Monday, November 18, 2019

Block One - Words of Life free stitchalong...


As I told you the other day we're starting a new stitch-along this week. 
It's fairly simple, perfect for stitching and quilting newbies, and will run for two weeks.

I'll be sharing one free stitchery block each Monday, Wednesday and Friday from today November 18th, through to Friday November 29th.

Five of the six embroidered designs were originally shared back in 2015 when I hosted a stitch-along to make a Christmas wreath and the assembly instructions for that project are still on my blog so if you'd rather finish these blocks as a wreath instead of the table runner we're making this time just go HERE to see the steps. 

For the "Words of Life" table runner stitch-along I have omitted the Merry block from the original wreath set and created a new design, HOPE, because I find myself less inclined to decorate for Christmas and more inclined to display Christ-inspired stitcheries and projects permanently through our home. Jesus isn't a once a year celebration for us, He is our purpose and joy in each new day and every day with Him is a blessing. There's no day greater than another when you walk with Jesus and isn't that simply remarkable to think about?



Today we shall begin this project by stitching HOPE. 
Hope is something all believers have, a sure and true knowing in our hearts that Jesus is all He says He is, and will do all He has promised. 

Just today our sweet Blossom called and encouraged me with Scriptures of hope, one after the other, and my heart soared with delight, for when we hear the word of God it has power to lift as nothing else can.


But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

(Isaiah 40:31)




The updated set of words we'll be stitching include little pops of applique, because you must know by now that they're almost a signature piece of most Elefantz designs. I love choosing the right fabric for each tiny shape, but if you're not confident adding applique then don't. Simply embroider each word and shape in backstitch as I did back in 2015 with the wreath project.
Work to your comfort level because if you find even a small part of this pattern frustrating or stressful then the delight will soon evaporate, and I would dearly love for you to enjoy every stitch.

Here's the completed "Words of Life" table runner.
Finished, it measures 14" x 30".



I'll share the final assembly instructions on November 29th with the final stitchery block.

Gather your fabrics first before choosing your embroidery threads. In the HOPE pattern I've included the list of threads used in my blocks just in case you have some of the older Tilda prints that I've used to complete my pattern.




For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, 
plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11





I'll keep this project as a permanent freebie and will add a link in my sidebar for future reference.

Tomorrow Blossom, Cully May and Rafaella are coming to visit and we're planning a tea party with some rather cute vintage melamine cups I found at a garage sale recently. Bloss is making red velvet cup cakes and I have a pineapple fruit cake and some tiny toddler-size crackers to serve with cheese so I think we'll be feasting well!

May the HOPE of Christ fill your heart and mind today, drawing you closer to Him and more 'hopeful' for what is yet to come as we follow His word.

hugs


Friday, November 15, 2019

Another FREE stitch-along begins on Monday...

Years ago I shared a simple Christmas stitch-along over six weeks and to be honest, as much as I loved the project design, my choice of fabrics had been dictated by a supplier so my choice of prints probably didn't reflect what I would chosen of my own accord.
Still, I was quite happy with the end result and it hung in our home each Christmas.

But the disappointment in fabric choice has increased over the past few years and as more and more of you have contacted me recently asking if I'd list the original pattern in my shop, the desire to remake the project in my own style, in colours and fabrics I love, took hold.

So, beginning on Monday I'll be sharing six blocks over two weeks.  I've removed one of the word designs from the original set of six and replaced it with a word that says so much more at this time of year. Hope.




The first version of my six blocks was completed as a wreath made of hexagons, but this time I'm finishing the blocks in a simple table runner...one which can be displayed all year through.

I'll share one block every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for two weeks.

Raid your scrap bucket or gather some old favourite pieces of fabric because that's what I've done. Mine are mostly fat eighths but the more fabrics you use the smaller amount of each you'll need. 

As I said, this is simple, just squares, a bit of hand embroidery and applique - and you can even omit the applique if you're not confident about it, so anyone can sew along.

Will you join the fun?


