Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A change for the better...

Over the Australia Day long weekend Mr E and I only left home for a quick trip into town to purchase coffee beans, then spent the rest of the three-day break pottering around the home, attending to various tasks, enjoying the tennis finals on telly during the evenings, and generally relaxing. 
Hubby also had more time to work on his new hobby, robotics, and I could enjoy unhurried hours in the kitchen.

After monitoring my blood pressure six times a day for ten days on doctor's orders, we discovered my BP is lowest when I am in the kitchen. Isn't that  lovely? So in between sewing more presents for my gift box, preparing new designs to stitch, and watching episodes of The Crown and Call the Midwife, I cooked!

For the week ahead I made Lasagne and Chicken Pot Pie. The lasagne makes up three dinners so we'll eat two and freeze the third serving. Hubby loves the chicken pot pie so much that it will only last for two evening meals...

For morning/afternoon teas at home and work I baked Matrimony Slice and a Pineapple Fruit Cake...

...and for a dessert which would last four nights a Lemon Meringue Pie was prepared as well.
As you can see we're two nights in already...

I also made two jars of Plum & Cinnamon Jam, which we've been having on toast for breakfast, along with homemade granola and berries. 

I didn't need an excuse to play in the kitchen, but knowing it brings my BP down to normal is certainly an incentive. 
Tomorrow I need to bake bread, sprout buckwheat for the next batch of breakfast granola, plus make more protein balls and a zucchini slice for Mr to take to work. 

It's amazing how much lower our grocery bill is when I don't leave the house for a week and shop from my pantry instead. Most of the time this is normal for us, but when I need to run errands a few times in a week there's a tendency to drop by Woollies on the way home to grab a few things and those 'few things' turn out to be half a trolley full. 

When Mr E was at University we had a very limited income to live on and small children to feed, so I loved doing the fortnightly grocery trip because I had a legitimate reason to shop and spend money. 
I know this sounds silly but when you can't spend because there's no extra $ to do so, a leisurely two hour trip up and down the aisles of the supermarket looking for the best bargains and the most economical but nutritious ingredients is an absolute luxury and handing over the cash when you're done makes you feel rich and quite satisfied. 

Because of the years living that way I developed a real joy for grocery shopping which to this day has not waned, so whenever I am out in the car alone I am drawn to the supermarket aisles and tend to linger as I wander them, but as I've not gone in with a genuine shopping list or menu plan the result is that I come home with things I did not need, those wasteful impulse purchases I regret as soon as the shopping bags are being unpacked on the kitchen benchtop.

I know I have this problem, which is why I've returned to making time each week to plan our meals and snacks before ordering my groceries online for home delivery.  This one thing, along with cooking almost everything from scratch, has been the best decision for our budget, and the bonus is the money we save can then go directly into our house deposit fund. 

Another way I'm saving is to use what I already have for making gifts.

Recently I'd been sorting through my large box of completed embroideries to find some smaller ones which can be used in simple gifts, and I also have a large plastic tub of fabric scraps collected over the past five or six years which I could incorporate, so over the course of this past lazy Saturday a few projects came to life. 

These little stitcheries, Rest and Thrive, were backed with remnants of pretty Tilda fabric and filled with dried lavender flowers, becoming scented drawer sachets...

I have a box of cellophane bags purchased many years ago and they were perfect to store the sachets once finished. This is a good way to keep your hand stitched gifts neat, clean and ready to post or wrap...

I was gifted some Lemon Tree fabrics by the Tilda distributor, 2 Green Zebras, earlier this month, and used a couple of the prints to make more bookmarks...

The lace, ribbon and buttons were from my stash, and they have scrap cut-offs of Pellon in the centre.

My little tea pot stitchery became the feature in a tray mat, also made from a couple of the Lemon Tree prints. I made this up as I went along...

More fabric scraps were used to make some pretty gift tags for friends who came to visit today. I got this idea from Janice last year and have since made quite a few. So simple, but so lovely...

Brown paper bags, small lengths of lace, and a fabric embellished tag.
Everything was already in my craft supplies and I look forward to using more and more of those supplies as this year progresses.

I popped the little lavender sachets inside these bags and had them waiting on the table today when the girls arrived...

Choosing to use what I have in order to create something new, shopping for groceries in a way that prevents me wasting our hard earned income, cooking from scratch and following a menu plan...all these things give me immense personal satisfaction, and I believe they honour my husband and honour God.

My life scripture is -

"The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
so he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil all the days 
of her life."

Proverbs 31: 11-12

Every year I discover new ways of living this out, and I hope that never changes.

What are you doing in your life to trim back on expenses, or to break a bad habit?
I'd love to hear. You may have ideas we can all glean from. 

God bless you, always.



