Unlike other May beginnings in previous years, this one brought a welcome cool spell, something we have not encountered before winter's arrival since moving to the tropics in 2009.
The nights may not seem cold to many of you who live in more temperate or indeed 'cold' regions but when we woke to 16 C (61 F) the other day it was breathtaking in a wonderful "now we can wear socks and eat soup" kind of way, so of course I made a pot of soup and some delicious bread to serve with it.
The bread recipe is from my most used breadmaker cookbook but one I'd not tried before, Pesto and Pinenut Loaf...
Our garden has an abundance of basil at the moment, there's always a bag of pinenuts in the fridge and who doesn't have parmesan cheese on hand?
The only thing in the recipe that I changed was switching white bread flour to whole grain bread flour...
This loaf has now been added to our 'bake regularly' menu planner because it was so delicious!
We had it with big steaming bowls of lamb, vegetable and barley soup that night, and toasted and smothered with avocado for breakfast yesterday morning.
Some of you may be wondering why I've baked and eaten bread after switching to gluten free almost a month ago?
As I mentioned at the time my migraines were out of control and every day had become one long painful stretch. Having eliminated all my known migraine food triggers with no relief I decided to be very strict with gluten free to see if there was improvement to the frequency and severity.
There was no change whatsoever. The migraines continued to bombard me day after day until I was worn out beyond words and fell in a heap, battling to hold back tears of frustration and weariness.
The only other avenue/treatment I had not tried for a long time was to get my long hair cut very short.
All my life having long hair has been a migraine trigger so every so often I'd cut it short. The migraines were the kind I've had since childhood, the same pain with all my migraines regardless of the triggers.
But this past year they were much worse, debilitating to the point of my being unable to function most days - and this may be why I had overlooked my long hair as the enemy. I was secretly scared something far more sinister was in play, especially as my father and uncle died of brain tumours when they were the same age I am now.
Nine days ago I walked into the hairdresser and asked her to cut all my hair off. Her eyes widened and she asked, "All? You're sure?? You have beautiful thick and lustrous hair - you want it gone?" I explained about the migraines and indeed I was managing one right there in her salon, my eyes barely open as I squinted under the lights. But "Gone it must be", I assured her, "I'd like my short, funky, slightly spiky hair to make a return." She nodded and began to prep me for a shampoo.
I thought I'd be sad as ruler lengths fell to the floor but instead, I felt free.
Ninety minutes later, after a shampoo, treatment, extra long head massage (which helped with pain management by relaxing me) and that ever so important hair cut, I drove home and dived into the pool...like washing away some part of me that needed to go.
By mid afternoon my migraine was gone. Nine days later and it has not returned. I thank the Lord for the prompt to do this and removing a major cause of my migraines.
Bread is back on the menu and I'm smiling more than I have in a long while.
Soooo....more of the kitchen stuff. Salads are now my every other day lunch (as I am back to enjoying curried egg sandwiches on the in between days) often with fruit and always with avocado.
Mid-afternoon snacks usually consist of grapes, seaweed rice crackers and dip. This has become my reading time and at the moment I'm savouring two favourite English magazines, the ones I have been collecting for years and regularly pull off the shelf to re-read because they're never out of date. Though it is May in Australia the March issues have only just arrived on our shores so I'm reading slowly, savouring each page.
I'm not a great lover of bananas, which is weird as they grow everywhere in the tropics and are cheap as chips, but Mr E loves them so we always have a hand or two on the bench.
The other day when I baked the bread there were three bananas which had gone too far in ripeness so I searched the internet for a good banana bread recipe. I will eat a slice of banana bread if there's no better options when we're out for coffee, and I do like a good banana and date loaf smothered in butter, but I'd never made my own banana bread before - cake yes, bread no.
THIS recipe by Donna Hay had so many rave reviews that I decided to give it a go...
...and guess what? I'm hooked. It is delicious!
As soon as I finish this post I'm brewing a pot of Tulsi tea and slicing a thick piece for morning tea. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed.
