Friday, May 18, 2018

There and back again...

Are you a Hobbit or Lord of the Rings reader?
Not just the movies we watch, but the actual books themselves...that's what I enjoy. I have them on my iPad and listen through the Audible app while I potter around the sewing room tidying up, tracing new patterns or choosing fabric and threads. I listen while I do the ironing, and sometimes I have one playing in the kitchen when I'm not using noisy appliances.

There and back again, a Hobbit's Tale. That's the title of Bilbo Baggin's epic story which he writes within the bigger story line of Lord of the Rings...and somehow it just fit with my absence from the blog this month so I gave this post that very title. Hope Bilbo does not mind.

The weather here in tropical north Queensland finally turned and cooler nights have been met with glee. My indoor plants are much happier with an abundance of fresh air flowing freely through the house now that air conditioning is not needed for a while, and in the garden pots of basil, oregano and parsley are flourishing once more.

Winter is a very dry time of year for us, the wet season over until November or December when it returns again. Surprisingly last night there was a little rain, but not enough to dampen the ground for grass to grow. I really miss walking on soft green grass, barefoot and cool.

Cooler nights have Bob-the-dog back in his little pajama coat...

...and Sophie in hiding on our bed, snuggled under Blossom's old blankie.

Sophie just spent ten days at Blossom's home on mouse watch. Our Bloss spied a persistent mouse each evening running from the kitchen and across the living room floor right in front of her and Ross. They tried traps to no avail before pleading, "Mumma, can we borrow Sophie, please?"
Very soon the mouse was gone and we expected Sophie to return home but Cully May and Blossom again pleaded, "Can we keep her a bit longer...we love her so much and it's wonderful having her here."
So another week passed by, Sophie thoroughly enjoying being spoiled and not rushing to return home to us. But all good things come to an end and such was Sophie's vacation at Blossom's.
Home once more she was super affectionate but a bit disoriented that afternoon and during the night so I pulled out Blossom's old blankie and popped it at the end of our bed and she crawled underneath and settled wonderfully again. 

It's Blossom's 24th birthday next Saturday and as she loved the cardigan I made for Aisha last year I decided to make one for her. The design is a new one I drew up yesterday and will be stitched in the  softer colours she prefers. 

Hopefully I'll finish this over the weekend. As you can see I've used Sulky Solvi again as there's no other way to trace the design onto a cardigan, and it's not a product I personally like due to the resistance I feel when stitching - but, it occurred to me as I was preparing the design that I've not used the Sulky Solvi on cotton fabric. I've only ever used it on a knitted fabric (three cardigans) so it would not be the same as stitching this way on linen or quilting fabric. Mmm. I'll give that a go when I have completed this cardie and perhaps my dissatisfaction with the product will change. Live and learn, yes?

These past two weeks I've spent a good deal of time on two important pursuits, projects that will be and are already life changing.

Firstly, we've been balancing the choice between building our first home or buying our first home as an established dwelling. This has meant lots of hours/days travelling around to look at blocks of land, go through display homes, speak to builders, attend open houses for established homes ready to purchase, and of course visits to the mortgage broker. 

Our rental lease is up on this house at the end of September and as it's on the market we shall need a new dwelling place by then, or very soon after. This home is out of our modest budget and to be honest is not a house we'd choose to own...but we have seen a few which do appear to fit our needs and we shall be going through them over the next few days. 

Building a home will cost a lot more than buying an older modest dwelling, and being in our 50's we would prefer to have a mortgage we can pay off quickly, not one that will weigh us down for 25 years. But, we've not made a concrete decision yet...just weighing the options with a lot of prayer.

The second pursuit this month has been to tackle health issues.

If you've followed the blog for years you'll know I occasionally spend a season gluten free, sugar free or dairy free, and I have created a number of great recipes for those times...but for the past two weeks I've eliminated ALL grains, refined sugars and dairy.

