Sunday, September 26, 2021

A special project, help, blessings, and a thank you...


NEEDLE-TURN

For the past three weekends I have given over my sewing time to making an old 2007 quilt pattern by the very loved and sorely missed Rosalie Quinlan (Dekker). She was a gentle and kind woman, someone I grew to know in the last six years of her life, a friend who became a committed prayer partner as we held each other's children before the Lord and shared their needs. 
Kindness is what first comes to mind if I'm ever asked to describe her, and lately as I have been stitching the first three blocks of Rosalie's "Home Is Where My Heart Resides" quilt pattern, I'm praying about kindness and asking the Father to illuminate the areas in my life where it is needed more.

I'm also practicing needle-turn applique for this quilt, and have to tell you I am loving it! There's a been a handful of times in the past (2013?) when I've dabbled with this technique, but I've always been drawn back to blanket stitch applique - especially the past three or four years when my touches of applique on a stitchery design have been tiny. I really wouldn't use needle-turn for them...but for larger shapes, oh yes, I shall in future.

(Faith, Hope, Charity pincushion pattern can be found HERE in my shop)



THE ELDER TREE & CITRUS...

It's spring and my elder tree is really coming into bloom so I'd love to use the flowers for cordial. Having never grown an elder tree before I am a real newbie to the treats which can be made by both the flowers and the berries, so...can you give me some advice please?



Exactly when is the right time to pick the flowers?
And do berries form from the flowers left on the tree??

I have a second elder tree which has been hardening up in a pot for the past few months but which will be planted in the garden early October when hubby has a week of work. 

Another spring blessing is our lemon tree, which is alive with flowers!



It's also becoming heavy with fruit...



Last season we got one lonely lemon from the tree, but this year it is loaded and I couldn't be happier as we use heaps of lemons and the price of them has gone nuts at the supermarket and market. 
We also have flowers and a few tiny fruitlings on the lime tree, another citrus we use a lot of. 

PRICKLY BEAUTY

We often go for a wander by the beach down along the Strand and I always used to stop and admire a very pretty but extremely prickly pink plant which grew beside the driveway of a small motel. I mentioned many times to my husband that I'd love to have a few in our garden but he would point out the prickles and shake his head, saying "You'll prick your fingers too much."

Well, one day last year in the garden section of Bunnings there was one, marked down to $1 on the clearance pallet. I couldn't leave it there and he rolled his eyes as I carefully placed it in our already loaded trolley.

I'm so glad I did!
My deep pink Euphorbia has dealt with dry conditions, wet conditions, neglect, over-caring and every other obstacle plants can succumb to. 
Yes, it is indeed very prickly, but once it's settled in it's place you never touch it...



...you simply admire it's beauty, and thank God for something so vibrant flourishing unaided in a rather forlorn area of the back yard.



Life itself can be a mix of prickly troubles and splashes of beauty and joy. The two extremes can often be found living side by side, but it's which one we choose to focus on that makes the difference to our mental, spiritual and physical nature. 

Accepting that life is rarely a gentle wander through rolling hills and lush green forests under clear blue skies, but is a balance of prickles and blooms, sunshine and showers, sickness and health, abundance and need, helps us appreciate beauty when it crosses our path or catches our gaze.

God has placed much beauty in His world, and I find that by looking intentionally for this beauty in my day to day surroundings helps me manage the more difficult aspects of life when they arise.

Just today I was reminded of a study I once shared here on the beautiful blessing from Numbers 6:24-26, and thought I'd share it again to encourage you.


The LORD bless you and keep you...

In the Hebrew text when the Lord says to 'keep you' it means He will hedge around you, guard you, protect and attend to you. Isn't that marvelous!?

The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you...

In the Hebrew text 'and be gracious to you' means that God bends down towards us in kindness, showing mercy and pity, to favour us. How loved we are!

The LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

The word for peace here is Shalom, the beautiful greeting or blessing which the Jews still offer today. In this verse the Lord literally turns His face towards us, looking face to face at us, and offers us His gifts of friendship, good health, prosperity and safety.
There are no gifts to compare with those the Father has for us!


I'm praying this blessing over all of you today, lovely ones. 
Perhaps you will pray it over those in your life too, for we are not just to receive blessings, but to offer them and pray them for others. You never know how God can use a blessing from us to impact the life of another.

Over the past year I have received a few beautiful letters and cards in the mail from women across the globe who read my blog but whom I have never met. They wrote to encourage me, to share a little of their own lives, and some sent small gifts as well. Each time my heart would melt and tears of gratitude would fall...for they did not realise how the Lord had used them to lift my countenance and strengthen my faith.
Thank you to each one of those very special women, who stepped out in kindness and extended a hand of love and encouragement. You are in my prayers and deeply loved by the Father.

