Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Rain, a new video, good food and stitching...

The rain fell last night and we had a most amazing light show from the sky with deep booming thunder as well. When you rely on the wet season to water an ailing garden, and when your town needs more water to top up the dam before the dry season returns, then a good soaking late in January is most welcome, even if it is a couple of months late. Now we pray it keeps coming. Though not as much as last year's wet season floods. 

We water the garden where it needs it a few times a week for about 20 minutes and at the moment that is where my out-of-season tomatoes are bearing fruit. Not a lot of fruit on them and the vines are only small, but considering the extreme heat and humidity which refuses to abate, the little gems deserve some care. 

Sadly, many of the herbs have withered under the stress of heat and even 'dried' in their pots, like this sage which has battled on bravely since the heat set in a few months back...

I've put all the potted plants close together near the garden bed which houses the bird feeder and they get a bit of shade from the taller shrubs around them but it's just scorching outside and too many have burnt up in distress. 
Though I must say the basil, Thai basil and thyme are thriving! 

So last night's downpour was a gift from God and just looking out over the front yard glistening with water droplets this morning filled my heart with sweet delight.

This little old cubby house was a find on Gumtree by my dear husband just after Christmas. It's battered and bruised but give us time and we'll have the prettiest little house for Cully May and Rafaella to play in over the late autumn and winter when our days here are like spring in most areas of the world. 

Today is day seven of the transition to a ovo-vegan diet and it's been wonderful. This morning I 'felt' the difference because the pressure was off my chest and I could breathe a bit better. My heart ultrasound is scheduled for January 30th and I'm so hopeful that over time this change of menu will be exactly what I need to heal my heart.
I've always chosen alternative over medical if I believe there's merit and in this situation I am encouraged by many avenues. Have you ever watched the documentary "Forks Over Knives"? It's on Netflix if you have it (we don't) but we purchased the DVD and have watched it a few times, most recently with a genuine focus on heart health.

Removing dairy is easy as I've been off and on dairy for two decades, always checking if it made a difference to my migraine frequency (it doesn't) and tummy pains (it does)...but now hubby and I will eliminate it permanently. To be honest I was shocked when Mr E told me he was happy to use almond milk in his morning lattes. Bless him! 

A few days ago I made this delicious Cashew Parmesan and it's so good I'd choose it over dairy parmesan any day. My Kitchen Aid whizzed it up very quickly...

There's only four ingredients - raw cashews, nutritional yeast (tastes very cheesy and is super healthy), garlic powder and a little salt.

We had a good serving scattered over vegetable pasta salad that night which was loaded with fresh veg and roasted carrot and beetroot.

A yummy treat are these raw 'Lamington' bars which also whizzed up in the Kitchen Aid in just a few minutes. Pressed into a brownie tin and scored before leaving in the fridge to set, they are yummy and have become our current dessert each night along with a handful of green grapes.

Burgers were on the menu at the weekend and I used what was already on hand to create these morish patties from canned lima beans, sauteed zucchini and onion, garlic, ginger, chopped fresh coriander, a few breadcrumbs and a jolly good dollop of curry paste.

Rolled into patties and browned in a little coconut oil they are very filling and truly addictive.

In my sewing basket is the second version of this year's Block of the Month, Psalm 23.
I'm stitching block 2 at the moment, which I'll share with you on February 1st. 

If you've missed the first block go HERE to download the pattern
The Psalm 23 patterns will be free all year.


I realised this morning you've not seen the three new patterns for my next Faith In Hand Stitchery Club issue...

If you are like me and love having the Word of God displayed beautifully around your home then you might just like to join myself and the many Club members who each month bring Bible Scriptures, hymns or inspirations to life with needle and thread.

These are the three designs for February.
They will be emailed to all my Club members on January 31st...

Joining the Faith in Hand Club is easy, and you're not locked in to any particular length of time. You can join and leave whenever it suits you because I understand life is never static and your needs or situation can change - and I'll never require you to tell me why you need to leave. Your privacy is important to me.

The previous designs from the December and January issues of Faith in Hand can be purchased  as single patterns in my Etsy Shop.

The birds...

Many of you love seeing photos of the wild birds in our yard so I thought I'd pop a quick little video on YouTube so you could really see and hear them as I do. 

A theme for 2020...

There was a lot on my mind and heart to share with you as this new year began to unfold, but a trip to hospital kind of detoured me for a bit. In coming days I'll be back to blogging regularly as Mr E returns to work for a new school year and the rhythms of home life slip back into their normal ebb and flow.  
Home life...that's so deeply embedded in my thoughts and prayers to write about, and I hope as we journey through 2020 there'll be a lot of encouragement and discussion between us about the joys to be found in the ordinary everyday life of a homemaker. 

