Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Homemakers Heart magazine issue 2...

 

It's done, it's ready, it's from my heart to yours.

Issue 2, The Homemakers Heart. A simple digital magazine written and compiled to encourage and inspire the beautiful homemaker inside *you*. 

No matter how long we've been keeping a home, we all need a dose of encouragement. Some of my readers are young, still living at home with their parents, patiently awaiting their own season of building a nest for a family to grow; some readers are retired and for the first time in many years able to step away from the 9-5 life and embrace the call of their heart to create a sanctuary within their own walls. 

There are others who still need to work outside home, whether that be full or part time, yet long for those hours when they can relax within their own abode to potter around and bring beauty, nourishment and a welcome embrace to those they love. 

Then there are those like me who have always been at home, who know the blessing of always being that smiling face who answers the door when loved ones arrive home hungry, weary, in need of an ear to hear and a cookie to nibble. 

Though I do have a home-business, and that can bring challenges with regards to 'never being away from work', I find reasons each day to thank God for being where I am; for the comfort of working in well worn pyjamas in the winter; tending the garden and chickens between emails and spreadsheets; sketching a design while a load of sheets and towels tumbles amid soap suds in the washing machine and fresh bread bakes in the oven; tracing a pattern onto fabric for stitching that night while the freshly mopped floors dry under the circulating ceiling fans...I really have so much to be thankful for.

But one thing I have noticed over the past two years, since the flood actually, is a sense of feeling like "butter spread over too much toast" as Bilbo Baggins puts it. There's been an increase in the home-load since we stopped renting and bought our first home, and that increase happened again late last year when my beloved began his new employment and must work long hours six days a week. 

In my mind it was important to keep up with everything, just as I always had, for being a very adrenaline driven woman it's hard for me to just sit and do nothing...and of course working from home as well as being a homemaker at home meant my eyes could always find some task to alert my time. I think for the longest time I wore this as a badge of honour, and then one day my opinion changed and as the months rolled on I came to see that 'this' was not the life God had for me. 

You see, by balancing it all (or should I say juggling?) I was giving both aspects of my life equal importance. Home and business were level pegging for my time and attention. Given that I love being a homemaker and creating a beautifully calm and welcoming space within our quarter acre, as well as aiming to run my pattern design business with integrity, generosity and professionalism, I was using every ounce of energy I could to achieve the very best in all my endeavours. 

Since December, with the extra responsibilities which needed to be carried now my husband was away so long, I found myself wearying more and more. I've said it often, when you add something into your life, you need to remove something at the same time for we are only allotted a set number of hours in the day, and a set portion of energy to achieve what should be done. 

So...

When I prayed over my life, my attitude, my requirements, and my abilities, what struck me loud and clear was that I needed to re-prioritise. You cannot serve two masters and for me this had become home and business. I was CEO of our home and of Elefantz Designs. Two positions which require a lot of hours and energy. And which one was suffering the most, my Father asked?

Home, I answered. Things are done, and I loved doing them, but they had become rushed and not enjoyed as they once were, because I had so much to cram into the hours available each day, running from here to there and back again.

Getting sick from various things this year and falling further behind due to days of covalescence, I could see an avalanche of 'catch-up' approaching which threatened to swallow me whole. I even stopped my daily swim in the pool, something which until Christmas last year was as regular as breathing, but was now 'more time' I did not have. 

Over the past week or so I have sought to hear God, to invite His correction and direction for the years left to me that I may live them well and to His glory. I've shared and prayed with Blossom, and together we have discussed our lives in the reflection of God's Word, both of us becoming more intuitively aware of the changes needed in our hearts, lives and homes. Our hearts are open, our ears primed for that still small Voice, and a depth of humility and gratitude continues to grow deeply within our God-crafted lives. 

For my life this means lifting my primary role of Homemaker to that high position it deserves, and to downsizing my business to part-time only. And friends, I have to tell you that getting on my knees and handing all this over to God, fully embracing the role I LOVE so much as wife, mother and nana, and not concerning myself with the extra income anymore because God always makes a way when there's a need, has been like a home swept of cobwebs and dust - the sun shines bright and the fresh air invigorates the soul. 

I'm fortunate that things like the Simple Days BOM, Posies BOM and Let's Stitch Again 12-month stitchery club were already completed before I launched them this year - I'm only needing to manage them now (which is not too time consuming) and write a few more of the Simple Days patterns. 

