile, which is a lovely thing on a melancholy day.

And then I thought, give the girls a smile too.
So here you are. 

Free pattern download until the end of April here in my shop. 

So what shall I do this very rainy day?
I shall stitch and re-watch Darling Buds of May which I just borrowed from the library for the third or fourth time...

I love the warmth and the delight and love for others in Darling Buds, and there's a lot of domesticity that inspires me too. I doubt I will ever have enough of learning about and living within a gentle domestic life.

The stitching is Block 3 of "The Love of Home BOM" and I'll share this free pattern with you on April 1st if you're sewing along this year...

Before I go, a little word of explanation...

I feel the need to share this via the blog.
Many dear blog readers regularly email me to chat about our shared love for God, interest in the gentle domestic life, similar health challenges and other things.
It's very humbling to have such beautiful hearts open themselves up and tell me about their lives when they have never met me and I do not take that lightly. 
For the longest time I have tried to respond as quickly as I can, not a rushed reply, but to chat as though we were having a cuppa on the back porch...but the emails have increased as more and more 'kindred' souls seek to become email friends with me.

Dear hearts, I am sorry but I am unable to create time for what would surely be a lovely time of fellowship. In doing so my family would lose me, housework would be a hope, Bible study a memory, and designing would fall by the wayside.
I have a handful of precious true friends who live far away and even struggle to maintain regular contact with them, so please do not be offended. 

This is one of the many reasons I began the Gentle Domesticity Facebook group.
It's an open kitchen table, someone always there with a cuppa and cake ready to chat, and I get to drop in each day at morning or afternoon tea to soak in the conversation and offer my own thoughts too.

I'd "love" for you to join us and that way there's no pressure on my part or yours.
Visit as often or as seldom as you want.
You're always welcome.

The weather forecast is for lots more rain and we may even have a cyclone forming off the coast by Saturday.

You know what that means? 
More baking, more stitching, and I might even pop that soup on after all.
Have a beautiful day. xx


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The mouse in the house...

Princess Sophie brought a mouse into the house, in the dark of night when Mr E could not see.

She'd scratched at the front door to be let in and he stumbled half asleep from the bedroom and down the hall, opened the door a crack till she slipped past as he normally does when she wants to come inside at 2 am, and returned to bed.

Fast forward to 6 am.

I wake up and walk through the house, switching on all the ceiling fans as I go because it's been another hot and humid night and we need more fresh air flow through the rooms before returning to the relief of air conditioning a few hours later.

Sophie is in my sewing room, gazing at the small white bookcase beside my sewing machine, entranced like a child watching Cinderella for the first time. 

I open a small can of salmon and empty it into her bowl. She doesn't move from her position. This is weird because our feline child loves her salmon and nothing distracts her from it.

So I stand beside her and stare at the shelving. I have white baskets in the shelves with things like solid background fabrics and an on-the-go churn dash quilt...

She stares, I stare...nothing.
And then she scratches at one of the baskets, really scratches, with intense purpose.

So I pull the basket out and whoa, a mouse is sitting there plain as day staring back at the two of us.
At first I screamed because it was a shock, and then I screamed for Mr E to "come here right now!"...and he did. 

I quickly scooped up Sophie before she pounced on her prey because ain't no-one creating a blood bath in my sewing room. Five minutes later Mr E had caught the mouse and 'disposed' of it, Sophie was eating her salmon and I was planning a day of DEEP cleaning in the sewing room.
Just the idea that a mouse had been roaming the room for a few hours trying to escape Sophie had me imagining all sorts of yukky stuff and I wanted everything clean...really clean. 

So that was my Saturday.

All day long I emptied the sewing room, scrubbed, polished, purged, re-organised and finally felt at peace again. I found no evidence of mouse droppings anywhere but behind the white basket so I guess that's where the little critter ran as soon as it got loose from Sophie when she brought it inside at 2 am. 

All my fabrics are were neatly re-stacked on the brown bookcase and in hindsight this was good for them because everything has been re-folded to avoid fade lines.

Sunday and Monday I carried on deep cleaning through the lounge room, dining room and kitchen and I'm sure I've dropped a million calories which for some reason haven't chosen to show themselves missing on the scales just yet. 

Today I chilled out and spent some time in the kitchen making fresh juice for Mr E and some sugar free Raspberry Chia Jam from Sarah Wilson's book "Simplicious".

This is lick-the-bowl YUM. 

