Saturday, February 18, 2017

Are you enjoying the fruits of your labor?

Ecclesiastes isn't often on my reading list and that's not a purposeful avoidance by any means, it just isn't where my Bible opens most days, weeks or even months.
But a couple of times in the past few days it did, and both those times it fell open to same page in Ecclesiastes. The verse that on those two occasions caused me to stop, ponder and sigh, was...

"and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor - it is the gift of God"

You may think me odd, and to be sure in many ways my husband would agree, but both days my reading of this verse brought forth in my mind a picture of a large freshly baked apple pie. 
The pie had one piece missing and I felt within myself a deep satisfaction, as though I were the one who had baked the pie and eaten that delicious slice.

Now that's not something which would happen in my kitchen. 
I bake for the family and it is from my love of serving them that when a pie such as this is placed on the table they are always served first. 
Generous slices are cut and slipped into aged dessert bowls with scoops of ice cream on top for all to enjoy, and only after everyone is seen to do I attend to my own piece - and I see nothing wrong with that.

But I sensed with this Scripture that God was wanting to make a point with me.

My life runs on a track of serving, working, giving, working more, serving more, giving more...all with good intent, loving intent, giving intent. I grew up watching my Nana do this and her example is the only one I knew to follow so it was natural that her rhythm of life would become mine, and the rhythm of my life would have an effect on my daughters years later. 

What I failed to realise until now was the lack of Ecclesiastes 3:13 in Nana's life, in my life.

That 'vision' I had this week of the fresh baked apple pie with a slice eaten filled me with delight, a wonderful sense of satisfaction in work well done. 
It was as though I'd spent the morning picking apples, peeling, chopping, stewing them with a little sugar and cinnamon for the pie filling. Then I would have rubbed butter and sugar into flour and deftly made pastry dough, rolled it out and blind baked the pie case before filling it with the cooled apples. Another roll of dough and perhaps a lattice criss-cross of half inch strips like Nana would do across the top, a few leaves cut from the pastry scraps pressed onto the centre, a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and into the oven to bake.
A tidy of the kitchen bench, wash the bowls, sweep the floor, hang up my apron and 'ping' goes the kitchen timer - my pie would be ready!

"and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor..."

Then imagine.
I don't wait for the family dinner.
I brew the kettle, choose my favourite tea cup and pretty cake plate and I cut into that apple pie. 

One lovely thick slice, the fruit of my labor to enjoy. 
No guilt. No rushing to do other things. Not today. 
I savour every delicious morsel because I'm relaxed, just letting myself delight in the reaping of my 'harvest'.

There's plenty of pie left for everyone else but right now it's okay to serve myself and thank God because...

" and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor - it is the gift of God"

Don't forget yourself.
Don't forget to enjoy life, to enjoy the fruit of your labor, to enjoy the gifts of God.

Working, serving and giving are very important and we must continue doing those things, especially from the heart with generous and loving motivation - but we must also laugh, breathe, embrace each day, be kind to ourselves, learn to say no sometimes, and enjoy the fruit of our labors.

It's not just about apple pie, though sometimes it may well be. It's about stopping to enjoy what you've put effort into - whether that be a relationship, a project, an event, a harvest, anything that required something from you. 

There's something else I should mention.
Teach this to your children if like me your example has been one of too much work and not enough enjoying the fruits.
I see two of my girls especially, who diligently care for their families and expect nothing in return because they love being wives and mothers, they delight in being homemakers, and find ways to work from home.
 I see them weary, burnt out, laughing a little less and in need of a harvest.
I see a bit of me in them already and think it's time to update the family rhythm. 
It's time they knew about Ecclesiastes 3:13 too, so they can teach their daughters.

Be blessed dear child of God, you are worth more than you know.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The slow week...

With a heatwave, two migraines, Mr E and I both catching a tummy bug after some dodgy Thai food on Sunday night, a giveaway to organise and the Stitchery Club due out on Friday, I took every opportunity I could this week to rest in the afternoons with my needle and thread, and began watching a 'new to me' Australian television series set in the 1950's that I'd borrowed from the local library.
(The Doctor Blake Mysteries in case you wondered)

Meals were considerably simplified, which got me thinking about the number of ingredients used in many recipes today, compared to my childhood in Nana's kitchen. It wasn't just life which was simpler back then, it was the cooking as well.