Apart from this I don't have to design if I don't want to or if I don't have time, nor even do the social media circus anymore. If I do design it will be from pure joy and this normal Jenny-desire to create, not for business deadlines or commitments.

My days from now will be home focused. Life focused. LIVING focused. God focused. 

The home I imagined we'd create when we bought this house never really eventuated the way I'd dreamed, but part of that has been due to my time being pulled in two directions. Just lately, with these changes made, I've been doing a little each day to bring those practical dreams alive again, and the autumn wind of change this March in my corner of Australia is nurturing my desire to deep clean, refresh, relinquish what's not needed, and retain what matters. In the practical and the spiritual.

I'm beginning a new season of life and welcoming it with open arms.

After all that, which I had not really intended to elaborate so widely on, you may want to download Issue 2 of The Homemakers Heart magazine at last!? Use the link below and download the magazine to your computer or ipad/tablet. I showed how to do that here with the issue one blog post if you missed it. 

DOWNLOAD the March/April issue of The Homemakers Heart

Back to normality....

Yesterday I tackled my stationary/papercraft/filing/postage cupboard which stands near the back door. I honestly don't think it's been done since the flood in February 2019, but I began one shelf at a time and after emptying everything out I wiped down the shelves with a lovely natural lemon myrtle cleaning spray Blossom put me on to recently.

You know, when you just keep adding to a cupboard and then one day decide to clean it out you may be very surprised at how much stuff can be tossed - and let me assure you that my paper shredder earned a gold medal because it had an Olympic workout from destroying the files I no longer needed. Now all those shredded files are lining the chicken coop. 

Below is the 'before' photo with the top shelf contents emptied and on the table ready for me to sort through everything piece by piece.


It took about 90 minutes with all the shredding and sorting, but in the end I have only what is needed. Everything is organised in the right place and the clutter is gone. Bliss!


I re-discovered all my card-making bits and pieces, more Sellotape than I could use in five years (I keep buying it because I think we've run out), five new ink cartridges for the printer (I just bought a new one thinking I had none left), lots and lots of papercrafting treats I saved for Cully May when she was only two (she's five in August), and many more 'lost' items. All this from one cupboard.


This week I've also been pruning the trees inside the chicken coop, building a border for the small side garden where the lemon and lime trees are, and giving the girls' cubby house (the poppy house as they call it) a good scrub before they arrive tomorrow for Rafaella's 3rd birthday morning tea.

And that is a jolly good reason for me to sign off now, as I have a chocolate and strawberry cake to make for our little Miss. 

Dear hearts, be brave in your own lives to address the things which overwhelm and to cut back on the 'too much'. Consider your first and most important role in life if you've lost your way, then pray to find a way you can bring it back to the top. Live your best life, embrace your calling, trust God with the details.

Much love

Monday, March 1, 2021

POSIES block 3...

 


It's March 1st and we're up to block three in this year's free block of the month, "Posies".

Have you completed the first two blocks?

Just as a refresher, here's what the completed Posies wall quilt looks like...


You can join in at any time between now and December. The previous and current links to download each new block, which I share on the first day of each month, are HERE

The March block is a cutie because I fussy cut a bee onto the vase...




There are two parts to the applique this time. The rounded vase behind, and the fussy cut panel appliqued over the top. 
You don't need to do this but I love how it adds depth, texture and interest to the little block. 

Use the link below to download the pattern.


For those who may have just joined in, here's pics of blocks 1 and 2.





All twelve blocks finish at 6.5" square before being pieced into the quilt at the end of the year.

If you've completed the first few blocks already be sure to tag me on Instagram with #posiesblockofthemonth or #posiesbom or #jennyofelefantz so I can come see them. 



On Saturday I finally found some time to make my eighth handmade tag for this year in Anne's 52tags project. The theme this time was bullion, French knot and pistil stitches.

The little rosebuds are bullion, lavender flowers in French knots and the pistil stitch was used as decoration around the lower half of the applique and button.

Unfortunately it's still raining cats and dogs here so there's not much light for photos, but I tried.



Other than this I have some secret sewing beside my chair, a home to tend, family to  love, pets to care for, and a business to run, so time seems a bit squeezed right now. I'm almost over the head cold but after the parade of ills and spills last month I'm lagging behind on most things and struggling for energy after about 11am. I know this will pick up soon and I am ever so grateful for all your kind words and prayers.