Something in my head clicked one day early in May and I told Mr E that I wanted to pursue a cleaner diet, one that could be enjoyed, one which broke the addiction I had to sugary foods, cream, butter (which I ate like cheese) and bread - because I wanted to see how my body responded. 
I was sick of being sick and tired and in pain.

Making that statement to my husband was in itself empowering. Between us that night were two packets of lollies, not unusual at all, but in that moment I no longer desired them and in fact looked at them as doing me harm, as an enemy to my body. 

You see I crave sugar when I have migraines, sugar is also a migraine trigger for me...and my migraines had escalated to 4 a week. Most days I had to function through visual disturbances, dizziness, nausea and extreme pain, which led to depression and insomnia and a lack of clarity. I had to keep working through the pain (fortunately having seven babies and chronic migraine simultaneously had taught me to cope) because with a house to buy or build my business was not about to end any time soon.

So I made the change in my head, and then the change flowed through my dietary choices.
I started simple, and intend to keep it simple. It's amazing how many wonderful foods you can eat and make even when eliminating all grains, refined sugars and dairy!

Below are some of the 'sweet' treats I've made and which my husband (and Blossom!) are really enjoying.

Raw Mandarin and Blueberry slice...

Banana, pumpkin and apricot cake...

Raw chocolate with macadamias...

Raw peppermint slice (with my raw chocolate across the top)...

Raw cacao protein balls...

Strawberry gummies...

My appetite has decreased as I am satiated with less; avocados, greens and eggs make a regular appearance at either breakfast or lunch, and we choose grass fed free range meats and plenty of extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil.

Yes, I said we. 

Mr E has come on board with eliminating sugar and dairy and only has bread occasionally. We both love coconut milk yoghurt and have that many mornings for breakfast with an almond/flax/cacao muffin and berries, plus we've switched to wild rice (it's not a real rice, not a grain, but an aquatic seed) which I never thought he'd like but he does. 
Water is my everyday beverage, and I still have a coffee in the morning and a cup of tea in the afternoon.

But here's the best bit. 

No migraines.
Arthritis in my fingers and wrist has disappeared.
Joint pain in my knees gone.
I'm losing weight.
Sleeping soundly.
Clarity of thought.
Energy recovery.
Foot pain gone (I have had plantar fasciitis for six painful months)
Balanced adrenaline for the first time in my life.

We went walking on Sunday night up steep hills and I came home invigorated, not breathless and collapsing on the floor. 
Coming down off the sugar hit me hard, though. I fell into dark depression for three days but did not sway from the dietary changes one bit. I knew it was sugar related and that it would soon end, which it did. Then it was incredible, the clarity and 'cleanness' I felt inside. Oh yeh, there was a lot of 'cleaning' from the insides that first week. LOL!!

This style of living isn't for everyone, I know that. Just as I cannot be a vegetarian, a hunter, a carpenter or a fisherman. But it works for me and I am a person who hates taking medication if there is a better, more natural way.  This way is healing my body and you have no idea how much it is already changing my life.

The nicest thing is knowing I can still be creative in the kitchen, still make some of the yummiest food my family have ever tasted. And it's simpler for me, it honestly is in so many ways.

So I've been there and now I'm back again, enthusiastic about blogging and writing, designing pretty new patterns...

...staying on top of the housework (almost)...

...working on a wonderful new project for later in the year....

...and planning a home of our very own.

Gosh, if you're still reading after all that, bless you.
Guess I had a lot to share after two weeks absence and I really wanted to be clear with you lovely readers on where my head and life are at.

Now I need to get off this laptop and create a recipe for raw cherry ripe slice because Mr E and I think that could be a weekend winner with our cuppas.
And then I must roast a chicken with lots of veggies. And garlic. Must have garlic.

You know, I'm finally moving what I know from head to heart...embracing the future with simplicity and modesty and contentment. There's a difference knowing it and living it.

