Monday, May 29, 2017

In times of decision...

In everyone's life there come times of decision. 

Some are big, perhaps even life changing. 
Some are urgent and require an immediate response.
Others will be important but you have time to ponder your path.

Sometimes the choices we need to make are not as difficult as we think because it's our own anxieties about 'choosing' which lay at the root of our distress. 

If the only person affected by a decision is myself then a choice usually comes easy, but I'm not a confident decision maker when others are involved.

Making decisions over big things with my husband feels like I have a mine field to cross because I want what's best for him, whilst he desires what's best for me. This clouds the terrain because neither of us is being completely open with the other about how we truly feel. Our love for each other means we are basing our decision on what we think the other would choose...and you know, too many times we have gotten that wrong.

We have a big decision to make at the moment and after praying that God would give me a sign (I was very specific about the sign) I was ready to sit back and see what happened, intent on going one way if God gave me the sign, or the other way if He did not.

And you know, as soon as I prayed that prayer I knew I'd done the wrong thing. I'd chickened out again from being honest with my husband and wanted God to be my voice. I'd also asked for a sign which really isn't what I personally believe is the right thing to do. (Matthew 12:39)

Repentant, I pondered this verse...

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you."

God DOES want to be involved with this decision, He does care, but it requires me to humble myself before Him, lay this issue and all my cares about it at His feet, then trust Him to guide me into a decision that is right.

He also wants me to be open and truthful with my husband in sharing my concerns and my excitement about all the decisions we jointly need to make, now and in the future. 

This morning I did just that.

Through the night it seems both Mr E and I had both been in God's counsel and after opening my heart in honesty about this decision over breakfast my dear husband agreed with my concerns and we both decided to close the door on that particular path, one we'd only yesterday imagined we'd follow.

Every day with Jesus is a lesson, a gift that washes away a little more of the old Jenny and her unbalanced ways.
He'll never fix everything in my nature this side of heaven, but while I'm still here He'll keep on changing me, renewing my mind, refining me so that one day His nature will shine through more than my own...because He cares for me.

And you know what?

He cares for you too.

Have a blessed week walking with Jesus,

Friday, May 26, 2017

Remembering to be grateful...

"Mother Love" is one of my new designs for the June Stitchery Club and was inspired by my daughter Blossom and the closeness we share, becoming best friends and confidantes these past few years as well as mother and child.

This new design also reflects her budding role as mother to Cully May and any babies yet to arrive. 

Today Blossom turned 23.

Mr E and I dropped in very early around breakfast time to give her a big hug and lots of love because Blossom's beloved was just about to whisk her away for a few days with their little Cully May. This will be their first family holiday and I'd love it if you prayed for them to have a wonderfully peaceful time, especially as Cully May is teething again. 

She, Ross and the baby came over on Wednesday night for a family birthday dinner as we knew they'd be away on the actual day. Blossom has never swayed from what she wants me to cook for her birthday dinner and this year was no different.

Silverside, mashed potatoes, honey carrots and mustard sauce for the main, and cinnamon scrolls for dessert.
She then takes the remaining scrolls home for supper that night and breakfast the next day (which makes Ross very happy as since becoming a part of the family he's also fallen for my cinnamon scrolls!).

Our gift to her this year celebrates the path she intends taking with her budding home business, sewing and designing baby and toddler clothes.

Both her and Ross want her to be a stay-at-home mama so she makes clothes in the evening when Cully May has gone to bed. An Overlocker was on the "one-day" purchase list for her business so she was VERY thrilled to receive this from her daddy and I.

A home business is hard work (I know) but she is smart, talented, creative and a lifelong learner of new skills so I'm praying the Lord blesses the work of her sweet hands.

Blossom was sharing with me recently about her study of the Proverbs 31 wife and how she worked from home with fabric to bless her family and her husband, and Bloss said she loved that example for her own dream. 

