Friday, January 18, 2019

A pretty SEW pincushion and scrummy slice...

I've been patiently waiting for this week to share W because I wanted to SEW this pocket pincushion for myself!

The fabric had been put aside months ago and I'd often consider running ahead to make it but time really hasn't been my friend so it just had to wait until yesterday before coming to life.

If I haven't said so before, now the secret is out.
I am smitten with a love for pocket pinnies and have made "many".
Most are given away as gifts but this one is staying home with me...

Your pattern this week is for the W, and the S is still a free download if you scroll through the posts to Friday January 4th. The E is available in my shop as part of the A-E set.

download the pattern for "W" here or here

I stitched a length of double ribbon into the top of my pinnie as a scissor keep. 
Simple but sweet.

The lace is sew in between the stitchery block and the backing fabric so that when you fold the two fabrics away from each other and then press closed again with your iron, the lace sits nice and high on the pocket.

"W" will be a free pattern download until January 31st.

The pattern sets for A-E, F-I, J-N, OPQUT are here in my shop.

If you've never made a pincushion like this then you'll be pleased to know I have a tutorial for you to follow.
Back in 2016 I shared a few pincushion tutorials and the Pocket Pincushion was one of them.

I love baking quick and simple sweet treats for morning or afternoon tea, don't you?!
Through the school year my baking days are usually Wednesday and Sunday as I need to prepare meals and snacks for my husband's work lunches and hopefully have some extras should someone drop by.

Not sure why, but I haven't made a Scrummy Slice for a year or more and the other day when Fee was sharing her date scone recipe I remembered this delicious and quick slice and immediately set about baking one. It was always a favourite of the family though I'm not as fond of dates as they are so perhaps that's why it slipped my mind?
Although, during the mixing I remembered that I do in fact love this recipe when I use fresh medjool dates and not the dried variety...which is why I'm now describing it as delicious!

All you do is melt the butter and mix it with the other ingredients in a bowl.
Simple, quick - my kind of baking most days.

Press the mix into a paper lined slice tray (those in the USA would call this a bar tray and they'd call Scrummy Slice a Scrummy Bar)...

Press it down firmly.

Bake in the oven at 180 C (350 F) for twenty minutes, then leave out to cool in the pan for 10 minutes...

...while you make the icing. Just mix the icing sugar, lemon rind and lemon juice to a pouring custard consistency.

You don't need much icing for this slice, just a thin drizzle all over to add a tangy lemon punch.

The slice will still be very warm after the ten minutes cooling time so the icing will almost melt into it. Lovely.

Do you love my festive little spatula? It's a tiny one, perfect for scraping out those tight corners or for spreading thin icing like this.
I bought one each for Blossom and I during the after Christmas sales for only a few dollars and I'm sure we'll still be using them twenty years from now...

Once the Scrummy Slice has cooled lift it out of the tin and cut into 24 squares.

Then it's time to brew a cuppa and indulge!

Here's the recipe for you.
Just alternate click on the photo and save to your computer, or pin it to one of your Pinterest boards so you don't lose it.

Out in the garden we have strawberry guavas ready to eat and as I'd never tried one before this has been quite exciting!
They are delicious...a mild mix of passionfruity-strawberry sweetness...

We have one strawberry guava tree and two normal guavas, and we're almost ready to harvest those as well. Just have to be quicker than the birds which seem to love our garden and all the tasty treats that are now in season.

Now before I go let me show you what is right outside our bedroom window.
My friends Rosie and Sharm (who visited from down south with her hubby just before Christmas) were both surprised at how big this plant is and both said there would be a huge flower come right out of the centre one day.

That day is almost here.

I call it the giant asparagus as it is now about 4 metres (12 feet) higher than our roof!
In fact I took these photos two days ago and it's grown even more since then...

Truly, doesn't this remind you of an asparagus?

No idea what the flower will look like but those arms spreading out from the stem are new little plants that we can pop in the garden should we want more of these humongous asparagus offspring taking up space. 
Mr E said "no, we won't be doing that."
Actually, he's concerned that when the flower and stem fall (which they will) they might hit the power lines depending on their direction at the time. The top of the stem is following the sun you see, like a sunflower does. Truly interesting!

Okay. Time to close up for the week and as it's ghastly humid I'm sure a swim in the pool will be the best way to unwind.

I do pray your weekend is a restful, joyous and contented one.


Have you thought about following me on Bloglovin' (here), Facebook (here) or Instagram (here)?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Gentle Domesticity week 2...

I agree with Jane Brocket about there being a common belief that domestication and domesticity are the same thing, and this week in our book study we'll explore more about that through the author's eyes and through our own.