May the Lord BLESS you today and every day, bring you peace in the storm, clarity in place of confusion, healing to relieve your pain, and JOY to bubble over in your heart.


Nanna Chel said...

Jenny I am so pleased tou are feeling better. Isn't it amazing how different you feel when you come off sugar? I have heard so many similar stories to yours about migraines going etc. To have your hubby on the same page would be just so encouraging too. Good on you.

Melody A. said...

Wow, that is FANTASTIC that you are feeling so much better with just dietary changes and being blessed with good health has to be one of the most wonderful gifts we get!!!! love reading your blog and seeing your ideas and I might just try this. I don't have migraines but just to improve my general health. Thank you !!! Glad the weather is cooling off in your part of the world, that always improves ones outlook! take care and Happy stitching from Iowa

e l i z a b e t h ♡ said...

What a splendid post! I love how you are modifying your diet and life to create a better and happier family and I have done a good deal of that over the last couple of years, and are still making changes often. My sister and I have had such fun trying new "sweet treat" recipes using dates as an alternative to sugar, and oh my! The recipes have been so tasty! Especially date caramel's so much better than the traditional caramel, and less sweet, too.

I hope your house search goes family and I just found a new home and bought it last week! We're excited to move into our new home in a few months...we certainly know the stress that goes along with the process, though. You will be in my thoughts and prayers and you seek to make a wise decision and to find a place that you can call home ♥

This was such a lovely post, and it is very wonderful to have you back in bloggy land! Wishing you joy and peace!

Janice said...

All the best with your dietary changes. Who'd have thought that food could have such an adverse impact and that changes can improve your health so quickly. I'm sure you will be guided when the time is right as to whether to buy or build your new home. By the way, I love your quilt rack in the first photo.

erinmason said...

It is a great feeling to know you can give up that sugar fix. In general, I have avoid sugar and processed foods for over a year but after visiting the local show yesterday, I had a high tea for lunch, rocky road and conversation lollies! I did have a bowl of home made lamb, lentil and tomato soup for tea but I felt terrible in the stomach this morning. Thankfully with the help of my PT, I worked out for 45 minutes, walked for 20mins and then stretched. Felt better after. Went back to the show but only had a fresh made prawn and rice dish with a coffee. Not again into the sweets!
Hope you find something to buy, the market there is the cheapest for years. My sister and OH are moving back this year and want to buy. My mum will move up there too, at 96yrs, she can't stay in her house without family near. So looks like I'll be visiting the north.
Keep focused on the healthy eating!

Mrs. Kelley Dibble said...


For plantar fasciitis: As a high schooler years ago, our daughter worked a couple summers in the shoe department. I don’t know if you have access to New Balance brand sneakers (tennis shoes, rubber shoes, whatever you call them there), but their shoe department sales training included advising customers to get the highest number of New Balance shoes because this really helps with plantar fasciitis. It’s recommended by orthopedists, and when my own mother suffered with this, she changed what she wore around the house from flat, unsupportive slippers to New Balance. Took her pain away!

However, it’s also amazing to me how your diet has really made a difference for you, especially with migraines and plantar fasciitis.

Love this post and how much better you are felling as a result of only a few changes. I like to say, “It only takes one thing to change everything.”


Donna P. said...

As I read your blog, I think of how amazed I am by you. How you took the so called bull by the horns, shook it up, and turned your life. You inspire us all and I am so grateful to be able to follow you in your journey and grateful that you are always so honest and open with us. Thank you for allowing God to shine through in your every post and thank you to Mr. E also for allowing us to enter your lives!

Allie-oops Designs said...

I am so incredibly pleased to hear this darling girl - I know from experience what happens to my body when I go on that yeast diet, which consists of ONLY meat and veggies. I experience the very things you are. I think I'll have to do this again right along with you!!! I'm still praying for your new home, and will continue until you get all moved in - so very excited to see what God finds for you!!!!

Robin in New Jersey said...

