Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Luxury part 2 - GD book study...

I chose the quote (above) from today's study section because it transported my memories back to the many, many years of mothering toddlers (I had seven of them) and how a trip to the toilet was often the only place I could go to catch my breath and have some space. Of course, little fingers would appear under the door along with illegible crayon sprawled scraps of paper whilst I sat alone. Oh, and the chorus of "Mummy, what are you doing?" "Mummy, open the door." "Mummy, can I come in too?" "Mummy, she took my doll/biscuit/shoe/ribbon...!"

Did you have moments like that?

LUXURY, the title of the chapter we've been reading through these past two weeks, will have many different aspects depending on your stage of life, responsibilities, free time, finances or creativity. When I first discovered time-out for myself in the toilet the idea seemed quite ingenious and I wondered if any other mother was doing the same thing. During the many conversations with mummies during our homeschool years I discovered this was indeed practiced far and wide. 

Anyhow, let's move on with the final part of this chapter...


"Why are ribbons so lovely? Why is the word so attractive...light, fluttery and carefree." (page 188)

"I am particularly keen on wide sashes on old-fashioned dresses, satin ribbons on huge boxes of chocolates and richly coloured, deeply tactile, velvet ribbons. In fact I love the idea of ribbons almost as much as I love ribbons themselves." (page 188)

Jane indulges in the purchase of ribbons, small lengths which don't break the bank, from makers who have an artistic and whimsical style. 

"...and every time I touch one, I feel I am holding a valuable and delightful little treat." (page 188)


Inspired by the love of be-ribboned chocolate boxes Jane decided to design her first quilt to look like the inside of many luxurious boxes of cream filled chocolates.

"This is the very first quilt I designed so it had to be simple...I had great fun filling the boxes with cherry, rose, raspberry and other pink creams...(and) decided it was worth the effort to 'fussy cut' the fruits, icing and flowers..." (page 190)

On chocolate - "Once upon a time you could indulge your cravings and not worry about the feminine guilt issues. Now though...the eating of chocolate simply for pleasure and a taste of luxury is overlaid with anxieties about lack of willpower, whether dark is healthier than milk...I hate to be stereotyped (so) if you like chocolate, eat some." (page 190)

"I love the old theatrical tradition of taking a fancy box of chocolates wrapped with a pink satin ribbon to the ballet...I have happy visions of the box in a box and plenty of contented sighs at the tutus and chocolates. And nary a guilty conscience in sight." (page 190)


Whether tea at the Ritz, Claridges or the Savoy, just uttering those phrases will often conjure up visions of whispy floral dresses, flattering feminine hats, beautiful china tea pots and cups, tiered cake stands abundant with the prettiest and most delicious cakes, petit fours and crustless finger sandwiches.

"Afternoon tea is a lovely institution...I think we should all be calorie millionaires every so often and enjoy the deep refinement and traditions of afternoon tea." (page 192)

Growing up, morning tea and afternoon tea were absolutely normal. Unlike most children today we didn't snack all day long, but adhered to the breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner routine quite as a matter of course...I followed the daily rituals my Nana had followed, and which her own mother and grandmother before her had practiced. 
When we were homeschooling those morning and afternoon tea times were opportunity for the children to relax between the academia of maths, grammar, science and other deep-thinking subjects. These were times I read to them from the most wonderful living history books, shared poetry, art, music and delved into God's amazing and life giving Word.
Some favourite treats for these morning and afternoon teas were fruit cake, scones, honey cakes, crackers and dip, fruit platters, cheese...and large pots of tea. As you saw in this post last week, Blossom and I still hold to our tea time tradition and now we share this wonderful habit with her two little girls.

Jane also creates afternoon tea times for her own family and though much easier when the children were young and all came home from school at the same time, she learned to take advantage of any opportunity when they are all home together to relax and indulge in this simple and quite relational luxury.

Just as I do for many tea-times with my husband and family, Jane has a love for scones. 

Her recipe is very similar to mine, though I use buttermilk for extra fluffiness and I never add sugar to the dough because to me that's just not right...the jam is your sweetness. However, everyone has their own recipe and that's the beauty of scones - from a basic recipe you can tweak to your delight!

Here's my buttermilk scone recipe...

