"The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."

Thomas Moore

Monday, April 23, 2018

A joyfully domestic day...

After Mr E's school holiday break and my time out to recover from chronic fatigue and a run of migraines, this morning I woke with a very clear plan for getting my housework routine back on track. 
I began with the ensuite bathroom, then the toilet and laundry, the walk in robe, vacuuming, and cleaning out the fridge. Whilst all this was happening a few loads of washing got done and were hung outside in the sunshine between the other chores. Bob the dog followed me around here and there inside but outside he decided to roll around in the dirt so his normally white fur is now rather brown and dusty. I've brushed a lot out but tomorrow he'll need a bath.

Lunch was nourishing, something I will be more mindful of after this lapse in energy recently. A broccoli, chicken and pesto salad, served with the last of our weekend's ciabatta bread nicely toasted and thickly spread with butter. Have I ever told you that butter is better than any topping you can put on bread? Well it is to me.

It felt so good to have energy again today, and even better to slip back into a normal Monday cleaning routine. When Mr E was leaving for work early this morning he said "I'll help you clean when I get home" but I assured him rather than being a chore, homemaking and all it entails brings my heart more joy than he knows. Laughing, he shook his head and headed out the door. My beloved really does consider all house duties as drudgery and can't get his head around the fact that I find it the most pleasant of pastimes. But he does enjoy the results. LOL!

After lunch I made a lemon meringue pie which will be our dessert for the rest of the working week, and no complaints there as it's in the top three favourite treats for this family.

Don't you love that lemon tray underneath? I found it at an op shop for $2 and  thought it would brighten up the kitchen. Even though my home is rather sparse on yellow, a touch of citrus-y lemon is lovely. 

Over the weekend some time was spent in the sewing room cutting more scraps of fabric to make more one inch hexies. It's been very worthwhile doing this, and not just for the ever increasing number of hexies being made.
Any scraps smaller than 2" wide go into a basket which will become my applique stash. Many of my designs contain little pops of applique here and there...

Scraps smaller than 2" wide but longer than 6" are being set aside for bordering stitcheries or using for log cabin style patchwork pieces in the future...

Using up scraps leftover from other projects I've made over the past few years has given a lot of satisfaction, and also a reason to justify those fabric purchases. I don't know about you but I genuinely don't like hoarding fabric or having too much of it anymore. In those first years when I taught myself to quilt and do patchwork (I began late in 2005) amassing fabric was an obsession. 
In hindsight I cringe at the memory of many 'filled to the brim' plastic tubs and much of my book shelving weighed down, due to the collecting of more fabric than I could use in a lifetime.

When it all became too much my OCD about visual calm and order kicked in so I sold heaps and donated plenty more. In fact I had to go through that same purging a few times over a couple of years until I had just what I loved, what I needed, and what I hoped to use. 
I still have the odd impulse purchase, but mostly I buy with a purpose in mind. 

When sorting through my scraps box I found this partially made dresden block too, and now my mind is ticking over with ways to use it. Possibly on a tea towel?

Actually I made a new tea towel on Saturday afternoon...

...and then I watched a tutorial to make a hand towel for the kitchen.

Think the hand towel part should have been yellow or lemon, not that dark aqua, but it was a practice piece and will come in handy none the less.

Instead of a bunch of flowers this week I found a less expensive pot of budding pink hyacinths! They're comfortably nestled beside my breadmaker and the fragrance which drifts through the kitchen and dining area is a delight to the senses.
Must admit, I didn't know these grew in autumn...but I'm not complaining.

Another bargain purchase recently were these skeins of DMC perle 5 cotton. I don't embroider with such thick threads but at $1 each my idea is to use them for crochet edging on hand towels.

Such pretty pastel colours, I think they will be very pretty crocheted in a lacy design along one end of a hand towel or around a face washer.
Of course, crochet is not my first language so I need lessons! Right on cue an email from Craftsy arrived offering two weeks of unlimited lessons in any class for just $1 and I accepted the offer.

I think the offer finishes at midnight April 24th so if you're interested it's here.
You can watch a LOT of classes in two weeks. 

One last bargain to show you today. When we were in Cairns a week ago I found this sweet tea towel set and fell in love with the gentle bouquet embroidered across the bottom of one in red cross stitch...

The towels are heavy weight linen and beautiful to hold.

Being so lovely they shall not be used for everyday kitchen purposes but set aside for serving when we have guests. 

