Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kookaburras - His eye is on them...

When asked what I'd miss about Australia if I ever had to live overseas, two things immediately come to mind.

Ghost gums 
I can't imagine what it would be like not to have ghost gums 'right here' where I can admire them every day.
You can see the photos I took of these narrow limbed, white barked, ghost gums along the bank of the Ross River last month in THIS  blog post, or be satisfied here with one of my favourites...

And secondly,  Kookaburras. 
They are my favourite of all birds, the ones I never tire of listening to or watching. I would truly be displaced if they were not camped aloft the power lines, or perched along my fence, laughing at the world as their gaze sweeps across the view below.

This past week Mr E and I have continued to go downhill with the flu, which has surprised us as we live a intentionally healthy life. Days and nights of pain, congested heads and chest, restless fevers and swollen glands - it kind of saps the life out of a person, and whilst we've been waiting for this to pass I'm afraid I've had some emotional collapses when it all got too much.
You see, my Mum died when I was 3; Nana took over the reins till I was 13, then I looked after her. 
By 15 I was homeless, and by 17 I was a mum. For 38 years I've been the one doing the 'looking after' of others.
Then a couple of days ago, weary from being sick, I let the need to have a mum take care of me bring me to tears, and did I ever feel sorry for myself. I had the woes real bad.
I called out to God to care. To show me His care.

Now, we rarely see kookaburras here in town. And they really are incredibly special to me.
On Monday morning I was up before dawn, hot mug of honey lemon tea in my hand, and my Bible open waiting to be read as soon as the sun's first rays came over the horizon to light the dining table.
I was so weary from tossing and turning all night, and the swollen glands and razor throat wouldn't ease. As the sun rose and the blue sky appeared, tears once more pricked at my eyes and the woes returned...but then I heard them...the laughing of kookaburras.

Just outside my front door is a power pole, and right at the top there they were, two beautiful birds, laughing for me...

Grabbing my camera, I sat out on the front porch and just clicked away, my heart bursting at the joy these birds had so suddenly brought to me...

When they flew away a little while later all I could think of was Matthew 10:29-31 ~

"Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." 

I knew those kookaburras were there by the hand of God to remind me that He is, was, and always will, be watching over me with love. As awful as I felt, He was right there in it all with me, and He'd carry me through it. 
I know that when we are ill and in pain, over time, it wearies us - and I was still caring for Blossom and Mr E (both being sick as well) through my own illness. Having that special moment with the kookaburras meant more to me than I can say, and gave my spirit the lift it needed to keep going.

On Tuesday morning I rose very early again, brewed some lemon tea in the pot, and went to fetch my Bible.  As I looked out at the  grey clouds looming over the skyline, I let out a little prayer - "Please, may I see them again?" 

I turned to get a mug from the cupboard, and was just about to pour my tea when I heard it...the laughing...

 One lone kookaburra. Sent for me. With love from my Father.

I'm still sick. In fact, Mr E and I get worse each day. The only thing we can do is let it run its course.

But I am not alone. He cares for me more than many kookaburras.
And He cares for you, too.

PS: If you have never heard a kookaburra laughing, watch THIS short video. It's just a few seconds, so go on...


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tutorial - how to make an elegant fabric notelet...

Sometimes it's hard to know what to say, or how to reach out to a friend who is going through the trials of life. It can be equally as difficult to find the words that convey genuine heartfelt thanks, or a tangible expression of joy for the gift of friendship by a particularly special person.

Perhaps this very simple but elegant little gift project will be of use to you in just such a situation?
I made it a few years ago for a friend who was moving away, and thought it would be a nice idea to share with you today...

You can use this idea in small or large projects. The key is to use what you have on hand - fabric, beads, flowers, lace, brooches or pretty buttons.

So let's see how I put this sweet 'Believe' fabric notelet together, shall we?

* I began with a 4" x 5" piece of pale blue tonal fabric. Choose a pale background fabric so that the word you use, and the embellishments that will decorate the notelet, stand out.

You can use any word, or name, you like. I chose 'believe' because it's personal to me, and something as a Christian I feel we need to be reminded of - especially when facing difficult struggles. 

Trace your word across the bottom centre of the fabric, on a slight angle. I hand drew my word, but if you're not comfortable with that why not choose a font from Microsoft Office or from the numerous free font sites online? 