I apologise for not completing the final instalment of this year's book study on Tuesday.
With the launch of Faith In Hand the other day amid another string of migraines through the week I felt it best to wait a bit longer until I have time to put the last chapter into words for you.

I may try for next Wednesday in the blog post with block 2 of the new stitch-along.


Leaving you today with photos some of our stitching ladies from the Gentle Domesticity group have shared recently of their completed Elefantz projects. 
They are gorgeous and I know they'll inspire you!

From Barbara C, these two...






From Jeanette I...




From Marion P...




From Margaret V...




HURRY!

Now, if you've not downloaded all nine of the Scrappy Vintage Kitchen patterns, I've decided to leave them up until Monday 18th November, an extra few days.

Please go HERE for the links.
By Tuesday morning they will all be gone.

Click on the links below to download the other two free patterns shared above...




May your weekend be a time of rest, of renewal, of drawing close to the Father's heart, and of happy endeavours with needle and thread...

hugs


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Launching the FAITH IN HAND stitchery club...


Is your heart delighted when you stitch the Word of God?
Mine too.

Each month in my "Faith in Hand" stitchery club you will receive three new patterns, inspired by Scripture or beautiful old hymns, to embroider and display in your home or give as gifts
 of truth and encouragement to others.

Each issue of "Faith in Hand" will be emailed to club members on the last day of every month so you can begin fresh on the 1st day of the month with a new set of faith inspired designs to draw your heart and hands closer to Jesus.
I find time spent stitching Scripture is nourishing to my spirit and soul, it brings beauty before my eyes, calm to my thoughts and living water to my day to day life. 
And this is what I pray you will experience as well.

These are the patterns inside my very first issue of Faith in Hand...



Each month I'll include a simple bonus project for displaying one of the completed stitcheries.
In this first issue, which I'll send out on November 29th (because the 30th is a Saturday and I do not work on weekends), we'll be making a wall hanging from the Psalm 90:17 design.

I love this verse because it encourages me to be diligent in all that I do, whether that is washing the dishes, changing the sheets, minding my granddaughters, ironing a shirt for my husband, balancing the family budget or designing stitchery patterns to glorify the Lord.






The other two patterns we'll be stitching are Philippians 4:4 (we should always rejoice in the Lord but sometimes we need a reminder)...






...and Colossians 3:2 because when the trials of life take hold it's so important that we take our eyes off this temporary life and look up at what is yet to come in our eternal home.






Would you like to join the Faith in Hand Stitchery Club?

The monthly patterns arrive as a pdf file direct to your email inbox on the last day of the month.

Monthly payments are automatically deducted from your Paypal account so I hold none of your personal information other than your email address.

The cost per month will be $8.95 Australian (about $6.20 US) and your membership runs as long as you want to be involved. You are free to leave the Club anytime with no questions asked.

SPECIAL OFFER

Until November 21st you can join Faith in Hand for the special offer of $7.50 per month (about $5.15 US) and as long as you stay in the club that is all you pay each month.

But this is a temporary offer only and expires midnight of Nov 21st.
After that the regular cost of $8.95 will be permanent.

JOIN TODAY for the special offer of $7.50 AU ($5.15 US) by clicking the paypal button below.

FREE JOINING GIFT
Now, let me sweeten the offer with a FREE joining gift!

All members within 24 hours of joining Faith in Hand will receive the pattern for my new Humble & Kind table runner via email so you can stitch this up while you await the first issue of Faith in Hand to arrive on November 29th (because I don't work on the weekends, this issue will be sent a day early)...

I hope to have you stitching along with me very soon!

bless you heaps,



PS: for those who would rather purchase individual patterns and not join the monthly club I will list them separately in my Etsy shop on the 1st of every month for $5 each, the same as all my single Elefantz Designs patterns.


Thursday, November 7, 2019

Almost there...