Here's the first paragraph for those who do not have the book...

"This book is about domesticity and the pleasures and joys of the gentle domestic arts of knitting, crochet, baking, stitching, quilting, gardening and homemaking. It is emphatically not about the repetitive, endless rounds of cleaning, washing, ironing, shopping and house maintenance that comes with domestication. Domesticity rises above the bossiness of cleaning products and media exhortations to keep our house pristine and hygienic, and focuses instead on creativity within the domestic space." page 8

Now I don't know about you, but just separating the two harmoniously different areas of our domestic life in this way - the necessary chores and the wonderfully creative - got me quite excited the first time I read this book! It was as though looking at my life through completely different eyes.

On one hand the everyday chores and responsibilities of being a homemaker, whilst usually giving me a relieved sense of accomplishment once completed, were a never ending cycle of the same thing over and over, almost like pressing repeat on a favourite song and listening many times over until quite frankly you've had enough and won't listen to it again for many weeks or even months. 

On the other hand, the time I spent creating a home that is pleasing to the eye, smells amazing, has evidence of my personal creative touches both inside and out, and tells a story of what makes my heart happy...well, that's the side of domesticity I crave the most. It's when I truly took hold of my role in a much more delightful and adventurous way.

Being a homemaker was always going to be the path I chose, but before becoming one I did have a slightly enhanced vision of what that would be like.  The realities of housework and babies was a bit of jolt.

Jane writes that it took her years to realise she was "thoroughly domestic and only grudgingly domesticated" and once this made sense to her she was able to embrace the creative arts within her home and let go of that banner of housework perfection too many have pushed in our faces.

As a young mother the television bombarded me with advertisements for cleaning products that would have my bathroom sparkly and germ free, sprays that would lift every stain from those cotton dresses my girls wore outside when they climbed trees with their brother, or instantly remove the constant tread of black scuff marks off our kitchen floor. The bar had been set high for having an immaculate home and not once did I think to lower it.
Never did my thoughts turn to being creative with domesticity and ditching the perception of perfection.

Jane Brocket is a well educated woman who gained degrees and accomplishments both before and after having her children, but during her first pregnancy (with twins) she and her husband moved to Germany and it was then she realised full-blown domesticity would be forced upon her. 
Rather than fighting what had become society's 'drudgery' view of a wife at home Jane had a joyous epiphany when she realised there was no need to kowtow to a particular set of expectations, that domesticity could in fact be very liberating!

Home-based and craft activities she had loved for years yet felt guilty about pursuing, suddenly became worthwhile and she threw herself into all of them.
Knitting, baking bread, buying and growing flowers, reading, art and writing (to name a few) and then after starting her blog a delight in photography grew as well. 

Jane did return to study when the children were a bit older in order to gain a PhD but after a year the conflict between her intellectual and creative life was too great so she opted out of study and pursued a different work path whilst fully embracing her gentle domestic life with its ever increasing creative avenues at the same time. She came to the conclusion that variety and choice were integral in understanding the values and pleasures of the gentle domestic arts.

I love what she wrote on page 11...

"For the gentle arts are just that; gentle. They do not demand to be practiced. No one is obliged to pursue them....They are a matter of individual and personal choice. They can be enjoyed by anyone with an interest and the ability to thread a needle, break an egg, choose a colour or wield a pair of scissors."

There's a deep emphasis within the pages of "The Gentle Art of Domesticity" to remove the burden of perfection from your tasks or creative pursuits and simply enjoy the process because there are no  rules to restrict your creativity, no awards you must achieve. 

Gentle domesticity is a journey of discovery within yourself, to become acquainted once more with the arts, hobbies or activities which you used to love to do, and then to make a beginning with the ones you've always wanted to play at.

Jane continues...

"The whole point about the gentle arts is that they are non-competitive, soothing and utterly pleasurable. Anyone who tells you otherwise should be tied up with acrylic yarn and deprived of her knitting needles for a long time."

"Ignore all calls for perfection and focus instead on what you can achieve and the pleasures of the gentle arts will be yours for the taking."

There's some delightful moments which will make you laugh out loud within the  pages of The Gentle Art of Domesticity and plenty of inspiration to be adventurous, inquisitive, relaxed and at peace with love for living the gentle domestic life. I have personally found myself liberated through the obvious pleasure Jane shares in her writings as she steps forth into the many and varied (beautiful) aprons that domesticity can offer.

Each week I'll share a few questions you can ask yourself about what we've just read and these will most probably trigger my own reflections much of the time. Like the fact that Jane also shared how she was a bit of crafty nerd growing up but it wasn't until she was expecting her twins that she became totally knitted into the beauty and fun of creative expression again, and with gusto!