* Fuse a same sized square of Pellon or a scrap piece of quilt wadding behind the block.
Backstitch the word with two strands of thread. Add a pearl seed bead as the period above the stroke of the 'i'.

* Pin a length of lace across the fabric - above the word and on an angle. Thread a bead or embellishment onto the lace so that it sits about two-thirds  of the way up the in place.
NOTE: I used a pearl bead pendant drop that I purchased in a bulk lot. They ended up costing me about $1 each.
Sew a small satin rosette above the bead...I had previously tea dyed my rosette to soften the colour.

* Use running stitch and one strand of matching thread to hand sew the lace in place.

* Next, I embroidered little lazy daisy leaves in soft green above the lace, and larger pink lazy daisy  stitches for the flower.

* Now sew tiny pearl seed beads inside the pink flower stitches...

* To finish my Believe notelet I added a fabric backing, before attaching some coordinating binding. Before stitching the binding down at the back, I added a small loop of lace at the centre top of the notelet for hanging later by the gift recipient...

* Place inside a matching envelope...

...and tie with a bow.

Isn't that a special gift?
And you can make the whole thing beautifully in about 90 minutes.
IDEA: It's almost Mother's Day in Australia - this would be perfect with 'Mum' or 'Mother' as the word!

If you make this, or something inspired by this little tutorial, send me a photo HERE and I'll share it in a blog post.

Do you  visit Pinterest?
If you hover over any of the Elefantz photos on my blog you can click on the large pink P that pops up and instantly pin the photo on your Pinterest boards!

If you would like to share this tutorial on Pinterest, here is a picture board you may choose to use...

...or you can share any of the larger individual photos of the 'Believe' Notelet Tutorial.
Now how easy is that?

Have an especially fun day, my friends!
Mr E and I are still down with the flu. We both agree we've never been hit by a virus as hard as this one.
I'm just so pleased I have plenty of stitching to keep me stationary and rested...


Monday, April 21, 2014

Big reveal and final block!

Today you'll be able to download the 19th (and final) block of my Shabby Roses "Home" BOM!
Mr E and I are still battling this very nasty flu virus, but having to rest a lot gave me time to bind my quilt this weekend, and also design, stitch and attach a label.

This last block features appliqued 1-0 numbers, with a touch of shabby roses...


You can download the final block HERE in my shop for free!
  And as well as the final block, you'll also find the quilt label in your pattern...

I decided to make a change to the final layout of the quilt as I was piecing the blocks together last month.
It just looked a bit 'lost' as I had originally graphed it (this graph was shared in each month's double pattern)...

To be honest, I was really disappointed in the final layout, but after I chose to add those extra aqua borders under and above the strips of blocks, I fell in love with it all over again!

Here are some of the finished close-up photos...

I hope you have enjoyed the last ten month journey of stitching and piecing Shabby Roses Home.
It was all made from fabric scraps, a few threads, and four buttons. How simple is that?

The individual 'double block sets' will stay in my Craftsy Shop until May 31st - after that date this will be available as one complete pattern only (a single pdf pattern purchase).
So if you're missing blocks to make the quilt go HERE to the shop before May 31st to complete your pattern set.

QUILTING: My friend Dawn Hay beautifully machine quilted Shabby Roses Home for me. If you're in Australia and looking for someone to stipple your UFO  quilt tops, go HERE. Dawn is excellent, and very affordable.

To see all the blocks just go HERE to the Shabby Roses Home page.

So what comes next?
Is there a new BOM on the horizon?

June 1st. It's a Block of the Week for 25 weeks.
You have about 5 weeks to complete Shabby Roses Home and prepare to start something new.
I am. Very excited.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Scripture ~ Jeremiah 32:27

We are to simply trust God. While we trust, God can work....
The peace of God must quiet our minds and rest our hearts.
We must put our hand in the hand of God like a little child, and let Him lead us out into the bright sunshine of His love. He knows the way out of the woods. 
Let us climb up into His arms, and trust Him to take us out by the shortest and surest road.
~ Pardington~

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Working through the lurgy...

The dreadful lurgy lingers.
But my, oh my, how I love the soothing sweetness a pot of honey and lemon tea brings to my throat...