That delicate cross stitch motif has inspired me to possibly design a few small cross stitches. I did do this a few years back but never released the pattern...perhaps I should bring it out again and have another look? 

It's getting late here now, the sun had gone down, Mr E and I have had dinner (creamy chicken & mushrooms on rice) and he's calling me to slice that lemon meringue pie and make a cuppa before tonight's episode of My Kitchen Rules starts...so I must away.

Would you like the recipe for our dessert?
It's very simple.

Download the recipe here.

Tomorrow I am off to pick up Cully May and take her out with me for the morning while I run some errands. I'm sure the afternoon will see me taking a nap as she's a little girl with lots of adventurous energy, but it's all worth it to spend time with her.

I hope your week is productive and joyful and that you find pockets of peace and refreshment whenever you need them.

Bless you heaps,

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Coming home, again...

The past week has been a bit of a blur with so much crammed in that I find myself craving sleep, quiet time, vegetables and movies. In that order.
Our three days away were so full-on that hubby and I think we need a holiday to recover from the holiday. Fact is, we drove far and wide through fast flowing rainforest rivers and creeks, regularly found ourselves too tired to eat, drank sweet clear water from a spring, saw more beauty hidden in the midst of the Daintree than a person can absorb in one day, and forgot we'd have no recovery time before returning to work within twelve hours of arriving home again. 
But golly it was good to be away and sweep the cobwebs from our thoughts! 
Next time we do this it will be in the middle of the school holiday break, not the last three days. 

The only sewing I did on the trip was making more hexies. They kept my hands busy on Saturday during the drive from Townsville to Cairns, and then again late Monday afternoon (until it was too dark to see) when we drove home.

By the time darkness fell on the trip home I was finding it difficult to fit all the finished hexies, the remaining papers and fabrics, a pincushion, scissors and thread in the single plastic container I'd brought along. 

I think there's just over 200 made now...

With still more fabric scraps ready to cut, and a new pack of 1" hexie papers purchased, I had to find somewhere to store the hexies already made so I could continue making more.

Then I remembered two tins of Christmas cookies I purchased around New Year. You know how everything Christmas themed is dramatically reduced once the new year rolls around? Well, the tins were $1 so I bought two. And even though there is a santa on the lid (I don't like santas, but do love old Saint Nicholas dolls or ornaments) I actually liked the colours and thought the tins would be great for filling with Christmas gifts for santa-loving friends or family next season.

You realise that plan has been shelved now, right? Because how perfect is one of those tins for storing  my hexies-in-waiting!

I even sorted them in to colours...

To say my heart did a bit of flutter when I sat the hexies side by side is an understatement. 
What I've discovered about this new distraction is how calming it is for my over active mind, which thinks and ponders and plans and creates all day long.

I get such enjoyment cutting the fabric shapes from years of collected scraps, and then to sit down and just mindlessly yet precisely stitch the fabric to paper whether I'm a passenger in Mr E's jeep or feet up in the recliner watching a movie...it's like a mental massage, a soothing exercise in unwinding.

And the nice thing about this kind of gentle pastime is that gentleness flows into your thoughts and you tend to sigh and smile at the same time. I think my breathing slows because the sense of relaxation is quite wonderful, and homely thoughts fill my mind.

In fact, many homely thoughts are gathering in my mind and in my heart of late.

Thoughts about what truly matters in the long term when I look forward a year or two (or five), why I get flustered and overwhelmed on some days and not on others, what am I holding on to that needs to be let go of (perceived responsibilities, possessions, relationships, plans or regrets), can I find true contentment in a rental home now and not keep waiting for that feeling to increase when we have a home of our own (if we ever have that), and what really makes a house, any house, a home?
There are many more questions and thoughts having quiet conversations in my mind as I sit and sew, and what's especially different about them at the moment are the answers I arrive at...answers which come not from stress, pain or weariness, but from peace and calm and quiet. 
By not feeling rushed or distracted, I'm able to think more clearly and let my thoughts roam further which allows me to consider more options, reactions and consequences. This then gives me a wider picture from the landscape of life in which I live...and I also find myself having no trouble following the Lord's advice to "Be still and know that I am God."

Who would have thought some paper pieced hexagons could bring mental rest, clarity, gentleness and a few much needed wise decisions to my life?
God, of course. 

Last week it was my daughter Anita's 33rd birthday and when she visited from Sydney in 2016 her heart was captured by the homeliness and comfort she felt and saw within our walls, so little by little I make things for the small flat (apartment) she shares with her husband and 3 1/2 yo daughter Aminah, and when I have enough to fill a parcel it is popped in the post. 

