Monday, January 27, 2020

The Homemakers Heart - a new theme in 2020...

You all know by now that this girl's Jenny-heart resides firmly within her home and that I have a great love for encouraging women to find joy in their own domestic space, amidst the ebb and flow, rhythms and bumps, of an everyday ordinary life. 

For a number of years I've written about the ideals of a gentle domestic life, and throughout last year we explored that theme with a book study which to be honest really made me look wider than I'd previously done with regards to the different aspects and variations within a homemaker's life.

Now here I sit munching on delicious red and green grapes and sipping a warm cup of tulsi tea as the rain steadily beats away on the tin roof and covers the yard, and FINALLY able to share with you what's been on my heart and in my prayers for the blog in 2020.

Side-tracked two weeks ago by a trip to hospital and spending the time since then adjusting our menu to an ovo-vegan diet as well as regaining energy and breath, I'm ready now to begin a year long adventure with you, a year of expanding on those gentle domesticity ideals with practicality. 
Not just the talking, the reading or the ideas, but the doing.

Throughout 2020 we're going to celebrate The Homemakers Heart: a year of finding joy in the ordinary rhythms of life.
I made a little button you can pop on your blog or share in social media. Just alternate click on the photo above and save it to your computer or tablet or phone.

An everyday ordinary life is comprised of a million different things because we're all created wonderfully unique. Each of our home circumstances will be different as are our budgets, food requirements. climates, health, relationships and family responsibilities - so not every post this year will resonate with you, but I hope many do and that they encourage you to love home, to be glad in your homemaker role, and to find contentment in ordinary and simple things.

Each week I'll share what I did the week before and also set you a task or give you an idea which you can then tweak to suit your abilities, time or lifestyle.

So let's make a start on our year of The Homemakers Heart, okay?
This week we're looking at two things.

1. replacing the old
2. re-purposing old into new

We'll begin with the old. I love to kick off a new year with fresh tea towels! In fact during the year I purchase good quality tea towels on sale and put them away for use the following year. I also purchase a few extra for the gift box. These are a few of the 'new' tea towels I'll be adding to my kitchen drawers this week after I clean them out (this week's task for you).

Last year I found myself with an abundance of extra tea towels from bulk packs I'd bought and decided to use the lesser quality ones first. These were actually very absorbent and washed up well, but can you believe these worn and stained tea towels were once hot pink, vibrant deep turquoise and lime green? Oh they were so pretty last January. Sigh.

Last Friday I ironed them flat and  removed the side hems with a rotary cutter before dividing each trimmed tea towel into two halves.
Then I went through my fabric stash for fat quarters I'd never use or which had fade lines across them. Some of these were part of bundles I purchased a long time ago and never really liked. But for a project like this one they were perfect. I'm quite content to have brights in the cleaning cupboard.

I found that I could cut two same size pieces from a fat quarter which was then sewn to one side of the old trimmed tea towels.

I didn't hem any pieces, just a straight stitched line a quarter inch inside the raw edge to join both fabric and old towel together.  It took me half an hour to make ten 'new' and cheery cleaning cloths.
I've seen this re-purpose project done before as dishcloths but had an idea to make cleaning cloths instead and I love how they turned out.
What about you? Is this something you'd be ready to make for your cleaning cupboard? 

They're lovely and absorbent for spills or dusting and I loved the little bit of fraying after I popped them in the wash later that day. Just added to that warm and fuzzy homemaker heart feeling I get when using up what I already have to make something useful and 'new'.

I also have some tea towels which hang in the kitchen just to look pretty, or to be used for serving guests and popped under my baked treats for a pretty photo. Some of these special ones were gifts from friends, some found as treasures in op shops, and others I made myself.

Here's a few I've made over the years...

Would you like to stitch a pretty tea towel to hang in your kitchen or pop in the gift box?

I'm going to share this simple Harvest pattern with you today. It's a free gift to kick off our year of The Homemakers Heart. Click on the download link below.

Mine has been stitched onto unbleached flour sack which I bought as a very large tea towel and cut in half to make two regular sized tea towels. After the embroidery was done I added a sweet fabric trim across the bottom. 

In the kitchen last week I played around with some really lovely meals and a couple of simple desserts.

Stewed apples with cinnamon and raisins were delicious served with a spoonful of vanilla coconut milk yoghurt. I scattered a crumble mix of shredded coconut, flaked almonds and rolled oats (I browned the crumble mix in the oven with one tablespoon of brown sugar for 10 minutes) over the top and Mr E was a happy man. 
Next day there was a little of the apples and yoghurt left for my after lunch treat.

Black bean brownies? I'd heard of them but never thought to try them until this switch to ovo-vegan, but they will be appearing as regular guests on our dessert menu - they were that good!

Blossom tried them as well and just as we thought, she said they're just like a normal brownie. So moist and fudgy and chocolatey. 

This recipe is gluten, sugar and dairy free so perfect for many of you with food intolerance or special diets. I got the basics from this recipe and simply tweaked it a little.