Bless you sweet friend, and may the favour of the Lord shower you with every precious kindness from above,


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Slowing down and a silly mistake...

If you follow my Instagram or Facebook pages, or are a member of my Gentle Domesticity group, you'll already be aware I was hospitalised a few days ago for what turned out to be a problem with my heart. 

It's an ongoing problem and though I am home from the hospital now I have a number of tests to be done in the coming weeks to pinpoint where in the heart my problem lies. This honestly came as a shock...my heart was one thing I had long imagined to be very healthy. All the blood tests result were excellent (yay!) but my blood pressure was very high and the most concerning results for the cardio doctors were the ECG's which were taken every few hours over a 24 hour period and weren't good at all.

So life is slowing considerably as hubby and I focus on the simple joys each day brings forth around our home, time spent with each other, and the delight of family togetherness with our dear Blossom and her two girls. There's nothing like a good shake up of your heath situation to whittle away the unnecessary and draw your eyes towards those special relationships and the things in life which hold true value. 

One thing I found difficult during my days in hospital was the fear that others tried to sow into my mind. Being told "you could die" by doctors and nurses doesn't bode well when you're alone, in pain, and not fully conversant with heart problems yet. But you know, God does not give us a spirit of fear and so I sought Him through His Word in the quiet hours of the night and between 'obs' during the day. I let His truth and promises soak my soul with calm and hope and confidence. 

Life adjustments are taking place, one major one being the switch to an ovo-vegan diet, which is not that hard as we eat loads of fruit and vegetables in our everyday diet anyhow. But now I'm easily ditching meat and dairy with the blessing of my lovely doctor. I'm also on blood pressure meds and low dose aspirin while awaiting tests and results over the next month to determine exactly what's going on inside my ticker.

SO....that's me filling you in on what's happened this week and why I've been absent from blogging, but now I'd like to put all that aside and talk about normal things, okay?

Last week I was sewing one of Allie's designs, a table runner. I absolutely love her Vintage Flowers pattern and it's my plan this year to make something for myself and the home each month, in between designing and stitching for Faith in Hand.

I completed the applique blocks, pieced the table runner and was very excited to fuse the wadding and backing in place so I could begin the relaxed rhythm of hand quilting. Oh what a joy it is to hand quilt with no deadline looming!

I fused Pellon behind the top of my table runner, then spray basted the other side of the Pellon before laying the backing fabric across it to make the completed quilt sandwich. The acrid smell of the basting spray went right through my small sewing room and immediately I knew there was a problem.
Remember at the start of the month when I gave my sewing room a makeover? Well, my basting spray wasn't moved - it sits on the top left corner of my fabric shelves. What I had forgotten though, was placing a can of white spray paint beside it. :-( 
That's what I grabbed off the shelf and mindlessly sprayed between backing fabric and Pellon...

The Pellon is white which is why I didn't notice the problem as I sprayed from the wrong can. That can of paint should have been placed up in Mr E's shed but I'd bought it to freshen up my old blue drawers in the sewing room and thought if it was in the same vicinity I'd remember to follow through on my plan. 

So I quickly peeled away the Pellon and the backing fabric and threw them in the bin, took a deep breath and made a cup of tea whilst my sewing room 'aired out'.
Then I cut more Pellon and backing fabric and repeated the sandwiching process using the correct can of spray baste this time. Sigh. Lesson learned.

My version of Allie's Vintage Flowers runner is complete and it's so pretty...even worth the drama with paint. 

Last night I had a head start with dinner because Blossom gave me a pot of her delicious potato and chick pea curry, so all I had to do was make a fresh tomato chutney and mint yoghurt (using the last of our dairy).

For dessert I simmered a few cups of mixed berries with lemon zest and baked a tray of flaked almonds, rolled oats and shredded coconut until they were toasty and golden to scatter over the top of the berries for a deconstructed crumble.
We used the last of our custard on the side which gave us a dairy free start from today.

Today I've made cashew cream as an accompaniment to the leftover berry crumble for tonight's dessert, and we're having hasselback potatoes with garlic, coleslaw and corn on the cob for our main. 

Tomorrow Blossom, Cully May and Rafaella are coming over to visit and I can't wait. Those little girls and Mr E played in my hospital room and made the visit extra special with their funny antics and laughter. When Jesus said to become as little children I think He meant that in many ways, such as taking simple joys and letting laughter be a medicine.

So I guess that's what I'll leave you with today; a reminder to laugh, to embrace the simple joys God places in your path, to not sweat the small stuff, to stop and breathe and notice the beauty around you.