Hubby and I both had tummy cramps for three days after the Thai meal, and the meds I take for my migraines don't help either, so things like spelt & oat pancakes with maple syrup and fresh raspberries for breakfast were welcome for recovery. 
We quit coffee and opted for banana and date smoothies made with almond milk too.
Simple food, very quick to make, and our tummies began to recover.

In 2009 (or 10?) I did an online course with Jenny McGruther and loved what I learned about soaking grains and fermenting. On Monday I found her book when I was out with Blossom so this is what I'm slowly reading through at the moment and I'm remembering how much 'easier' on the tummy food was when I followed many of these steps.

Another book I found (Blossom and I went op-shopping) was this. I couldn't get past the sub title, "a quiet place where souls are refreshed" had to come home with me. Apparently it's based on the 'Glenbrooke' books but I haven't delved further along that road yet. Something to explore next week perhaps?

Stitching each afternoon has been lovely. 

I'm working on designs for March and they all have a garden theme.
One particular project is a set of four herbs which will become a mini-quilt. So far Rosemary is done...

...and I'll keep pottering along with the rest over the weekend.

Mr E and I have slowly been filling the house with indoor plants and our latest one, a gorgeous Peace Lily, is absolutely flourishing near the front entrance way.
Peace lilies filter toxins from the air so we intend to add more in the bedroom, my office and his study...

Two surprises arrived in the mail this week. The first was from Leanne, a truly sweet friend down in Tasmania who designs the prettiest things (visit her blog here and have a look-see). She came into possession of these very old tatted crosses and thought of me...isn't that precious? I'm going to use them in some special projects this year.
She even wrote me a letter on Cath Kidston notepaper. I was doubly blessed...

The second surprise was a large box from Japan. 
Mr E carried it in after work today and I wondered what on earth it could be?
Bless my socks, the very generous Yumi at Lecien Cosmo had sent me boxes of all their new thread colours to play with. Pastels do have the ability to make my heart race with delight.

The carnations I bought for $5 on Monday are still smiling beautifully as I sit here and watch the sun dip closer to the horizon from my office window...

...and I can hear from the carport below that Mr E has the Jeep running again after 6 weeks off the road.
The end of the week holds promise of a lovely weekend.

May your weekend be blessed too.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My splendid GIVEAWAY...

It was all the way back here in May 2016 that I shared with you the "Blossoming" stitchery block I designed for the amazing Splendid Sampler project which has been running since early last year and only just came to a close with the 100th free block shared this week.

Over 80 designers from across the world collaborated together (secretly for many months before any of this project was public knowledge) guided by our co-pilots Jane Davidson and Pat Sloan who flew their brainchild and us through a wonderful adventure! 

Now that the Splendid Sampler project has drawn to a close we're celebrating with giveaways!!

Some of the designers involved will be hosting their own giveaway via their blogs or social media and you'll find all that listed on the Splendid Sampler webpage on February 14th (USA time).

I'm joining in with that fun, but because I'm in Australia and it's already February 14th you can enter my giveaway a little earlier!

First of all, let me remind you that you can still download my free "Blossoming" stitchery block pattern HERE (and any of the other 99 Splendid blocks) until March 1st. They will be taken down after that date so don't miss out.

Secondly, I shared a tutorial to make a needle-book a few months after my block was released and you can find it HERE. The tutorial will stay permanently on my blog and if you need it in the future a link can be found on my "Tutorials" page.  

Now on to my giveaway!!

I wanted to make this giveaway relevant to the "Blossoming" block and as there was such a positive response to the little 
needle-book finish of my design I thought a complete kit to make this needle-book might be a fun prize...

Here's my original "Blossoming" needle-book...

...and here is what the winner of my "Splendid" giveaway will receive in their "Blossoming" 
Needle-book kit (everything, absolutely everything to make their own!).

I'll post worldwide so you can enter from anywhere.


ONE entry only per person.

Leave a comment on this blog post (that is your entry).

Leave your email address in the comment if you are a 'no reply blogger' otherwise I cannot contact you and your entry will become invalid.

I will delete any duplicate entries, even the entries that say 'oops I forgot to leave my email address on the first entry'. If you forget to leave your email address on your comment, delete that comment yourself and then leave a new comment.

Please do not email me privately to enter this giveaway. 
Comments left on social media are not entries.