You'll need :

+ One can of drained and rinsed black beans - 400g (14 oz)
+ Two large eggs or three small
+ 14 medjool dates (medjool are fresh dates, not dried, and found in the cold fruit section of the supermarket)
+ 30 ml cold decaf coffee (I don't drink caffeine but feel free to use that if you do)
+ One teaspoon of vanilla extract or vanilla powder
+ One large apple, stewed in a teaspoon of water and mashed to a puree
+ 1/2 cup raw cacao powder (or regular cocoa powder)
+ 1/2 teaspoon bi-carb soda (baking soda, not baking powder)
+ 1/2 teaspoon salt

Add everything to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Pour into a paper lined brownie tin (8" x 8" was my tin) and bake in a preheated 180C oven (350F) for around 30-35 minutes. 

Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then carefully remove to a cooling tray. Slice into 16 pieces when cold. Try not to eat it all at once.
Ours lasted three days because we used restraint. LOL!

The wet season in the tropics of North Queensland has finally arrived and the weeds are flourishing faster than we can keep up! This was the resting garden yesterday morning (it's used for winter tomatoes and herbs and rests in the hot seasons) where assorted pots reside during the steaming hot spring and summer.

And then hubby weeded it, along with the front garden, while the ground was so soft the grass and weds pulled out easily, roots and all.

He put a lot of the grass in our tumbling compost bin and the rest went to the chickens who thought it was Christmas lunch...

Today the rain has been much heavier, the yard began to flood, and right now my husband is relocating the chicken coop under cover near the pool until he has time to finish the new chicken enclosure. 

In coming months our yard may look even more different, but for now we are loving the rain and giving thanks to God for the watering our town needs. You really notice when the wet season is two months late because we get no rain from around March, and our city of Townsville is renamed Brownsville.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments below; your thoughts on this year's theme and the type of homemaker things which interest you.

My task this week is to clean out four kitchen drawers and donate all my excess coffee mugs, plates and bowls. I also need to replace cutlery and will be looking for a bargain on a good quality set.

Your task, dear Homemaker, is to go through your old tea towels and follow my lead (you may have a different way to re-purpose the old ones?) - and then if you'd like that extra task you can clean out four kitchen drawers.

Bless your precious hearts, and may the Good Lord above show you the abundance of simple joys which may already be right at your feet but somehow overlooked...



Света said...

Дженни, мне нравится ваше задание! полотенце для кухни очень красивые! я сделала новые полотенца, приглашаю посмотреть

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Translating for my readers:
"Jenny, I like your assignment! The towel for the kitchen is very beautiful! I made new towels, I invite you to see"

gracie said...

This is the push to clean my kitchen drawers... will accept the assignment with pleasure.

Anonymous said...

Loving your theme for this year & looking forward to seeing what ideas you have for us. My life situation has changed recently, both retiring & a change in volunteering. It seems that much more time will be spent here at home, so a refresh is just the thing.
I've never considered changing out my kitchen/tea towels at the start of a new year but it sounds like a perfect way for the year to start. I've not seen any towels nearly as pretty as those you are able to purchase, but perhaps I've just not looked carefully! We go shopping tomorrow, so I'll be trying to find some that fit my kitchen. - Diane from Minnesota

Unknown said...

Jenny I accept your challenge (but may take me a bit longer since I have company coming for the week). Do you make your white towels from scratch , if so what are the dementions, or purchase just plain white towels? I have always just purchased what our dollar store had, but love the white and your embroidery designs. I think it would be nice to have something extra pretty to brighten up my kitchen. Thank you for all your ideas and advice. God's blessings on you and your family. So thankful to hear you are getting rain and some of the fires are out.

Jenny of Elefantz said...

I mentioned in the blog post they are made from unbleached flour sack. :-)

Christine M said...

I love the new theme, Jenny. I recognise those tea towels. I'll have to get myself some more of those too. xxx

Jacqueline K said...

I love this theme and idea Jenny. I use my old tea towels for dusting and cleaning but they have never received such a pretty update. I am lucky that I have been able to be a full time homemaker since my children were born in the early 1980s. I have developed my life and loves at home to include crafts and bakingand of course keeping a well ordered and organised home. I always took great joy and pride in having my husband's dinner ready when he came home from work. It is old fashioned now to think this way but it is what I have always loved to do.

Carrie @ Cottage Cozy said...

Love your post, Jenny - so much to take it! ♥

Jenny of Elefantz said...

I do this too and my husband sure appreciates it. Happy homemaking!

Tania said...

I'm ready. Clean and tidy drawers coming up!

Loved how you recycled your tea towels into pretty rags. I use my old ones for rags too, but never thought to pretty them up. I will from now on though :)

I am also going to try your recipe, those brownies looks delish! Thank you for sharing Jenny.


Angie in SoCal said...

Went to Sveta's post. She introduced me to Chicken Scratch Embroidery. Looks like fun. For now, I'm going to go and pull some old kitchen towels to re-purpose them and then go and buy some new ones. What a treat! Hopefully, I can get to the kitchen drawers, too.