Preheat oven to 220C

2 ½ cups self raising flour
2 tablespoons soft butter
1 egg (beaten)
1 cup buttermilk


Sift the self-raising flour into a large bowl.
Rub the butter through the flour with your fingertips until the mix resembles breadcrumbs.
Mix the egg and buttermilk together.
Make a well in the centre of the flour/butter, and pour in the buttermilk/eggmix.
Use a flat blade knife to quickly mix the ingredients together – don’t over-mix.
Scatter some flour on the bench before dropping the scone mix out onto it. Knead swiftly into a ball and flatten out to a 1” height.
I make a rectangle and divide the scone dough into ten sections but you can use a scone cutter or small glass to cut circles out of the dough if you prefer the classic look.
Place the scones onto a greased tray, each scone just touching the other if you’re making round ones.
Bake in the hot oven for 15 minutes until golden.
Serve with fresh cream and jam.


"Domesticity, by its nature, is made up of many tiny, separate chunks of time and space. Cooking, tidying, ferrying, shopping, washing, wiping, husbands, wives, offspring, friends, family, work, commitments, and responsibilities, all make claims and demands that mean that it can be very difficult to capture even the smallest particle of time or space for oneself. For many busy domestic artists, time and space alone is a true luxury." (page 196)

"I trained myself to do something creative or enjoyable in the short spaces of time when Tom and Alice were quiet when they were tiny. I learned to expand and contract my plans according to the opportunities and to keep something ready to pick up (knitting, reading) at short notice...my life is still fractal, but one made up of many different, contrasting facets, and one in which even the shortest time-space opportunity is a domestic luxury to be enjoyed to the full." (page 196)

Our next book study post will be on Tuesday 10th September and we'll begin the next chapter, Sharing, reading pages 198-210.

If you've just come across my book study for this year we're reading through "The Gentle Art of Domesticity" by Jane Brocket (2007) and links for all the study posts can be found here.

* How do you make personal time amidst the busyness of domestic life?

* What do you serve for afternoon teas?

* How long since you've sat around the table with family or friends and enjoyed a morning or afternoon tea feast? Is it time you did?

* What do you keep handy to pick up and relax with when short periods of rest fall in your lap?

* Through this chapter we have discovered inexpensive luxuries for Jane can be a length of pretty ribbon, a few unusual or vintage buttons, a small cut of fabric, an old classic to read, or a block of good chocolate. What small luxury can you give yourself this week?


So far I've shared 23 study posts from The Gentle Art of Domesticity, covering nine chapters (with three to go) and as it's at least a six-hour process to bring each one to you there's a lot of personal investment of time involved - almost a full working day.
But I've enjoyed it, enjoyed thinking outside the box of what most of us consider domesticity to be. Over the past eight months I've learned a lot about myself and increased my already passionate love for this gentle homemaker life which I embrace.

What about you? Has the study thus far grown you as a woman, homemaker, domestic artist (I love that description of us), reader, crafter, grandmother, baker, forager, collector, wife, friend, adventurer??

Can I encourage you, especially if you've never done this before, to leave a comment on this post so I can receive the blessing of hearing about your own journey, epiphanies and delights.
And you know, you'll bless others too.

God bless you precious readers! Though we've probably never met, you are a big reason why I write, why I pray over what is shared here, and why I choose to share both the highs and lows of walking this path of life each and every year. 
I've been blogging on Elefantz now for 11 years...and yet it seems like it all started yesterday. Blossom was 14, the baby of the family, and now she's 25 and a mummy to two toddlers. I'm so glad this blog exists because it's a record of our life for well over a decade, and in times when trials and disappointments came our way (as they do) this blog record reminds me that we overcame by the grace and love of God, and we were strengthened by the experience.

Seek first God.
That's where I began and that's what I still do.

The greatest luxury in my life was a free gift.

But I also enjoy chocolate, new threads, a pot of tea, freshly ground coffee, raspberries, crusty home-baked bread, a Miss Marple mystery on the telly and swimming alone each day in the pool under the poinciana tree.



Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny,
I have loved reading your posts on Gentle Domesticity over the year. They always give me something to ponder and being a recent retiree I'm learning again how special my home and my crafts are. I'm enjoying the simple things... a wander through the local op shops, visits to the library, making meals from what is in the fridge or pantry without feeling the need to go to the supermarket and of course my garden.

Regards Sue

PennyP said...

Thank you for a wonderful post Jenny. I have enjoyed the study of Gentle Domesticity enormously. The box of chocolates to the theatre brought back memories! Whenever we went out with my grandparents they would buy me a box of Black Magic chocolates. I would offer them round with my thumbs over the chocolate cherries in the corners - they were my favourites!
My little luxuries are cutting flowers and greenery from the garden to bring indoors, tending my orchid pots, reading by a log fire curled under a homemade quilt, tea and homemade cake and cuddling my dogs, swimming in the sea. How lucky we are.

