Friday, January 2, 2015

A year of gentle domesticity, the beginning...

I've been a stay at home mum since I was just 18, and when my youngest, Blossom, left in May last year I think my (perceived) purpose in life left too. Or maybe it left a few years earlier when I closed the door on more than a decade of homeschooling?

You know when you have to describe yourself? As far back as I can recall I've always answered that I was a wife and mother, or a homeschooler...but the last few years my answer has been textile pattern designer, wife and mother.
But really, that's not describing myself. That's just telling what I 'do'.

So I began to think about exactly 'who' I am and 'what' makes me, me?
That entailed some deep pondering over many months, and it led me to acknowledge there was a gaping hole in my heart - a missing part in my nature that has only ever wanted to live her life as a contented home-maker. Somewhere back between now and when the kids finished their education I neglected that basic need within me and didn't recognise my daily sorrow for what it was. Home-sickness
I was missing the making of a home.

And here is where I arrived at 'a year of gentle domesticity' : a return of my heart to the home; a re-acquaintance, or a new acquaintance, with all of the domestic arts I can think of, and permission to self to enjoy the journey.

This year I'll read, knit, bake, crochet, clean, decorate, entertain, de-clutter, read classics, watch old movies, make my own clothes, journal, stitch (well, yeh), write, learn papercrafts and bobbin lace, grow a garden, and, and, much more.

I've gathered a number of good books to guide me and inspire me...
 ...and this one especially. I've had it for years as a secret indulgence into domestic delights and it's also where I discovered the perfect description of my 2015 year.
I own the hardback and  the kindle version because I will be referring to it often and need it wherever I am for a jolly relaxing and enjoyable read filled with laughter, crafts, homemaking insight, and hope.
You'll find it HERE as a kindle (I'm not an affiliate so I don't earn anything for promoting this book - I just HIGHLY recommend it).

I've gotten a new diary for planning, a very sweet vintage style diary from "Daphne's Diary" magazine (another wonderfully inspiring home-making tome).
Just opening the page for January 1st gave me an expectant thrill for the year ahead...
...and the first picture in my diary for January couldn't have been more perfect.
So I made my first entry, my 'line in the sand' I suppose it was...

...before I framed the stitchery that reminds me daily where to let my heart rest in the months ahead.
 I'm thinking that before I do anything else I'll need a new apron.
That's the picture I have in my mind when I remember my Nana - always home-making in a freshly pressed apron, and always smelling of baked love.
So I've been looking over apron patterns, and I really like this one...

It's inside one of the books I'll be referring to this year.
If I can master it I'll share a tutorial - you see there's no actual pattern, just a line drawing and 1929-style written instructions. Wish me luck!

Did you notice the lace bookmark on the apron page?
I love using lengths of cotton lace to save my place when I'm reading - such a simple, pretty thing...
I've cleared my desk and have things on it that make me smile....
 The plan is to sit down each morning and take a little time to write down what I'd like to accomplish in my home that day, pray a blessing on those plans, and give myself permission to do two things I'll thoroughly enjoy.
Here's one of my smiley things. Blossom made it for me when she was just 9 or 10. At the time I had not learned to embroider yet, but she would take the sewing machine thread and scraps of curtain fabric or offcuts from the simple dresses I'd made her, and make me precious gifts like this pincushion...
And that's another lesson this year.
Keep what's precious.
Let go of what's not.

Are you journeying with me along this new adventure?
I'd love to hear what's in your heart for your own year of gentle domesticity. Write me a note in the comments, ok? We're linking arms and following our hearts together...



  1. What a precious gift is the pincushion made by your own daughters hand.........I too have treasures like that, ever so special and ever so delightful to us!

  2. Oh my goodness, Jenny you are so much like myself I can hardly believe it, I also have been a stay at home mom ever since my firstborn, in the day and age it is so far and few between, people cannot belive that that is what I did, I LOVE IT!! I always have, I love to have a special home all clean and sparkly and fresh homemade goodies all the time for grandkids, AND I wear a fresh homemade apron everyday..Can't wait for the new block of the month!! Thank-you!!

