Wednesday, October 25, 2017

How circumstance taught me the joy of simplifying...

Blossom and Cully May came to visit yesterday and what a wonderful visit it was. 
They stayed for the whole day so we chatted about everything under the sun, drank tea, ate corned beef sandwiches and laughed lots as Cully May danced in rhythm to Third Day, explored every inch of the house, discovered Sophie's hiding place and spent ages patting her gently and calling her 'doggy' (which did not impress our cat) and generally entertained us as only an exuberant 14 month old can. 

Only a little over four months until Blossom has her baby and after a lot of ill health during the first half of her pregnancy she is glowing with joy and excitement as the big day draws nearer.
She's still trying to avoid my camera but there's no mistaking how beautiful my daughter and granddaughter are.

Today the pest control man came and sprayed for cockroaches, ants and spiders. We discovered there was a lot of pest 'activity' when we moved in last month and thankfully the estate agent arranged for the problem to be dealt with. 

I stayed in the sewing room and prepared some new designs for stitching while he went about his work. Once he'd gone I put a loaf of sunflower and flaxseed bread in the breadmaker for kneading and the first rise while I browsed some cookie recipes and planned the evening's menu.

My husband prefers biscuits (cookies) to cake and I should make them more often than I do, so I dug out the recipe for Frangipane Jam Drops and having all the ingredients on hand I set to work baking. 

These are really easy to make and especially good when you have just a bit of jam left in the jar and want to finish it off.
After rolling the mix into balls I press the end of a wooden spoon into some flour and then press it again into the middle of the jam drop dough. 

As well as giving you perfect holes to fill with a bit of jam the flour prevents the jam from falling through the base of the dough during baking. 

I bake my jam drops a little longer than the recipe states as we like our biscuits (cookies) golden.

When Mr E arrived home from work we munched away on a few jam drops and sipped cappuccinos as we chatted about our day. 
I wasn't bothered about spoiling our dinner because enjoying special moments, even simple things like a cuppa and bikkies in the late afternoon, matters more. 
Life experience tells me these moments are to be lived as they come because you never know what cherished memories you are making. 

Tomorrow I'm going to give this recipe a try.
It was in a Daphne's Diary magazine and looks delicious! I have all the ingredients except the gruyere cheese so I'll use tasty cheddar and a little parmesan instead. 

Here's a close up of the Tomato Tart recipe in case you'd like to try it too.
Served with an avocado salad this will hopefully be a simple success and can be added to my menu folder.

Before we moved house I was 'shopping from the pantry' for a couple of weeks to use up perishable produce and empty our freezer, and the bonus of that was a continuation of this mindset after we settled in the new home.

We still only have the one vehicle (the Jeep is not yet back on the road) and live quite a distance from the shops so as I don't go out during the week home delivered groceries are a blessing indeed.
With my one delivery arriving early in the week I plan meals around what's in season, what's on special and what we like - but over the weekend I take note of what's left in the fridge, freezer and pantry and create meals from that, giving me no wastage and a fresh start next delivery day. 

You know, I'm quite shocked at how much our grocery bill has reduced with each week that passes living like this.
Not going out saves money anyhow, but no longer visiting the supermarket every couple of days has saved us even more. No more impulse buys, no more doubling up on items because shopping from home means I can check the pantry before ordering, no more temptations to cut corners and buy processed foods or take-away. No more mindless filling of a trolley. 

Confession time - before the last of our children left home I was a brilliant budget/menu keeper, but when we became empty nesters I began to shop mindlessly and impulsively. No wonder the grocery bill didn't reduce.

I've mostly always cooked from scratch ( I love cooking!) but before the move we usually had take-out once a week and again at the weekend to give me a break, so at first when we moved here and circumstances changed it kind of frustrated me preparing meals seven days and nights each week because I wanted a night (or more) off. But now it's become a lovely rhythm of life and I've learned some important lessons about simplifying, using what's on hand, and taking it slow. When I prepare food now, whether to bake or for a meal, I'm right there in the moment, fully attentive to the joy of making something wonderful from a variety of ingredients.

There was a time when I wanted to try a number of different recipes each week, but in hindsight that didn't go down well with my beloved. He's a simple bloke who likes simple food. And when I thought about that I realised simple food is what I prefer too. 
All those episodes of Masterchef had made me think I needed to try new things, new techniques...but since letting go of that idea and returning to tasty, familiar and seasonal meals my husband and I are  really content.

I'm enjoying baking bread every second day, picking herbs from our own pots and doing dinner preparation in the morning while the washing machine is running a load. 
I also listened to my husband and began to cook smaller serves because he's been telling me for ages that I put too much on the plate. This has also cut down on wastage as I order less ingredients and nothing is left on our plates to throw away.

So I've learned to re-value something which had lost it's importance.
Live simply, live within or under your means, only prepare what you'll enjoy eating and don't cook more than you need unless you intend putting some aside for another meal or you're giving it away. 