When I was a little girl living in my Nana and Pop's tiny flat there was a lovely lady who lived in the flat above us and she had this marvelous black treadle sewing machine which she would use to make almost anything you could imagine. As a nine year old I was in awe of her skill and the day she asked if I'd like to take her fabric scraps, a needle and some thread downstairs and make clothes for my doll - well, my heart was won over forever to the idea of creating new things out of old. 

One of Nana's dear friends was a lovely woman I called 'Auntie' and when I was about seven she sat me down right beside her in the heavily cushioned wicker couch on her front porch while we were there to visit. Between pouring cups of tea and spreading measured spoons of jam over the scones Nana had made for our morning tea, she taught me how to knit. It was wonderful! To see how two thin tortoiseshell needles and some spindly yarn could become a square so pretty that I thought my heart would burst from my chest, I knew this was something I wanted to do forever.

Watching Nana cook and bake with no recipe to guide her, how she'd take ripe mulberries from the tree branches which hung over the fence from next door's yard and bake us the most delicious pie, and the way she'd gather the pastry scraps left over from an apple pie just gone into the oven and press them over a china bread and butter plate before spreading with jam and criss-crossing a lattice of more pastry scraps to bake as my 'jam tart' afternoon treat...I fell in love with baking, fell in love with baking 'with love'.

I see now as I look back over my life that many of the creative domestic arts I pursue today began when I was a child when someone took the time to show me something wonderful, and to encourage me to learn and explore them myself. 

Child-like delight in something new is an art in itself and one many of us have sadly forgotten. Perhaps we can consider this when new opportunities to 'play' come our way in future.

What crafts or creative domestic activities did you pursue when you were young?

Have you continued with them?

Is there one or more that fell by the wayside but which you'd like to try again?

What inspired you in our study this week?

Share with us in the comments; or write your own blog post and join in with the Link Up so we can come visit and read. I'd love to hear about your journey and discoveries living the gentle domestic life.

NEXT WEEK we're going to study pages 16-25.

The WINNER of the GIVEAWAY from last week is...

Congratulations! I'll be emailing you soon so I can send that sweet parcel your way. 

A little gift...

If you noticed that 2019 bookmark in the photos above and you like it, be joyful because I'm going to share the pattern with you today!

It originally featured on a similar bookmark which I stitched a couple of years ago and use all the time so I've updated the design with '2019' and sewn it up as a fresh new bookmark which will mark my place inside "The Gentle Art of Domesticity".  
You might want to do the same!

This will be a free stitchery pattern all year and you can download it here.

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 post for others to come by, visit their blogs and be inspired.

NOTE: If your link is advertising or not a true reflection of the heart for living a gentle domestic life it will be deleted. 

I hope you'll join in!

My dear friend Fee has shared her own thoughts on this week's study here on her blog. Why don't you pop over for a visit?

May you be blessed in all things that bring a sense of joy and gentleness to your wonderfully domestic life...


Sunday, January 13, 2019


Seasons of overwhelm are normal for all of us.
Some last a short time whilst others press in for far longer.

My own life this past month has increasingly stretched my reserves until right now I'm in a season of physical and mental overwhelm. 

And what I have noticed this past week is that rather than pressing in closer to seek counsel, comfort and understanding from God's Word, I've spent less time than usual in His presence. 

I've prayed much more for others as I go about my day or lay awake in the night, yet I did not often pray for myself, nor soaked in the Words of Life as I should.

Today's Scripture is one the Lord brings me back to whenever I tend to stray off course and get distracted to the point that I'm weary and overwhelmed by extra requests others make on me and which I feel unable to decline, or become so busy 'doing' that I forget to just 'be still'  in His presence and allow God's perfect peace to refresh me.

So as I close this post today I'm going to pour myself a long cool glass of ginger water and go sit in a quiet spot to open the Psalms and listen while God speaks into my heart exactly what I need to hear.

It's never too late to stop, turn around and run to Him so if you're overwhelmed too, let's both be led back to "the ROCK that is higher than I"  for some heavenly refreshing.

Bless you heaps,

Friday, January 11, 2019

The V pincushion and a shabby chic style hand towel tutorial...

This time last year we'd not long been told that the rental home we'd recently moved in to had gone up for sale. Life was quickly re-evaluated and much prayer sent heavenward as we carefully considered our options. Both in our 50's and now empty nesters, hubby and I had previously only ever rented because for most of our married life we'd traveled far and wide to see the country of our birth with children in tow - but this was all about to change. 
We chose to save like crazy in order to give ourselves enough deposit to purchase our very first home and stepped out in faith with the Lord to achieve this goal.