  3. I am starting year two of retirement and love being at home. I am looking forward to following your year on this blog. Nothing but the best of wishes for you and yours for 2015.

  4. I feel like you feel about making a home. I will follow your blog with envy. I was a stay at home Mom until my girls were in high school, then I became a school bus driver. I miss spending time with domestic things. I try to capture that when I am on break during the summer. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

  5. Your whole post made me home-sick, dear Jenny - I'll be joining you in the journey, cheering you on, delighting in your home-caring. You bless me so.

  6. Dearest Jenny, another wonderful blog post, so beautifully written and so heart felt. I'm longing to join in in this quest for the simple life and an appreciation for my simple little home and much loved garden. I feel so lucky to have you in my blogworld life

  7. Hi Jenny I love your plan. I tend to always be thinking about the next thing I want to do while I am doing one thing. I just need to slow down a bit and be 'mindful' of the thing I am doing at the moment. Having a little daily list helps a lot with that. One domestic thing I really want to do more of is use my recipe books to make meals. I usually throw together some chicken and vegetables in various ways for every meal. I have even started rewriting some recipes to reduce the amount and tried them out. I really want to share them on my blog but I will have to see how things go. So, I hope to join in with you and I will be keen to read about your journey.
    Here's to a great new year.

  8. Several years ago, I participated in a church sponsored mentoring program for the women. The premise was to encourage us to have a God-centered home that was important to us and we could be proud of, our families being the one of the most important aspects of our homes. Your journey sounds just like this program except that you are doing it on your own. You are mentoring those you come in contact with, encouraging, sharing. God has surely blessed you beyone all measure for your honestly and generosity. So looking forward to sharing this year with you and the many blog-followers and friends you have. xx

  9. At 63 years of age I dream of being home, I worked to help educate our children but have been a widow for nearly 16 years and am very afraid of being able to afford to retire and indulge in some domestic duties. I do love your stitcher its but am unable to keep up the pace....

  10. Jenny, yousay such beautiful things and seem to have such a tranquility about you that would be lovely to "copy". Thank you so much for sharing so much with all of us and I hope that I can do some of the things, this year, that make me happy.

  11. Wow Jenny, such a sweet post....and so beautifully written. We are on the same page with the slowing down and enjoying the ride. I am so with you in this linking of arms, and I hope to inspire you to enjoy what you love as you sure have done for me today. Just giving the day thought and a reminder to do what is in your heart is the way to such a fulfilling and content life. I plan to do more of that as well. Can't wait to join in the journey with you. Hugs from a shivering cold day here, enjoy the sunshine! ~ Cori

  12. Beautiful words Jenny. I was a stay-at-home mum from when my first was born until the last went to school. I then worked part-time at their school (always at home when they were), and continued doing so until long after they had all grown and left home. My kitchen was always a busy place as I made, from scratch, all meals and baked goods. Simple clothes were also made on my machine. I too lost much of my purpose when my last left home (in her 20's) and have felt quite lost for a number of years. My wish for myself for this year is to follow similar lines as yourself - perhaps I'll succeed by following your lead.

  13. Everything about todays post was just sooooo beautiful Jenny - thanks so much. It was just what I needed today to inspire me. I loved being a stay at home Mum. At one time I was the only one amongst all my friends & definately the "odd one out". I still love being at home today at 54 years old ... & yep, often still the odd one out :-)
    I would love to order myself that diary you have mentioned. I look forward to sharing your year of gentle domesticity with you. Thank You dear heart x0x0

  14. I love this idea, Jenny. The Gentle Art of Domesticity is one of my favourite books too. I love aprons, and Simplicity 8698 has a very similar apron to the one in your book. I love all your patterns, and look forward to going on this journey with you!