Tammy said...

Thank you for yet another wonderful post. I keep embroidery projects ready to go ...All traced out and 1 int he hoop in my comfy chair. And always have a book nearby by the bed and in a bag int he car to read as we go places. My escape was the bathroom too and sometimes still is. I still mother my 26 and 19 year olds . Hime daily as I care or a adult special needs child and my daughter when shes home weekends and college breaks. 2 cats and a dog.....It can be a circus around here for sure. We are in the US and I wasn't raised to enjoy tea. It was just merely a beverage served cold and sweet with ones meals. As I live in the South and sweet tea is a Southern thing here in the states. Although nowadays people everywhere drink it in the US. But as I have grown older I do enjoy a hot cup of herbal tea especially in the winter mornings and I love a sweet indulgence mid morning. Especially dark chocolate.....I really love new threads too or old well used ones from a thrift store....or a bag of scraps....I must admit I love fabric scraps....

Kay said...

I love baking, my husband used to call it my therapy. When my children were school age I use dot have an old fashioned baking morning at least twice a week and fill all of the cake tins in the house. When they came home from school we always sat down and had a homemade treat and drink. It was catch up time for us. None of the parents of their friend used to bake and they always thought they were lucky. There was always a cake on the go, and biscuits/cookies of some kind, other favourites include scones, cheese straws, brownies. We have so many family favourites. Now they are all grown up they don't eat cakes etc as much but I still bake something each week for the tin, at the moment we have citrus and poppy seed muffins. I grew up with my gran baking each week and loved it when I was able to help. Baking with my gran and eating it all afterwards are some of my happiness memories. x

Anonymous said...

Dear Jenny. After your blog post last week about being still and listening I felt lead to send you feedback. Shame on me I didn't as circumstances intervened. You have been Gods gift to me ( and I am positive many others). over the last 12 months particularly. You have a gift for conveying messages that are assisting women all over the world ( In my case across Australia). In a world where core values and enjoyment of the simple things in life are often scorned and pleasure in crafting; creating and hospitality are deemed of no value, it is refreshing to share with a kindred spirit. Your efforts are so appreciated. Keep up the good work Jenny. Gods special gift. Faye facome@westnet.com.au

Susan said...

I used to bake all the time. In the last few years I have not as I have had to go gluten and dairy free. It is hard finding good recipes that are both gluten and dairy free. Since GF flour and other GF ingredients are so much more costly, I have to be careful not to waste it on unproven non-GF recipes.

I really appreciate your blog.

Linda W said...

Hi Jenny-I love your blog! Your posts have such a kind and gentle sensibility. Being from the States, I don't do the daily tea routine but certainly treasure the teas I've had while travelling and on special occasions, such as my daughter's bridal shower. Now that my children are raised and I'm retired, finding personal time is not generally an issue. When I worked and was raising my family, personal down time was rare. Now, I tend to get all of the domestic tasks completed in the morning, so that I have plenty of time to knit and quilt in the afternoon. After dinner, I usually grab a small knitting or embroidery project to work on while watching TV. I also find baking very relaxing but don't do as much as I used to in order to avoid the extra calories. I have no will power when it comes to breads and sweets. but I just might have to make an exception and try your scone recipe!

Susanne, said...

Thanks for your blog Jenny, I've been reading it for a few years and something always strikes a resonance. I live in the UK, but have visited Australia many times so I specially enjoy all you write about you home, garden and life in general. Like you I'm a Gran, which is such a blessing.

Farm Quilter said...

You paint beautiful pictures with your words!! Having tea in an English garden was a special treat I got to enjoy a few times when visiting the English countryside. What, exactly, is fresh cream? Here in the USA, it is quite liquid (the heavy whipping cream is the thickest, but I don't see having it with scones)? Do you mean something like clotted cream (a distant memory)? However, I just found a recipe to make my own clotted cream!! Scones with homemade clotted cream and a pot of homemade jam...yum!!! That's a luxury, to be sure!!!

Judy said...

I've been meaning to comment for several weeks now - just to say thank you for the time you have poured into this book study. It's rare to have a blog or instagram book study so thoroughly and thoughtfully presented. I have very much enjoyed your ponderings. Thank you!

Dee said...

Jenny, Thank you for all the time you put in on our book study. I love hearing about your family and seeing the posted pictures. Thank you again for giving me great joy. Bless you. Dee

Debby said...

Dearest Jenny, I am truly grateful for the joy this study has brought me. My plan after we complete it is to pass on my highlighted book to my best friend so she can soak it in as well. Blessings. Debby

Carrie Ando said...