Staying on top of the housework and the yard, setting up and stitching designs for my new "Faith in Hand" Club, and battling an incredible string of migraines these past few weeks has left me rather weary.
I'm not complaining and certainly not asking for sympathy, just sharing facts and explaining why blog posts have slowed lately. And I should also mention that the migraines are all weather related (high heat, humidity and plenty of oppressive-to-my-head cloud cover) and because of this there's nothing I can do to prevent them apart from move to a different part of the country and we're not about to do that. I accept them as my regular companion from October to April each year and choose to focus on the good they do (I'm far more creative during a migraine) rather than the bad.
"Praise God for good air conditioning" is an often heard exclamation most days now as it truly takes the edge off my pain.

Sophie is really feeling the heat too, with her thick long fur and love of the outdoors not helping at all. I have had to laugh at her a lot recently because no matter where she is - beside the bed, on the blue couch, across the tiles in our living room or outside in the shade - she's on her back, legs in the air and trying to cool her tummy.






Bobby prefers the indoors where he can languish under ceiling fans until I switch to air conditioning around lunchtime, and then he spreads out on the tiles nearby. Both he and Sophie are drinking lots of water but unlike him she's not so interested in food until after sunset, and then she eats often during the night. Bob will eat anywhere, anytime, in any weather.




The chooks hide for hours during the day underneath the bottle brush trees where they scratch down to make a dust bath and rest until the worst of the heat has passed. They love the early mornings though, foraging everywhere Mr E has been digging and preparing soils, as well as uprooting a few of my new potted plants. At the moment he's encouraging them to dig around this old tree where we just removed twenty large succulents (Torch Gingers) that had sadly become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. In the morning and at night (we eat those meals outside) I had become their no.1 target and as I have a bad reaction to mozzie bites we decided to give the plants away on Gumtree. 




So we're encouraging Daphne-Dorey and Bess to dig deep in that garden bed because it's going to be improved in January with compost, better soil and mulch in preparation for our autumn/winter planting. At the moment the ground is rock hard so they can play to their hearts content and leave lots of manure behind. It all helps in the end.

Our days begin around 5.15 am now. I let the chooks out of their coop to free range for the day and then water the citrus trees, herbs and potted plants in the backyard while it's still in shade before making hubby's lunch and our breakfast. Meanwhile Mr E tends to the rest of the garden. We find in this heat the early morning is crucial for attending to outside chores, but just before sunset we have another opportunity to work outside again. There's this lovely rhythm to our days now, and despite the challenging heat and humidity of this season in the tropics we enjoy our life, our home, our pets and each other. 

I did five loads of washing today and each time I went to hang out a load the previous one was bone dry and ready to bring in and fold. I'm so mindful of getting the washing in as soon as its dry because that fierce sun is God's bleach and everything fades quickly when left out for more than an hour or two.




I was so excited to see my pot of dahlias revive from regular watering. I'd love to put all my potted plants in the ground but they have a better chance of surviving till the wet season arrives in a pot. Of course, they're also saved from being dug up by our chooks who dig and scratch wherever we plant. 






It also uses less water to have them in pots.
Once the school year finishes in another five weeks I'll have my hubby home for six weeks and he'll build a proper chicken run so we can protect what we plant, especially as we prepare for the autumn/winter growing season.




We now have over forty indoor plants and with the weekly feeding of Mr E's worm juice they're thriving. I moved a fern from outside into the bathroom and sat it at the end of the bath next to the parlour palm and it's flourishing. Over the weekend I need to sew curtains for the bathroom though as with the skylight and a large window it's a very bright room at this time of year.



In the kitchen I'm still soaking my flour for muffins and fruit breads. This bowl sat for 24 hours until this morning when I baked 24 orange, honey and date muffins. Some went in the freezer for morning teas or easy breakfasts with fruit salad, but I kept a few aside for supper tonight with a cuppa.




The other night I needed to use up old apples and I remembered an apple & cinnamon tea cake recipe (similar to a sponge) that my kids all loved so as dinner was cooking I whipped it up for dessert. 
Mr E was rather chuffed when I served it later with more stewed apples and custard on the side.