  1. Jenny, I haven't even been going to Op Shops lately as it is too easy to find a 'bargain' there which isn't really needed. Having a weekly menu written up saves heaps of money I must say. I love the look of those little gifts for your friends. So very pretty and thoughtful.

  2. Jenny, could you tell me about your sprouted buckwheat? Do you also sprout wheat. I want to make some bread from sprouted wheat because it doesn’t raise your sugar like regular wheat. Any info is appreciated. Would love to come to your house for lunch. Do you share your chicken pot pie recipe too? Thanks so much. Love your blog and how you use your stitching.

  3. Jenny I am trying to bake more. And buy less junk foods. I am also trying to cook more to ensure we have no need to run out to pick up dinners. Also trying to cut back on buying things like soda that the kids like to drink but are bad for them. I have started ordering a bunch of things online as well. Things that save me money that I do not have to go to grocery store for. dog foods cat foods, animal treats, cat litter.... I also try not to take the children when I go. As they always want or say they need thing's they don't. Also I am trying o buy gifts along and along. This worked out wonderfully last year. I am trying to avoid the stores as much as I can to eliminate those purchases that we really can live without. Also this year I.plan to try to sew from my stash more. And use up the supplies I have on hand. Blessing's
    to you today and each my sweet friend

  4. Glad to hear that spending time doing what you enjoy-cooking-lowers your blood pressure. At least you know what you can do to promote your health, and you can both enjoy the results both in feeling better and in enjoying eating the fruits of your time.
    I love what you have done with your stitcheries, as well as the other lovely gifts you have made. This is giving me inspirations for what I could make as gifts for others. Thank you.

    Blessings to you


  5. I can certainly relate to the grocery store story. We live 30 miles out of town and so go to town only once a week for shopping. I make sure to write a list, and hopefully I don't forget anything. I also try to plan anything else I need to do in town for shopping day. It makes for a long day, but it saves money on gas if I can do everything in one day.

    Your little gifts and such are darling. A lovely way to use up scraps and create some nice things. Take care.

  6. You are less stressed while in the kitchen!! Lucky for your hubby and family! :-)) Your chicken pie looks absolutely delicious. I love the gift ideas and thanks for the beautiful inspiration.

  7. I'm in the "hit and git" category for grocery shopping, lol - in and out as fast as possible!! Having a weekly plan for meals really does cut down on impulse buys though, and keeps me from wasting produce. My downfall is garage sales and thrift shops, not to mention antique stores, Sam loves to go to those with me. But he's working and I'm not, so I try to stay away!
    Jenny the gifts you made are spectacular. I think I'll have a rummage in my scraps...gorgeous. That tray mat! The sachets! And what a really lovely presentation. The bookmarks are just lovely as well! I may have to make one today, I lost one out of my bible and can't find it anywhere. Lovely post, sweetheart.

  8. I love baking too, it is one of the things that make me really happy and calm, a few hours baking really sets me up. I do love all of you little gifts, they are just perfect for so many things. I think I will be getting my machine out later this week for a few lavender bags and bookmarks. x

  9. Jenny, I love reading your blogs. You are so informative and I learn so much from you. I have a bad habit of buying too much fabric. I am trying to break this habit. I have refused to buy any new fabric unless I have something specific that I need it for. I look in my stash first and if there isn't anything that will work for the project then I will consider buying something. The only time I will allow myself to buy new fabric and kits is during our quilt show and even then I am limiting myself. My sewing room is a mess because of all the fabrics and kits laying around. I am going to go through my sewing room today. I'm going to pack up things that I am not going to work on at present. I'll make a list of what I have packed so I'll know what I have. I also plan to make a list of projects I need to finish this year. I also have refused to start any new block of the month clubs. I have too many BOM's going right now and I'm far behind. Lesson learn! I am embroidering "A Year In The Garden" and will continue through this year. Thank you, Jenny for all you do!

  10. What adorable little gifts for your friends! I am working on two habits. The first is teaching my 9 year old to use up her craft supplies stash. I'm realizing that she has way more supplies than I do, as friends and family often buy her supplies for birthday's and Christmas, or hand down their own unused supplies to her, and whenever she gets pocket money, I take her to the craft store to buy even more! She won't learn how to manage all of this unless I teach her. Another habit is that we typically go out to eat once per week, which is fine, but the kids meals at restaurants are never very nutritious, and I'd like to start using that money for a babysitter so my husband and I can eat out alone :).

    1. Leigh, what a wise mama you are. In the over-indulgent world we forget that things gotten too easily can be for-gotten quickly as the next new purchase falls into our trolley. xx

  11. I love what you do and there is a sense of peace and contentment in your blogs. I have to admit your recipes look so good and I wish you had a book with them .... tempting me to bake and cook. Both of which I love to do anyway ... Anytime you do post a recipe, I immediately save it so I can try it. Thank you for the peace and love you share with all of us.

