Thursday, September 29, 2022

Pretty things found and something for you too...

 Last Friday afternoon, the day before we adopted our new puppy, I took the opportunity to drop into a couple of op-shops near Blossom's place...'cause you never really know what you might find. I have a small list of things which I'm always on the look out for, and must tell you that this recent trip to the op shops was well worth my time.

When Blossom comes over for the day with her three young ones, we always have morning tea. And even since Cully May was a toddler we've always used real tea cups. Her, Rafaella and Charlie are taught to hold them securely and treat them with care...and never has a precious tea cup been broken. This was how I taught Blossom and her siblings when they were young and I only remember one broken cup from those long ago tea times.


This beautiful set of Staffordshire china was sitting in a box with a "$10 the lot" sticker...and I think you can easily guess the rest of the story? Home with me it came! There's one cup missing from the set, but that's fine as when we have morning tea there are five of us...so I have a saucer and a small plate spare for piling on sweet treats and strawberries.

Another bargain was the 20c box of doilies. Have to tell you, this was very unusual as they're normally $2 each, but home I came with a handful of pretties for just $1.


I especially like this blue edged doily (and have project plans for it)...


...as well as this small tablecloth, though I'd probably be more correct in calling it a supper cloth. It is covered with floral sprigs (machine embroidered, but still lovely).


The plain white doily will be perfect for adding a hand embroidery to the centre, or a verse of Scripture.

Now, a funny thing happened after I washed and ironed the doilies and folded them to put away in my special plastic storage container, a place where I store all the vintage lovelies I come home with. 

I was re-organising the placement of things in the container, when I found this, hand crocheted, from 1953...a memento made for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. I don't even remember where I got this, but it was quite a while back, and even with the recent death of our late Monarch I'd forgotten all about it. Now it is even more special. It says -

JUNE

(crown)

E 11 R

1953


Whilst the Harry-pup and I settle into a daily routine I've barely done more than wash, iron, make a meal, water the garden, vacuum and make the bed each day. Hubby and I are still sleep deprived, but more our own problem than because of Harry. When he wakes up for us to take him outside for potty during the night, he comes straight back in and goes to sleep. We on the other hand lay awake for a couple of hours tossing and turning (lots of noisy traffic on our main road doesn't help). By the time we finally doze off, it's almost time to wake up again, and by then it's 5am and there's no point even trying to sleep another hour because the dear Harry-pup is full of beans and ready for a solid hour of playtime before I start breakfast.

Because energy levels for the adults in our home are low right now, I have spent a bit of quiet time going through some fabrics my friend Jo posted a couple of months ago, and one of them really caught my eye. It's a pretty yellow floral, and though I have never been much of a mug rug person (remember all those swaps done between bloggers about ten years ago when everyone included a mug rug in their parcel? Some were very pretty but I ended up with so many that I just went right off making any for years afterwards) I thought with a little stitchery to celebrate Spring in my part of the world, one would really liven up my desk and morning cuppa. 

And once I'd done that, it seemed only right to share it with you. 


The basic instructions are included with this free pattern download. 

Stitch the flower pot and bee to your own liking, whether than be simple backstitch, with a few interesting stitches for texture, or perhaps redwork. I've used a combination of chain stitch, satin stitch, running stitch, backstitch, lazy daisy and stem stitch. The applique is blanket stitched.


That little pop of lace along one side adds a very feminine touch, and the two circles of hand quilting in the left side are there to highlight where a mug should sit. 

Made in a day, this would be a nice little gift to put away, and easy to post as well. 


I think it will be perfect sitting beneath the yellow tea cup and sauce for tea times!


Use the link below to download the pattern.

DOWNLOAD the free Spring Blooms pattern


I'm about to start working on chapter 4 of our Emilie Barnes book study and hope to have that ready for a blog post next week. The theme for chapter 4 is "The Secret of the Garden" so here's some beauty from ours at the moment - deep red bottle brush and vibrant yellow sunflowers...


My roses are blooming well and it's such a blessing to always have a few sitting in a vase on my desk, but I can't wait to read and ponder Emilie's thoughts on the garden and the beauty we can find there.

Thinking about gardens, I saw this 2023 calendar advertised and was so excited that I bought one. It's got that real WW2 victory garden look about it, and to tell the truth, isn't that a mindset many of us are working towards right now?