Thank you for sharing your journey, Jenny. You are an inspiration. 😘

Alicia Mae said...

Oh I love JRR Tolkien's works! 😁 Your dietary change is inspiring me-- I've been very stressed out lately, and sugar has been my go-to, which I know is only making me feel worse (and adding to my stress!)

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear you are feeling so much improved, very good news! Would you consider sharing some of the sources you are using for your recipes? I'm one who sure could use improvement in my diet & hearing from someone who has had success, has already tested a source would be very welcome. I wish you well in your search for a home of your own, hopefully the perfect place will soon be yours! - Diane from Minnesota

Val said...

I love this!

Tammy Lyons said...

Wonderful news on all topics. So happy you are feeling better. And eating better and cooking better and planning on that home that will be one day soon I am sure. Love and hugs ...Your food looks delicious....And your home is so beautiful in the pictures.

GailD said...

Wow! Jenny, how fabulous! It’s also very interesting for me to read as I’m considering doing something similar and somehow you have made it sound more doable than anyone else, thank you. I look forward to your next post and thank you again for your words, pictures and wisdom hugs, love Gail x

diana said...

Welcome back....miss your posts so much.

Lin said...

Love those books Jenny - so glad you decided to return! Praying for your future. xx

Unknown said...

Hello Jenny and greetings her from Canada.

I've been tuning in to your blog for some time now and am always sad when you need to take some time away. I do know though that you must do that at time to re-focus and to get well. I was pleased to discover your post just now and I'm so happy that you have made these changes and that you are feeling much better. I love how you have captured this change from heart to head. It totally makes sense. I'm wishing you well and hoping most days will continue on this way for you. And, sending you all the best on the hunt for your home - either brand new or already loved!

God bless you and your beautiful family.

Anonymous said...

I try to stay away from sugar and bread because that goes right to the belly. Your sweet treat pictures and recipes made me melt with desire! May I say I'm glad you are on a cleaner diet. You will help me stay on track. I would like to thank you in advance for your ideas, recipes and inspirations to my meals. Enjoy the cooler weather. (It is leaving us here in Arizona).

Bovey Belle said...

I've only recently discovered your blog and thoroughly enjoy it. This post is great and I need to take myself in hand more over the sugar in my diet (amongst other things). It was fascinating to hear how much your health has improved by eating a simpler diet and you are certainly not missing out on the "goodies" either. I'm hoping to help my asthma.

Love your sewing projects and good luck with your move - I hope you are able to buy a wonderful home of your own.

Judy1522 said...

I am a big fan of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings so got your title reference immediately. I have also read the books at least 3-4 times. My daughter also bought me the Hobbit cookbook for a gift and we have been tempted for fun to follow it for a day and make something for each Hobbit meal from it. My son and I had fun making hand pies but so far we have not made anything else.
We have purchased an already built house and also had our current one built. Purchasing is easier although it was fun to build and get what we wanted.
There are always things that you wish you would have done a little different when you build as you can't think of everything and also at some point you have to say stop I can't spend any more. That is unless you have an unlimited budget which most people don't have. I do know either way you will be happy as you will have something that you can make your own and use all of your pretty things that you have made over the years.
I am glad that you have found a way to stop your migraines. As a person who has never had one I don't know how they feel but I know they are pretty incapacitating for most people that have them. It's great that many of the problems you were having have gone away. Your new sweets look delicious.

Rita Lynn said...

I would love to know your recipes. Thank you for sharing your success.

Nanna Ray said...

Wonderful to have you back again Jenny. I so enjoy your blog and your beautiful designs. I hope you find your own piece of paradise soon. We were almost fifty when we built our first home, until then we had always lived in married quarters with Defence so I can empathise with your decision-making regarding build or established. Glad you have found a solution to your health issues too. I have MS so understand the need to find a lifestyle that suits the individual. Your alternative recipes look yummy!!! Do share if you have time with such a busy schedule. Good luck with everything.

