Friday, July 13, 2018

Bubbling over...

Two punnets of strawberries had been waiting patiently in the fridge for a week to be made into jam.
For various reasons I'd not made time to follow through on that plan until Wednesday evening. With a chicken curry simmering away on the stove top, rice steaming and chapati bread being cooked one by one on the piping hot griddle, I thought to myself this would be the perfect time to get that strawberry jam going. 
Oh silly, overconfident me.

I did finely chop the strawberries, did put berries, sugar, lemon and dab of pectin in the saucepan, did bring it to the boil, did lower the gas flame to a simmer...and did walk away forgetting to remove the lid from the saucepan.

Too many things happening at once, and then I was distracted by a text from Blossom which triggered a series of back and forth messages. Oblivious to what was happening on the stove top we discussed the pros and cons of a rental home she and Ross had gone to see that day.

Then the smell of burning sweetness wafted past my nose and a light bulb came on in my head - the jam!! 

Cleaning a gas stove top is not my favourite chore but it's also not a hard one and can be done quickly every day or so. But a gas stove top which now holds a soup of bubbled over strawberry jam is not quite so easily brought back to it's shimmering stainless steel glory. 

Serving dinner, intent on ignoring the jam which was gradually cooling to a sticky red gel under the gas jets, I thought "this is like my life". 
Too many distractions, no clear cut plan most days, too many ideas often put into play at not the right time, and then everything bubbles over and becomes a mess which takes even more of my time to clean up and put back in order. 
I called this the strawberry jam lesson on life.

Fortunately I salvaged the jam which remained in the saucepan, a mere half pot, but jam nonetheless and though it's not as thick as I'd normally make it, it tastes good. Especially when it drips off your toast and you need to catch it on your tongue before it hits your blouse.

Earlier that day a parcel had arrived with my new day planner. I really like the one I began in January and it has truly helped to keep my business and some household things ticking over nicely, at least until the "house hunting in earnest" began and the pneumonia set in. Since then it has barely been opened.

So I ordered another one, but this time it's an 18 month planner which runs through to the end of 2019, and I'm keeping it open on my desk all the time. Regardless of this season of life with it's distractions and all the comings and goings from open houses or private viewings, if I want to avoid a bubbling over mess from too many distractions and hands that are over-full, it is vitally important that I look at each day as having 24 precious hours, and allow those hours to be considerately filled with sleep, homemaking, design work, book work, relationships, God and free time.

I'm a visual learner, hands on, who writes a lot of lists, but my lists would too often be on scraps of paper that got lost or put somewhere I later forgot. Slowly this year I had been training myself not to do that. Slowly I had learned to keep one 'to do' list on the kitchen bench and one in my planner.

But then the house thing, ill health, and a few other family matters which took time and energy.

And then the jam mess.

I was off track again and it was obvious, so unpacking the new planner I set it out on my desk, replaced the to-do list on my kitchen bench and bought myself a pot of lavender because lavender never causes stress...

The table on our enclosed verandah is now my permanent space for quiet Bible study, prayer, tea and cake and I've even made sure that time is written in my planner...

A new book is speaking to my heart during afternoon rest time...

...and Honey Murcott mandarins are my simple go-to snack.

Slowing down, pulling back, not over-planning, removing physical and mental clutter, simplifying - this could be a recipe for avoiding the mess of a bubbling over life, I think?

On another note, with great rejoicing and a little push from God, I have closed my 'Jenny of Elefantz' Facebook business page. It was a romping success, but I don't much like the way Facebook is going and the insistent push for business pages to buy advertising or be punished by your posts barely being seen by about ten percent of followers.
Nope, don't need that. Mental clutter gone. Burden gone. Stressful manipulation gone.

I still have the Gentle Domesticity Group on FB but may also make changes with that later in the year to a message board format. For now that's an idea, but it needs a lot of prayer and some time to create. God will guide me if it's the way to go.