A cyclone is brewing just off the coast north of here and this is the reason we have so much rain right now, so as the week progresses we shall see how strong it grows and how close to us it will come. It's Rafaella's 3rd birthday on Thursday and we'd dearly love to all catch up and celebrate that day but this cyclone may deter us...still, you never know with cyclones. Sometimes they take a different path than predicted.

I'll sign off now so I can get back to writing and compiling the final pieces for the next issue of The Homemakers Heart, which I shall probably share with you on Wednesday. 
If you missed Issue 1 it's a free download over HERE.

Bless your lovely hearts and may you be joyous each day as you serve your loved ones within the sanctuary of home...

Hugs



Friday, February 26, 2021

An unexpected silence and what's coming next week...

 What a year this has been so far. It seems every week I have another health challenge to get through and climb over. This week it's losing my voice and the early stages of a head cold. 

My husband is not much of a talker, more of a thinker really, but in his job he is talking to people all day long so when he finally gets home it's peace and quiet he needs so for most of the week we keep conversation to a minimum - and that's fine because we've never been the chattiest couple anyhow. After almost three decades we could easily finish each other's sentences yet we tend to not waste conversation but mostly just talk about things which really matter. 

When I lost my voice this week, even that little bit of conversation drew to a halt. My husband came home to silence. Admittedly I tried to speak but he just put his hand up and said, "Don't talk, rest your throat and get well." So I sat quietly listening to the occasional thoughts he shared and wishing I could respond. The idea to text him crossed my mind once but that just seemed a little bizarre so I decided he's right and we can both be patient as I heal. But of course, when you can't talk you suddenly have LOTS of thoughts bouncing around your mind! I've written many notes to myself over the past couple of days in hope I won't forget anything - because if you're anything like me, talking about new ideas helps me process them in such a way that I'm able to pursue some further and discard others. Blossom tells me she's exactly the same. 

So what to do when you're under the weather, unable to visit your daughter or best friend, and basically living in home quarantine? Sew of course.

I was going to put together the next Homemakers Heart magazine this week but it shall be delayed until sometime next week now as I found writing and typing and thinking wasn't coming as easily as usual with this razor throat, an emerging head cold and insect bites from head to toe (I react very badly to them). Ah, the joys of life in the hot, humid and wet tropical summer. Insects and all. 

So, to the sewing, the fun bit.

 I have been making a few new projects for the Homemakers Heart and one of them is a cushion featuring the Court House Lawn block with a narrow border all round. My plan has been to make one new cushion each month to replace the old ones in our living room and I wanted them to be free of embroidery, just featuring nice fabrics and patchwork blocks, and each one is to be hand quilted. Last month I made a lovely snowball cushion, but this month's cushion is even nicer, and brighter too.


It's for hubby's recliner so I added brown (very rare that you see brown in things I make) because he likes it, but the courthouse lawn block really needed a bright centre to make the whole thing pop so he got some very dark salmon pink in the mix. 

I hand quilted with my favourite Perle #12 threads because as well as gliding through the fabric and cotton wadding, they add texture, that "homemade with love" kind of texture and finish that I prefer.


I love running my hands over hand quilted items...




The cushion is finished now and Mr E came home last night to find it waiting on his chair. I was more excited than him, but he was grateful. I mean, he's a man who would happily accept a solid brown cushion, you know - but he did appreciate that it was made for him. 

The pattern will be inside the next free issue of the Homemakers Heart, along with the Hearts At Home table runner...


...and a sweet duo of lavender themed stitcheries. One of them I finished as a hanging lavender sachet and the other is my new pincushion. 


I had a lot of fun making the Lavender House sachet...


There will also be the pincushion pattern and "Tuesday" in my tea towel series. Quite a lot for a free publication now I think of it, but it really gives me pleasure to bless you this way. 

On to other things...

Do you remember that after being hospitalised last year in January for my heart that I went ovo-vegan for six months? When I look back that was the healthiest I have been in decades. When we decided to introduce a little meat and dairy back in to our diet last August both hubby and I started going backwards. Thing is we only just realised it this year as both of us have been dealing with a string of unrelated health problems through January and February. 

So, ovo-vegan it is again. Probably forever this time. I genuinely enjoyed it last year and found it not difficult to plan or prepare for so I am left scratching my head a bit right now as to WHY did we stop? Regardless, we're back to it now and both heaving a sigh of relief. 