In fact it was so good I thought I'd make her buckwheat slice base and bake a sugar free version of Raspberry Coconut Almond Slice.

Big tick for Sarah's Chia Jam, big tick for my own Coconut Almond topping....

....huge yuk for Sarah's buckwheat slice base. 

Mr E and I will scrape the jam and topping off the slice, toss the awful base in the bin, and serve the lovely topping duo with a nice dollop of Greek yoghurt for dessert tonight.
Always have a plan B.

That's pretty much normal for my domestic life really. 
Be prepared with plan B or C...

...because plan A working out is rare.

Don't you love the buttons and lace in the photo above? 
A present from dear friend Margaret.

Tomorrow I shall simply indulge myself in the sewing room and play with fabric.
I've already finished the Stitchery Club designs for April so I'm going to see if I can finish a quilt project that I've not had time for, or at least get further along with it.

What will you be doing?


Sunday, March 19, 2017

ETSY pattern sale!

It's been a very long time since I had a sale on my patterns so I thought you might appreciate the opportunity to purchase some past issues of The Stitchery Club and a few pattern sets over the next week at a 20% reduction of their normal cost?

Take advantage of this one-off sale in my ETSY Shop until March 27th.

Use the coupon code MARCH at checkout to receive the 20% discount. If you don't use the code you won't receive the discount so please be diligent about that to gain full advantage of this 8-day sale.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Who holds me...

In the mundane living of day to day life too often my thoughts are captured by the concerns of this world, the 'what ifs' and the seemingly insurmountable obstacles placed before me.

My eyes have shifted from God and settled instead on what I see and feel, at times overwhelming me with an obvious inability to remove sorrows and struggles, or 'fix' the past.

It's during those moments, those seasons of life, those dark nights of the soul, that I need to crawl into the welcoming, waiting arms of my God more than ever. I need His embrace, His comfort, His hope and soothing promises...I need to behold His beauty and relinquish my darkness.

I need to be reminded Who holds all my concerns in His care and Who cares for me.

Today's Scripture is a balm to my weariness and a light to follow.

May it be so to you as well.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Rescuing vintage linens...

Yesterday Blossom asked if I wanted to visit a large op-shop around 20 minutes north of here as she was looking for cheap scrap fabric to use in mock-up baby and toddler patterns she'd been working on. Wise girl, keeping her good fabric for the real outfits she'd make when happy with the final design.

I was happy to tag along and we had so much fun browsing the store looking through their large displays of books, dvds, vintage linens, craft supplies, books, furniture, and sheets. 

Bloss found two beautiful queen size cotton percale sheets in perfect condition for a few dollars and these will give her plenty of fabric for the practice dresses and rompers she's working on at night when Cully May is asleep!

I found two knitted tea cosy books which thrilled me because last weekend I was combing the internet for just the 'right' tea cosy pattern and still hadn't come across one that I really felt inclined to knit, but now I have two books filled with choices. 
I also bought a lovely book on peasant embroidery which a lovely lady I got chatting to near the book aisle found for me...

She also pointed out a box of old linens, placed high on a shelf and labelled incorrectly so I doubt many people would have taken note of it.
It was filled with embroidered treasures, and all a token 50c each.
Every piece was stained and that's part of the pleasure of a doily's story for me...

...but the interesting thing was that apart from the four pieces in the photos above all the others I found were about 90% hand embroidered and never completed.

I studied the stitching and am quite sure they've all been embroidered by the same person, so I wondered why put in so much time and effort only to stop with about 10% of the design left to stitch? On one piece I'd not question this, but on so many?

Isn't the cat's face mean? I know that's just the design which is stamped on the linen, but I wish he was a little cheekier rather than 'angry'...

All of the doilies are Semco designs, pre-stamped on linen with pretty crochet cotton edging and I've decided to put them away until one day when I can complete each one, even if that's a decade from now. It just seemed a shame to leave them there 'undone'.

The stain on the peacock doily will need to be removed but I'll  go gently with that and try hand washing in pure soap first.

After all that excitement I'm afraid my body just refused to work properly today, something I'm still adjusting to since the brain trauma diagnosis last year. Fortunately I could still sit at the computer this morning and work on pattern writing and cleaning up April's photos and pattern sheets, but right now I'm going to brew a cuppa and finally put away all the threads I've used recently on my designs...

...and then I have a few episodes of Father Brown to catch up on while I stitch.

Have you found some vintage treasures recently too?