I think having a purpose, a dream to do good and bless others is precious.
In fact, my dear young daughter made me look with fresh eyes at my own work and why I do it. 

To be honest I'd not been as appreciative of the Lord's gift of creativity and design as I once was, having begun to feel this work was burdensome...but now I 'see through a glass clearly'  and my heart overflows with gratitude for how this work has blessed my family, helped to dig us out of much debt, and allows us to contribute where there is a need in spreading the Gospel message.

Every good gift comes from God above and I know there are many other gifts He has given me which I'm not appreciating as I should so with the help of the Holy Spirit I'll hopefully uncover them and take stock of my blessings.

We're babysitting Blossom's two dogs, Bobby and Elmo, while they're away. 
This displeases our Sophie-cat immensely.
I can see some fun and games between the feline-ruler-of-the-house and our visiting canines this weekend!

I hope your weekend is blessed with laughter, grace and much peace.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

HOPE on a flour sack and in my heart...

I never realised how much I'd love stitching new designs onto flour sack.
But I do. 
It's so soft, yet strong. Like a woman, huh? 

I was at Rosie's last Friday and we talked about flour sack. How sturdy the weave and yet how beautifully it drapes...and how wonderful that back in the 30's during the Great Depression manufacturers made pretty flour sacks so mamas could sew shirts and dresses for their precious little babes.

And that made me think of my own baby girl, Blossom. She'll turn 23 on Friday and you know what she does at night when her own little daughter has gone to bed? She sews beautiful clothes and nightgowns for her sweet child. 

I think the act of sewing for another is a privilege we don't acknowledge often enough. When Blossom and her sisters were little I would always make them a birthday dress and a Christmas dress. The two eldest girls wore matching outfits until daughter number three came along and I found it a bit tedious to sew the same dress three times so from then on they all had different dresses (which they really preferred). 

Seeing what Blossom has sewn for Cully May and hearing the JOY in her voice as she tells me what she's making next takes me back over 30 years and the delight I had doing the same thing when her eldest sister came along. 

I must say, she is a far more accomplished seamstress than I ever was. Her attention to detail, the finishing, the constant study of this dressmaking craft, the honing of skills I've never heard of...this is truly her delight and my heart is filled with happiness for her. 

She loves making clothes the way I love to paint pictures with needle and thread. 
I'm so proud of her, so impressed with the young woman, the young mother she has become.

Over the years I have HOPED so much for each of my children, hoped for good health, hoped for happiness, hoped they would walk with Jesus, hoped for good spouses, hoped their arms would be filled with children, hoped they have generous hearts...and though many hopes are still being hoped for, I am very grateful for the hopes which I've seen come to fruition.

We must never lose hope in our children.

HOPE always.

But back to my visit with Rosie.

We hadn't seen each other for a few months and I'd forgotten all about my February birthday, but that sweet friend had not. 
It's rather lovely to celebrate your birthday again three months after the event!

Look what she made me...

The most beautiful zippered pouch (it's quite large so I can pop my sewing in there when I visit next time), and an inspirational gift tag that tugged at my heartstrings.

Her stitching is exquisite...but her friendship is priceless.

I hope your week has started well?
May it be a bounty of blessings each and every day!


PS: The HOPE stitchery pattern will be inside the June issue of The Stitchery Club.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The quiet life...

One thing I know, one sure thing I have learned, is to choose the quiet life.

In the midst of a world that rushes us through each day with a list of to-dos and interactions, the truest call of my heart tells me to slow down, step back. breathe deeply, and choose to quieten my life.

When I heed this call my choices are wiser, my responses kinder, and my time with God much richer.

It's really a simple thing, this quiet life we're instructed to follow, yet the world today may tell us otherwise and pushing us in on all sides it seems our busyness will not withdraw ground.

If this is your experience can I encourage you over this next week to seek the Lord in your prayer time each day and ask Him to show you how to quieten your precious and unique life? 

Don't rush your time with Him, be still and know that He is your God who loves you and will direct your path whenever your heart is desiring to obey His Word.