  15. Making a house into a home is the gift we got as woman! Hope you enjoy this gift the coming year and I will enjoy it with you! So make it a Happy New Year! Hugs

  16. What a lovely post, Jenny. I've been a stay at home mum since I left work to have Mitchell. I'm proud to call myself a housewife. I hate it when you are questioned and say you're a housewife and they then write "domestic duties". I tell them to change it! I'm looking forward to joining you on this journey. Hugs, Christine xx

  17. I love the way you think dear Jenny and can relate so much to wanting "a year of gentle domesticity". So here I am joining you on this journey and looking forward to what God is going to teach me (us) along the way!

  18. Jenny, what lovely words to start the new year by. I have been thinking of your words all day and have decided I too need to get back to come simple home orientated tasks which I have really missed these past very busy and stressful years. My oldest left home in Feb 14 and my next is on the brink - collecting household items and stowing them away until she can make her 'get-away'! I need to focus on a new home order and not get distracted by things outside my control... back to simplicity it is for me in 2015. Thank you and I am looking forward to sharing the journey this year with you.

  19. Hi Jenny.....I too am starting on this journey in between Caring for our precious JoJo...I Do what I can with food, gardening, around the home, stitching etc.....and I love a fresh apron every day and fresh tea towels! Happy New Year to you!

  20. Thank you Jenny.
    What a lovely way to start the year. After a turbulent 2014, I'm looking forward to settling into a staid 2015.
    Getting back into my stitching and craft forms part of the plan.
    Blessings all.

  21. Oh my Jenny, such simplicity! I love it. I must admit that on the days that I don't have to work and stay home I enjoy so many of the little things, taking time to make a favourite recipe or fold my face cloths in my obsessive way, arranging my "bibelots" as pleasing....just enjoying making my chores not chores but gentle acts of daily living. I often return to Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance of Comfort and Joy. Thanks for the new titles, I will for sure be looking for them. Thanks also for the BOM!

  22. What a sweet pin cushion made by a younger Blossom. I love this post and can't wait to read the book you recommended. I love stuff like this!!

  23. I feel the exact same way! I was a stay at home mom for many years and now I need to work to make up for it:) But I have a lot of time at home too and I will follow you on your journey this year. It sounds just like what I want to do for this new year! Thank you!

  24. I applaud you, Jenny. Giving yourself permission to be YOU is amazing. So often we are who others expect us to be. I've lived most of my life that way. It took me years to accept that I was not that woman and didn't want to be.

    I'll be following you on your Journey. Again, I applaud you, Jenny!

  25. I have been a mostly stay at home wife and mom for close to 30 years and I must say that there is no greater satisfaction in the world than the gentle art of domesticity. I love it. I'm looking forward to following your blog this year. I too brought out a new diary that is fresh and clean and ready for the year ahead. I love quilting, reading, and I have taken a stab at embroidery. I have always loved vintage linens and look forward to making some of my own. I have gardened and have really enjoyed the feel of the dirt and the joy of watching something grow. Here's to a year of wonderful domesticity!

  26. Maravilhoso, tudo me encanta .
    Queria muito um bordado para mim é muito lindo.
    Parabéns, Feliz Ano Novo e que Deus abençoe toda sua familia.
    (SP - Brazil)

  27. Happy New Year to you and yours. Such an interesting post and plan. In 2006 I retired from Nursing (a 44 year career) and returned to my home to do all the amazing domestic activities that I missed. Of course, in bits and spurts I was able to continue to pursue my sewing, quilting, embroidery, gardening, cooking etc. but it was always a rush. Long story short, it was the journey of a lifetime, a journey that kept me sane when my dear young son died in my arms unexpectedly. Through several more losses over the next couple years it is my domestic routines that kept me focused and centered. My deep abiding faith guided my journey. You will be in love with life again. You will find a peace in simple pleasures that you might not have ever known. I wish you well. The 'Vintage Notions' book was one of the favorites during this time and I used it for a full year for posts and information. Amy actually donated one of these books to be given away on my blog. It was sent to a dear new e-friend in the Netherlands. I will follow closely, inspiration is always welcome!