The winner will be drawn randomly on my birthday, February 21st, and I'll announce the winner here the next day.

Are you excited??!!

If you'd like to answer a question in your comment, just for fun, tell me what's your favourite dessert.
I need ideas, you see. 

I'll leave you with a pic of the blocks I've made from those shared in the Splendid Sampler. Only 5% of the 100 blocks, I know...but stitchery design really is a very time consuming life for me.
However, I have a plan for those other four blocks in the photo and it's a good one. Maybe I'll have it ready to show you when I announce the giveaway winner?

big hugs, 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Just love...

Recently I had one of those epiphanies that kind of smack you in the head when you read the Bible long enough, and especially when you're reading a familiar passage your mind has pondered in the past more than a few times.
One day you get a new perspective, as though observing a landmark from the north instead of the west and you notice things previously hidden from view.

My Bible reading of late has been a slow progression through the Gospel of John and when closing the final chapter this week I took time to reflect on the main character traits which Jesus had displayed and were now 'pricking' my spirit, because I knew they were traits my own character needed work on.

The biggie of the bunch was love.

Love for the lost, love for the broken, love for the sinner, love for those who were unloved, love for the lonely, love for the sick, love for outcast, love for the soiled, love for those who did not know any better.

Here's a few things I noticed about the human character of the Son of God:  

He never shared an inside joke with the religious leaders of the day, nor join in their 
'holier than thou' street corner prayers. He didn't lay burdens on the poor and ordinary people, look down His nose at them, nor consider them of no value. 

He did rebuke the religious leaders, scorn and abuse them for their pride and abominable behaviour towards God, the poor and ordinary people. He called them hypocrites and vipers for the overwhelmingly heavy burdens (additional and expanded Jewish laws, not God-given) that were impossible to perfectly obey but which they punishingly lay upon the Jewish people.

Yet He LOVED those who were persecuted and cast aside, those who did not know any better way, and in the end, He loved the lost with His own life.

When you follow the Gospel accounts, any of the four Gospels, you read of a Jesus who was so incredibly kind and loving and paid attention to needs that others did not notice. He taught with truth and compassion, yet without forsaking any of God's holy commandments. He became the example of humanity He asked others to follow. His life was more than the words He spoke, it was what He did and who He did it for.

What did I learn personally about His love for the unlovable?

That I can't pick and choose who I treat with respect. 
That I can't expect someone to do the right thing if they've not been taught to do so. 
That if I am cold to someone because they don't live their life the way I do, or believe the things I do, then how will they ever see Jesus in me? How will they ever know there's a nicer, kinder, more respectful way to live and treat others?

If Jesus had treated them the way I sometimes do we wouldn't call Him Saviour...we wouldn't believe He was God...we just wouldn't believe. 

So that's my biggie, my character trait that needs attention - to see everyone as a person Jesus loves as much as He loves me, and to show them respect, kindness and care. And all in honour of my Lord Jesus, who 26 years ago pulled me out of a very dark place of abuse and despair, showed me more love, more compassion and more kindness than I ever imagined would fill my life again.
It is only because of my relationship with Him that I am alive and here today.

For more reasons why we need to follow Jesus's example of kindness, respect and care 
read Matthew 25: 31-46. Truly, it only takes about 2 or 3 minutes, so please read it. 

(It goes without saying that if you're being abused or in an abusive relationship you need to sever ties with the person who is hurting you and tell someone in authority who can step in - speak up, don't be silent. I'm speaking from my own past experience, not from a textbook. xx)

Your sister in Christ,

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Last chance...

The February issue of The Stitchery Club is only six days away from being emailed to all my subscribed Club members.

This month we're stitching with home, garden, reading and a change of season for those at the top of the world in mind...

The project for February is a sweet lace edged bookmark which is much simpler to make than it looks and you'll discover that when you follow the step by step tutorial...

Also inside this issue I'll show those who are new to this kind of embroidery how to swap trickier stitches for simpler ones...

...steps to preparing a pattern for applique, plus how to add applique to a basic embroidery pattern you already have... well as how to choose thread colours for a new stitchery.

Memberships close on the 16th February if you'd like to join in time to receive this issue, which will be emailed to all members on the 17th.

As a new member you'll also receive a free gift pattern within 24 hours of subscribing!
The "Basket of Roses" stitchery and bag pattern (which includes a tutorial) will be emailed as a pdf file to the email address you sign up with.