Though the calendar is American, and I'm in Australia, that does not bother me as the calendar months are the same worldwide, the artwork is incredibly vibrant and inspiring for a gardener, plus at the bottom of each month's double spread is a little extra thought to encourage those who have green thumbs and those who are working on having them. :-)








I bought mine through Amazon Australia (here) and it took a few weeks to arrive from the US, but well worth the wait! If you want to look for it online in your country it's called the "New Victory Garden 2023 Wall Calendar". I'm so happy to have found it!

The next free Books & Roses BOM bookmark stitchery will be late again, and not because I haven't stitched it, because I have...but I don't like the colours so I'm going to do it again in coming days. Thanks for your patience. If I'm not happy with colours or fabrics, then I'm not excited to share it. The same with patterns I design for purchase. If it's not coming along the way I'd hoped, the best thing is to put it aside and start over. I have never regretted making those decisions. Have you??

I'm interested to know how you are doing in your own home at the moment. When dear Val left her comment the other day and told us she was in hospital, how happy I was to read messages from other commenters that they were praying for Val. That's the joy of blogging, and especially when others feel open to share their needs...praying for one another is a gift, a privilege and a blessing to the one in need. Val, there's a lot of us praying for you lovely lady...and sending gentle hugs from across the globe. ((((you are in God's perfect care and He will hold you tight through every challenge))).

Now it's time to sign off as I can hear the Harry-pup rummaging in my sewing room...and that's a no-no. 

Bless each of you today, and in the days ahead. Hold fast to the absolute truth of God's Word, trust that you are never alone, and if you know someone walking the depths of the valley right now, lift them before the Lord. He hears every prayer, and though we may wonder why His answers tarry, trust He has a good reason and a purpose for all things. 

That narrow path seems narrower with every passing year, for the ways of the world are widening the way to destruction...but we believers must never lose heart, we must look ahead to Christ's return and keep to that narrow path. God bless you!

hugs


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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

A new family member...

 


Meet Harry. 
Our almost 7 week old Cavalier/Dachshund puppy. Adorable, huh? :-)

For quite a while hubby has wanted us to get a small dog, a companion to keep me company during the long hours he works six days a week. We did not go into this lightly, as we have had to rehome a dog once before, and that's not a fun thing (even if it is best for the dog). Being mindful that we're older now, and this neighbourhood is not safe for walking around, we decided on a very small breed, one which would think our quarter acre to be a huge place of adventure and exploration, and also be happy to spend much of the day inside cooling off from the tropical sunshine. 

We looked at a few breeds, and a few pups, but it was little Harry who felt 'just right'. A true Goldilocks moment. 



Our little boy has a Cavalier King Charles father, and a Miniature Dachshund mother. So far we see him looking more like his dad, apart from the fur which is like his mum. His body is not as long as a dachshund, and he doesn't have the long snout either. His chest has that lovely white V which we've seen on many Cavaliers. 

Harry is so tiny, and won't grow a lot, but he's full of energy and mischief, whilst also loving cuddles. Since we picked him up last Saturday he has already adjusted to sleeping in his crate, to the point of collapsing at 8pm and waking around 3- 4am each day...which of course has left hubby and I very tired during the day, for Harry is full of beans in that early hour.  

He spent much of Sunday morning following hubby around the yard while he did chores...


...and late afternoon as my shadow while I watered the gardens. 

We have an almost bare patch of garden opposite the back undercover area (seen above) which is his potty, and I'm amazed at how quickly that training fell into place. In fact he'll cry in his crate when he wakes up so he can get out there. Bless him. 

He has a few good sleeps during the day, and I'd love to nap through one of them, but there is a bit much to do around the home/garden right now...but I am hopeful of catching an hour this afternoon. My husband and I look like zombies at the moment from lack of sleep...reminds me of early days with my babies (when I was a lot younger!). Such long days now. But eventually this will settle and we might enjoy sleeping in till 6 again. 

This very hot and humid early spring has knocked us all about too. I'm pulling out the vegetables that have finished in the raised beds, moving pots and things around to give them shade cover, and generally trying to prepare the gardens for a long hot spring/summer and early autumn with cardboard and sugar cane mulch, to keep good things happening underneath in preparation for planting again in mid Autumn (April).