So as we worked, saved and searched for a home we could afford, I chose to continue spreading love and welcome within the walls of the rental home we were in as long as it was our God-given shelter, and to hopefully infuse 'welcome' into every space. 

That's when I designed this pretty Flowers, Books & Tea stitchery...

I purposefully stitched this design onto the lower edge of a large piece of flour sack fabric as I had in mind this would make a beautiful guest hand towel for our main bathroom and this morning it occurred to me that being creative in how we welcome guests to our home is very much part of living the gentle domestic life - so here's how I made my guest towel, just in case you'd like to sew something similar.

NOTE: You can use any stitchery/applique design for this project but it does need to be stitched directly onto the hand towel. 

Actually, before I go on I must say, there’s something very comforting about stitching on flour sack, a sense that others have done this before you. I’m reminded that the old ways are not forgotten but being revived today with a new appreciation for what was once thought of as “poor woman’s” supplies.
Flour sack, feed sack, calico – each was thought of as fabric for those who could afford nothing better, cloth of necessity rather than choice. Yet today we tea dye calico for a ‘primitive’ effect in doll making, embroidery and decorating; we purchase flour sack to make fresh and bright kitchen towels; and we hunt down vintage feed sack fabrics for quilting.
I cherish the simplicity and beauty of these cloths and look for opportunities to use them, especially flour sack as it’s quite lovely to embroider on.
Have you tried it?

Now, let's make that guest towel!

Cut a piece of flour sack (or your chosen fabric) 20” wide x 24” high and trace the design so that it sits 6” above the bottom raw edge of the fabric.
Embroider the design you've chosen.

 After the embroidery and/or applique has been completed the flour sack is trimmed by 1” on each of the four sides to measure 18” wide X 22” high. 

NOTE: I always cut my embroidery  background larger than I need to account for fraying, stretching (some fabrics will stretch) or other distortions which may occur during the hand embroidery  or applique  process. Once done I iron the fabric flat and can cut nice straight edges before continuing with the project.

A piece of 2” wide cotton lace is now sewn across the bottom of the hand towel.

Cut another piece of flour sack fabric the same size (18” x 22”) and pin the two pieces right sides together before sewing around the sides and across the top with a ¼” seam, which will close those three sides whilst leaving the edge below the embroidery open.

Cut a piece of contrast fabric, 2 ½” x 20”, and sew it along the open bottom edge of the hand towel with a ¼” seam. (this will now close the bottom of the hand towel)

Press it away from the lace, turn over and fold a hem back towards the wrong side of the hand towel (see below). 

Press the hem over the raw edge of the hand towel, and fold in the ends before pinning in place.

Hand stitch the fabric edging down as you would a quilt binding and your decorative hand towel is ready to use.

As I said before you could use any embroidery or applique design for this project, or any fabric you like for the actual hand towel, but if you'd like to stitch Flowers, Books & Tea onto your hand towel you'll find the pattern ready to download here in my Etsy Shop. 

Now on to this week's pincushion. 
V is for Vicki, Veronica, Vange, Vivian...and?? 

Does your name begin with V?

I thought with this one I'd angle the V into the corner of a square.

The blue borders are cut 3/4" wide so once the pincushion has been pieced they are a slim 1/4" and just add a nice little accent to the centre embroidery.

I made the corners in flying geese fashion and overall this is my newest favourite pinnie. 
I say that all the time, I know. LOL!

The little V shape is backstitched in blue and green; the petals are three strand lazy daisy stitches and the centre of the flower is a handful of french knots sewn close together.

The pattern for V is a free download until January 31st here or here.

The patterns for R and S are also free until January 31st and the links are in this blog post.

The pattern sets for A-E, F-I, J-N, and OPQUT are here in my shop.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway in this blog post because it closes Monday, and that post also kicked off our book study this year so have a read over it and if you have some lovely gentle domestic thoughts to share please do. 

Another new thing in my Tuesday post is the Link Up. 

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 post for others to come by, visit their blogs and be inspired.
I hope you'll join in!

That's enough for today. I'm a bit tuckered out after spending all morning with Blossom and her beautiful girls. We did the rounds of doctor's appointments, morning tea at the cafe, a visit to the pharmacy for scripts and then the very big grocery shop. What a wonderful time we had! Tiring, but wonderful. There's nothing quite like having Blossom pull up in her car and hear Cully May shout, "There's Nana!! Get me out of the car!!"

Once released, she flew into my arms and did not leave my side until lunchtime when we said goodbye. Such a blessing to be loved like that. 

May the Lord remind you of HIS perfect and boundless love for YOU today,