Learning and changing to suit our situation in life is a good thing, but I do wish I'd figured this out sooner. Having said that, it's been a real joy to share my life lessons with Blossom as I go along because she's a homemaker too, a young wife with a young family, and she is learning big lessons early on. Discussing the life lessons I'm learning is like a springboard to her because she takes my example and she thinks it through herself, then comes back to me with further insight  - so I'm learning from her as well. 
Cully May will have a wonderful example in her mummy when she one day steps out into adult life. 
I've always told Blossom the role of a mother is to teach her daughters to be a better mother than herself. She's doing exactly that and I couldn't be prouder.

Is your life in need of simplifying too?

God bless you precious one,



Kezzie said...

Thanks, Jenny for the reminder that simple is good. My husband's digestion issues is making me rethink the meals I cook and I think that I will have to return to the simple recipes like my grandmother made such as stews, simple casseroles etc. These simple recipes seem strange in today's meal environment of fancy dishes and lots of spices etc but in hindsight these recipes were tried and true.
I think you have a gorgeous daughter, and Cully May looks like an adorable, joyful little girl-a beautiful blessing!



Maria said...

Lovely you had a nice day with Bloosom and Cully May..they are surely to be treasured.
Those jam drops look delicious , no wonder Mr E enjoys them while have a cuppa and chat with you.

Nanna Chel said...

Cully May is just gorgeous, Jenny. I haven't seen my new grandson as yet and have just had to accept being a long distance grandma. I am sure you would love to have your whole 'flock' nearby but unfortunately life doesn't always work out like that. I love seeing how Cully May is growing and she obviously brings much joy into your life.

Suzan said...

I need to gain control over spending on food. We have so much in the cupboards and freezers. At present we have been blessed with my first grandchild and the first great grandchild and at present I feel that baby stuff is overflowing as the baby and my daughter live with us. No judgement please. I need to simplify drastically.

Ladybug Dreams said...

We are empty nesters also and I always think we spend to much at the grocery. Although winter is coming on and we do stock up on canned goods in case of getting stuck here at home. When I meal plan I do better but I think if I had a option to have our groceries delivered it would work better because I do pick up more un-needed things than I should. We only have one fast food chain in town and neither of us like to have it often. My dear hubs cooks often on the weekend so that is how I get my days off in the kitchen.

Tammy said...

Thank you for input into living simply. I yearn to have a simpler life... yet it is so hard with my husbands career , being caretaker of a adult special needs child, having my baby girl off at University watching out and having to play chauffer to my elderly mother to her appointments, chauffeuring my disabled sister to all of her appointments and myself having cancer and requiring frequent visits to the medical center for check ups, chemo injections, labs and just plain old doctor
visits. I year to go back to a simpler time in life. Then there's shopping and bill paying and attempting to have a visit with girlfriends from high school 1 to 2 times monthly....

Cindy M said...

Oh, my - what a beautiful blog post today and yes, your grandchild AND daughter are just beautiful and glowing. She sure looks like her mommy, ALOT! Thank you for the reminder we all need to "simplify" and why. Simple is so great and avoids any extra clutter (of any kind) in our lives. you blog post today, and always is a true inspiration to me, and although I must work, I dream through your blog posts of a day when I too can be home and feathering my next.
Thank you, Jenny, for your inspiration, and true selfless transparency. You are a joy to read every day. It is great you can order online, isn't it. It saves time and money and allows you to do as you mentioned, know what you have at home and not purchase something because you "think" you might not have it then to find out you do. You are a true inspiration to me. Thank you!!

Allie-oops Designs said...

Blossom is more beautiful than ever - and Cully May just gets more adorable!!! My favorite meals [and my family's] are ones where we have lots of leftovers, such as stews and chili, which frees me up a few nights a week from cooking - so glad. I make a menu every week - then the grocery list from that - so I don't over-buy. Cooking doesn't come naturally to me, nor do I find it joyful, but I do want people to eat, lol. Ordering groceries online sounds like heaven to me!!!

Leeanne said...

A beautiful post. You write so wonderfully, free flowing with your thoughts and ideas, I guess this helps you as it may help some of your readers to keep grounded and keep what really is important in life: the simple things, which in this hustle and bustle world can be hard to maintain. What magic you have with your daughter, sounds like you are close and the fact that your sweet granddaughter can be part of this close connection is very special. I hope Sophie the 'dog' wasn't harmed or traumatized in the making of a fabulous day! :-)

Anonymous said...

Hello Jenny
I love home delivery and always menu plan. I have found that cooking in bulk at the weekends doing slow cooker stuff and bigger portions then gives me meals for other days. We also eat quick stuff quite a lot, love a simple fish and baked potato which takes very little prep.
Cully May is so gorgeous, can't believe so is so grown up and is going to be a big sister soon! Hope Blossom continues to feel better soon, I sympathise as both of my pregnancies were awful early on.
Love to all your family xxx

Glenise said...

Your daughter and granddaughter are beautiful and so wonderful that you have such a loving and close relationship. Cully May has grown so fast. Thank you for your beautiful blog that encourages us all to live a simpler life and cut back on unnecessary waste and spending. Your blog is always a joy to read.

Glenise said...