  28. Jenny I just wanted to add that I did request and receive permission from Amy Barickman to use her book on my blog including photo's. That is how the line of communication opened that resulted in the Book Giveaway.

  29. I too home schooled our two daughters, and when the first one left for a college 600 miles away, I grieved! I've always loved to be creative and love to bless others with home made quilts, knitted items, paintings, etc. This last year was a lean one for my husband's business and so in 2015 I've decided that I'm going to try to make all gifts I have to give from fabrics and items I already have. It is such a fun challenge for me! Now maybe my fabric stash will start to dwindle as I use it up and don't buy more! I was cleaning up a while ago and lo and behold, my daughter had checked out The Gentle Art of Domesticity from the library! I can't wait to sit down with a cup of tea and read it! Thank you for your lovely blog full of lovely things and lovely thoughts.May God bless you! Elaine

  30. Jenny, such a lovely post. I will watch with interest and vicariously (maybe even enviously) enjoy your year of gentle domesticity right along with you.

  31. I love your blog banner! It is precious! Everything is precious on here. I'm all in for the new year of gentle domesticity. XOXO
    Happy New year!

  32. What a lovely, lovely post. It gave me so many things to think about. I had a feeling of calm and serenity in your plans, whereas in my plans, there's often a sense of rushing ... not a bad, frenetic kind of rushing or the hurry that leaves things undone or badly done, but a sort of happily tumbling into things maybe not completely thought through. I need to go a little slower! =) I love that pincushion Blossom made.

    I don't have plans to learn a new skill, but I do have plans to practice some of the ones I have, to do more things, such as baking cookies, which I enjoy. When I bought my house in 2011, an Aussie friend sent me a lovely apron that will do very nicely. It's a little like the one in your picture. I still need that old piece of linen - or to make one ... hmmm, I have a plan! Thanks!

  33. What a beautiful post Jenny. My Nanna always wore an apron too - brings back happy memories. I'm going to thoroughly enjoy following your journey xx

  34. Traced out my first block of the new kitchen design today. I actually traced out 2 of them....Thinking about making another fro a gift and one for me to keep.

  35. Love yiur blog! I have been retired for 15 years (retired at 60). I seem to be bored with my house and look for excuses to go out. You are motivating me to put more effort in to the little things. I wrote down the tiles of your books and I have been able to get 4 of them from mt local library! This way far north in Canada. I am enjoying perusing them.
    Love your tea towels!

  36. What a lovely new year resolution! I am kind of in the opposite place I think. I have always had a joy and quite loved the simplicity of being a mommy at home, and indulged myself in all kinds of things. Decorating, baking, cooking, all that fun stuff. Then I developed a pretty severe OCD that prevents me from doing most things in my house, I can barely enter my kitchen! I think what you are doing is wonderful.

  37. I've loved being a homemaker but realize that as the years of hubby's retirement have gone by, I've lost my focus and let things slide. This is challenging me to refocus on things that bring me joy and a sense of accomplishment. I've gotten Jane's books from the library again - my home blessing inspiration. Thanks for the reminder and companionship on this journey.

  38. I homeschooled my boys as well. When they left home I felt a little lost. I love being a wife, mom and a Nana to 7 little ones, who are also being homeschooled. My 5 granddaughters live close by and so I help with their schooling from time to time to give their Mama a little break. What a blessing that is!!
    We seem to have much in common, even my name. Didn't you tell me you have a granddaughter named Frankie? (via facebook)
    I am a wanna be designer and have many things sketched out in my notebook, but just haven't been able to put them onto fabric, yet....
    I am so thankful to be able to stay home. I love everything about being a homemaker.
    I really enjoy your blog. You are a blessing and an inspiration!!