We continue to eat less meat and look for new ways to serve vegetable based meals so the other day I purchased Jamie Oliver's new book, VEG, and I'm impressed. I was shocked at how much Book Depository and Amazon charge for it but found Big W stocking it at almost half price. Yay! I love a bargain and to be honest at the original price I would not have bought it.
There's plenty of recipes inside to tempt us, though Mr E is still averse to cauliflower, broccoli and sweet potato so substitutions will continue to be made.




Next door to Big W was one of those 'pop up' shops where every book was reduced to $5 so I came home with Maggie Beer's "Recipe for Life" cook book, another wonderful source of meal ideas.
For those overseas, Maggie Beer is a brilliant Australian cook and co-host of the Great Australian Bake-Off.




As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, there's been much going on behind the scenes with designing, stitching, writing and setting up my new stitchery club.

After much prayer I've chosen to call it "Faith in Hand" because that's what it's about... stitching the Word of God by hand. 
I will launch it on Monday or Tuesday next week and can't express how much joy this pours into my heart. Naturally, as with all new things, I had to clean out my sewing room and re-organise. It's still a work in progress but I'm getting there.




I discovered my little aqua set of shelves fits neatly under the cutting table so I may buy another when I meet Blossom and the little ones at Spotlight tomorrow.




All the new designs (twelve so far!) are neatly stored in zip lock bags awaiting my attention for pattern writing or piecing into a larger project. Storing individual projects like this was something I did when first learning to stitch and I'm finding it just as helpful now. No idea why I stopped doing it.




Even my desk has had a jolly good clean and re-ordering in preparation for this next season of design.




It's been a lovely year so far, despite the floods, and I can see now that the Lord needed me to step back a bit, use what I already had and not design much at all...because I was honestly creatively burned out.

Knowing when to stop, to give yourself time to refresh and perhaps follow different paths, that's a gift. And I thank my sweet Lord for being clear with me about stepping back right when I had a whole new set of plans for 2019...He knew what I did not, and such grace He showed in drawing my heart closer to His in order that through this year I grew more deeply in love with Him and eventually came to a place of being ready to design again - this time to His glory.
I still have patterns ready to go that don't involve Scripture, but most of them do and I hope you'll be as excited about that as I am.

More next week...




Well, my beloved is ready for dinner and the zucchini slice I made earlier has cooled and is waiting to be served with salad...




....so I shall bid you farewell today and thank you for being some of my companions in this gentle domestic life. 

May we all find our peace in the goodness of home, the people we love and who love us, and most importantly in the Saviour who gave His life for us all.

hugs


Friday, November 1, 2019

Scrappy Vintage Kitchen quilt assembly and around home...


Now that all nine stitchery blocks have been shared it's time to bring them together as a pretty wall quilt for your home.

Honest, I love my finished Scrappy Vintage Kitchen and as it's been pieced with scraps of favourite fabrics which span over a six year period there's also a lovely touch of 'stash nostalgia' as well as the nostalgia of a life growing up in Nana's kitchen which was the original inspiration behind every stitchery and the eventual vintage-retro quilt display.




In the first week of this 18-week journey of sewing together I gave a tutorial for the bright hopes block, because that's how I've framed each stitchery, and made a new pincushion using the same measurements as the completed blocks ...




If you missed that tutorial you'll find it HERE




Then we continued stitching and piecing one block every second Friday until the final block was shared with you last week.

Along the way I had sewn all my blocks together, added a border and begun to hand quilt.




Today you can begin these final steps too.




Once your stitcheries are pieced inside a bright hopes block using the measurements I gave here, sew them together in three rows of three.
I chose my block placements to balance the flow of colours and fabric, but mostly it was about the whole quilt being pleasing to the eye once it was bordered and bound and hanging on my wall.
There's no set sequence to the order of the stitchery blocks though I did begin with 'My Vintage Kitchen' at the centre and moved other blocks around it until I was happy. 

Once the nine blocks were sewn together I added a 1" red gingham border.

After that, a 2½” wide second border was added using a soft and sweet floral on white print from Elea Lutz's 'Bluebirds on Roses' range, before adding wadding and backing.
My quilt was all hand quilted with cream Perle #12 thread.