Your sister in Christ,

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Revisiting vintage...

In 2015 I shared a redwork block of the month celebrating memories of my childhood in Nana's kitchen.

The Vintage Kitchen was such a popular project that even women who didn't stitch picked up needle and thread to make it. 

There's something quite comforting about the simple yet loving memories of family meals around the kitchen table and time spent watching Mum (or in my case, Nana) baking delicious treats, and I'm sure that's what resonated most with the many thousands of homemaker hearts who stitched the little blocks each month.

Though I first made this mini quilt with redwork blocks, over time I restitched a couple in pastel hues to show how versatile the small designs could be.

The kitchen scales embroidered with variegated pink and blue threads became embellishment for a kitchen towel...

...whilst I stitched the preserves block in blue thread on a pink and white background fabric before displaying inside a sweet little hoop. 

One day I'll stitch all the blocks again, but this time in pastels because I still love the designs and have always wondered what a pastel version in my own style would look like.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Angela, a lovely German lady living in Malaysia.
She'd stitched four of The Vintage Kitchen blocks onto a cover for her toaster and it's so lovely I wanted to show you.
After all, you may be inspired to do something similar! I know I am.

Isn't it beautiful?!

When I saw Angela's toaster cover my mind immediately wondered what needed covering in my own kitchen and there's a few things like the juicer, food processor, toaster and blender, which would not only look pretty with these kind of covers but would also be protected from the dust blown in by the Trade Winds most of the year.

Then I thought, what if you'd like to give your kitchen appliances a cover makeover too?

Just in case this is tickling your fancy I have The Vintage Kitchen pdf pattern on sale for $4 (50% off) until the end of June in my Craftsy shop.

It's Saturday morning here and after a lovely coffee with my husband to start the day we made housework a priority. Mr E takes care of the cars, yard and washing, whilst I scrubbed the bathroom,. kitchen and did the vacuuming.

Now that's finished we're going to settle down for a relaxing afternoon watching Lord of the Rings while I stitch.

What are you planning for the weekend? 
I hope there's some restful downtime in there somewhere.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Resting to thrive...

I've been quiet here since last week for a reason.

Rest was needed. For the mind, the spirit and the body.

I'm sure you have seasons like this too.

We went away last weekend and instead of being a lovely relaxing time it was fraught with trials we never predicted. 

My beloved and I came home physically weary and sunburnt from walking around the Camping expo in the blazing sun all Saturday, sleep deprived from our budget accommodation's ancient springy bed, and frazzled and (more) sunburnt after hours of being stranded on the country highway when our Jeep broke down.

Arriving home late Sunday after my creative husband used kitchen parts to get the car moving again was a relief beyond words.

All we wanted was rest.

But haven't we all had weekends like that? 
You can have high hopes of a fun time away but elements come into play which rob you of the good memories, crowding them out with less enjoyable ones.

So I just didn't feel like talking, blogging, or housework on Monday. 
On Tuesday I still didn't feel like doing anything other than drink tea and sleep, but I'd promised to take Blossom and Cully up the mountain for a few hours that afternoon. 
So I did.

And that was the best thing for my state of mind, even though I didn't think it would be.

Under the trees in the mountain breeze I let the cares of the world fly by. Surrounded by greenery, birds darting hither and thither, a little child to make us found me.

Dear Blossom had also been in need of refreshment and those hours away from the city and the obligations of housework brought joy to my darling  girl.

I realised something as I drove down the mountain to take us home later that afternoon. When we're burnt out and weary from a stressful situation, family responsibilities, business, health or various obligations the best gift we can give ourselves is a time of rest. 

That night I felt the stirrings of calm, a restoring of my internal peace, and I knew the next day I'd be back to normal again. And I was.

That's when I drew up the little "Rest" stitchery to remind me how important rest is and not to ignore it.

Today I drew up another little stitchery, "Thrive".

