Saturday, August 12, 2017

A little more time...

This past week I slowed, enjoyed my family, pondered new things, and decided I still need more time away from the blog, away from expectations and being fully present in planning the steps forward.

I tend to take a week off every few months and within those seven days I quieten my soul, but only to a certain degree. Now I want to go deeper, to be mentally restful as a way of life.

This current time of rest and separation has taught me that the first week is about the unwind. 
It is a time to breathe and ponder with clarity which things matter most in my life, and to have that set in my mind before opening the doors of business and blogging again, because when those doors are flung wide once more much of this newly acquired peace and resolution can quickly evaporate in the needs of the moment. 

So I'm taking a second week of retreat, seven days with purpose. Seven days of building on the direction my heart wants to take, direction which needs a plan and definite application tools. I wish I'd realised this years ago...but perhaps, as in all things with God, now is the right time to grow in such understanding. This is my season to learn and apply and take more steps forward than I do back.

Having no car at my disposal this past month has kept me predominately home bound during the working week. At first it was nice, then it was a tad frustrating, but over the last seven days or so I've found my peace with it and even embraced the freedom it has offered me. Peace to go about my home duties and work to a relaxed rhythm. 

This made me think of growing up with Nana. 
We never owned a car nor had a telephone, so being at home each day was the most natural thing. On our once a week trip to buy groceries she'd hang up her apron, put on her 'going-out' dress, apply face powder and bright pink lipstick, clip on a pair of earrings, trade her scuffs for pretty sandals, remove the hair rollers to style her hair, and dress me up just as fine before we headed out the door and to the bus stop.

I've reflected on how times have changed and to what extent I changed with them. 
It's such a blessing to own a car, to be able to call or text my children and stay in touch, to see moment by moment photos of my grandchildren - those changes are a beautiful benefit.

Frankie Juliette in my daughter Aisha's glasses just the other day. A moment we shared even though she's 2,400 klms away...

But there are other changes I'd like to release myself from.
Like the hustle and bustle of expediency in day to day life, social media contacts that I really don't know much about, a lack of face to face time with real people I care about, juggling business and private emails so as not to fall behind, optioning fast food a little too often when work has overwhelmed...among other things. 

With progress comes good, and also bad. 
Finding a balance which allows you to be true to self and not appear ungracious or aloof requires (for me) prayer, family support and confidence that the path you choose is one which breathes life and does not extinguish it, nor overwhelm it.

That indeed is where my ponderings and plans lay at present.
Choosing the good, adapting to what cannot be changed, and eliminating the bad.

This past week:

I watched my husband's azalea bloom and our potted greenery begin to revive after some overdue care...

...and gave my body (as well as my mind) a rest by eating only fruit and vegetables, drinking only fresh water with lemon juice, and inspiring my creative mind to try new recipes.

A new sewing machine arrived...

...and some pretty fabrics which will be used for aprons and many other ideas.

We were blessed with a few garage sale finds on our regular Saturday morning adventure...

...and time was spent sorting through my quilts for three to display on the stand Mr E painted last month.

A new book arrived in the mail, one I believe will hold many ideas for sewing with those new fabrics...

...and I'm also planning a simple way to display this design from a few months back on a cream metal stand Mr E refashioned for me recently because the message is one I need reminding of often.

Making any house a home requires a heart with purpose to decorate accordingly, a desire to infuse an atmosphere of welcome for those who cross it's threshold, and a plan to create a sense of sanctuary for those who live under it's roof so that they long to come home.

Merging this desire with a home business in play requires balance so I'm adding that to my ponderings and plans next week. 
Living the gentle domestic life hand in hand with the creativity of a homemaker as well as a textile designer - without the business once again swamping the 'living' side - can be done, but it requires a good plan and plenty of prayer. 
It requires letting some things go and gathering better things to my heart.

And that dear friend is the balance I hope to find in this next week of 'rest'.

Sweet Cully May and Blossom have been to visit a few times and the popover apron I made for her birthday looks adorable so I'm sewing a few more.

Unfortunately our little girl has been sick again. 

We discovered she did not have Roseola (baby measles) last month after all, but it was in fact Scarlet Fever. Her hands and feet are still peeling and she's been teething molars as well. Whilst being hopeful she would soon recover and be able to enjoy good health once more Cully May has now come down with chicken pox.
What a month it has been for her and for Blossom, yet she still laughs, smiles, hugs you so tight you lose your breath - all in between bouts of pain, fever and itchiness.

To top all this off, on Thursday our precious angel was bitten on the face by one of Blossom and Ross's small dogs, Elmo. They adopted the 9 year old Pomeranian about six months before Cully May was born and since her birth he's never really taken to her, keeping his distance. This week he made an unprovoked attack on her face. She has three puncture marks on her nose, one which may scar, but has bounced back very well considering the shock and trauma.
Acting swiftly Blossom called our local dog facility who assessed Elmo and took him in to doggy foster care. 