Something lovely in the garden right now are the sunflowers! I threw a handful of seeds to the wind, and they're popping up under trees already, their joyous yellow faces a sight to behold. 



I've cut some and have them in a vase on the dining table. So bright and cheery, I hope they keep growing under the trees. 

Inside, I've not had much time to do any baking with a new puppy at my feet who needs playtime and cuddles, but in the few little breaks while he naps I do keep on top of the housework. Meals are simple, the house is clean, washing and ironing are done, and if I have an extra half hour or so I'll pick up a bit of hand stitching. 
At the moment I'm working on a little design to share with you later this week, or early next week (all depends on my sleep and energy). The fabric was a gift from my lovely friend, Jo, and inspired the small design I drew. 


I hope you're getting enough rest? To be honest, I haven't had my energy topped up since before having Covid in early July. Some days I do feel as though I'm recovering and get excited, but having our puppy has assured me I'm not refreshed and gathering energy yet. Most days it feels like I'm wading through mud...but I do believe this shall pass, so in the meantime I'll continue doing what most needs attention and let other things be tackled when I have the time and energy available.

Are there any new happenings in your life? I'd love to hear about them. And if you've got a Cavalier or Miniature Dachshund (or a cross breed of both, like Harry), perhaps you have some advice or tips for us?

Harry has been playing at my feet since I started writing this post but has now taken himself to bed in the crate, so I will sign off and go finish the stitchery (this is usually just a short nap for him). I'm think of using it in a simple mug rug or snack mat...haven't made one of them for a long time. 



If you're in a season of weariness, I am praying that it is temporary, that you can feel the Father's arms carrying you along until you're able to stand again. Just as I am trying to do, nourish your body with good food, rest when you're able, and spend quiet time in the presence of God - for that has more restorative power than anything else. In fact, that's just what I'm going to do right now. The stitching can wait...

Hugs

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Lessons of the past...

 



It's been quite a shock to skip over spring, and have summer arrive three months early, but that's the way of seasons around the world now so I have quickly adjusted my expectations to accept whatever the good Lord sends our way. After all, just waking each morning next to my beloved is a gift which I never fail to thank God for, and that perspective helps me to focus on everything I can give praise for, rather than what I could lament.

THE GARDEN and GROCERIES...

Yesterday I pulled up the remaining tomato plants as the green vegetable bug infestation had become too difficult to control. Jennifer lost and the bugs won. The hot and humid days bring them out 'en masse', each day adding more to their numbers than the one before, and far too many tomatoes were lost. Best idea was to take away their 'dinner' and bring the remaining fruit inside. 


Some will ripen on the dining table near the front window, others will be fermented, and still more shall become a fried green tomatoes side dish this week. I may dehydrate the ripening cherry tomatoes, but I'll see how things go. Chutney and pickles are another option.

The last butternut pumpkin, lettuce and bok choy were picked today, but we've still got snow peas growing so we feast on them each night. Spring onions do well here all year round, as does rocket (arugula), plus the 'new to us' beet greens are in abundance for the time being. It's wonderful to still have greens for our daily salads, but I've planted out more radish as we've gone through the last lot already. All the cucumbers, which gave us a bounty this winter, are gone, as is my coriander (cilantro) patch as they do not like the burning heat. 


I'm so glad that strawberries are cheap at our supermarkets right now, having arrived very late in the season, so I'm stocking up on them for jam making later in the week. This is the end of the tropical growing season, so I'm gathering locally what I can to preserve, freeze and use immediately. We will very soon be reliant on the spring/summer growing seasons of the cooler southern states (I'm in Australia if you weren't aware) and already we see prices higher than I can ever remember. 
Rockmelons (cantaloupes) are already $7 each, so next winter we will grow them.
Our local egg farm just closed because they cannot get workers to collect the eggs...no wonder there's an egg shortage every second week in the supermarket. 

As I pondered all this last night, and reflected on the menus of my childhood living with Nana and Pop, I acknowledged that we've really strayed away from the simple fare of those days. Today, with all the cooking programs, social media sites and cookbooks, many people are buying a lot of different ingredients for just one meal...and that can be expensive. Add up the cost of spices (some you may only ever use once or twice in a year), special cuts of meat, vegetables which are out of season locally and so they're flown in from overseas, and any other number of ingredient requirements needed to re-recreate the recipe which caught your eye and made you salivate...it won't be cheap. 

