Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Third time lucky?

Two months.
We've been in this lovely home, our home, for two months.
And my heart wants to take the best of this gentle domestic life I've lived for years in various rental homes and make it flow with rhythm and joy in the ordinary, right here in our own new home.

Now, I'm not sure what constitutes 'ordinary' to you but top of the list for me is breadmaking. There's something about pulling a loaf of bread you've made yourself  out of a hot oven and being enveloped in fresh crusty bakery aromas which immediately cause your taste buds to salivate and your heart to melt.

My plan this week was to return to the regular baking days of earlier this year, when every loaf was delicious, not one failed, and my beloved's tummy was quite content with fresh crusty fare.
But the thing with a new house is you have a new stove top and a new oven. And they don't usually work the way you expect them to. At least that is what I have found in the twenty plus homes we've lived in since we married in 1991.

Usually I play around for a while and eventually work out whether the thermostat is perfect of not (only 2 from 21 have been) and then adjust up or down with temperatures until my degrees for each recipe are just right. This new oven, and it really is quite new, has stumped me a few times already just with regular baking but I've tweaked a bit and and now can be assured of a relatively good result. 

Except with bread.

Two loaves, Monday and Tuesday we shall call them, have landed in the bird feeder so far this week and I have made them up exactly the way I've done in the past so I was genuinely confused as to what is going wrong. The birds really don't mind and are quite joyfully picking and pecking at my failures...but I asked Mr E "do I give up or persevere?" and he chose the latter. 

So today I decided to bake a fruity loaf for breakfast toast and not to finish it in the oven but let the breadmaker do all the work. 

Normally I let the breadmaker do the kneading and bring the dough to it's first rise, then I punch it down, shape and place in a bread tin for the second rise before baking in the oven. Always successful.
Anyhow, while I'm figuring out what's going on with my oven I'll let my Breville knead and bake for me. 

Today's Wednesday loaf didn't have a burnt bottom and overly crunchy sides like Monday and Tuesday did, but it was a bit flat. Still, the fruit loaf is more dense than a sandwich loaf and it jolly well smells amazing...

My new oven is fan forced and should have even heat all around but I've been reading online and I may need to bake the next loaf on a higher shelf as this is quoted as being a problem with some ovens.
We shall see...Thursday will be another loaf and another experiment.

Next year draws closer and like many people I'm considering a fresh start with a few things, whilst letting go of others. Perhaps it's due to finally having our own home, knowing we're settled now and don't have to plan our next move ever again, that I'm excited to explore some new paths that have been on my mind for years?
There's a part of me which cannot wait to tell you what I shall be doing, but there's also a knowing that everything has its season and I cannot rush any of it, regardless of how much I'd like to. Being content to wait is a good thing because each day the vision becomes clearer and I can see the obstacles as well as the benefits to these new ventures, and I can also discuss them with my husband and some close friends who know me very well and allow me to bounce ideas off them. Having people who will pray for you when big changes are afoot (thanks Allie) or who know what running a business whilst being a committed homemaker is like and call you almost every week to check up and keep in touch (thanks Fee) is a God given blessing I treasure. 

On a personal level what I really want from 2019 is to more fully embrace the gentle domestic life and chat with you about fact Fee and I will be working through the book which started it all for me (The Gentle Art of Domesticity) and sharing a lot via our blogs. I think you will love what we have in mind, but I shouldn't run ahead as we still need to plan that out.

I mentioned next door's poinciana tree last Sunday and thought you may like to see it?
Those long hands of red blooms look like flames and though not a true flame tree it's what Mr E and I call it...

I have always longed for a poinciana tree and to think God gave me one where I love to swim and talk to Him, right beside our fence should not have surprised me but it did.

Frangipani are another of my favourite trees and recently I took cuttings from four different ones in our neighbourhood - white, red, orange and yellow. Following instructions from our gardening books I let the cutting-ends dry over for a couple of weeks before planting in pots. They've all sprouted new leaves and I'm quite excited as one day they'll be planted into our yard and that wonderful frangipani fragrance will fill the air.

Bob-the-dog is still chasing the Ibis out of the yard if he sees them but if he sleeping inside they fly down and dig in the garden for bugs so I was finally able to get photos though I must keep my distance because they're not as comfortable with me as the cockatoos and rainbow lorikeets are.

We have a lot of aloe vera plants in pots that we brought from our old place and they're all sprouting new shoots so we'll re-pot some and put the larger plants into garden beds. Hubby slathers his face and neck with the fresh juice from the aloe each night after being in the garden or teaching classes outside at the school.

