Thursday, May 9, 2019

Life and changes...

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 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.



gracie said...

That bread recipe sounds delicious. I may have to try it in my bread machine. Your posts are always so inspirational. I myself am not a religious person, I do believe though that there is a power above me. You bring out the best thoughts in my mind. Thank you.

Pink Rose said...

Hi Jenny lovely post and i am so glad that you are feeling heaps better,fingers crossed for you that your migranes stay away. Thankyou for the link to the banana bread ,i am going to give it a try,and your homemade bread looks amazing ,hope your day is a good one my friend xx

Shelley said...

I love that bible verse. ..tearing and sewing . I make my banana bread in my bread machine. .it's devine!

Ondrea said...

Whew! This post must have taken you ages to write but I am so pleased you did as it is filled with lots of lovely things...baking, stitching, birdlife etc. Such a vibrant coloured parrot! Sorry you had to cut your hair but it was clearly a good decision and I am dure you look fantastic. My hair takes a lot of maintainance and I always seem to wear it up when I am home. Sorry to hear that you have been suffering yet again with those awful migraines and hope you have found the solution. I love that sweet little circular stitchery. Some yummy food there.

BillieBee (billiemick) said...

What wonderful news. A fresh new haircut and a fresh new day.....enjoy your bread!! :)

Nanna Chel said...

Jenny, I also have thick hair and never get headaches but when it was long back in the seventies I would get headaches when I tied it back. I had forgotten about that till you mentioned your problem. Now I keep it short. So pleased you are feeling better as I was wortied about you.

Kay said...

I am so glad you are feeling better, my migraines are usually triggered through stress and hormones and I know how terrible they can make your life. x

Joanne said...

Hi Jenny,
Always have to smile when I hear that the cold weather there, 16C, is not even our high today...14C ! And it's May!
The pesto bread looks delish!
Plans change, life goes on, we do what we can in a day. Amazing how fast and full a day can pass by!
Glad to hear you are feeling better :)
I enjoy reading your blog posts and news letters! Thanks for sharing!

dixigirl said...

Loved seeing your bird pictures. They bring a smile to my face. Glad to hear you are doing so much better.

Little Quiltsong said...

Such a lovely post again, Jenny! The bread looks especially delicious! Yes, banana loaf is my son's staple in his lunchbox daily. He is not a big fruit eater, but loves anything baked with it :)! Enjoy the cooler weather you are having. We are enjoying the slowly awakening buds on bushes and trees and spring flowers - each day brings delightful changes.

Jacqueline said...

Very glad to hear that your headaches are gone. Why don't you share a pic of your new "do". I just got mine cut really short a couple of weeks ago and love it. So easy to maintain. Thanks for all you do share and your giving nature to us out here in blog land.

Little Penpen said...

I'm happy your headaches are gone. I love short hair! The birds you have there are amazing!!

Jenny said...

You space is one of the few places (maybe the only one!)where I find encouragement for my goals as a homemaker. I love the way you write...grateful for what you're able to do, choosing home first, letting go of things that may be good but can distract us from what we need to be doing.......all of these plans & ideas are so easily lost in the chaos we can allow ourselves to slip into. Thank you for faithfully encouraging us to our quiet work (I Thessalonians 4:11)

I love all the bright birds in your garden! We've had baltimore oriels the last few summers & I've been thrilled. They eat from my hummingbird feeders. I need to add a feeder for grape jelly & oranges as they love those. I open the windows & enjoy the daily music. On days my grandson is here we sit or play on the screened porch often & pause to hear the birds...I often point them out to him. It's precious watching him listen.

As always, I love that you're steadily working on new patterns. It's a gift I'm grateful you have a little time to work on them.

Anonymous said...

So glad that you're having relief from your migraines! And that you got your hair cut...I love having short hair(mine was thick and wavy and long). Have you ever tried using Standard Process Phosfood Liquid drops for your migraines? My son gets them regularly, and this is the only thing that works! Our Naturopath suggested them. You can buy them on Amazon...3 dropper-fuls in a cup of water. It dialates the arteries. Quick relief! Linn

Carole @ From My Carolina Home said...

So glad you found relief from an awful migraine! Beautiful birds!

Lin said...

A time for everything Jenny. How amazing that a hair cut could sort your problem! The bread sounds absolutely delicious! The soup looks good too and all your cooking. xx

Tammy said...

Lovely post today ...So much going on with you. I am so relieved to hear your migraines have subsided....Yours left and mine subsided for a few days and now back with a vengeance. Back on antibiotics again for this sinus infection and sinus migraine....I am so sick of my head hurting and behind my eyeballs and cheeks. Please say a prayer for my sinus migraine headache to go away....and never ever return....Love all the beautiful pictures of the birds. Love the circle idea and the small embroidery within it....Thank you fro the link to the banana bread recipe...Can't wait to try it out...As I love banana bread recipe.. I hope you have had a blessed day or night....Hugs to you each an every day.

