The past week has been a bit of a blur with so much crammed in that I find myself craving sleep, quiet time, vegetables and movies. In that order.
Our three days away were so full-on that hubby and I think we need a holiday to recover from the holiday. Fact is, we drove far and wide through fast flowing rainforest rivers and creeks, regularly found ourselves too tired to eat, drank sweet clear water from a spring, saw more beauty hidden in the midst of the Daintree than a person can absorb in one day, and forgot we'd have no recovery time before returning to work within twelve hours of arriving home again.
But golly it was good to be away and sweep the cobwebs from our thoughts!
Next time we do this it will be in the middle of the school holiday break, not the last three days.
The only sewing I did on the trip was making more hexies. They kept my hands busy on Saturday during the drive from Townsville to Cairns, and then again late Monday afternoon (until it was too dark to see) when we drove home.
By the time darkness fell on the trip home I was finding it difficult to fit all the finished hexies, the remaining papers and fabrics, a pincushion, scissors and thread in the single plastic container I'd brought along.
I think there's just over 200 made now...
With still more fabric scraps ready to cut, and a new pack of 1" hexie papers purchased, I had to find somewhere to store the hexies already made so I could continue making more.
Then I remembered two tins of Christmas cookies I purchased around New Year. You know how everything Christmas themed is dramatically reduced once the new year rolls around? Well, the tins were $1 so I bought two. And even though there is a santa on the lid (I don't like santas, but do love old Saint Nicholas dolls or ornaments) I actually liked the colours and thought the tins would be great for filling with Christmas gifts for santa-loving friends or family next season.
You realise that plan has been shelved now, right? Because how perfect is one of those tins for storing my hexies-in-waiting!
I even sorted them in to colours...
To say my heart did a bit of flutter when I sat the hexies side by side is an understatement.
What I've discovered about this new distraction is how calming it is for my over active mind, which thinks and ponders and plans and creates all day long.
I get such enjoyment cutting the fabric shapes from years of collected scraps, and then to sit down and just mindlessly yet precisely stitch the fabric to paper whether I'm a passenger in Mr E's jeep or feet up in the recliner watching a movie...it's like a mental massage, a soothing exercise in unwinding.
And the nice thing about this kind of gentle pastime is that gentleness flows into your thoughts and you tend to sigh and smile at the same time. I think my breathing slows because the sense of relaxation is quite wonderful, and homely thoughts fill my mind.
In fact, many homely thoughts are gathering in my mind and in my heart of late.
Thoughts about what truly matters in the long term when I look forward a year or two (or five), why I get flustered and overwhelmed on some days and not on others, what am I holding on to that needs to be let go of (perceived responsibilities, possessions, relationships, plans or regrets), can I find true contentment in a rental home now and not keep waiting for that feeling to increase when we have a home of our own (if we ever have that), and what really makes a house, any house, a home?
There are many more questions and thoughts having quiet conversations in my mind as I sit and sew, and what's especially different about them at the moment are the answers I arrive at...answers which come not from stress, pain or weariness, but from peace and calm and quiet.
By not feeling rushed or distracted, I'm able to think more clearly and let my thoughts roam further which allows me to consider more options, reactions and consequences. This then gives me a wider picture from the landscape of life in which I live...and I also find myself having no trouble following the Lord's advice to "Be still and know that I am God."
Who would have thought some paper pieced hexagons could bring mental rest, clarity, gentleness and a few much needed wise decisions to my life?
God, of course.
Last week it was my daughter Anita's 33rd birthday and when she visited from Sydney in 2016 her heart was captured by the homeliness and comfort she felt and saw within our walls, so little by little I make things for the small flat (apartment) she shares with her husband and 3 1/2 yo daughter Aminah, and when I have enough to fill a parcel it is popped in the post.
For this birthday I knew she wanted more of the same so I trimmed some sweet tea towels (and added a cupcake one for Aminah to help mummy dry the dishes)...
I also did something new for Anita that I'm yet to do for our home, adding lace and fabric trim to plain pillowcases. In Spotlight recently I saw a 4-pack of plain white pillowcases and a long forgotten idea came to mind so I brought them home and had a play.
Two were trimmed with blue floral fabric and thin lace for Anita's bedroom...
....and another was made for little Aminah with pink girlie fabric and wider lace.
I also sent Anita a wall hanging with my "Home Sweet Home" stitchery in the centre...
...and a beautiful mother/daughter mug.
My own mum died when I was 3 and I have always been saddened at not owning something that belonged to her, something she wore or used.
With this in mind I sent Anita one of my aprons that I wear a lot, and you know, this meant the world to her...
...because she has a gentle homemaker heart too.
Aren't we blessed, those of us who can sew, bake, knit, crochet, paint or create beauty in other ways?
And the icing on that blessing is when you make another precious soul happy with your gifts. My heart overflowed from Anita's joy and her tears of happiness...and really, these were not 'big' gifts, but simple from-the-heart items to help make her little flat feel more of a home.
One of the fun things about our return home on Monday night was parcels waiting at the door!
I have been so inspired by Annabel's determination to learn more about essential oils in order to create a home pharmacy, and then using them to make gifts which are inexpensive and 'health-ful', that after the success of replacing most of our cleaning products with Miracle Spray (I discovered it on her blog and shared about it here) I am slowly purchasing large glass spray bottles to fill with cleaning sprays and hand soap, and tiny roll on bottles and atomisers to fill with a variety of essential oil blends.
The large bottles arrived a few weeks back but the small glass atomisers were at the door on Monday evening and they are even prettier than I imagined - perfect for gift giving.
Blossom 'loves' Miracle Spray and I'm sure she and Anita will both want to try some essential oil blends too.
Another desire is to make clothes, especially nightgowns and pretty tunic type dresses to wear over leggings. I saw this pattern made up by Kelsey (go here to see it) and fell in love as it has that feminine 40's look about it, but the Butterick pattern she used is no longer in print so I hunted one down on Etsy and that was another parcel waiting for me the other night.
The nightgown I'm going to make is E on the bottom right, but go see Kelsey's for a better idea.
I'd also like to knit wash cloths again, and crochet the edges of hand towels and pillowcases, embroider along the edges of sheets...so many things. So many lovely things.
You see, all that hexie hand work and the quiet contemplation time it gives has revived my homemaker heart, a heart which has not been as inspired this past month due to health and family and business needs. It's clear that I needed the mental relief, the time-out if you will, to navigate my way through a number of hurdles and concerns and choose the better path forward - and I really do have a clearer plan to improve the balance of life here. There's been gradual improvement since about 2014, but now a bigger yet simpler picture is beginning to take shape, one that will weary me less and increase my delight as a homemaker, wife, mother and writer.
To top my day off you know what I purchased?
I bought them to celebrate not just coming home from a few days away, but because I kind of felt a little lost lately and now my path is clear again and my heart knows what it needs to fulfill this wonderful desire to live a gentle domestic life.
I'm not happy all the time, nor am I content every day, but happiness will always come again and so will contentment. Sometimes we just need to walk in the shadows for a little while to appreciate the sunshine.
And for that I thank God who always leads me into beautiful places and reminds me how very blessed I am.