Our menu is still being simplified and we chat about the need to push aside current trends which encourage people to try all cuisines, and cook recipes which use twenty (or more) ingredients for one dish...which leads us on to considering just how much we need to eat, how many ingredients are necessary and how do we feel after we eat. It's been a great thought provoker but mostly we're listening to our bodies more and have found that too many ingredients do not bode well with our digestive systems. So I've gone back in my mind to growing up with Nana and simplifying again.
The shopping trolley isn't as full but the ingredients are better quality. Less has become more.

And speaking of simple food, something I used to love for lunch as a child was curried egg and lettuce sandwiches with a cup of tea and I've been having this three times a week for the last month!

 It's cheap, nutritious and delicious. The eggs are free range, the bread is light rye and the lettuce must be iceberg for the crunch. 
Seriously, I never tire of this, but it's not on Mr E's list of favourite lunches so I have it Monday, Wednesday and Friday when he's at school. I boil the eggs for seven minutes (I boil enough for a week) then peel and mash with curry powder, mayonnaise, salt and pepper...

Served with a hot cup of back tea this suits me fine.

In the sewing scheme of things I am very patiently awaiting delivery of some Tilda solid cream fabric so I can begin sewing my new block of the month. I walk past this lone churn dash block and that lovely fat quarter bundle of Apple Butter at least five times a day and excited am I to make a start. 

Also finishing a supper cloth with the designs for December's Stitchery Club. My idea is to make something in a vintage style so that one day it can be passed along to the next generation - just the way I collect old doilies and linens. It's up to us to make for those who come after us, yes?

Oh, in case you're new here and wondered, that Joy in the Ordinary stitchery from the first photo is still a free pattern download here in my shop and always will be.

Well, enough of my ramblings today, but I'd like to leave you with something I shared on Facebook and Instagram yesterday after I took a rare selfie.
May it encourage all you dear beautiful women because you truly are precious, just as you are.

I don’t wear makeup and I don’t dye my hair so this is me, as me, all day every day. Although this is my first hair bun! Finally my hair is long enough.
Thought I'd share a photo (a rare selfie) so you can put a face to my name. Many of you only know me as 'Jenny of Elefantz', the designer of patterns, encourager in the gentle domestic life, blogger, Christian and homemaker, but it's nice to see who I am every day, yeh? 
Have to tell you I'm pretty comfortable in my own skin, aging naturally, cherishing the lines of life which each year grow deeper, the silver hair which brightens my blue eyes and the 'cuddliness' my husband, daughters and grandies love. 
Looking back on my life I wish I'd not placed so much focus of the outward appearance, but looked deeper inside my heart and worked on refining things like kindness, grace, mercy, compassion, honesty, humility, faithfulness, generosity and patience...these came along later (and are still being refined). Can I encourage you today to look at yourself, as you are, without any adornments, and give thanks for the wonderful woman you are becoming? Yes, becoming. Because we're all growing, all changing, all undergoing changes that will only make us more and more beautiful if we allow them to. 
Don't compare yourself to anyone else, just be a better version of yourself tomorrow than you are today...that's my way of thinking as I draw near to the end of my 50's. It's not about how I look, it's about what others see IN me and praying that they see those very traits I want to embrace - kindness, grace, mercy, compassion, honesty, humility, faithfulness, generosity and patience.
Girls, you are beautiful. Just wanted to tell you that today.



  1. Jenny jsi opravdu krásná a moudrá žena. Jiřina

  2. Jenny, when we bought our fanforced oven all reading said to lower the temperature by10 degrees ,but I find with a lot of recipes I have to lower it by about 20 degrees. This has been trough trial and error, hope this helps with your oven.
    I am loving your photos of your forever home, and all of your blog
    Love Lorraine

    1. Lorraine I do lower it by 20 degrees (have used fan forced in our last five rentals) but I think it’s more about which shelf in the oven to put it. I’ll keep experimenting.

    2. I also agree about the shelf position in the oven, sometimes fan forced ovens have cold and hot spots, even though the fan is meant to keep whole oven temperature even
      Lorraine x

  3. Love this post Jenny. Thank you for showing your lovely photo and the kind words. I was having a discussion last night with my husband and a friend about how complicated cooking and recipes have become and how much has changed since we were children. Choice and different cuisines can be interesting but there is much to be said for old fashioned home cooking and we don't need to feel we are letting people down if we repeat old favourites. After all they became old favourites because we like them!