So about now some good news would lift our spirits don't you think?

Cully May is going to be a big sister!

Blossom and Ross are expecting their second child early next year, around my birthday in late February. 

We'd love you to pray for this young family that their season of trial has now drawn to an end and that a time of peace and health and blessing shall abundantly fall upon them. 
(thank you)

I shall be back in another week and during that time I pray that the Lord would abundantly bless you and draw you closer to Him than ever before.
There is no greater joy than to sit at the Saviour's feet and worship Him with a thankful heart. 


Sunday, August 6, 2017

In the moment...

Today practice being here in the moment, not running ahead, nor overloading your day beyond what it can hold.
Be completely where you are and leave tomorrow for another day.

Breathe deep, give thanks for what you have today, and rest in this moment for it is indeed by the grace of God that you have it. 

A lesson about attitude and what's important, a beautiful lesson for you and I about knowing and trusting that each day has enough and letting tomorrow come when it will...

Thank you Jesus for Your life lessons which bring us peace and rest.

Your sister in Christ,

Saturday, August 5, 2017

One year on and taking stock...

Blossom's little angel turned one on Friday, a very joyous one. 
Cully May is a light that never goes out, a little girl who liberally sprinkles laughter, cuddles and sheer delight over everyone she meets, but especially over us, her family. 

We spent the big day wandering the aquarium with Blossom's friend Laura and her little girl, Charlotte. Cully May adores Charlotte and they were so gentle and sweet together that there was a lot of   'awww, how cute are they'  from us adults. Charlotte, who is 8 months older, would run here and there to look at the fish and Cully May would take off after her, walking very fast but not able to run quite as fast as her heart wanted her to go. Such a precious time we had, but also a very calm and relaxing birthday outing. 

The photo below was taken walking through the big shark tank...

I love that Blossom follows her instincts and plans what is best for Cully May. 

A birthday party would have added a lot of stress to the day, whereas she wanted Cully to enjoy the celebration completely relaxed with no outside pressure, just giving her little girl a safe place to run, laugh, be inquisitive and entranced. The aquarium did just that. 

Among her gifts was the popover I told you I planned to make earlier this week. 
The fabric choice changed due to the amount needed, but my it turned out pretty!

As I no longer have a car Mon-Fri using what fabrics and trims are already at home is essential.
There was no bias binding in my stash so for the edges I used a large piece of pink gingham and made my own. 

More of the pink gingham became the front pocket and I added a hexie and button for extra cuteness.

Blossom was thrilled with the popover and Cully May will wear it when she comes to visit next week. 

I'm taking another little break from blogging as of today. 
The past month has seen my body and mind pushed beyond it's limits and the migraines are coming thick and fast along with chronic fatigue.

Next week I'm going to focus on eating only vegetables and fruit, sleep as much as my body requires, and generally treat my body with the respect it needs to mend.

My love for baking has been so personally satisfying of late that I've been neglecting the salads, juices and smoothies which used to be a normal part of our daily menu and I know this has contributed to my health decline, as well as gifted an unwanted weight gain.

It's not an easy thing, regardless of what health gurus may say, to eat 'clean' all the time, to avoid sugar completely, and to only partake of sweet delights on rare occasions.
Food, comfort food, is in my DNA. It brings me such emotional JOY to cook for my loved ones the old family favourites of my childhood and of theirs, so it won't will just slow. 
Soon enough I shall again enjoy them as treats in small quantities, complimenting the greater dietary needs of the lovely salads and plant based goodies I also know how to make.  

For a little while I simply ignored the need to balance both, so being away from the blog and spending a week (perhaps more) nourishing my body, spending more time in God's word, and sleeping if I need, is the prescription I intend to follow.

May your health be blessed, your mind clear, your heart happy and your hopes fulfilled...

till next time,

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Vintage popover, papercrafts and a recipe...

Last weekend when Mr E and I, grande size coffees in hand, drove from garage sale to garage sale in the early morning light, we were sorely disappointed.
 "Slim pickin's again" said Mr E after a 2 hour jaunt around town. 

But all was not lost. At our final stop, where we almost did not get out of the car to have a look-see, I found a vintage child's popover apron for $1.

Mr E gave me a quizzical look as I handed over my lonely coin but once I'd explained my plan to use it as pattern he was rather more understanding - well as understanding as a man who has no interest in sewing can be... 

Blossom on the other hand was VERY excited about my plan and drooled over the vintage find.
I measured it up against Cully May yesterday when they were here for lunch and it just needs to be about 2" shorter, so I've gathered some vintage style fabrics from my stash and hope to have a few made for her birthday on Friday...

Because Bloss shares my love of vintage and retro I've decided that a few crochet embellished pockets will add that something extra to the popover aprons.

We think these will be perfect for our tropical climate. Cully May can wear them over a t-shirt or blouse with a little pair of shorts or frilly bloomers.

If  this works out I may draw up the pattern outline for you?