Valerie said...

Jenny, thank you so much for sharing your dietary changes and the wonderful health effects you've experienced! I think as we get older, our bodies are more sensitive to things that don't work for them. For me this has been gluten and soy, but just recently found out about FODMAPs. This has led to much the same dietary changes you've implemented, and also has meant eliminating some high FODMAP spices including garlic (sigh). But the health benefits, including clarity of mind and increased energy, can't be denied!
When you have the opportunity, I echo what others have requested: if you could post recipes for those lovely treats (especially the raw mandarin and blueberry slice, the raw peppermint slice and the strawberry gummies, okay, actually all of them :), it would be much appreciated!
Interesting about the raw chocolate. I had to give up chocolate except for that that is specifically soy free; virtually all milk and dark chocolate now contains soy lecithin, which makes me horribly ill.
So thankful that God gives us so many tools to take better care of our bodies!

Jacqueline said...

You sound happy .. and kudos on your dietary changes. Enjoy your house hunting.

Susan said...

Congratulations on finding something that works for you. Maybe you can share some of your new recipes?

Glad you are feeling better and I will be praying about your housing decision.

Margaret said...

Jenny, happy for you that you are starting to feel better. Well done on the change of food ... don't think I could manage that! Your cooking looks amazing ... especially the mandarin and blueberry slice! Re the plantar fasciitis ... the cheap version of crocs (plastic shoes) definitely made life easier for me. Received my Stitchery Club patterns and am looking forward to making something pretty. Thank you, they're gorgeous. Hopefully your new food choices will lead to much better health for you. Have a wonderful week. xxx

Anonymous said...

The best part of all of that was the NO migraines! That's fabulous! Followed by no arthritis and foot pain. These are such wonderful blessings, and I'm so pleased to hear this. Your desserts look really good, too. Or no, maybe the best part is that you feel energy and you're losing weight. That's definitely a big plus. I'm just happy that you are doing so well, and the experiment worked so well. I'm glad the house is making a starring role in your future plans, too. The perfect plan, the perfect ideas, the perfect place for the Sophie is out there, waiting to be found and acquired by her loved ones. =)

Sue M. said...

I was very happy to see a post from you in my in-box today again. And after reading it and seeing how the dietary changes have been helping you, I was beyond happy for you!!! I've been on a very similar journey for almost 4 years now and it makes such a huge difference in how we feel day to day. My husband also joined me on the journey a little after a year and it made things so much easier in the kitchen when we were on the "same page" food-wise!:) We do eat some brown rice on occasion but not often.
Your healthy treats look fantastic --- when/if you have some time, I also would love to have the recipes.
I want to share a favorite recipe of ours - here's the link to it:
I usually top each (potential) block with an almond, before the chocolate hardens.

This blog has some wonderful healthy sweet treats on it. Enjoy!

matty said...

Dear girl, you always touch on things relevant for me... Your blog gave me the courage to discuss sensitive changes / topics with my Mister tonight. It went so well... and I think we have a start of creating a new vision of life. Sometimes we need the quiet to get our thoughts together and make those changes. I just retired and our life is going through some new country... How I wish I had been told at 20 that I could create my life, not just live it. Such a vast difference. You are creating yours and inspiring others. You, Jenny, are an encourager! <3

Teresa U said...

I am so glad this is working for you. Although, I don't have your type of health problems, I wish I had the courage to cut the ties with sugar, processed and fast foods. I enjoy your patterns and blog. God bless you.

Lori said...

So happy you are feeling better, Jenny! You are always such an inspiration! Our family has been off sugar for 3 years now and it is so freeing! I feed my hubby and I mainly keto diet, but I want to take it a step further and go dairy-free for a time to see if that eliminates some aches and pains. Bravo to your determination!

Sweet blessings,
Lori in TX

Farm Quilter said...