I'm excited about what's ahead in my life, because every day I'm here has purpose, a very special purpose God created just for me. 
And He has a unique purpose for your life too. 

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

Ephesians 2:10

Much love,

Friday, January 10, 2020

Selling my quilt for Australian bushfire fundraiser...

I'll be posting the quilt off to Carol Shaw in California.
Thank you Carol xxx

As you know my beloved country is still battling fires across four states which began back in September and are still raging and in some areas expected to get worse as weather conditions escalate.

I am safe here in the tropics of North Queensland. But those who live in the southern states have much to contend with and for so many each day is a 'wait and see' scenario that keeps them anxious and ready to run.

Fundraisers have been set up everywhere within Australia and I cannot tell you how blown away I am by the support from other countries as well. For truly, we are all God's children and to stand together and offer what we can to make one small drop of difference will add up to a flood of love, care, prayers and financial support for those who have nothing left. 

I've listed my original Shabby Old Roses wall quilt for sale in my Etsy Shop this morning with all proceeds going to the Australian Red Cross who are on the ground, working tirelessly to provide for those in need.

I will post worldwide so if you love this quilt and want to donate generously to the Red Cross's disaster appeal for Australian bushfire victims please consider purchasing this work of my hands.

(I'll stitch a label to the back to authenticate it's an original handmade Jenny of Elefantz quilt made in 2019)

Please continue to pray for rain, for safety of lives and preservation of homes and livestock, for an end to the fires, for every need to be met, for emotional and physical healing.

Matthew 25:40

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Bless you heaps,

Monday, January 6, 2020

Around home...

In the sewing room...

When I shared the free 2020 pattern with you just before New Year there was also a mini-stitchery yet to be completed...well actually, it was complete but I'd not made it into anything at the time. Over the weekend that changed...

Something I like to keep in my bag is a small notebook. And a pen. And a tape measure.
But back to the notebook - this is where I write notes, measurements, addresses, thread  numbers I need to buy, a list of items we need to look out for at garage sales...and really, any number of other things a girl who is out and about might need to remember. 

My little notebook is 4" wide by 5.5" high and has 100 pages so I'm fairly sure it will last the year out. Of course, if you decide to stitch this up there's no compulsion to add the year. 
Perhaps you'll trace a few and throughout the year make little notebook gifts for friends?

Because there's a bowl full to overflowing with lace scraps in my sewing room, as well as jars, tins and boxes of lovely old and new buttons, the addition of both to the cover of my notebook, just off to the left of the single rosebud, made perfect sense.
How will you use this little stitchery?

Over the weekend I also completed my second version of block one in this year's free BOM "The 23rd Psalm". If you missed the link to download that block and want to see the full project as a fabric book it's in THIS blog post. 

This version is in soft pastels, very sweet and rather shabby chic with those beautiful Lecien Flower Sugar fabrics from long ago as my palette inspiration. I'm also making the book a little differently with this one and will show you both ways when I share block 2 on February 1st.

In other sewing I removed one of my favourite designs from the frame it has lived in since I made it in 2015. Originally I loved the solid blue wooden frame because it married well with the simple pieced border around my central stitchery, but after I reorganised my work/sewing room last week it just didn't work on the wall.

The name of this pattern is Nana's Jug in Patchwork, and along with a larger companion design, they truly are my favourite pieces of all time because they were made in loving memory of my nana who raised me.

So not wanting to pack it away I pulled the bordered stitchery out of it's frame and unpicked the hand quilting within the borders before trimming the sides (it had a lot of excess due to being wrapped around the frame insert), added wadding and backing before re-stitching the quilting by hand once more.

And you know, now this project has even more of my heart because when I was looking through my drawer of quilt hangers for a suitable one, I remembered this wire cat hanger which has languished in waiting for many, many years totally ignored.

Why has this added more meaning to Nana's Jug in Patchwork?
Because nana had a cat called Bubba and that cat loved nana, almost as much as nana loved her.

Now I have an extra memory to give thanks for and this is happily hanging in my sewing room once more, all fresh and made over, just like the room!

I've still had that nasty head cold taking a toll since last week, and when it spread to my throat and then my chest I'll admit a few alarm bells went off. Mr E has been watching me like a hawk and constantly checking that I'm 'taking it easy' (by sewing and drinking tea) because we both remember my two bouts with pneumonia in recent years.

Tissues, eucalyptus lozenges and Vicks Vaporub are officially my close friends at the moment but there's quite a bit of stitching happening as well so for the time being I'll take that as a blessing.
There's also lots of opportunity to sketch new designs and stitch them gently and quietly whilst watching all my old Poirot dvds.