It's time to sign off for we are soon to depart for Blossom's where we shall enjoy a lunchtime catch-up with her, Ross and the children. Such wonderful blessings await us, and I pray your eyes are opened to the blessings awaiting you as well.

hugs

 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Simple Days reveal and the spring garden...

 



Today I finally basted my Simple Days quilt top, in preparation for hand quilting over coming weeks.

I've been very slow to get this process begun because after almost another year of designing I wanted to step away for a bit and spend some down-time sewing other projects from patterns I'd collected over the years, projects I've never had spare time to work on. However, it's time now to bring this lovely quilt to it's conclusion.







I took these photos of the quilt top pinned to the wire mesh which holds our passionfruit vine (recently  pruned back), and sitting just under the large guava tree with the bird house my husband made last year. This all really fitted the scene as these small things are a real part of our simple days. 





Here's a few photos of this morning's quilt basting. I use both pins and thread as I find that holds well. The thread basting is between the blocks and around the border, and the pins are used to secure inside the blocks.

I cleared everything off the dining table because it's the only large surface we have for such a task.



These curved basting pins are wonderful!



The more I pinned and thread basted in and around the blocks, the more excited I got about finally beginning to hand-quilt. 


 
We've just come into spring and the weather has already given us some really hot days (35c on Tuesday / 95f) so hand quilting Simple Days will be a real labour of love with a good dash of air conditioning and long glasses of iced ginger beer, but I do not mind at all. 

I did a video for Instagram this morning if you'd like to listen and see? Just pop over HERE to @homelifewithjennifer
I take you through the blocks and share some of what makes this quilt very personal to my life.

Missed any of the Simple Days patterns so far? The first 8 are HERE in my Etsy Shop and the final block will be there at the end of this month. 

GARDEN

As I have mentioned before we had a ghastly winter growing season. For those who are new to Elefantz, we live in the hot humid tropics of Northern Australia and our growing season for regular summer vegetables is winter, as the weather is very warm and usually 'perfect', but this winter was hot and humid and the bugs decimated a lot of what we planted. 

But funny thing. The last day of winter, August 31st, was the coldest day all season (22c - 71f) and suddenly everything settled down and the garden got a second wind. Even though the days have been heating up again quickly, the bugs have disappeared and we are finally seeing healthy produce in runner beans, five varieties of tomatoes, ten different herbs, capsicums, spring onions and so much rocket (arugula) that we can't keep up with it. Praise be to our God!
There's even pumpkins growing again in the front yard.
























The elder tree I planted early in the year is coming in to flower and I'm so excited to make cordial...



...and the various blooms are popping up all over the place from cuttings, seeds which scattered on the wind, or were in hubby's compost. 
I dug some up and replanted them in pots or in the small raised beds, but some I have left where they are.



















We always have loads of Pigeon Pea plants growing around the perimeter of the garden and as they dry out my husband shells them for us to store away. Dried pigeon peas are perfect for making an Indian Dhal, but I also grind them into flour and make biscuits (cookies) and other baked treats. 



My roses are blooming abundantly and there are always some budding blooms ready to pop in a vase for the living room, or to take over to Blossom. 





My husband celebrated his birthday on Friday, very low key, just how he likes it, and we are planning a very quiet weekend together as his long work hours have worn him out these past months, but we shall catch up on Tuesday with sweet Blossom and the children for a belated birthday meal. 

I have lots of things to talk about, to show you, but I'm going to slip back into regular blogging again so there's no need to rush things.

May your weekend be one of peaceful hours, joyous laughter, and praise for the Most High, who loves you more than you realise.

Hugs

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

A new free Homemakers Heart magazine!

 

Goodness me, the new September/October issue of my free Homemakers Heart magazine is a little late, but we all know that life has a way of stepping in and the more important things must be attended to. 
And that's just as it should be, especially for the homemaker, for she has many roles to fulfil within her walls and in the family unit.

In this new issue my thoughts turned to lessons we learn through the years as keepers of the home, how we glean from others, and constantly fine-tune the women we are becoming. I've also written about the importance of writing down our blessings and reading through them with the family on a regular basis, as well as caring for others who are struggling.



There's also three projects for you to make and two recipes for delicious savoury condiments.

My favourite project is on the cover - "Miracles Happen", but I also hope you'll love the Friday design in our tea-towel series, and the Make Do & Mend pattern. 


Use the link below to download the free magazine.


If you missed any of the previous four issues go HERE
and if you need help downloading it to an ipad or tablet go Here 

I hope you enjoy this latest tome and would love to hear your own thoughts or stories in the comments below, for we all have stories and memories don't we.