Now I don't know about you, perhaps you're quite well off and can afford those luxuries, but as house mortgage rates rise (ours has gone up four times in the past four months, and we feel the pinch, even with a small mortgage) my husband and I have had to sit back and assess all our expenditure - deciding what is necessary and what is not. Considering this, we reminded each other of what it was like growing up with grandparents (he was raised by grandparents too, just like me) and how very wise they were with money, having gone through the Great Depression and WW2. They experienced first hand what it was like to raise a family in those years and and learned what it was to go without. Those lessons were ingrained in their mind, and we want lessons like those to guide our ways in the difficult time ahead.



I've begun making bottles of natural teas every few days. Hibiscus for bringing down blood pressure (and it's working), and a mix of lemon balm/mint/ginger as a night time tonic to help me sleep (also wonderful). I used to have these as hot teas every so often, but now I have them as iced tea straight from the fridge - and neither of them are sweetened, as they're lovely and fresh just the way they are. 



READING...

I'm currently re-reading The Servant Queen, an inspiring book by the UK Bible Society about the faith of our late Queen, Elizabeth 11, her legacy coming to mind often over the past two weeks. Did you watch the funeral? We did...so full of respect and dignity and love. 

Another read, though actually a daily study, my husband, Blossom and I are reading from the Complete Jewish Bible these days, and I cannot recommend this highly enough as it explains so clearly much of Jesus' teachings and what they meant to the 1st Century Jews He was living and ministering among. Brings the Bible, and especially Gospels, alive in quite an unexpected way.



In the evenings before bed I have another re-read. This book by Mrs Sharon White (you'll find her blog HERE) is one a handful of titles by her which I have purchased...



As you can tell, I love to fold over the corners of pages/topics I want to re-read! Her books are mostly blog posts she has written since about 2009, and full of her love for home, family, and more importantly, Jesus. In so many ways, as I read, it's like my own story of life. 



MOVING THINGS AROUND...

With every new season I tend to look over our living space and attempt to make it function that little bit better. Last week it occurred to me that when we walk in the back door, from the garden, no matter how much we try to avoid it, we bring in leaves, grass and sometimes muddy water. I've always had either the blue couch or the dining table against the wall of the back door, so dust and debris end up either under that couch or scattered under the table and between the chairs. 

My new re-arrangement is probably the most sensible one yet! I made a walkway from the back door into the kitchen at long last.







My desk is now in direct line from the new air conditioner, which really is important as I need to do work each day there and our spring/summer/autumn is ghastly hot.





THE OLD WAYS...

I hope and pray each of you are doing well, in whatever circumstance you are facing. Though a believer for 31 years, the Lord is still stretching me, He is still guiding me, and He is still forgiving me when I fall along the way. You may have that same testimony? 

No matter the mortgage increases, the cost of groceries, or the scarcity of eggs, if we can curb our spending, eat and live more simply, be mindful of not using the car more than we need, switching off appliances at the wall when not in use, give thanks for all we have, and above all be content knowing that we are children of a great and mighty God who shall supply all our needs according to His riches in glory (note, the Word says needs, not wants)...then we shall be okay. 



The Bible directs us to look to the old ways, and the old ways for me are the examples I saw growing up in Nana and Pop's tiny flat. Simple meals, small delights, contented hearts, creativity, beauty in flowers, there's no garden too small, hard work, staying home each day and not wandering off to socialise because attention to keeping home was most important, cleanliness of self/belongings/home, regular daily rhythms, respect for God, generosity to those in need, and restful evenings together as a family.

What have you learned from the old ways of your childhood? I'd love to hear them.

Bless you heaps,


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Monday, September 19, 2022

Remake progress, a new pattern, and a freebie too...

Good afternoon everyone!

How was your weekend? Did you get into the garden, bake or cook? If you were able to sew, what did you make? Perhaps you went for a country drive, a stroll along the beach or across a mountain side? I sometimes ask this when I'm doing my own little joys at home, "I wonder what is everyone else is doing today?" Of course, there's no reply, but many ideas come to mind and I'm hopeful that whatever you're doing brings you a sense of satisfaction and delight.