I was hand washing in the laundry tub the other day (we've had no washing machine or power out there for over a week while the various tradesmen come and go to repair the flood damage) when this bright flash of lime and red caught my peripheral vision through the back door so I stepped outside to see what it was.
Up near the pool on the branch of a tree was the brightest green parrot, one which I'd not seen visiting our yard before. I prayed, "Father God please keep that bird on the branch while I get my camera so I can zoom in and get a photo!" and ran inside for my camera.
Swiftly but softly stepping outside again the bird was not there and my heart sank in disappointment...but then, just to my right in our bird feeder was the parrot. Lord, You brought it closer!
Honest, the parrot was there for no more than ten seconds and I had no time to adjust the focus so I just snapped away until it lifted off and disappeared into the distance.
It was a Red Winged Parrot, a male in fact as it's back was black.
Glorious to see, and such a blessing too because you know I love watching and photographing our daily bird visitors.
We had galahs drop by again this week...
...and of course our regular girl, Betty, who has breakfast with us each day.
Having a clear and pain free head has allowed me to finally press forward with bringing together all the blocks of Phyllis May's Kitchen and individually piece and quilt around the applique and embroidery. I've completed 14 out 16 but those final two blocks need something extra added as they are pivotal to the final display so I'm not rushing them.
Pattern writing for all the blocks is also happening, quite time consuming but it's better to write and photograph each block as I go along instead of having one mammoth week of pattern writing later on. You do know pattern writing is my least liked process of designing?
One new change I've made to pattern writing when a number of different fabrics are being used is to copy Lori Holt's idea and make these wonderful swatches...
I traced circles of fabric from my BOM scraps and used Vliesofix to fuse them to white paper gift tags. This afternoon I'll tie strands of the matching threads used for this project through the wee holes.
They also look lovely as a sewing room ornament but I do think the threads attached will add some extra prettiness.
When I was drawing the circles for my fabric swatches I gathered the fabric scraps into one basket and thought there must be a lot of uses for these little bits. And the fact that I was drawing circles at the time gave me an idea to draw up a few tiny little stitcheries that could feature a spot of applique and dwell inside these small circles.
Here's the first one...
I've stitched two more and there may be a fourth or fifth yet to make an appearance at the end of my pencil.
There's also a few ideas for projects they could become which are at present juggling for top spot in my imagination. A sweet set of useful patterns, I think.
Holding tightly to Jesus through the pain in my head for so long has taught me that there is nothing in this world I need to get through alone. Yet oddly enough I do try to fix problems in life through my own over-inflated strength and overrated-ability far too often and it's not until I am ready to give up or crawl into bed and hide away under the covers by myself because my efforts are not working that I remember HE IS THERE for me.
Late last year I shared with you a long list of things which I had planned for Elefantz in 2019, plans which were of themselves very good and filled my heart with excitement. But as most of you know, there are good plans and there are God-plans. This past week I have come before the Lord and relinquished some of those plans because in order to follow them through I would need to strive like I've never strived before, lay aside my God-given desire to be a committed every-day homemaker, and follow a path He has not blessed.
He may bless those individual plans, one by one, in a different season of life, but for now I'm putting my heart, soul and creative energy into what is right before me today and giving thanks for the opportunity to do so.
Like the freedom I felt as my long hair was cut away and dropped to the salon floor, so too I feel freedom in my spirit and within my heart having let go, and cut off, plans which were not suited to the life God has given me in this particular season.
I love this verse from Ecclesiastes. It reminds me that we will have seasons in life where what we have sewn together (our own plans) may need to be pulled apart in order to bring together a better plan, a God-plan for our lives.
I'm joyous to be following His plans, especially the ones I'd not considered, and also grateful that He's with me in the adventures I've desired and prayed about and been able to pursue within His blessing.
Now I must away to make that cuppa and cut a slice of banana bread. The very last of the tradesmen will be here any moment to reconnect the power in our laundry and install new lighting as well...which means I'll have a laundry again and can give my hands a break and let the washing machine be my maidservant once more. (proverbs 31:15)
May your day overflow with great delights, revealing the hidden blessings you might not have noticed but which the Lord has given because of His great love for you.