How are you going with de-cluttering your life?
What have you let go of recently?
What do you find difficult to let go of?

I'd love to hear from you, to know this bubbling over life isn't just exclusive to me, and also to hear how you've been able to make changes for the better. 


Need something to stitch? I regularly add new patterns to my shop for instant download!


  1. Ah, dear Jenny. I love the 'jam message'! At the moment I am definitely in a very busy period! But I am feeling blessed by visitors from Thailand who we knew in South Africa who minister to the Sea Gypsy's. By more good days than bad for Hannah. And the knowledge that Father God loves us very much. He's teaching me too through the busy days. Arohanui

  2. I of course ignored the very good lesson, and could only think of the jam...馃槀馃槀馃槀馃槀

  3. Thought I was alone in making 'messes' in my kitchen! Sorry about your jam, but glad all wasn't lost. . . Our strawberries continue to produce; need to go pick them tonight, but waiting for the temperature to go down, at 89 now at 8 PM! I left Facebook a few months ago, so fully understand.

  4. Jenny my mother in law did the same thing with the jam many years ago. She arrived here from Melbourne, saw we had a tree full of mulberries so proceeded to pick them and make jam straight away and you can imagine how long the preparation took. By that time it was getting late at night so she sat down and drifted off to sleep and burnt a huge pot of mulberry jam. I think the rest of us had gone to bed as it was so late and the children were toddlers :-) Oh, the smell of burnt jam. I can't remember who cleaned the saucepan. LOL!

  5. Oh dear, at least some good came out of the 'jam lesson'. When I make jam with soft fruits I never cut them up, I simply put them in the pan and give them a quick once over with the potato masher, I leave some whole and the rest are differing sizes and find it quick and easy. x

  6. LOL - what a great lesson! And at least you got something tasty from it!

  7. Hi Jenny. My husband says multitasking doesn't get you anywhere. I know if I am trying to do too many things at once while thinking of other things something will always go wrong. I also find they older I get the more this is true for me. Doing one thing at a time and concentrating on the task at hand works best for me.
    It's past strawberry season in my world. Blackberries are coming in now. I will be buying from a local blackberry farm. I will make some jam and the rest will go in the freezer for cobblers.
    I am pretty good at letting go of things to keep down the clutter. My problem is my husband. He has a hard time letting go. Sometimes I have to compromise.

  8. Thank you for sharing this post. I would like to slow down enough to make a bit of jam and do more around the house. It is still about nine months before I plan to retire and things should change then. Planning will be the key to getting things accomplished and simplifying.

  9. I'm not so good at letting go of things. After a lot of thinking about this, I have come to the conclusion that it harkens back to my childhood in poverty where we didn't have much. Actually, I enjoy the simplicity of it. Then materialism ensnared me. Must let the past go and continue to strive for renewed simplicity - my soul is more at peace immersed in it.

  10. Querida Jenny:
    Tus sabios comentarios siempre me ayudan a poner las cosas en su sitio. El 煤ltimo mes y medio entre acompa帽ar a mi madre en el hospital (sufri贸 una operaci贸n en la que le extirparon la ves铆cula biliar.... a sus 94 a帽os!) y mi reingreso al trabajo despu茅s de cinco meses de baja por mi operaci贸n de pr贸tesis de codo he estado al borde del colapso continuamente. Tuve que dejar aparcadas mis responsabilidades en la iglesia y en el voluntariado en prisi贸n, mi perrita dej贸 de recibir atenci贸n a su hermoso y largo pelo, as铆 que se lo cortamos y la casa tiene m谩s polvo y pelos de perro que de costumbre pero con mi madre ya en casa poco a poco voy recuperando las cosas a su sitio.... Excepto que yo misma tambi茅n necesito volver a mi sitio. Que buena idea buscar un rinc贸n hermoso y tranquilo y marcar en el planificador el tiempo a dedicar al estudio y la oraci贸n. Adem谩s acompa帽ado de un te o refresco...MMMMMMM!!!!