(the "Basket of Roses" pdf pattern is also available to purchase here in my shop)

Visit the Stitchery Club webpage HERE for more information and a link to subscribe, OR join immediately below by clicking on the Subscribe button.

You'll receive 5 new stitchery patterns and a project pattern in an e-book format emailed to you on the 17th of every month for as long as you choose to stay a member.
Membership is $9.95 per month.

Your gift pattern and all issues of The Stitchery Club will be sent to the email address provided to me by Paypal when you subscribe.
If you would prefer your pattern and monthly Club issues to be sent to a different email address please let me know here. 

Time for me to down tools and chill out for the weekend.

Hope yours is relaxing too!


Friday, February 10, 2017

My aha moment about choosing colours...

Stand outside my office door and this is what you'll hear.
Tap, tap, tap, sip, sip, tap tap...

I'm writing patterns and drinking cappuccinos today. 

I did this on Tuesday as well, and thought by today I'd be sewing and singing a happier tune with all my computer work done for the week. But.
On Wednesday and Thursday migraines pretty much stole my hours so everything ground to a halt and apart from a bit of basic food prep in the kitchen Wednesday morning the remainder of those two days have been spent at rest with Mr E and Blossom and Aisha texting through the days to check up on me. Love is such a wonderful thing.

Fast forward to wake-up at 6 am today (Friday) and all pain is gone and I'm feeling rather fresh and sprightly again!

Back to the laptop I have returned and further progress is being made with the next issue of The Stitchery Club.

I even bought a lovely bunch of flowers on the way home from dropping Mr E at work this morning because their gorgeous colours add a smile to my heart no matter how many typing or grammatical errors I have to 'fix' during a day on the computer.

A realisation as I was removing last week's wilted blooms from my favourite vase and replacing them with today's fresh flowers was the increasingly regular appearance of orange, peach, yellow and white amidst the greenery in my weekly bouquets of late.
These are not shades I'd normally tend towards. I usually buy bouquets with more of a pink, red and white palette but at the moment these 'other colours' make me rather happy. 

So I had an idea that before throwing those old wilted blooms into the garden I should choose some threads similar to their hues and put them aside for a 'one day' design, and that's exactly what I did before hitting the office to write. 

The photo on the left is of last week's flowers when they were fresh and vibrant (just so you can see what I mean by having a penchant lately for these colours) and on the right are the threads chosen this morning from the old wilted petals.

I think this is a rather lovely way to choose threads, don't you?

But I should throw in a caution...

One thing I write in every issue of The Stitchery Club is "Choose your fabric first, and then choose your threads to match" and I stand by that.  
There's nothing worse when you've spent many hours on a stitchery and then go hunting for just the right quilting fabric to sew around it (whether in a quilt or as a project) and the colours simply do not blend. 
By having your quilting fabric on hand first you can use it to choose embroidery thread colours that will match, ensuring your finished project will be a beautiful blend of stitchery and fabric at the end.

However, if you're stitching a design to put into a picture frame or only using one tonal colour as a border, then run ahead and find a bouquet that makes your heart beat with joy - whether that be from your garden (oh lucky you!) or like me you purchase a budget bunch from the local supermarket - and gather threads that match your blooms. 

All you need next is a pattern to stitch and some quiet time to enjoy bringing everything together into one lovely project.

Well, there you go, my aha moment this week.

Another thing about flowers and why I buy them for myself, is their ability to lift my countenance when life has taken a toll on me physically, emotionally, in my health, with working from home and trying to balance the home/work logistics...and any number of other challenges.

A cup of tea and a vase of pretty blooms. That's the loveliest down-time, even if it's just 10 minutes before I head out the door to pick up my husband or go down to the laundry to hang the washing on the line. Beauty in it's natural form, God's hand shown in nature, is calming, joyous, and exquisitely divine to behold.

A $10  bouquet two or three times a month is my little luxury, my gift to self, that one small thing which lifts my heart when I'm so darn weary everything can seem too much of an effort.

What's your one small thing?

Share your comments below, and if you like, come join us over here in the Gentle Domesticity Facebook group where we'll be chatting about this too.

Now I'd best return to writing patterns for as much as I try to believe it possible, they will not write themselves. 

Have a WONDERFUL end of week!

Big hugs,