Michelle said...

Oh my! I never thought to replenish my tea towels once a year! What a fabulous idea! I usually give tea towels as Christmas presents - they’re so practical! I need to buy some for me����

Ondrea said...

Tea towels...I have been using my old ones to clean with but still have waaay too many. Your revamped cloths are much more exciting. This year's theme sounds wonderful and will get me motivated again. Thankyou.

Joanne said...

Hi Jenny,
Always a joy to see what you're up to at home :)
Love your theme for 2020 !

Kay said...

I love this fabulous idea of giving us help and hints on our to improve our daily lives at home. I will be starting in my kitchen this week too with my tea towels and drawers. x

Annabel said...

Dear Jenny, I love the kitchen towels. I love that they are bright and cheerful. Yes I can do this I have lots of bits of fabric suitable. Being content at home is a strong theme with me. I have been able to get into the sewing room the last three days in a row. What a joy! I will very much enjoy your theme for the year. With love Annabel. xxx

Jane said...

Jenny I really need to clean out the tea towel drawer. There are a few towels in there that really need to go in the rag bag. I made cleaning cloths not that long ago using an old doona cover and an old towel out of the linen press. This week the drawers will be cleaned out. Thank you for the challenge.

Allie said...

Lovely post dear heart and thank you for the embroidery - sweet! I always receive new towels at Christmas and it's lovely to start the new year with them. I have to be careful with them though, hubby brought his tire into the laundry room the other day to patch it and my towel in there is ready for the scrap bag now. Your garden is gorgeous and praise God for the rain!!!!!

Bonnie Bowmaster said...

Love the idea! Unfortunately I can't repurpose my towels because they end up with too many holes and need to be replaced with new. I would love to make pretty towels, but with little ones doing dishes they would usually get rather dirty. Maybe in the future when they are older. I will be cleaning out the drawers! Usually do that every season. We have 11 children and homeschool 8 of them, so I get a lot of help with cleaning!!

Mandy Currie said...

Hello Jenny from a cold, wet England, I love your new theme for 2020. I will follow along with the challenges, I love your cleaning cloths so pretty. Thank you for the embroidery pattern. Kind regards Mandy xx

Julie said...

A lovely post Jenny - I always think of you when I embellish my teatowels for myself or for gifts. I so look forward to the theme for this year. I am definately going to try that Brownie recipe this week - it looks delish! Thanks my friend for the gift of the embroidery pattern xxx

Carrie Ando said...

Is floursack Calico?

Tammy said...

Love the direction you are going with this years blog posts and theme...Your kitchen towels are gorgeous. Thank you for the beautiful harvest pattern... Love the idea of recycling the tea towels into cleaning cloths or even dish cloths ....Thank you Dear friend. Hope you have had your tests done and they have figured out what is wrong and how to fix the problem. Hugs and prayers for you allways

Susan said...

This is a good theme for our year. Thanks for the harvest embroidery. I bought all those towels last fall, just so I could do this, now I have to figure out where I put them! The cleaning cloths are a great idea, and a great way to use up either no longer wanted fabric, or leftover holiday fabrics ... because that holiday is coming around again this year! I read the brownie recipe, yours and the original. I like dates, so even if they tasted like dates, that would still be good. I'll leave the coffee out, though. ;) I liked picturing you enjoying your grapes and the rain. Maybe Mr. E. wasn't enjoying the rain so much as he weeded and moved the coop, but I'll bet overall, he's happy about it. That was a lot of fast growing weeds, too! Thanks for always blessing my life, Jenny.

Val said...

This is absolutely beautiful. Everything in this post. Just beautiful. I teach young women on facebook about homemaking. You paint the most beautiful picture.

Anorina @SameliasMum said...

Love your upcycled tea towels with pretty fabrics. I just made a whole pile of placemats and backed them with tea towels, but have a few of these waffle type ones which weren't suitable - I must try your idea.
The black bean brownies look delicious. Thank you for the recipe.

Kristy said...

This sounds fun! I've been struggling with feeling burned out lately. I'm in need of inspiration and ideas to break up the monotony of the day to day. I'll follow along as you seem to have some lovely ideas.

Karen B. said...

Thank you, Jenny!
I’m really looking forward to your Homemakers Heart post. I was a stay at home mom, my girls are grown with families of their own. My husband and I are retired. Did you catch that??? Retired homemaker...
It’s been on my heart since first of the year, that I need to do much better. Just because he retired doesn’t mean I should have. I love my home, but I have neglected it for sometime. Don’t get me wrong it’s not dirty, just time to clean the clutter. To me a cluttered home equals cluttered mind and life. It’s time to set myself free of clutter!!

Dawn said...

Well you inspired me Jenny, I made a haLf dozen dish cloths and a dozen cleaning cloths plus tidied two drawers and a linen cupboard. Win. THANKS ❤❤❤