  11. Jill D. in ArizonaJuly 14, 2018 at 3:58 AM

    You always say at least one thing that resonates with me. Today it is two. I must make myself a quilted mat for my prayer space like you have. I deleted myself from FB and came across a statement that expressed the emotion I had towards it: "a culture obsessed with watching others look at us as we look at ourselves in the mirror". I want to be a humble person. That is not FB mission so no wonder I was conflicted using it. I hope Domesticity can continue to be a Show and Tell site. It was enjoyable and always inspiring.

  12. It's terrible when some days just don't go as planned, whether constantly dropping things or burning things or running late, etc. I do love your jar that has the Strawberries embossed on the lid and that adorable placemat with cherries on it. I'm so sad to say I just lost my precious dog July 8th. She had become so entangled in my heart I feel as though someone has ripped bits and pieces from me. She had cancer from 2012 and they didn't think she would live past the end of 2013 when 3 more tumors appeared. God gave us until July of 2018 and I'm thankful to Him but it's just never long enough. I've been packing away her stuff little by little. Water bowls, sweaters, winter boots, etc. At my age I have pledged not to get another dog. I worried if I had to be aware from my little Phoebe and what if I had died first, who would love and care for her? So she was our final dog. I know I won't be using her clippers or bowls or collars/leashes or sweaters but I can't part with any of it yet. I will pack it away eventually but I know I should donate usable items. xoxoxo

  13. Oh Jenny, I fully understand!! I have had grape juice as well as maple syrup boil over as I was processing them, simply because I thought I could do something else at the same time. The grape juice was all over a brand new stove. I have finally realized that I will NEVER be a multitasker.
    It's a hot day here in Southern Ontario and the garden is beginning to produce in earnest. I have blueberries, currants and various vegetables to process. So, your post is a timely reminder to just deal with each thing as it comes along. A girl I used to know who came from a military family who moved around the country regularly said her dad used to say that wherever you are, be all there. He was talking about the various towns they lived in, but I think it applies to our daily tasks too - whatever we're doing, be all there. I just need to remember it ;)
    Jenny, I have hardly ever commented, but I absolutely LOVE your blog. Whenever I see that there is a new post, I have this little delighted intake of breath:-) There are many lovely blogs out there, but you and Annabel have the most uplifting, kind blogs and I always learn something from you both.
    Blessings to you.

  14. I hear you loud and clear. Learning to handle your time is the most difficult of tasks and changing methods happens with regularity for many of us. I am a strong advocate of the daily planner as well as task lists. A friend recently chided me about my methods remarking that I diminish my time to accomplish what I plan because I spend too much time planning! She may have a point. I hope your new planner helps you get back on track. You demands remain complicated but once you have a new house and are settled you will be able to take a deep breath!

  15. I understand where you are coming from, Jenny. Having lost my husband a year ago this past March, I have learned that multi tasking is not good. But I have also learned that when you set your mind to things and become organized, you can do it!! After this past 18 months of trying to organize a lifetime (47 years worth) I have learned what I am capable of and I have also learned that nothing is as important as the job at hand. I have been taking one task at a time and after this length of time, I have learned to appreciate every little accomplishment. With everything you and your husband have been through, and with the new house still in limbo, you are wise to concentrate on the job at hand and get through it one day at a time. Life is like jam......but it is SO sweet....

  16. Hello Jenny ... I am so pleased to read you are over the worst of the pneumonia. Yes I have lots of "pots of sticky stuff bubble over" .... in life that is!! Seems a never ending chore sometimes cleaning up the messes of life!! Take care my friend & look after yourself.