Because once you have rested, your energy will return and you'll get moving again. 
You'll be refreshed, and that's when we find it easy to thrive.

Are you in need of rest?
Don't keep pushing on sweet gal, stop and give yourself a gift of time to refresh, restore, rest.
You're worth it. xx

Bless you heaps,

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Our Shield...

People can mislead us and when we discover that deception too often heartache, a sense of betrayal, embarrassment and rejection may follow.

But there is One who never deceives, 
One who never has any intention of harm or a desire to lead us along the wrong path.

Jesus trusted His Father to death on a cross.

We can trust Him to life.

Be blessed as you drink in the pure Word of God this week and trust that what He has written is pure truth, for our benefit and blessing, day in and day out.

Your sister in Christ,

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sewing, grasshoppers and a free pattern...

Gathering together a handful of embroidery threads which so beautifully blend together is a rather thoughtful and unhurried occupation for me when preparing a new design.

I can remember many times when I've traced a stitchery and Mr E has asked if I'd like to watch a movie with him, but I still haven't chosen my threads so I reply "Just give me 10 minutes to choose my colours."

Ten minutes? Well, that's wishful thinking to say the least.
More like an hour, or two or four. 

I take my background fabric choice very seriously, but choosing colours definitely takes more of my time than that. 
Fortunately I usually have a spare stitchery 'on the go' somewhere for those movie dates now, having learned to have a back up so I don't keep my beloved waiting. 

At the moment I'm still cutting into one of my flour sack towels and have almost completed a third project from it. There's still enough left for a fourth, and I must admit it's simply beautiful to stitch through.

Each design has been embroidered with a different blend of threads, but I'll wait till later in the month to show them to you.

Today you shall just have to be content with a few peeks at number three and the pretty pastel threads which are making it sing.

Now, how are you going with Mothers Day gifts? I admit this celebration doesn't ring on my radar until the day has almost arrived because Mr E and I both lost our mums when we were babies so it's not something we have ever had to think about for ourselves.

If you're after something sweet and quick to make I've added a free pattern to my Craftsy shop which might suit a few of you as a gift for mum, grandma, or aunt.

This lovely lingerie bag can be made up in a day, or stitch the design the night before and you can finish the project next morning. 

Remember my potted garden from a couple of weeks ago? 
Everything was thriving and I was so excited, until...the grasshopper.

We have never seen a grasshopper in our yard and we've lived here for 3 1/2 years, but we've seen one now!
The little blighter has decided to feast on my budding cherry tomato plant and parsley...

He obviously doesn't like basil, mint, thyme or chives...just tomato leaves and parsley.

If you have gardening knowledge to help me thwart this fellow's evening adventure in my potted garden please share it in the comments below. Thank you. x

Mr E and I are heading off to the caravan and camping expo in our area on Saturday so tonight I'm going to make a simple tote bag out of this old Cath Kidston fabric and vintage buttons to sling over my shoulder.

Rather plain with a pocket at the front I think, because the fabric is upholstery weight and lovely enough 'not to be messed with'. You know what I mean?

I really hope you have a peaceful end of week and that it flows right over into your weekend as well.
I wonder what your plans are?


Monday, May 8, 2017

TUTORIAL - Vintage Style Needle-book...

I have hundreds of ideas swimming through my mind at any given time, but the ones I'd like more time to explore and play around with are ideas for re-purposing vintage linens. 

We had a lovely relaxed weekend. 
On Saturday morning we checked out a few garage sales and found a brilliant rowing machine for minimal cost, I experimented in the kitchen and successfully came up with a lovely slice recipe which I'll share another day, Mr E pottered around with the car and wrote some school assessments, we watched a wonderful new movie (Lion), and eventually closed our weekend with fish and chips by the beach at sunset.

In between these activities I indulged myself by following through with a vintage doily idea that's been simmering away in my mind for weeks, so felt totally content when it was complete. 