Your daughter and granddaughter are beautiful and so wonderful that you have such a loving and close relationship. Cully May has grown so fast. Thank you for your beautiful blog that encourages us all to live a simpler life and cut back on unnecessary waste and spending. Your blog is always a joy to read.

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Suzan, there is no judgement...there is nothing to judge. Everyone's life looks different and is a compilation of people, personalities, circumstances, resources and time. Your doing what you can with the life you live today and you are blessing your family in the process. ((hugs))

Janice said...

What a lovely way to spend the day. Both of your girls are looking very happy. Since we have moved into town a special part of our day is to sit down with a nice coffee and biscuits for afternoon tea and catch up after the day. I'm glad you get to enjoy the same special time.

Anonymous said...

When I started school recently, I knew it was going to complicate a life that already needed simplifying, but it's been more than I thought. All my energy is going to school and work, really, with whatever is left going to quilting and stitching ... which is some, but not as much as I'd gotten used to! Some days, I wish I hadn't done this, but I am learning so many things, things I hadn't even considered would be part of this path. Much of it is spiritual understanding. After this week, I look forward to next year studying Isaiah again with some of the new information that will bless that study with so much more understanding.

Cooking is not an activity I love, so that's where I'm cutting corners a lot. LOL If I could, I would make one crock pot of something to last an entire week and be happy, as I don't need variety. Your jam drops look so delicious! Is that a basic sugar cookie kind of recipe? I'm so glad you are learning new things, too. They seem so beneficial to you and passing things along to Blossom is great. Cully May and Blossom are beautiful, just like you.

Angie in SoCal said...

I'm with you, Jenny. While I like to cook simply, it's nice to take a break from it once in a while. I've been able to do that by still cooking an entree for five (when the kids were home). Fortunately, my DH like leftovers, so that entree will be on our table two or three times. I usually just have to make a side or two to go with it and dinner is much more easy. Also every so often we have a pantry dinner, so we use whatever I decide to combine from it for a meal. Life is good when it's simple. Cully May is a cutie!

Farm Quilter said...

I learned to shop my freezers and fruit room (basement pantry) when I moved to the farm. I do big grocery shopping 3-4 times a year, grow a garden and can everything possible, and cook lots at one time to fill the freezers with meals I can pull out and thaw for those nights I don't want to cook. We go out for dinner maybe a couple of times a year just because it is a long drive to any restaurants! Here at my dad's, I grocery shop once a week because he has to have a banana every morning with breakfast and they don't keep long...not my favorite pastime, but I'll do anything I can for him! He eats so little at each meal, I have several weeks worth of meals in the freezer for him. Simple is definitely best, but I must admit loving to play with spices! You are so blessed to have Blossom and Cully Mae so close (they are blessed too!!). Glad Blossom is feeling better! Your cookies look amazing and I am going to try the tomato tart with my dad!

Cattinka said...

uhh, this was a long post, but I read it with interest until the end, and I think not only Blossom can learn a lot from you!
have a nice week

Trish said...

Jenny, I agree with you about eating simple food. My dear hubby saw a recipe for a fancy polenta cake in the newspaper and was determined to make it last Saturday. He did a good looked and tasted great. Two hours later I had to call an ambulance to get him to hospital...he had an allergic reaction and went into anaphylactic shock from the pistachio nuts the cake was topped with!! He's eaten pistachios occasionally before but not in the quantity he did on Saturday..and he's never had a reaction like this before. Now he's banned from nuts and carries an Epi Pen. So we are overhauling things in our home and diet and going back to tried and true and simple ways too!

Kay said...

Beautiful post. x

liza said...

nice post

Sherry said...

Thanks for sharing this post. I think about things like this but and realize how much I enjoy keeping things simple.

Catherine said...

Thank you for this thoughtful post Jenny. I have always been an impulsive shopper for food but I hate waste too. This reminds me to check on what is left in the fridge and cupboard before shopping again. I am all too guilty of putting too much food on the table too.
I saw a copy of Daphne’s Diary for the first time yesterday and was really impressed. A friend at my Embroiderers Guild meeting had a copy. I’m sure it’s not printed in the Uk but I will try to order one to see if I would like a subscription.

Winifred said...

That's a gorgeous pair of girls!
Have to say I don't binge shop as I never do a big shop. I now have time to just pop out to the shops when I need stuff, one of the benefits of retirement.

I see the reports about how much food is wasted so I'm careful about what I buy. I generally just think what I fancy eating for the next couple of days & go & buy the stuff.

Unlike you Jenny I'm not a fan of cooking anymore, luckily Eric does like to cook more fancy stuff than me. His curries and pastas are brilliant. I stick to soups, salads, grilled fish & sometimes scones!

Sylvia said...

Hi Jenny
I have been following your blog for a while now and thought it was time I said thankyou for such great posts, tutorials and stitching patterns. I too enjoy a simple life in the tropics of Northern Australia just north of Townsville .

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Bless you, Sylvia. :-)
I hope to organise a small sewing day in my home for a few local ladies soon...if you email me your details I'd love to include you.