For this birthday I knew she wanted more of the same so I trimmed some sweet tea towels (and added a cupcake one for Aminah to help mummy dry the dishes)...

I also did something new for Anita that I'm yet to do for our home, adding lace and fabric trim to plain pillowcases. In Spotlight recently I saw a 4-pack of plain white pillowcases and a long forgotten idea came to mind so I brought them home and had a play.

Two were trimmed with blue floral fabric and thin lace for Anita's bedroom... 

....and another was made for little Aminah with pink girlie fabric and wider lace. 

I also sent Anita a wall hanging with my "Home Sweet Home" stitchery in the centre...

...and a beautiful mother/daughter mug.

My own mum died when I was 3 and I have always been saddened at not owning something that belonged to her, something she wore or used. 
With this in mind I sent Anita one of my aprons that I wear a lot, and you know, this meant the world to her...

...because she has a gentle homemaker heart too.

Aren't we blessed, those of us who can sew, bake, knit, crochet, paint or create beauty in other ways?
And the icing on that blessing is when you make another precious soul happy with your gifts. My heart overflowed from Anita's joy and her tears of happiness...and really, these were not 'big' gifts, but simple from-the-heart items to help make her little flat feel more of a home. 

One of the fun things about our return home on Monday night was parcels waiting at the door!
I have been so inspired by Annabel's determination to learn more about essential oils in order to create a home pharmacy, and then using them to make gifts which are inexpensive and 'health-ful', that after the success of replacing most of our cleaning products with Miracle Spray (I discovered it on her blog and shared about it here) I am slowly purchasing large glass spray bottles to fill with cleaning sprays and hand soap, and tiny roll on bottles and atomisers to fill with a variety of essential oil blends.

The large bottles arrived a few weeks back but the small glass atomisers were at the door on Monday evening and they are even prettier than I imagined - perfect for gift giving.

Blossom 'loves' Miracle Spray and I'm sure she and Anita will both want to try some essential oil blends too. 

Another desire is to make clothes, especially nightgowns and pretty tunic type dresses to wear over leggings. I saw this pattern made up by Kelsey (go here to see it) and fell in love as it has that feminine 40's look about it, but the Butterick pattern she used is no longer in print so I hunted one down on Etsy and that was another parcel waiting for me the other night. 
The nightgown I'm going to make is E on the bottom right, but go see Kelsey's for a better idea. 

I'd also like to knit wash cloths again, and crochet the edges of hand towels and pillowcases, embroider along the edges of sheets...so many things. So many lovely things.

You see, all that hexie hand work and the quiet contemplation time it gives has revived my homemaker heart, a heart which has not been as inspired this past month due to health and family and business needs. It's clear that I needed the mental relief, the time-out if you will, to navigate my way through a number of hurdles and concerns and choose the better path forward - and I really do have a clearer plan to improve the balance of life here. There's been gradual improvement since about 2014, but now a bigger yet simpler picture is beginning to take shape, one that will weary me less and increase my delight as a homemaker, wife, mother and writer.

To top my day off you know what I purchased? 

I bought them to celebrate not just coming home from a few days away, but because I kind of felt a little lost lately and now my path is clear again and my heart knows what it needs to fulfill this wonderful desire to live a gentle domestic life.

I'm not happy all the time, nor am I content every day, but happiness will always come again and so will contentment. Sometimes we just need to walk in the shadows for a little while to appreciate the sunshine. 
And for that I thank God who always leads me into beautiful places and reminds me how very blessed I am.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Little ones...

Cully May and Rafaella Lucy, precious little loves.

I spent yesterday morning with Blossom and her babies and it was such a wonderful few hours.
My dear friend Margaret had sent a parcel of pretty things for them and included were these beautiful towels for Rafaella, the sweetest library bag you've ever seen for Cully, soft and fluffy bibs, a book of lullabies.

 I read the book to Cully a few times as she was intent on staying put on my lap and between hundreds of cuddles we'd read or sing a lullaby. 
Those are the memories you keep deep in your heart for the future, aren't they.

Mr E and I are just about to jump in the car and leave on our two night/three day escape up north.
I would love your prayers for safe travels, good health, REST and refreshment.
((thank you))

May your weekend be wonderfully fun and overflow with every good and beautiful thing under heaven.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

April designs and a tutorial...