  4. i prefer simple meals for home but i do like the more exotic when i go out which is not very often, so having something totally different feels special.
    great post
    thanx for sharing

  5. Jenny, I have a new induction stove in the kitchen which I haven't used as yet as I haven't had time to read the manual. I had it all nice and clean this morning but then came home to find it covered in dust as the builder and the painter had to do some work in the kitchen and there was sawdust everywhere :-( I thought they were finished with all the cutting in the kitchen. Anyway, I hope that the stove bakes my sourdough well as I am missing it so much.

    1. Chel, I’m not going to bake sourdough until I know exactly what I’m doing with this oven. I do pray you transition smoothly.

  6. I love your posts. The first thing I read in the morning is my daily devotional and then I look for your post. Both lift my soul.

  7. Your posts are so uplifting and inspiring. Thank you always for the gentle reminders that ordinary is great!!

  8. As I am reading this post, and looking at the lovely yard and pool, I am so full of joy for you and Mr. E. You've been there 2 months now, and I remember how I prayed for you and your future home. The Lord said no to the first home, and gave you this lovely one instead. He is so good! I can just see you relaxing in the pool and enjoying nature right outside your back door. Thank you for sharing with us, Jenny. You are a treasure!

  9. I used to make bread often in my bread machine then shape & bake it. I rarely use mine anymore.

    Maybe you can set a thermometer in your oven to see if the temp is accurate?

    I am so happy for you that your cuttings have sprouted! I've tried that many times with different things & have been thrilled when it grows.

    We eat a lot of simple meals too. Most days we just eat a little snack for lunch. We really do eat much more than we need to as a society. Although feeding my growing grandson every are super hard to fill up sometimes!I've never tried curry with eggs. I need to mix some of this up.

  10. Hi Jenny you are a pretty woman, we have the same aged and I'am what I am:) merci pour tous tes jolis reportages avec de si jolies photos le fragipanier, l'ibis et de beau plat et toujours de si beaux ouvrages many thanks have à good day Geneviève

  11. Hello Jenny, I so enjoy reading your post every day. It is always uplifting, inspiring and thought provoking. Good experiments with the new oven, with your determination it will become a delight once again. I am thoroughly enjoying seeing all of the new life forms that you encounter and share. So many of them are unknown to me and they are beautiful as well as fun to see photos of and read the information you share. You are indeed a beautiful woman that I am thrilled to have as a part of my life in reading your posts to embroidering a few of your special designs. I am still way behind on the block of the months, but am learning so many new stitches and ways to use color. My heart is full of love for you, being a Sister in Christ and a lover of our journey through life. Have a spectacular Happy Thanksgiving. Hugs and prayers your friend Brenda

  12. Great post Jenny. That red flowering tree is gorgeous. Can't beat an eggy sandwich! xx

  13. Jenny, did you know that you can have a cutting up to 6foot long from a frangipani. I have never done one that big but it would be worth a try to get a taller plant started and shade happening sooner.
    So nice to see you settled in your new home,thank you for all your lovely designs.

    1. I did not know you could cut such a long stem to propagate, but that's what I'll try next. Thank you!

  14. I think when we are younger we are busy trying to become what we think society dictates for us to be. But as we age or as life throw's us a reality check we soon realize that isn't who we actually want to be. So we begin trying to embrace a more honest loving , caring nurturing person. Someone we can be proud of . And a better mate to our spouse and better mother to our children. And we become more Christ centered and more concerned with living our life trying to be a better more loving, kind & patient person . Jenny you mentioned in your post "It's not about how I look, it's about what others see IN me and praying that they see those very traits I want to embrace - kindness, grace, mercy, compassion, honesty, humility, faithfulness, generosity and patience." That's how I want to be seen and what I want to be known for as well. I prefer much simpler and fresher foods these days vs. complicated recipes

  15. I love it when I see your posts pop up on my blog roll Jenny. I have to tell you .... one of my all time favourites is curried egg sammies with lettuce too! We have it lots as my Mr really enjoys it... later in the season when tomatoes are ripe we have curried egg with tomato on it. Equally as nice. When I left you a comment on your instagram post I forgot to tell you ... you rock that hair bun dear girl. Xxxx

  16. A beautiful post my dear friend. Love that Blue & White onion bowl. I have one just like it xxxx I'm so excited and looking forward to 2019. We will be turning some pages together xxx

  17. You are beautiful, Jenny! I love that you smile with your eyes and whole just glow!! I guess now I need to go and make some dough to put in the refrigerator for rolls for our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow!!