  39. Yes, Frankie Ann, one of little granddaughters is named Frankie Juliette. :-)

    Be blessed on your journey to design...ask God to guide you. He is ever so generous.

  40. What a wonderful post. I can relate on so many levels. I was a stay at home mom, for three great children. Homeschooled them through High School. And now the nest is empty. I always heard that phase but could never relate it to. I listened to some parents saying they could wait for their kids to grow and leave the home. I was never that mom, I loved the kids being home, bit of course the time came when it is their turn. And thank the Lord, they are doing well.
    I on the other hand, am alittle lost.
    My dear old bear retired three years ago and we had big plans to travel. But we find ourselves in a slump.
    Before his retirement, I had started a pattern company for quilting, was working part time, and had energy and I felt creative.
    Unfortunately, some health changes made big impacts on our lives, but not drastic ones. Just changes.
    I am no longer creating and I am in that sump.
    I bless the Lord that you are so creative and so happy and pursuing your dreams. Bless your home and you. Thank you for the inspiration

  41. Apreciada Sra. Jenny mil gracias por su amable invitacion para acompa;arla en esta aventuraa.
    usted siempre ha sido y sera para mi referencia importante para la ejecucion de mis proyectos, los cuales inicie motiva por sus tttttutoriales.
    gracias nuevamente

  42. gostei de todos comentários, temos quatro filhos, dois ,já casados, e cada um,com um filho só. na verdade ,tenho 2 netos, um de nove anos ,e outro de doze anos, dois grandões. nossas filhas,compraram apartamento,e resolveram ,ter suas próprias casas, são independentes. Sobrou,ninho vazio, eu e meu esposo, tive ,muitos problemas de saúde, e agora, vi,você reagir, e começar nova vida, vou seguir, seus planos, apesar,de te visto meio tarde, vou tentar alcançar, pois estou sem objetivos ,na vida, graças á Deus,encontrei,seus comentários, e vou seguí-la. beijos! em 2015 , mesmo que,estamos,já em agosto. Nunca é tarde pra mudar..... grata.

  43. gostei de todos comentários, temos quatro filhos, dois ,já casados, e cada um,com um filho só. na verdade ,tenho 2 netos, um de nove anos ,e outro de doze anos, dois grandões. nossas filhas,compraram apartamento,e resolveram ,ter suas próprias casas, são independentes. Sobrou,ninho vazio, eu e meu esposo, tive ,muitos problemas de saúde, e agora, vi,você reagir, e começar nova vida, vou seguir, seus planos, apesar,de te visto meio tarde, vou tentar alcançar, pois estou sem objetivos ,na vida, graças á Deus,encontrei,seus comentários, e vou seguí-la. beijos! em 2015 , mesmo que,estamos,já em agosto. Nunca é tarde pra mudar..... grata.

  44. have no idea how much this post has been a release for this recently retired person to get back to what was terribly missing in my life!! I retired 4 months ago and have been terribly depressed for some unknown reason...and I realize now how "home-sick" I really was but still hadn't taken a step outside the corporate cage--even when the door was opened. You and I are kindred. I have a lot to do...happily.
    Thanks so much.


  45. I don't know how I came across your beautiful blog but I do know it is a God-sent! I retired a couple years ago after 33 years of nursing full time. I was the main breadwinner and had to work. When I retired, I honestly had a hard time enjoying retirement. I filled my life with so many volunteer activities that I was almost working full time. It was soon evident that my identity was tied up with my job. I honestly did not know who I was or what I was suppose to do with all this time. Fortunately with the help of some counseling and friends, I am very balanced with some volunteer work, bible study, family/friends, projects, exercise and travel. What has helped me most on this discovery of me journey is the introduction of home domesticity. I am learning and enjoying the art of homemaking, sewing, embroidery, decorating, and crafts. You are such an inspiration to me and I look forward to each new posting! Thank you so much! Hugs!!!