When only a small amount of a particularly beautiful fabric remains my heart is tempted to fold it carefully, place it gently upon the fabric shelves around eye level, and leave it there to gaze at lovingly for the next however many years. 

But my head tells me something else. Use it. And the past year or two I have tended to listen to my head more often than not.
(hope you're not one of those people who hates it when someone begins a sentence with 'and' or 'but'...I used to be like that but now I write how I speak...so I'm forgiven, right?)

The floral fabric inside my new needle/thread/scissor keeper, or as I officially call it, a sewing supplies folder, is one that very much held my heart for quite a while, which is why it needed to be displayed in a forever home. So I made this folder with a 'home' on the cover! 

Inside there are roomy white-lace trimmed pockets which can hold larger things than the average needle-book. 

So I wonder, do you have a precious bit of fabric you really should take off the shelf and use?

Might this be the next project for you? Mmmm...??

The house design on the front cover was included in the April issue of The Stitchery Club  but the folder itself can be made with any embroidery or even fabric alone.

Gather these supplies...

·         One fat quarter floral fabric
·         9” x 14” rectangle of medium weight fusible Pellon
·         Two, 2 ½” x 40” lengths of red/white spot fabric
·         A completed stitchery measuring 7” wide x 8 ¼” (or fabric the same size)
·         24” x 1 ¼” length of white cotton lace
·         ¾” x 14” length white lace

From the floral fabric cut-

·         One, 7” x 8 ¼” rectangle
·         One, 8 ¼” x 13 ½” rectangle
·         One, 10” x 13 ½” rectangle

From the 24” x 1 ¼” length of white cotton lace, cut –

·         One, 9” length
·         One, 14” length

Let's Sew!

Making the outside of the sewing supplies folder –

Sew the 7” x 8 ¼” rectangle of floral fabric to the left side of the trimmed stitchery and press the seam open. Lay the 9” length of white cotton lace over the seam and sew it in place along the side edges of the lace. 

Make the inside of the sewing supplies folder –

Fuse the 8 ¼” x 13 ½” rectangle of floral fabric to the Pellon and machine or hand quilt. I did simple straight lines along the top half, leaving the bottom half un-quilted as that section will sit behind the pockets. Trim away the excess Pellon.

Make the pocket –

Fold the 10” x 13 ½” rectangle of floral fabric in half to give you a 5” x 13 ½” pocket.
Sew the ¾” x 14” length of white lace along the fold (this will be the wrong side) so that most of it peeks out of the right side. Sew the 14” length of the wider lace about an inch below the fold on the right side.

Lay the pocket along the bottom of your quilted lining and pin in position. Score a line down the centre, and two more lines 3 ¼” to the left and right of the centre line. I use a Hera Marker which leaves an indent in the fabric and you sew along it.

Sew along those lines to create your smaller pockets, and sew the sides and bottom of the larger pocket to the lining with a scant 1/8 inch seam.

Assemble and finish…

Lay the front of the sewing supplies folder on to the pocketed lining, wrong sides together. Sew a line down the centre of the lace spine to join the front and lining together. The sewn line should cover/reinforce the centre pocket line we sewed earlier.

Make a length of quilt binding from the strips of red/white spot fabric and attach it around the edges of the sewing supplies folder as you would a quilt with a ¼” seam.

Press the binding away from the folder.

Turn the binding to the inside of the folder and slip stitch in place.
All done! Fill with your supplies and it’s ready to use.

You can see why I love that floral fabric, yes?
I also love the spotty binding and fortunately still have a fat eighth of that left for another project.

The floral is a print from Brenda Riddle's 'Windermere' range for Moda and honestly, I confess to loving all her fabrics. She's also the sweetest gal and she loves Jesus. 
10/10 all around for me.

...and you can see another tutorial featuring one of them here.

Well, I'd best get back to work and prepare some new designs for coming months, plus I have to pack for our mini holiday/road trip this weekend, give the house a general once-over with the dust cloth and prepare a nice meal to freeze that we can enjoy upon returning late at night. I'm hedging towards lasagne at the moment as we can have it for dinner tonight and have the leftovers when we come home.

 After time away I love to open our front door to a home that is clean and welcoming, with fresh sheets on the bed and soft towels in the bathroom, a meal that can be easily heated up and lots of ice in the freezer for iced de-caff coffees before bed.

As much as these short and rare times away are good for us, Mr E and I do enjoy coming home again.
What about you? 

have a blessed day,