It was my beloved's birthday on Saturday and after an early dinner of fish and chips by the beach we drove over to Blossom's for some wonderfully relaxed and laughter-filled time with her, Ross and the grandchildren. Relaxed birthdays, with no presents, are my husband's favourite...and we respect his preference, because after all, the day is for him. He also likes a bit of liquorice and some dark chocolate, which Blossom had waiting, so he truly was a happy man. 

Yesterday it was ghastly hot; seems we skipped spring as summer in the tropics has arrived already. Both of us were exhausted after a few garden jobs and spent the entire afternoon inside, enjoying the air conditioner. We watched an excellent sermon, then hubby had a nap whilst I wrote a very long overdue pattern, which I've been asked a lot about since the sneak peek photo last month.


Having somewhere pretty to store packets of needles is just as important as having a needlebook filled with 'in use' needles and pins, don't you think?

The fabric I used for this project is Tanya Whelan's Barefoot Roses, my favourite ever fabric line from about 2010. She recently re-released the prints and though I rarely buy new fabric anymore, I did splurge on a few half metre pieces, and I have NO buyers remorse.

The cover has a cupcake applique and hand embroidery...


...and the case closes with a pretty pink silk ribbon.


Inside there are four pockets which hold packets of needles, scissors or thread...or whatever you'd like to store in the little spaces available. 




The elegant lace trim on the pockets add that touch of femininity that I love.

I have added this new pattern to my Etsy Shop, and as with all my Etsy patterns there's detailed embroidery and sewing instructions, full material and cutting lists, photographs and full size pattern sheet for tracing the embroidery/applique design. 

Go HERE to purchase The Rosey Needle Case pattern

My other stitching and sewing of late has been re-making the blocks from Phyllis May's Kitchen BOM (the original is here) but this time I'll be sewing them into a quilt, and the project renamed Jennifer's Kitchen.

Seven blocks are complete...














I'm using a mix of Lori Holt fabrics from my stash, but wanted to include lace and pieces of doilies as well. So far I'm loving the way this is coming together...




All the patterns are in my shop (in sets of two) and though they are written for the original memory book (shown below), I also included instructions to complete each block at 10.5" square for using in  quilt layout. 






I can't wait to finish all the blocks and begin putting them together, but I'm not rushing, just doing one block every week or two, whilst I play around with other things in between.

Not sure yet if I'll add borders to separate each block...or even embroider a verse somewhere before adding a final border around the whole quilt. If you know of a lovely kitchen themed verse, scripture or quote, I'd love to hear it, and if I do decide to add one I'll simply share the extra pattern here on the blog as a freebie. 

Which version/colourway do you prefer? The original or the remake?

All the patterns for this project are HERE in my shop. I'll add the photos of my remake blocks there soon, as it helps to see different ways you can make one block. At least it always helps me! :-)


WHAT ABOUT A SURPRISE FREE PATTERN FOR YOU TODAY?!

How about a nice little stitchery just for free? Small designs are perfect for quick gifts or for embellishing an item. 

I first shared this little Make Do & Mend stitchery back in 2014, but I love it just as much today and hope you have fun with it too.


In your free pattern the stitchery comes in two sizes. I used the smaller one as the cover for a very simple needlebook, such as you can see in the photo above. Inside I placed pieces of leftover cotton quilt wadding as it's lovely and soft for holding used needles and pins.

I stitched it in place with a piece of the fabric selvedge, a Tilda favourite. Oh how I wish she still designed fabrics like this. They were so pretty and gentle back in the day...


The larger stitchery I made into a simple cushion, using more of the Tilda fabric.


You know, I just thought how sweet this stitchery would be on the pocket of an apron! And I need another apron...so guess what I'll be stitching and sewing this week? 

Use the link below to download this free stitchery pattern.

DOWNLOAD Make Do & Mend

Now that I'm sequestered inside with the air conditioner for a good portion of the day, regular blogging and stitching and homemaking will return...and that excites me. Seems so long since my blogging and sewing life have run to a lovely rhythm. 

Now I must be away as I had forgotten my bread dough was on it's second rise and I can see from my desk that's it risen a LOT! 

God bless you lovely ladies, and may He minister truth, joy, and goodness to your hearts each and every day.

hugs


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