Groceries were delivered today and I was able to plan out ideas for the next week...


Something I always do now is store all my vegetables inside individual glass containers in the fridge. During our very long hot, humid and wet spring/summer/autumn season food spoils quickly, even in the fridges, but since I began storing fresh veg and fruits in these sealed glass containers they will stay fresh for weeks. It's amazing! 

I bought all the containers with light blue lids from K-Mart for just a few dollars each, and the black lidded containers were free through a promotion that Woolworths ran late last year. I have plenty more in the fridge and cupboard but these are the ones I filled today with ginger, cucumbers, tomatoes, grapes, zucchini, asparagus, capsicum, lettuce, coriander and spinach.


We have two large fridges because as you can imagine we need the cold for lots of drinks, water and fresh produce as well as other things here in the tropics. Finding a way to keep our produce fresh for longer has been a gamechanger for our budget and the way we shop. 

I found Xanthe's recipe for dairy free Tzatziki again and made some of that up today, which was then served over last nights delicious brown rice and Tarka dhal for lunch. The warm soft meal was lovely eaten slowly, and even eased my throat.




I sent out Block Two of "Simple Days" to all my BOM members the other day, but if you're not a BOM member and still want to stitch the "Simple Days" blocks you'll find blocks 1 and 2 over HERE in my Etsy Shop.

A new block comes out every month on the 25th until September. Here's photos of block 2...












The patterns are very detailed and include graphs for cutting and placement as well. 

Well, that's it from me today. I can feel myself getting very tired as I barely slept last night and I still have dinner to prepare for hubby and then folding all the washing which is drying in various parts of the house (more rain), as well as ironing his work clothes for tomorrow.

I had planned to make another handmade tag this week as well - the theme being bullion stitch, pistol stitch and french knots, but as yet I've not practiced the bullion stitch so that may well be my sewing plan after dinner if I can stay awake. 

I pray for all of you, that no matter what life is throwing across your path that you look up to God and not down at the problem. It's so easy to focus on the problem, but He is the problem solver and it is to Him we must offer our dilemma and then sit quietly to listen for that still small voice which will strengthen, console, lead and teach us in the things we need to know.

Bless you so very much!

hugs

PS: If you're not a regular reader of my blog and don't want to miss out on the next free issue of the Homemakers Heart magazine, pop over HERE and sign up for my newsletter. It's easy. 

PSS: Issue one is still free to download HERE.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Rainy days again...

WASHING and RAIN

 We've had quite a few days of rain this week and it's still raining. On Thursday I thought there was a break in the weather so I hung washing on the line but as soon as the last peg was in place down came the raindrops once more.

We don't own a dryer so mostly everything small is hung on the drying rack inside the back door when the weather is like this, but the Thursday sheets and towels are still outside, being rinsed and re-rinsed with the cool drops of heaven.


Tomorrow is my 62nd birthday and the forecast is for sunshine so I don't think another day on the line is going to matter in the big scheme of life. 

Our cockatoos friends love visiting the feeder in this weather and as usual one is always on watch from the top of the clothesline. They're a rowdy lot but bring much joy as we sit out back having breakfast in the early morning hours.



 CLEANING and BAKING

Inside I've been continuing to deep clean, and the past couple of days this has meant pulling everything out of cupboards and sorting through what is needed, wanted or can be given away. Do you get a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart when you open cupboard doors and see everything neatly placed and space to spare? My linen cupboard looks especially nice now without all the old curtains and towels I'd held on to but never use. I did keep one curtain which will be cut down for the girl's cubby house windows, and a few towels which shall be cut up for cleaning rags, but the rest was never going to be of use. 

In the kitchen this week I made a large shepherd's pie from leftover roast lamb and lots of vegetables, with a thick layer of mashed potato and cheese across the top. This was dinner for two nights and lunch one day as well. I also made a lasagne which spread across two meals. 

Pineapple fruit cake is a favourite in our family so I baked two, a large one to share with Blossom and a smaller one for the freezer...


Earlier in the week I bought a lovely white metal three tier stand for the sewing room. I have a similar one near my desk/office area in the corner of the living room and love how it serves a dual function - storage and elegance. I've been looking for another for about four years so when I saw one on Tuesday when I was out with Blossom there was no question about getting it. 