Some cutting here, some stitching there, I didn't rush anything but weaved the project throughout our two day break until all that was needed were a button and ribbon sewn in place early Monday morning.

I'll share with you the steps I took, but there's no measurements or patterns sheets because it grew from one circular cross-stitched doily I've had for many years. Your doily may be a different shape or size, but the basic instructions will work none-the-less.

I began by choosing two 1930's reproduction fabrics in pink and blue from my stash, with colours as close as possible to those used in the doily's cross stitch. 

Then I cut a circle from the blue fabric about 1 1/4" wider in diameter than the doily, a square from the pink fabric slightly larger than my circle, and a square of Parlan which I fused behind the pink square.

(you could use thin fusible Pellon instead)

Lay the circle right side down on the pink square and pin the two fabrics together.

Sew around the circle with a 1/4" seam, leaving a 2"- 3" opening for turning out. 
I used blue pins as my markers for where to begin and end the sewing.

Cut away the excess pink fabric...

...and clip into the curve with your scissors, being careful not to cut through the seam line.

Turn the circle right side out and press. 

You now have two sides of the opening to hem.
Tack the curved fold of the Parlan backed pink fabric in a contrast colour and iron a curved hem along the edge of the blue fabric.

Ladder stitch the two sides together to close the opening and remove the contrast tacking thread.

Fuse a strip of applique bonding paper along the centre back of your doily, and once cooled, peel it off.

Gentle fuse the doily onto the centre of the blue side of your circle with a warm, dry iron.

Now you'll need two strands of blue embroidery thread, a length of cream Ric Rac, and some cream Perle #12 thread.

Sew a line of blue running stitch 1/4" inside the edge of the blue circle. It's fine for the stitches to show through on the pink side.

Turn over to the pink side of the circle and use the cream Perle #12 thread to hand sew the Ric Rac over the blue running stitch. Don't stitch right through the circle, just place your needle between the blue and pink fabrics as you stitch.

Use pinking shears to cut a circle of cotton or wool quilt wadding, two inches smaller than your fabric circle.

Fold the circle of wadding in half and sew a line of contrast tacking stitch just under the fold as a guide for you when working on the next step.

 On one side of the fold, embroider some simple flowers with colonial knot centres, lazy daisy petals and cross stitch leaves. 

I chose variegated threads very close in colour to the threads used in my vintage doily.

You can scatter the flowers around any way you like. I kept the middle of the half circle free because I wanted to add something there later.

Take a length of silk ribbon, lay it in position on the pink fabric circle, and carefully embroider a flower into the middle of it, whilst sewing only through the pink fabric and not through the blue. 
The ribbon is to hold your scissors in place so choose where you want the scissors to be before you start the embroidery.

Turn the circle back to the blue side.
Blanket stitch around the edge of the doily with two strands of blue thread to secure it onto the fabric, being careful not to stitch through to the pink side.

Remove the tacking stitch from the wadding and sew the wadding to the pink side of the needle-book along the centre fold line with cream thread. Hide the stitches between the pink and blue sides of the needle-book.

From here you can finish the needle book as you like.

I sewed a mother of pearl button onto the centre lower front of my needle-book, then folded a length of blue silk ribbon in half and stitched the fold to the opposite edge of the circle.

This way when I close the needle-book I can wrap the ribbon around the button and tie a bow for closure.

Inside the needle-book I added a few vintage buttons and sewed a sweet round of crochet to the front of the embroidered wadding before adding a mother of pearl button to the centre of the crochet. Lastly I secured my very old embroidery scissors in place with the ribbon. 

Now you might be fussy about wanting to hide the back of your wadding embroidery?

If so, you could add another piece of same sized wadding behind the embroidered one and blanket stitch around the edge of the two wadding circles to secure them together before sewing this piece in place on your needle-book.

But me?

I actually love the raw homeliness of my threads when the pin keep is opened...

Truly, this was a delight to make and I hope you have fun making something similar.

Have a blessed and joy filled week!