  46. Jenny, Jenny, Jenny! not sure how I found you, but we are kindred spirits! I was also a stay at home mom and loved it. Now, at 55, I have been granted the luxury of staying home after several years of working. I was taught sewing and embroidery skills at an early age by my dear grandma and my Aunt. Bless their hearts, I never thought then how I would use those skills for the rest of my life (unlike algebra! ha ha) sitting at my sewing machine quilting or sewing is one of my most favorite pastimes and where I feel most comfortable.
    I am looking forward to following you this year and hopefully make some things from your lead!


  47. Oh how BLessed to have found a sister in heart and spirit---in the land down under, no less ;). As I read of your journey, Jenny, it was a reflection of my own though I sense that I am up the road from you a bit. I would like to turn back for a time so that we can walk side by side. We home-schooled our four children from 1981 through 1998. I have been married to my Love for 42 years and have been been delighting in the arts of home-making for that long. Now, a gramma of 17 and caring for my Love and our matty-dog, I have time to create and enjoy and be in a different manner than before. I have battled with almost "guilt" at my unique path from so many these days. It brings me Joy to know that I am not alone. Thank you for disclosing your Gentle heart :)

    carol "song of Joy"

  48. Wow it's already 2016 and I'm just reading this now. November of 2014 change my life not for the better. Before that I had been home maker 4 close to 10 years and I still am. However that November in 2014 I fell down 12 stairs in my basement shattering my left leg 2 years and 5 surgeries later I still struggle. I guess I should be thanking God I'm alive not just from the fall but from the infection that almost cost me my life or my leg, but after that fall for two years I was a body living in my living room hooked up to a central line in a hospital bed. I couldn't be a mom, homemaker,a wife or just a person. My daily routine was laying in that bed nurses in and out of my house,my babies being taken care of by grandparents, dad when he was done working,a horrible summer camp and that ate at me. My son ignored me for about a 1 1/2 yr because it was easier for him to ignore reality.My daughter did her best to show her love and care for me. My husband became a caretaker fir me and it actually cost him his job, our house & just was not looking good. He did find a job & then apartment so at least he could put a roof over his family's head. Needless to say it didn't help us or our relationship. So many things happened between November 2014 till now. Yes things have gotten better to a point I can walk, drive, enjoy my children and do things I couldn't, but I still don't feel like I once did. My husband resents me for that fall. Thankfully my children and I are closer than ever and I've always been very involved with them. My two dogs are happy again because unfortunately my husband did not care for them as I did not in a bad way just different. Now it's 2016. But in March I lost my older sister then had to put my mother in a nursing home because where she lived a state away her caretakers were abusing her but now she's here close to me and my twin sister. I also just found out my father highly likey has lung cancer. Relationship with my parents didn't exist I could not allow them to continue to be abusive like always now I was a mom. I broke that cycle I went to college I became social worker then I decided to be a stay-at-home mom when I found out I was pregnant with my first born my son. That was the best decision I ever made in just two years and one week later I added another a little girl. We just celebrated Thanksgiving for 2nd time in our new apartment and it was just like old times just my twin sisters family who now includes my niece who is the younger daughter to my sister that passed away in March. she now is a custodial child to my twin sisters family. So as everybody discusses domesticality and being a woman I have to sit here and now ponder what it means to me because so much has happened from one fall. It even comes down to everyday challages. So I'm often reminded that I'm not the same person on the outside and maybe even on the inside but I'm still a person with a lot of love, but clouded by frustration.I have to agree with some of the women on here finding Jenny was the best thing I could have come across. Yes she's a wonderful artist in her work but she's also a very inspirational, strong, down to earth dedicated woman. So Jenny I thank you and I look forward too many more postings. I love ur stories like these and of course your work.

  49. Sorry for ling story, but I was compeled and inspired.


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