It frees up space on my cutting table as it now holds those bits and pieces which used to live on the end by the window. It's also given me somewhere to store my crochet basket (slowly working on another blanket) and fabrics for projects which will be underway in the next week (library bags for the girls and a tea towel project which I'll be sharing here soon).

SEWING

In the sewing room I've prepared everything to remake one of my old table runner patterns from 2014. This will be in the next issue of The Homemakers Heart magazine (issue one is over HERE as a free download in case you missed it) and I shall probably spend most of today finishing the applique and embroidery, and tomorrow with the machine sewing and quilting.


I'm also remaking one of my older Block of the Month quilts from 2013 - Daisy Days. I've redrawn the blocks and changed a few things, but I'm also adding applique this time and drawing up a fresh new layout for the blocks. Not rushing this one as it's going to be a long work in progress with no deadlines - I was just never 100% happy with the original finish and as it's been eight years and my style is a bit different these days, I'm playing around to make it more 'me'. 

I've already changed the vase applique fabric THREE times this week so you can trust me when I say this won't be accomplished anytime in the near future, but I do like how block one, Mondaisy, is coming along now.


Tag number 7 of the #52tagshannemade project via Anne on Instagram is completed though! I seem to be scraping in the day before the next tag theme is released, but that's fine because it means I'm always up to date (so far).

The theme for week seven was hexies, but not the paper pieced kind, these are folded from circles and I really enjoyed making them.


During the sewing room tidy up I found a piece of vivid blue dupion silk among my medium size fabric scraps and decided to use it for the folded hexies. I also added vintage lace pieces, mother of pearl buttons, more of that old crochet edged doily which has featured in a few of my tags now, and three small green lazy daisy leaves. 


If you want to see how these folded hexies are made you can watch Anne's tutorial HERE on Youtube. 

BIBLE

For a few days now I've been reading and re-reading Psalm 139. There's so much richness in this psalm, so many deep and meaningful truths to ponder and let sink in.


Today I kept going over and over these few verses...perhaps because my birthday is so close and that always draws my thoughts to human frailty, mortality and life purpose being fulfilled.


I found great comfort in the knowledge that God had written in His book all the days of my life before I was even conceived. To imagine that our Creator, our dear Father in heaven, cared enough to write down all of my days, all of YOUR days, when as yet there were none, speaks volumes of how individually precious and unique each of us are to Him. 

FLOWERS

My love affair with yellow continues and when I did the grocery shopping yesterday morning a lovely big bunch of yellow sunshiney chrysanthemums came home with me. I divided them between a tea pot and a pot - one on the dining table and one on my desk. 


I wasn't very well last night, an unexpected angina attack gave us a scare you see, but two sprays of the nitrate and things settled. It always triggers a migraine so that came along around bedtime, but the grace of the Lord is a wonderful thing and I rested well for most of the night. 

Then this morning, under orders from hubby to do nothing all day (he had to work), I was watching a free to air documentary on Charles Spurgeon (HERE) and still in my nightie when our elderly neighbour dropped by with another large bunch of yellow chrysanthemums as an early birthday gift. So kind of her, and now my house is alive with sunshine yellow flowers which truly lift the spirit and brighten the shadows of another overcast and rainy day. 

Now how about I brighten your day? Some lovely stitchers have sent me photos of their Elefantz projects and they are simply beautiful! I think seeing my own designs through the eyes and style of another is a real blessing.


Joanne finished block 1 of Simple Days cheerily in sweet Tilda fabrics and photographed it in the snow...


Billie made last year's Psalm 23 BOM fabric book into a gorgeous quilt...


Anita made a beautiful hussif from my 5-part tutorial (here)...



Dear Val Laird (visit her blog here) won a kit from me about ten years ago for my pattern "A Christmas Story" and for this past Christmas she pulled it out and made it up. She's a precious lady and when she sent me the photo I shed a few tears. 


And lastly, Annette has completed her very pretty block 1 of Simple Days, too. I love seeing the different colourways in this first block!


That's all from me today. Hubby has just arrived home from work and we plan to take the rest of the weekend slowly. Cully May has come down with a head cold and that usually means it will spread among Blossom's household quickly so we've postponed my birthday tea tomorrow until later next week when everyone is back to health again. 

I hope you relax this weekend too, that you rest in the grace of the Lord and find many moments to give thanks, for we are always surrounded by His blessing if we just stop long enough to see them.

hugs