And because I like to have one project on the go that's not my own design, which does not require copious pages of notes, and which I'll never need to write a pattern for, I have started on Allie Hartom's beautiful "Vintage Flowers" table runner from her monthly applique club.

Allie and I have been each other's pattern proof readers for many years and apart from being one of my closest friends in all the world (though we're an ocean apart) she's also a very talented designer with her own distinct style and if I had more free time, or more head colds, I'd stitch plenty of them.

In the kitchen...

Well, truth be told, I've not been all that hands on with anything terribly exciting in the kitchen this past week. In fact Mr E has threatened to hide all the knives because my sneezing fits tend to occur whilst I'm brandishing a newly sharpened paring or general purpose knife. It's not easy covering your face with a tissue in one hand whilst slicing or dicing with a knife in the other. 
I actually think he's enjoyed the Vietnamese Pho salads, the grilled barramundi and potato scallops, and the spicy crumbed chicken breast and chips our local take-outs have provided. But of course, they're just a side track while I'm under the weather and by yesterday he was quite over them and ready for home cooking again.

Fortunately I think yesterday was 'hump day' with my cold because today I'm breathing a bit easier, have more energy, and am able to stand in the kitchen for an hour without wanting to pass out, which is why I can show you a tray of Scrummy Slice and a plate of date and apple muffins.

The slice is for him and the muffins for me.
The slice has sugar, the muffins do not.
And both are delicious.

In the garden - birds...

Our feathered family are numerous and never a day passes when they miss our breakfasts together.
The corellas who visited for a whole week around Christmas and towards New Year have moved on but our regulars, the cockatoos and rainbow lorikeets, are here every day.

In the garden - plants...

Under the large tree where the rainbow lorikeets like to gather my "they'll never grow in the tropics this time of year" tomatoes are actually bearing fruit! 

Admittedly they get shade from the tree and that helps, but that thick layer of sand Mr E spread over the soil has helped enormously to keep their roots cool and wet during these endless hot and humid days of a tropical summer. 

There's also this 'thing' growing on a vine beside the tomatoes. It's either a very odd zucchini or some kind of melon? I doubt it's a pumpkin. But whatever it is must be something we eat because the tomatoes and 'it' came up from the household compost which was spread over the garden before the sand.

At the moment it is as big as my hand and is shaded by the vine's large leaves.
I guess we'll wait and be surprised.

Also amidst the tomatoes and 'it' my basil has self-seeded and a number of new plants are flourishing, which is good because we eat a lot of basil.

I also have Vietnamese basil in a pot which has bolted to seed so I'll keep them to plant out in a couple of months when we have more of the garden area prepared.

My re-planting of the spring/green onion ends has been a great success so I'm starting on a second tray...

...and the lemongrass has gone bonkers. Can't believe how well it flourishes, but am yet to discover when and how to harvest. Yes, a google search is in my future.

Remember the seed saving I showed you the other day? We have so many dill seeds but I wasn't sure they'd sprout this time of year so I popped a few in a pot the other day and played the 'wait and see' game. 
Success! Their little heads are breaking through!
We use a lot of dill in spanakopita, tiropita and mayonnaise so I'll plant more in a few weeks and then continue to stagger plantings to always have some on hand, plus extra to share with Blossom.

The marigolds are delightfully happy, as is the geisha girl tree and the fireball bulbs which break through this time of year for a sudden and quick burst of colour.

I'm even continuing to get tiny flowers on the pansies which have been carefully hidden in shade for months now. They've lasted since May and continue to surprise me with their resilience if I just keep up their water and shelter.

Next time I'll show you what my wonderful husband has been doing outside each morning and late afternoon while I've been inside recovering from the lurgy. There's a lot of changes right up the back and all new pipe work along the side of the house, plus trees planted and a new chicken cook in the works.

It's been a very long post today but I hope you didn't mind and enjoyed the wander around our home.

I probably won't post again till the end of the week so I'm going to leave you with this thought I shared on my Instagram and FB pages early this morning. I pray it blesses you.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:32

Kindness...the Father pours out His kindness on our lives each and every day and mostly in ways we cannot see, comprehend or perhaps appreciate. Kindness is underrated in this selfie focused world; a world where eyes rest too often on our own troubles, successes and wants. But God calls us to be tenderhearted towards others, to offer kindness, poured from the cup of our hearts which has been filled by Christ dwelling in us and into the empty cup of one in need. That need may just be a kind word, a pot of tea, a hug, or a bag of groceries. Kindness can be offered in small simple ways so let’s not hold back today but pour out from the well of kindness Christ has filled in us.

Bless you heaps,