Mr E has also succumbed to this virus so generously shared amongst the family by dear Blossom.
Together we're brewing and sipping copious measures of the lovely tea liquid between large mugs of freshly blended green smoothies and bowls of cooling watermelon slices.
It's not all bad, you see?

Whenever I'm under the weather my creative cells tend to launch into overdrive. 
This current miasma-caused-lurgy...
(I adore that word...miasma...a 19th century description of a 'vapour' that causes nasty diseases - okay, I'm overstating things, but bear with me...I'm feverish, have always wanted to use miasma in something, and probably won't remember I wrote this tomorrow...don't remind me...) 
...has been the catalyst for a whole new series of stitcheries that may just end up being my next free BOM. Mmm.

 But before that, I best stitch down this quilt binding on the current BOM, yes?
It's taking me forever to get it done, but I'm burning up and even with the air conditioner at my back the thought of covering myself with a quilt is not appealing.
But then I look at it and it's so darn pretty...

I'll just pray today is "the day". After all, you're going to want to see it on Monday when you receive the final block. Are you as excited about seeing it as I am about showing it to you?

As I'm not at my best right now, why don't we ooh and aah over these photos of Elefantz projects some lovely readers have stitched and sent me!

Let's start with Renata's gorgeous use of some of the Shabby Roses Home BOM blocks!
I saw these on Facebook and they took my breath away...

 From lovely Lydia, who has been busy sewing a few of my stitchery designs in her own cute settings...

Joy from Bundaberg is a treasure, always showing me how wonderfully busy her fingers have been!

And Diane, all the way from Scotland (we have some marvellous email chats about her country and how much I envy her snow) also took one of my designs and framed it in her own project.

The Rosedaisy Alphabet has only been available for a month, and already I'm seeing the blocks popping up everywhere on FB and blogs!
Here are a just a beautiful few...

From Lin...

From Agatha...

From Sue...

 ...and from Heather!

Thank you SO much, ladies!
Everything is beautiful, and you've blessed me. xx

 Okay, it's time I put the kettle on for more tea and perhaps some simple toast and butter on the side.
There's something rather comforting occurs when you bring stacked slices of hot toast with lashings of real butter to the table with a pot of tea...

have a blessed Easter,

Thursday, April 17, 2014

It's my turn now...

Children are wonderful aren't they?
We spend all their developing years teaching them to share, with varied results.
Blossom is sharing these days.
I'm the lucky recipient of her flu today.
Obviously my almost 20yo breath-of-sunshine-in-my-life daughter felt she could not keep this all to herself. Oh joy. 

So I'm trying to get done all that needs to be done in the next few hours so that I can head back to my comfy bed and wallow in things that make me remember how great life will be once this virus has done it's best and departed from me searching for healthier folk to waylay. 

Fortunately, my throat is being soothed by banana, blueberry, honey and almond milk smoothies...

...and my heart is comforted by the musings of my favourite domestic author, Jane Brocket.

As you can see, it's a well loved and "well-read/re-read/re-read/re-read again" book, having kept me company now for almost eight years since I spied my friend Ruth's copy at my friend Pam's house, and drowned in it's delighted-ness...

I'm reading the chapter on luxuries at the moment.

Let me share a little of what Jane has written on page 178...

"It helps to have a state of mind that can turn even the smallest indulgence into a luxury. This means looking positively at your life - considering not what you want to have, but what you can, or already, have. It means deciding for yourself what you class as luxury and not following the media's overblown ideas. Couture dresses, private jets, huge yachts and large gems are very wonderful, I'm sure, but doesn't the fact that only a handful of women in the world can afford them strike you as ridiculous? Far better to treat yourself to a couple of skeins of lovely yarn, afternoon tea and a film, a bright bunch of roses, or a small, but perfectly formed box of chocolates."

I pondered her thoughts, then asked myself what constitutes 'luxury' to me.

You know, it's very simple things, really.

Like painting my toenails: I don't often take the time to soak my feet, or preen and primp them. But I did yesterday. And I felt all warm and fuzzy inside, and couldn't wipe the smile off my face as I padded barefoot backward and forward across our wooden floors...

What's your simple luxury? I'd love to know. We can chat in the comments while I'm laid low with my not-so-popular-friend Mr Lurgy.

(but not too close a hug 'cause I'm really not in a sharing of the flu mood - despite what I taught my children)