Cindy A. said...

Try adding miniature chocolate chips to your banana bread. Makes all the difference in the world. You do seem to have such lovely birds there. Their colours are no doubt very inspiring. I'd not thought about the weight of a person's hair causing headaches, but once you mentioned it I remembered my pastor's wife telling me forty-five years ago that she had to keep her hair short because she'd get terrible headaches otherwise. I'm thankful that my long hair has never caused a problem like that. Trusting this fix will be a permanent one for you.

Judy1522 said...

Your bread looks delicious, it's the kind of bread my husband and I both like to eat. I almost always substitute whole wheat flour for most of the white in my bread recipes and have never had a problem with them turning out badly. I am so sorry that you have had migraine headaches for so long that must be so painful and I am glad you found a solution. I did not care for bananas that much but finally figured out it was because I was eating them when they were too ripe for my taste. I find that that I like them best when they are slightly under ripe but can still be peeled. My husband makes the banana bread around here and he chops a bar of very dark chocolate and puts in it which makes it delicious without adding extra sweetness.

Christine M said...

Hi Jenny. I'm so glad you have finally got rid of your migraine. That is such good news. I hope it continues this way for you. It's a pity you had to cut your lovely hair off but well worth it. Lovely photos of your feathered visitors. Hugs, Christine xx

Julie said...

Hello Jenny - your bread loaves look amazing. Wish I could reach into my screen & sample some! I am SO pleased your haircut has helped ease those dreaded migraines ... you will have to share a photo with us when you are ready. I love that Ecclesiastes verse! Take care my friend. xx

Susan said...

Jenny, I'm so glad you've received respite from the migraines! Whatever it takes, even spiky short hair. =) I'll bet it's cute as a button on you. It sounds like the Lord is working on you in layers, peeling back and peeling back, until you are at the place he wants you to be, because that is where you will find real happiness and joy. The birds are beautiful. The Lord answered your bird prayer, but not the way you thought He would. That's how it always is. =) Love you.

Allie said...

Well now I'm hungry, lol! Jenny, I'm thinking of a quilter [first name Pam, can't remember her last name] who is allergic to her own hair - she has to keep it very very short. I think she's Australian. I am praising God that He prompted you to cut your hair, and given you relief!!!! I do enjoy the variety of bird life you see around your yard, what a gift. We only see those birds in cages here. Love those little tags with the fabric circles - and your little stitcheries - so sweet!!! Jenny-girl, you keep hanging onto the Lord. He will never leave you nor forsake you!!! Love you!

Linda in Arkansas said...

Jenny, I'm so happy for you that your migraine problem is over. It's so much easier having short hair for the pool anyway, isn't? God is so good. I've really enjoyed all the different areas of your blog post today. Can't wait to see the new project you are creating. Have a great day!

Debby in Kansas, USA said...

Jenny, how do you keep the ants out of the jelly and oranges? I've been wanting to put these out for awhile, but imagine an ant feeding frenzy!!

Debby in Kansas said...

What a wonderful post you did for us! So much inspiration and beauty of all kinds!

I got debilitating migraines for one semester in college. The kind where I'd go deaf and blind and then faint in, class, & the dining hall. The doctor gave me Inderol. I needed only one and they never came back. No idea what triggered them, but I have such sympathy for anyone that gets them. I'm so glad you've gotten some relief.

You and I both had an exciting bird visitor this week! I looked out my kitchen window yesterday to see a bright orange flash whiz by. He landed briefly on a feeder, then sped off. I'd never seen anything like him. He was nearly neon orange with black and white. I ran to get my Kansas bird book and found him. He's called a Bullock's Oriole. Not common in our part of Kansas so he was quite a nice surprise to check off my list.
I hope this image link works. Your birds are so exotic compared to ours! That parrot was a beauty!

We eat bananas around here like starving monkeys! There's always at least 4 on the counter and I make bread regularly. I usually add walnuts, but all the chocolate suggestions here sound tempting! I also slice them, spread pnut butter on one side, & dip them into melted chocolate and freeze them. Good little summer snack. Tastes good in a smoothie, too.

Love the small circle embroidery. I love doing little things like that! It would look pretty on a hankie.

Love your faith, Jenny. When I spiritually grow up more, I hope mine is just like that! :)

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

What, no photo of the cute new haircut?

Simply Ann said...

So happy you are getting relief from the migraines. I had one this morning. I know my triggers, MSG, excess sugar and sadly, chocolate. I had made brownies the day before for a company meal we had. I can usually eat one, but kind of picked at the pan throughout the afternoon while we played card games. Will I ever learn?

I enjoy birdwatching. I used to put up a feeder and I miss it so much, but I was feeding the deer, skunks and raccoons as much as the birds. Such is mountain living. We have a bear in town right now, a usual occurrence in the spring time. They are hungry and like the dumpster behind the grocery store which is a block from my home.

Looking forward to Phyllis May's Kitchen.