At the start of the year, I was going through a horrible mental health issue. With this I was resenting having such a big house where no-one comes to visit anymore. Too tired to clean and feeling trapped. NOW - through the power of prayer - my mental health issues have disappeared - in no small part due to the love and appreciations you have poured into this regenerating book study and the delightful responses from the other participants. I am so grateful for my big house and all the opportunities I have to be a domestic artist. So many doors have opened since my attitude has changed - people now come to my house. We have Bible reflections groups - so spiritually insightful. And my guests comment on how good they feel in our home. They love the little touches.
THANK YOU - ALL OF YOU for being a gift from God.

Two Patchwork Bunnies said...

Dear Jenny, Thankyou so much for all the time, energy and love that you pour into your blog. It must be at least eight years ago that I started following you. I have been enjoying the book study immensely although I have fallen behind with my own reading, your summaries and insights are so uplifting and refreshing. I also homeschooled my two children for a total of 14 years. I remember reading living books to them and how much we enjoyed them. We used to have fruit platters for morning tea which was the only time anyone ate fruit because I had cut it up! During the early years of our homeschooling adventures my husband was retrenched from Telstra. He went to uni and completed a nursing degree - those years were very lean and stressful.It has really only been during this year that I have finally stopped feeling guilty that I haven't worked for 26 years. A large part of this is due to this book study, your personal insights, honesty and delight in promoting the tremendous joy and value in living a domestic life. Thankyou.

Judy1522 said...

Thank you so much for this post. It reminded me of the many times that I have had tea time with my family. Even though we are not from the United Kingdom we have roots from there on one side of the family. When my kids were growing up and my daughter was interested in all things British (still is) we started having tea time on occasion in the afternoons instead of the usual dinner. We always had scones and small sandwiches along with some type of dessert and of course tea. Those were times when we did sit around the table talking and just enjoying the food and conversation. There is something about tea time that brings that out.
When my kids were very young reading was my me time and if it happened in the bathroom so be it. I think the biggest shock after you give birth is how much time it takes to take care of a baby. It is the one time in your life where it seems like everything you do is all for someone else but it is so worth it. I still remember how it was hard on some days to even find the time to take a shower. I always knew that even though there was not a lot of me time at that point in my life that some day there would be and there is now. My philosophy at the time was that my children would only be young and need me for a short few years and there was nothing so important that I couldn't give it up for awhile to raise my children.

Alison Ryan said...

Hello Jenny. I love afternoon tea and think it is one of the best meals ever. And I love scones and make both sweet and savoury versions. Thank you for your 11 years of blogging and sharing your lovely life with us. I have been blogging for nearly 12 years now and love doing it, if only for the record of all of the things I have made and the places that I have been. Here's to sharing a virtual cup of tea and a lovely scone and toasting to the joy of sharing! Love Alison x

Sara en Marie said...

My luxury is time! My husband and I both work part time, and every August I take a whole month off from wrok, just to be home with the kids. We don't do tea as such, but on Mondays I'm home when the kids come home, and I will make them a small treat, like a cupcake, or cut some fruit. Tehy love that. I'm also home on Wednesday, but then we just eat lunch together, because here in Belgium school finishes at noon on Wednesday. I keep a book or some embroidery ready to enjoy my free moments.

Lorrie said...

Hello Jenny,
I have enjoyed reading the GD posts throughout the months. Time alone is precious. Although my children are grown and I have grandchildren, I work as a teacher and it seems that time for myself is often hard to come by. I am learning to turn off all work and technology at 9 pm so that I can have an hour for Bible reading, journaling, and taking care of myself - perhaps a face mask or pedicure.
Tea time with my girls and grands is such a special time for us and something we indulge in when we can. Thank you for your lovely posts.

Martha Roberts said...

Love everything about your posts. When I know you have a new one ready to read, I make a cup of tea, find a piece of chocolate to savor and enjoy every word of your new post. You make me want to be better as a homemaker. Thank you!

KingsailK said...

Jenny ,I read your posts taking my time!as I so enjoy them .Thank you for all your hard work ,Godly insight ,thoughtfulness,I feel blest to get your insights ,and honesty.Xx

Bonni said...

I love reading about your journey and because of it, I finally ordered The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket. It arrived today and it was a used book which, I think, just makes it all the more precious. I am so looking forward to "reading with you" on this journey and reading the book from page one. My copy doesn't have the "old book" feel to it. I think, however, it has a mature feel to it. Perhaps by the time I finish reading it, it will have the "old book" feel. :)