  18. I feel refreshed readng your wise words Jenny Dear. My husband continually tells me, “Sherry you are in control of your life.” However I am wondering when this will be true. Life is busy and moving and getting settled is taking more time than I imagined...yet I do believe I am on the right path. Blessings Dear...xo

  19. I am a breadmaker, and will have a new oven soon, so thanks for the warnings! I hope you and your oven get along fine really soon.

  20. Beautifully wise post today, Jenny. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. and I am so grateful for your blog, especially for your spiritual insights. Such fun to see you enjoying your new home!

  21. My first thought was how long your hair has gotten! And here I've whacked mine off short - and I don't like it, so it's the waiting game all over again. LOL You look beautiful and in the perfect element - lovely quilty things. Next year sounds amazing already. I know you are going to figure out that oven and have beautiful loaves of bread again. Can you get a thermometer than hangs from a rack so you can see what the actual temperature is?

  22. Loved seeing your beautiful face in your photo. Your blog posts always make my day better. I love egg sandwiches but have never tried curry in my eggs. I usually make the southern version of egg salad which is boiled eggs mixed with mayo, mustard and sweet pickle relish. Put it on toasted bread and I love it. Your pics of your new home make me happy for you and Mr. E. Since we are going into our winter season, I am enjoying your new plants and pics of your garden. It will be several months before we see new growth again. Love to you, dear Jenny.

    1. Oo, that sounds yummy, Martha! I'll give it a try. :-)

  23. Beautiful post as always. You do inspire me to be a better me. Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving from Ohio, USA

  24. What a delightful post. You have a happy face! And, I pictured you very similar to the real you. I love those trees! Best wishes on your bread and oven. Have a lovely weekend. mary

  25. Lovely post as always and especially the end part. I feel as if sometimes I am fighting life, trying to bend or force things before their time. I'll be 64 soon and finally learning to let go a little. Guess I'm a late bloomer! To me, people on TV look so much alike and I wonder if that sameness goes deeper into their personalities. You look lovely, like a REAL person and your thoughts and ideas are full of goodness. Blessings to you.

  26. I had the same experience when I moved here with the oven, my once lovely chewy cookies are drier and quite hard despite the recipe being the same. Love the tree next to your pool, that looks like and amazing spot that I am sure you will love as the weather gets hotter. Good luck with the bread making experimenting next week, I have just discovered how to make foccacia that I can eat (being gluten free) so have been making lots of delicious potato and rosemary and black olive ones! xx

  27. Lovely selfie, Jenny. I so love your patterns that have applique in them - makes them special. I've ordered the book, Gentle Art of Domesticity, and hope to go through it with you and your incites.

  28. What a beautiful post. I felt like I was sitting with you having a cuppa.

  29. I'm sorry that you are going through trials with your oven. I'm fortunate that I seem able to just set it and that's it and everything is fine. Of course, I haven't tried bread in this oven. I always go to my breadmaker for bread and it's delightful. Thanks for sharing all your trials with us, I feel like family. I have never heard of curried egg and lettuce sandwiches. It sounds similar to egg salad sandwiches here in the States except, I don't use curry in the egg mixture. I use boiled eggs, cut or mashed up, mayo, salt and pepper, yellow mustard, and either pickles or pickle juice. I'm sure others recipes are similar and modified. I'm thrilled that you are settled into your home. I've been in this home for 39 years. A widow friend has her home up for sale after being widowed for 12 years. She recently told us that the average length of time that folks stay in their homes in 9 years - maybe that's for the central part of the US. I like to think I won't move again until I have to go to "the home." Hopefully, if I stay as active as possible that will prolong that move. Most of my close friends now are widows and each of us dreads that move. It's like it is the beginning of the end. I plan to stay in my home as long as I am able. I might go live with my son, if invited but I would not live with my daughter. I love her and her children. Her husband cannot stand me for some reason, so I would be miserable all the time and never feel welcome. We didn't know yet that I had cancer and the first time I met him, he told me that he would put me in a nursing home with his mother when I get old. He's a "lovely" man. I have no idea what made him say that when I had never met him. He speaks horribly to his mother. God Bless You and I pray that your health is improving.

  30. A LOVELY photo!!I have downloaded it and your beautiful tree!!Its LOVELY to see you!!we were married in the same year too!!Yes I too love making bread.I am crafting away for my 3more craft fairs and praying my knee will behave its lockedx3times this week.On the waiting list to have debris removed.xxHugs and a LOVELY blog!!♥♥😊😊


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