  12. I find if I stay out of stores I don't spend money. And if I am not out shopping with friends I have no reason to eat out during the shopping trip. A double save.

    I sew enjoy your blog and hope your bp issues become a thing of the past.

  13. Hello Jenny; Reading your blog is such a blessing for me. As I am trying to be better at all I do in our home, you and so many of the other commenters, are such leaders that I so appreciate. One thing I can not do very often is bake or cook. My horrible memory has caused some great disasters and very dangerous situations, but also many more flat out funny recipes. Like the time, my rolls were rock hard when they came out of the oven for one of the holidays non the less, and had not even risen an inch. LOL. Therefore, I try and do many other tasks in exchange. I love fabric, yet I do keep our budget in mind and only buy when absolutely needed and we do have the extra funds. I have also tried making gifts for family and friends, but no one I know appreciates them. So, I gave that up and only sew for strangers now. oops, sorry I am getting a bit long again. Thank you for sharing everything that you do. Have a fantastic day!

  14. When I go to the grocery store I only get the items on my list...no extra sweets are allowed!! They do know how to put a display together to get us to buy more - their job, I know, but it does test my resolve. I usually only cook once a week and bake even more rarely since my dad doesn't eat much at one time (or at all, really). I am also not shopping because I'm bored and staying away from the quilt shops! I have enough fabric here to make several more quilts, so that needs to be used before I go for more! Thanks for the encouragement to be good stewards of what we have been blessed with...so easy to spend money wastefully.

  15. Jenny, I've just finished my breakfast but now I'm wanting to sit down to that lovely home cooking of yours. Meals cooked from scratch are always so much nicer than premade and of course, you know what has gone into them - no nasties there. It is so nice to see the little gifts you have made. I love the little gift tags - maximum effect for minimum effort - which always suits me. Have you noticed that the free commodity of time is what is a main ingredient in everything you have created. You are making very good use of it.

  16. I enjoy your blog, Jenny. That's interesting that your bp is lowest in the kitchen. I used to have a bp of 145/80; six years ago, I gave up flour in all forms and now my bp is always around 112/72. I loved baking too, but now I just do it occasionally for my husband. I enjoy your photos of baked goods though :)

    Take care,

    1. Barbara, mine is regularly 165/90 (or a little higher) but when I don't go out, or when I've been cooking it drops to 130/72.

    2. Sounds like 1 Thess. 4:11 (working with your hands, staying home, etc.) works for blood pressure control! :)

  17. Jenny, Now I am hungry, LOL. Your pictures of your wonderful meals are scrumptious looking. On another note, you may be interested in a book called, 'The Magnesium Miracle', by Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.
    Magnesium helps with so much of what I have read from you thru this journey of yours. Just wanted to share, Blessings, Judith

    1. I take mega dose magnesium morning and night. It helps with some things but not with others…but that’s okay! We follow a mega vitamin regime every day and have had good recovery and healing in many areas.

      Bless you heaps,

  18. I enjoyed reading this lovely BLOG post Jenny, lots of great cooking and baking. Gorgeous items you've made. I love the table setting for the friends morning tea....

  19. Oh my goodness Jenny. Another beautiful inspiring blog. thank you. Your gifts are just so gorgeous and the fabric you choose to make these gifts is pure eye candy. Thank you. You have such a wonderful eye for colour and your fabrics are scrumptious as your wonderful meals look and sound. I am sure Mr E realizes what a treasure he has in you. thank you for sharing.

  20. I see what you did there with your cute tray mat, using the circle cut out as half circles on the ends. I love it.

  21. I am also using what I have in order to save money and mostly use my S.A.B.L.E. (Supplies Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy). I am also trying to eat at home more and not spend money on high priced dining out with not-so-good food for me. I adore your finished gifts. The sweet little tags look really easy to make...with scraps! May your week be Wonderful Jenny Dear...XO

  22. Well Jenny, I am certain that lemon meringue pie would NOT last 4 nights in my house!!! A little mouse would get into it! Your baking always looks so divine. I have been doing another bookmark today - one of your stitchery club designs. Wonderful. LoVe the little lavender sachets Xxxx

  23. Yay! Baking is good for you! How cool is that! Beautiful photo's of yummy food - making me hungry! Beautiful gifts you have made - thank you so much for inspiring our imagaination. Karen, Hannah and Baa. xx

  24. such pretty creations! I bet the lavender sachets smell divine! I think we are like corn and beans you and I in the kitchen.........I am not testing my blood pressure but I'm sure it would be near boiling point when I'm in the kitchen :-/......organised chaos it what it is. :-)


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