Hugs


PS: Please share this blog post with your friends if you think they'd be blessed to have their own copy of The Homemakers Heart.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

A time for every season, and another Posies block...

 


It's the last day of winter in the tropics of Northern Australia, a winter that didn't really arrive.
Every year around late April my anticipation builds towards that much needed cooling which normally arrives mid May, and there were indeed a few short days where it seemed my longing would be fulfilled...but nay, the winter months have came and gone with a warmth that most of you experience in late spring or indeed early summer.

Some locals here, those who have grown up in the stifling humid heat of tropical life, don't really understand the longing I have for a genuine cold change. Having been born and bred elsewhere, in a state and town that experiences all four seasons in their natural order, I deeply miss the months of wearing woolly ugg boots inside; layers of cardigans, socks, coats and scarves; tasty stews, casseroles and large bowls of steaming soup served with thick chunks of buttered bread every night; endless mugs of hot chocolate or tea; flannelette sheets, blankets and a soft snuggly comforter; open fires and plenty of cuddles.

I suppose this may have been the reason I've thought recently about how to live life satisfied even amidst seasons of dissatisfaction or disappointment. Admittedly some days this absent winter affected my mood badly, and then there were the many nights, with the ceiling fan whirring above my head, that I cried out to God for relief from the endless sun, pleading with Him to send an artic blast of winter chill all the way to the tropics. But it did not come.

Seasons. They come and go, and are never quite the same. Seasons aren't just spring, summer, autumn and winter...they are chapters in life which we walk through, relationships we fall into and out of, times of health and times of sickness, living in poverty and plenty, walking close to God and straying away. 



"To every thing there is a season; and a time for every purpose under heaven."

Even though my winter didn't arrive as I'd expected, this season did bring good things - I just didn't recognise them until now. The past couple of months I allowed life to intentionally slow down, drawing back and investing myself more in family, friendship, the Word, and rest. 



How lovely it has been to step away from the hamster wheel of a home based business for a season and reacquaint myself with life-before-Elefantz.

It's as though for the past few years I was running so hard that my eyes could not adjust to the beautiful view around me. A goal oriented woman, the way I approached life in general has always been with a list to complete, a deadline to meet and a fresh idea each day to work on. I don't remember ever being different...and to a certain extent, this is the way God made my mind to work.

The problem, though, is that in my flesh the tendency to push the envelope further than I needed in order to achieve more each day became a standard which I'd set for myself, a standard which had a limited life span...and that life span is closing. Thank goodness!




The garden this winter has been parched, yet the bugs multiplied to such a degree that almost every vegetable we grew was decimated and plant after plant was pulled up and destroyed (due to all the bugs/eggs/larvae we could not add them to compost). This too, contributed to days of dissatisfaction and disappointment.



But yesterday, the rain came. Not usual for this time of year, but it's good solid rain and as I walked through the garden this morning and saw the water droplets lingering on leaves between rain storms, my heart lifted and felt immensely refreshed. 



Being washed in the bountiful showers of heaven, things came alive and I gave thanks for the lemon tree which promises to be full of fruit, the struggling tomatoes we've worked hard to save, the chives in bloom and the reminder that "Yes, Jennifer, to every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." HIS purpose.



If you've also been in a season of dissatisfaction or disappointment, dear one, wait on the Lord. No season, hard or full, is wasted, for the Father teaches us through them and allows us to find His path anew that we may be refreshed and renewed for another season yet to arrive.
I'm very grateful to learn at the feet of the Father, and though the lessons may at first be uncomfortable, they always reveal attitudes in my character which need to be adjusted or tossed on the compost. If I allow Him free reign, He changes me for the better.


PATTERNS



Now, I know it's a day early but I have the next Posies block for you to download. 

A bucket of roses for September, and how very close to my heart this is because one joy that stood out in the garden over winter was our roses. They have bloomed and bloomed, and being able to tend them carefully just outside the back door each day, pluck stems and bring them inside, or gift a beautiful long stemmed red rose to Blossom to enjoy, brought immense delight to my soul!


Use the link below to download this month's free pattern.


(If you've missed any of the previous eight blocks you'll find them here)




For those who are purchasing my Simple Days blocks through Etsy, the latest one is ready for you (here)...



There's only one more block of Simple Days to come, on September 25th, and next week I'll show you the completed quilt top. 

I hear the rain bucketing down so loud now, and that always makes me want to brew a pot of tea and make sandwiches, with a sweet treat on the side, so that's exactly what I shall do.

May your next season be one of refreshment, renewal, strength of faith, hope in Jesus, and slowing to the pace which God would have you live.

Hugs