  17. Not just you, Jenny. =) Lately, there are days where it feels as if everything is spinning out of control, and others which are calm and peaceful. I'm examining what I do differently on out of control days, because I'm sure it's something I'm causing ... or allowing, maybe. I do use a planner. It's a teacher calendar that I really like and every day I write phrases to remind me of what is important that day. It does help to be sure I don't forget things, but not everything gets done every time. So there are arrows in my book going to different days, checkmarks for things done, and circles around important things. I'm thinking right now, a nap is important. =)

  18. Dear Jenny, The saying “stop and smell the roses” is true. Sometimes we need to re group. I love the idea of a daily planner, and yours is so pretty. Would you mind sharing where you bought it? I wish you peace and happiness in your life.

  19. Jenny, you mentioned having little notes all over that didn't really ever give you a clear picture of what you needed to do. I used to have that problem at my office. Making a list always made me nuts, since it got too messy for my taste once I started to cross things off, or move things around. I found myself rewriting the list too many times. What I found that worked for me was post-it notes stuck to a clipboard. Each item went on a separate note. At home, you could cover a clipboard with pretty fabric or paper. The beauty of this is that you can move the sticky notes around and it still looks nice. And you can just pull the things to do off of it once done.

  20. I had to laugh when you said you had forgotten the jam as I find myself constantly forgetting things when I am trying to multi task. I think menopsuse has something to do with it . Whenever I find myself overloaded with many tasks I try to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is when one focuses entirely on the task at hand even if it simply cleaning my teeth. This is a good way of not only completing the task properly but letting thoughts simply pass by until the task is finished. Ofcourse, I often forget this and fall into the usual patterns but when I pause, take a deep breath and focus I feel stress just disappearing. I love your new planner. I hope Blossom finds a nice new rental soon. Be gentle with yourself.

  21. Jenny Dear I am out of touch and trying to get back in sync. Thankful you are feeling better. Life does so easily get crazy and out-of-control all too quickly. Hubs and I have finally, after three long years, moved out of California. We are unpacking boxes and trying to get some sort of organization to our new home. All body parts are aching and we are bone-weary tired. However our views and new home are so worth all the work. Blessings to you and Mr. E and Blossom and her family on finding new living quarters. <3

  22. I am so glad you are feeling better. Your jam makes me want to run out and buy strawberries to make jam, even though I am allergic to strawberries! Praying for you, Mr. E and Blossom to find the right places to live. I'll need to adopt your organizational skills when it comes to cleaning out the house my dad has lived in for 44 years, when the time comes.

  23. Oh dear, never mind at least you had some jam left to enjoy.

    I never got into facebook there was something about it I didn't like & now it's a bit of a nightmare.

    When I retired I decided I didn't want to be ruled by having to do thing I didn't like to do. My house is a bit of a nightmare but it doesn't really bother me, I'm desperately untidy but I really don't care. If I feel like knitting I knit, if I wan to sew then I'll do that. I've never been so relaxed & stress free. It's not for everyone being relaxed with clutter but we're all different. My Mam always said, the house will be there when you're not & it's so true.

  24. Well, the jam spill produced lots of comments. I enjoyed reading them. I have had many hob spills in my life. The most serious that comes to mind is a pot of soup. A large pot of soup I put on to bring to the boil with the intention of turning down to simmer. I got distracted, left the house and forgot all about it until I came back and hub had arrived home to find the house filled with smoke and a very black soup pan. To this day I am thankful to God that my carelessness didn't cost us our home. Enjoy your jam Jenny.

  25. I totally understand this "doing too many things at once". I have berries in my fridge at the moment and now have the bug to try my hand at jam. Can I make in a saucepan without having to do the whole canning process?

    1. Yes, I only ever make small amounts. Here's my recipe -

  26. My husband and I recently went and are still going through some life changing events, not by choice but have learned not to question why but to continue on and learn to continue on. Slowing life down, living life more simple seems to be working out, still a learning curve for us, but God Willing, we will make it and be fine. Reading your blog is part of my morning tea time in starting my day. Thank you for your encouragement and inspiration! Hugs!

  27. Thanks Jenny again,your blog always cheers me up!!You remind me of myself!!I was up at 6am this morning having fed our 3dogs first,in my hut in our garden doing my Bible readings.and colouring in verses.


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