Last Friday I drove north to visit my dear friend Rosie for a day of laughter, heart-to-heart sharing, good food and crafting.
It had been over six weeks since our last catch-up, far too long, so we had a lot to chat about. I love how easily the conversation always directs itself to home, family, baking, sewing and womanhood - all inspiring topics that we embrace.

In previous visits I've been drawn to Rosie's skill with papercraft, sighing with delight at the beautiful memory books she makes yet never seeing the 'how' of her hobby.

This was all to change last Friday. 
After morning tea I brought out my embroidery ready to stitch and Rosie gathered the bits and pieces for her latest papercraft project and set everything up opposite me on the large dining table. 

She made it look so easy and yet I knew it had taken years of experience to be so deft with every step of the process.

To say I was entranced is an understatement and you can be sure that not much stitching was done on my side of the table.

Rosie has a far more detailed post on her blog and I'd love you to hear about all the extras that are added to her memory books and read why she makes them.

After sharing my baking last week and earlier this week I've been swamped with requests for the Matrimony Slice recipe as well as the meaning behind the name.

The base and topping are the same recipe but between them is a luscious layer of thick jam...

You press half the base into the slice tray, then spread the jam before pressing the remaining half of the slice mixture over the top.

The base and top are representative of a husband and wife.
The jam in the middle is the love which binds them together.

Matrimony Slice is our family's favourite of all slice recipes and disappears rather quickly. In fact I'm baking more this afternoon.

If you'd like to make it I have prepared the recipe sheets for you in both retro and pastel bunting style...

...with a simple and sweet stitchery design on the last page so you can stitch while your treat is in the oven. 
It's even 'matrimony' inspired.

I have some popover aprons to sew, a matrimony slice and another loaf of bread to bake so I'd best sign off and let you get on with your own day.

We really like this yummy soy linseed loaf so I'll probably make that again...

Thanks for dropping by and journeying with me in this rather lovely, sometimes challenging, but always life giving gentle domestic life. Even though I work from home in my design business it's the working 'for' home that brings me the greatest satisfaction.
And I believe this is just as it should be. Dorothy was right when she said, "there's no place like home".

Your comments, thoughts, experiences shared and encouragements offered, water the seeds of my own growth as a wife, homemaker, woman, mother, nana and craftswoman. You bless me more than you realise and it's my desire to be that blessing to you too.

I hope today the fruits of your hand and heart overflow with goodness,


Monday, July 31, 2017

Block 7 "The Love of Home" BOM...

This month's block in my free 2017 BOM is one that made my heart sing with every stitch.
Cross stitch, a HOME theme, fussy cutting applique and tiny 1/2" hexies...a recipe for warm and happy hearts, yes?

Those pretty fabrics I've used in the border and fussy cut for the applique heart and paper pieced hexagons are called "Bunnies & Cream" by Lauren Nash for Penny Rose Fabrics. 

I've never been a bunny person, day it happened. The fabric happened actually, and the bunny love came with it.

And cross stitch. 
I adore the gentle homeliness of it stitched on linen...

In fact I'm so pleased with this design that it was difficult to choose how I'd display it in my home.

A door hanger came to mind initially, but over the weekend as I was sorting out my old recipes to share with you for our Living the Gentle Domestic Life Cookbook I realised it would be perfect as a binder cover for the recipes!

More pieces of that pretty fabric, a linen lining, some wadding, hand quilting and a few hours of sewing play...

I even used some lovely "home" cotton lace along the spine!

Isn't it perfect?

Inside there's a clear envelope to store new recipes I collect and if they are really good I'll make up a recipe sheet which will then be included in my cookbook binder. 

It was at this stage I realised the recipe sheets I've shared with you so far weren't really the right colour or style for my pastel binder.

So I made some new ones in pinks and blues...

...and this time I made them smaller so that the recipe prints on one page instead of two. 

There's even a new cover page.

I don't know how you'll display your sweet block when you stitch it, but I'm very happy with how my cookbook binder has turned out.

It also keeps me on track for making useful projects that serve a purpose.

If you'd prefer the new pastel recipe sheets instead of the three retro ones I've shared recently just click on the recipe titles below.
In future recipes I'll offer both styles.

If you'd like to know more about the Living the Gentle Domestic Life Cookbook read this post. 

It's Monday night as I write this and tomorrow Blossom and Cully May are coming for lunch and probably afternoon tea as well, so I have baking to do in the morning and toys to prepare for our almost 1 year old.
Last week I filled an old plastic vitamin jar with buttons and Cully May thought her new shaker was wonderful. My next idea is a jar of pretty ribbons which she can pull out and put back in again...simple things for motor skills really, but children do tend to enjoy the simple toys.  
That's why I'll be sure to wrap her birthday present in layers of gift paper on Friday - scrunching and ripping the paper is always the best gift for toddlers.

May your week be blessed with goodness and grace, health and happiness, stitching and baking...