I'm so very glad you have gotten through this valley...they do feel deep, don't they? Luckily I don't need to give up all you have given up...I do need to give up gluten but I'm finding it so hard as I do enjoy a bagel for breakfast and if I eat lunch, I want a sandwich...I really don't want to just have dinner (which is frequently an iffy proposition). I've missed you, dear friend, and I'm looking forward to going along on your house-hunting adventures!

Deb said...

Dearest Jenny, I salute you. You are truly an amazing lady. You are so in tune with your body and so knowledgeable with the needs of it. I am so proud of you being able to turn things around for you and I pray that things continue to improve.
We have been going through the questions we all ask ourselves in our 50/60's. It is such a difficult time and so many things to consider knowing that retirement looms ahead and we realise its not going to be as its meant to be unless we make some big decisions and make the right ones. It will have some wonderful opportunities, its just preparing for those.
Much love xx

MissesStitches said...

I love the embroidery on cardigans that you're doing. It's beautiful! I love to embellish some of my clothes with personal touches. Also, good for you on your dietary changes. Not sure I'm that strong!

Ondrea said...

Well done changing your diet and discovering the wonderful benefits of doing so. Alas, I have fallen off the wagon sick of constantly facing new health problems further requiring more food restrictions. Yet, I know I feel worse when I do not stick to my diet. I think they call it self sabotage lol. Your food looks so yummy. That strawberry slice is partifularly appealing. Now I feel hungry lol. I do hope you achieve your goal of owning your own home as you are such a great homemaker and it would be lovely not having to keep moving. Love your new design. Angel hugs.

Angie in SoCal said...

I"m so glad for you! Yes, food can have a lot of different affects on our bodies. Would you share your recipes? If it were me, I'd buy an older home which is in good condition for mellowing in as we age. Having remodeled many a house, I'd leave the angst of building one for younger souls.

Anorina @SameliasMum said...

Hi Jenny, I'm so glad that you're feeling better. Your treats look yummy!
Moving isn't great but the idea of building a new house is very exciting. It's lovely to look at display homes and there are many ways to save money when building by doing some of the things after lock-up yourself or with your own trades. We saved lots of money by having our driveway, flooring, fencing and even some of the lighting done afterwards. I look forward to hearing what you and hubby decide to do.

Createology said...

Jenny Dear I hear your clarity and enthusiasm from your renewed lifestyle changes. Migraines are extremely debilitating and how important to be able to reduce them with diet and healthy walking. I do live on sugar and know the ills of poor diet. At 69 I am living healthier than ever before. As for buying or building a husband and I have been through all of these decisions. Whatever is best for you and Mr. E will somehow work out. For us we are still in a horrid escrow and have NO home to move to if in fact our buyer does not bail at the final hour. Stress is beyond manageable right now. Following your blog and receiving your stitchery club each month (which I am hoarding at this time) is helping me maintain my sanity. Blessings Dear Lady...xo

Glenise Magnano said...

Well done Jenny. I hope this new "healthystyle" continues to work for you. It sounds like it is hitting the spot for you. I need to cut out the sugar big time in my life so I will try my very best to cut down/eliminate sugar. Thank you for your beautiful blog as always. You are so busy in your life so it is important that you look after yourself. I am just catching up on my emails now after being away for a couple of weeks and your blog is my most important one to read so I have been having some "Jenny" time for the last half hour and loving it.
Thank you so much for letting us peek into your world. You are such an inspiration to us all. I hope that you will find the home of your dreams. I have every confidence that it will happen for you and when you least expect it. Good luck. Whether you build or buy you will make it a beautiful home for yourself, Mr E and your beautiful family. If you can it is better to keep your mortgage costs down as much as possible. That has been my husband and my saving grace especially now we are retired. Good luck and hope your better health continues with less migraines for you. Take care Jenny. All of us that follow you are so grateful for your designs and blogs so thank you, thank you. You are so precious and such a gorgeous lady. xxxxoooo