I toyed with the idea of red gingham binding but decided to stay with the same fabric used in the second border because this allowed the stitchery blocks to really stand out, and I'm so happy I went with that decision because the final display looks beautiful in our home.




The nine stitchery patterns remain free until November 15th and you'll find the download links HERE

On November 16th the full set of patterns will be available in my shop for purchase.

 Have you enjoyed this stitch-along? 
Are you making a quilt or using the little designs in other projects? I'd love to know.

If you've made any of these blocks and want to show them off leave a comment below with a link to your blog or Instagram page so we can come have a look. 

If you haven't found my own Instagram page yet it's HERE. Tag me with your Elefantz stitchery photos please, I'd love to see them!


AROUND HOME

It's been so dry for many months and though we water on our allotted days (council water restrictions) mostly it's just keeping things alive, not thriving. Last week I removed some struggling plants from the ground and potted them until they can recover when our wet season arrives. In the meantime they are getting some good worm soup from Mr E's worm farm and gaining health again. 

We have a particular cockatoo whom you've met here before. Betty. She has recently begun sitting quite near us each morning at breakfast, and when Mr E talks to her she always replies in her own cockatoo language. It's rather lovely having her just six feet from the outdoor table where we have meals, never fearful, and always content to sit and chat with us until I clear the table and we go off to our day's chores or work. 




There's another cockatoo who's become a regular visitor to the feeder, mostly when the other birds have left for the day because the healthy, younger birds push him aside. As you can see he is getting on in years so I add more seed when he arrives so he doesn't miss out.
Haven't named him yet as I can't settle on one that suits him.




This week we had two nights where it rained, not a lot of rain, just about 20-30 minutes of fairly light drizzle but enough that there's a noticeable difference in the garden. 

Where we are in the world, the tropics of northern Australia, many trees lose all their leaves in spring and not autumn. Our tabebuia trees are like that and it was sad to see the pink one we planted late last year bare and forlorn looking recently. But now it's beginning to flourish again and my husband is thrilled because we are still new to growing trees and did not know it was normal for them to lose all their leaves so at first we thought it was dying.




Just as we were about to mulch the old winter beans into our garden this little bit of rain has revived them and suddenly more flowers have appeared.
I love how the rockmelons which self seeded from our compost happily live under and around those beans.






This one's an odd shape, very elongated...




...but the rest of them are round and we've got this one almost ready to eat.




Yesterday Blossom, Cully May and Rafaella visited for the morning and after we supped on fresh scones and homemade strawberry jam I took Cully May outside to check if the chooks had laid their eggs. She was so excited because she loves our hens and always wants to pat them.
Well, even more exciting was collecting her first, warm, freshly laid egg...




Her delight in accomplishing new things, discovering something fresh, being read to, hugged, smothered in kisses and given treats from my cupboard - all of those things remind me that this is how God wants us to be with Him, like little children still untainted by the world...and I want Him to be as delighted in me as I am in Cully May.

I must away now to Friday's chores.
I cooked a roast chicken dinner last night and there's a lot of leftovers so after I hang the washing and scrub the shower I'm going to prepare a big bowl of chicken, vegetable and pasta salad, bake some rock cakes and put a loaf of sour dough in the breadmaker. Mr E likes to have fresh bread with his dinner every night and I too often forget that...note to self: serve bread with dinner.

In case you've missed my recipe for Rock Cakes here it is again.


2 cups of sifted self raising (self rising) flour
90g soft butter
1/2 cup castor (superfine) sugar
1 cup mixed dried fruit
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk

Preheat your oven to 200 C (390 F)

Sift the flour and mixed spice into a bowl.
With your fingertips rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Stir the sugar and dried fruit through the flour.
Mix the egg and milk together.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in the egg/milk mixture.
Using a knife quickly mix everything together but don't over mix.

Place heaped spoonfuls of the dough onto a lined biscuit tray (makes 24) and bake for 15 minutes.

Cool on a rack and enjoy! 

May your weekend be one which is abundant in the Lord's refreshment,

hugs