Let me begin today by telling you how much I'm enjoying the theme this year, and that I hope as we share this year of practical homemaking you, like me, will increase your love for home, hearth and the gentle arts.
A little over nine years ago, right at the beginning of my journey as a designer and just as my years of being a homeschool mum drew to a close, I started publishing an online magazine which I filled with recipes, stories, patterns, book reviews, home hints, remedies and other such homely occupations.
It also became a fairly regular thing to write stories about my Nana and what I remembered most about growing up in her care. These proved to be very popular so I thought it might be nice to share some 'The Nana Stories' this year in my Homemakers Heart blog posts. Not every week, but often enough that you get to glimpse a little deeper into the home life and relationships which birthed my love for homemaking.
Today I'll share a short extract from the July, 2013 issue of Elefantz Home magazine.
Less and less movement is required these days than when I was a small child growing up in the 60’s. Back then with no regular public transport my walk to school was a good mile and half (about 2.5 kilometres) each way, and like all children of that era in Australia I had a heavy brown port (or school case as you may call it) with handles that wore callouses into my palms. So tough were the callouses that my friends and I would push needle and thread through them in running stitch fashion! We thought we were so brave piercing our hands and making those black dashed stitches that we often left them in all day though Nana was not impressed and quickly removed them at bath time.
My constant walking companion from the ages of 5 through 8, to and from primary school each day, was our very intelligent and faithful dog, Soxy.
Our Soxy was a bitsa – ‘a bit of this’ and ‘a bit of that’ - no true distinguishable breed to call his own. That may well be why he was such a clever fellow; he had the smarts of many breeds!
This photo of Nana and Soxy was taken in the laneway beside our little flat in 1964. I was five at the time, and Soxy was my dearest and best friend. In those days children roamed far afield during play hours, but I was never allowed out of the gate without Soxy to watch over me.
1964 was the year I began Kindergarten and it was Soxy’s responsibility to walk me to school each morning. Once he’d safely seen me inside the school gate he would scamper home alone to wait out the day until Nana sent him back to school for our afternoon return journey. I was overjoyed to see him wagging his tail and giving a few gleeful yelps as my class streamed out in Indian file at 3 o’clock, because I loved our Soxy to pieces, but also because I was the only student being collected by a four legged family member. This daily event, stretching over three school years, ensured a small measure of admiration from my otherwise unimpressed school chums.
Did you notice Nana is wearing an apron with rollers in her hair? I laugh now when I look back at this photo, yet when I was a child almost every woman in the neighbourhood would have her hair in rollers while she went about her morning chores, but when it was time to go out in public her hair was beautifully curled and stiff with hairspray. The strongest breeze could not move a single strand!
I'm sure Nana is the reason I love aprons (I have many) and you may be wondering if I finished my peg apron this past week?
I just need to hand stitch the back of the waist band and I can fill it with those new pegs I bought last month and finally toss away the old brittle and breaking ones which have lingered too long on the clothesline.
I looked all over Pinterest for ideas on making a peg apron, eventually choosing a simple style that I hoped would be easy to replicate.
As with most things like this I made it up as I went along, correcting mistakes along the way until I was pleased with how it was coming along. I'd do a few things differently if I made another one, but as I only need a single peg apron for now I shan't dwell on the improvements but move along to the next sewing project on my list.
Last week I mentioned adding two little egg pockets to the apron for collecting Bess and Daphne's eggs each day but then it was pointed out to me (shan't name names) that I rarely hang washing and collect eggs at exactly the same time because our hens tend to lay any time between 7 am and 3 pm and washing is hung anytime between 6 am and 5 pm. Husbands do make wise observations. Oops, I said I shan't name names!
Yesterday Blossom, the little ones and I went shopping because Bloss needed a food processor and a good blender. Both our families have now decided to go vegan and these are two essential appliances for our style of eating because we pretty much make everything from scratch and rarely eat out. Can't tell you how exciting it is for me, as a mother, to watch my daughter embrace homemaking with such devotion more and more as each year passes.
After placing her appliances in the shopping cart Blossom noticed a breadmaker and mentioned that was the next big thing she'd be saving for because they go through a loaf every day and it would not just save $ but be healthier too. I love how God works because I'd not been using my large breadmaker lately as with only Mr E and I at home now, and not eating a great deal of bread recently, baking large loaves didn't seem to be worth the effort.
Well it's my birthday on Friday, and hubby has been asking me for weeks "What would you like for your birthday?" to which my only reply has been "I don't need anything"...which totally frustrated him.
So having this breadmaker conversation with Blossom yesterday whilst standing in the middle of the home appliances section of Big W gave me an idea. I'd get a small breadmaker and give her my large one. Now we're all happy!
First loaf was a simple white because I needed to gauge how the measurements of various ingredients (yeast in particular) would affect the proving and baking of a loaf in our hot and humid conditions, something I knew easily with the larger breadmaker.
First loaf in the new machine was almost perfect but I could tell I need to reduce the yeast by about a quarter teaspoon. My next loaf with be a pumpernickel because that is one seriously delicious loaf and lasts a few days. I'll be sure to share that recipe when I make it again.
Blossom sent me a text photo this morning of her first rye loaf which looked so delicious. It's a real blessing to be sharing another 'craft' with her.
Elsewhere in the kitchen I've focused on preparing in advance things like bulgur salad, coleslaw, miso tahini dressing, 'cheesy' tahini sauce (over roasted cauliflower this is delicious), pickled vegetables, almond milk, cashew parmesan 'cheese' and rice paper rolls.
Not sure why I never thought to do this before but I now keep the salads and the dressing I make separate in the fridge until we're ready to eat them. This way a salad, like the bulgur salad above, stays fresh for 4-5 days and all we need do for my lunches at home or for Mr E's work lunches is add some of the dressing just before serving. The remainder of the salads are undressed and stored in the fridge until the next time we want them.
Our favourite dressing is so simple and will stay fresh in the fridge for weeks (just give it a good shake before you use it)...
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
We use it sparingly because we don't enjoy salads 'soaked' in dressing, just adding enough for that zing of extra flavour.
Another addition to salads is the cashew parmesan 'cheese'.
This is made in the food processor from cashews, nutritional yeast flakes (they have the cheesy flavour and are loaded with B12 which is essential for vegans), garlic powder and a little bit of salt.
I make two cups at a time and it lasts about a month stored in the fridge.
Sprinkled over salads and sour dough lunches it's sooooo good...
A new recipe for something to serve with a decaf cappuccino or a cup of herbal tea are these Ginger Berry Kisses, which believe me are delicious.
They are vegan, gluten free, sugar free, grain free, dairy free...ticks a lot of boxes if you have a special diet which excludes those ingredients.
The recipe is inside "Whole" and I highly recommend this book by Australian Harriet Birrell. You'll find her blog here.
I used to make almond milk regularly but then we went back to dairy for a few years and it became an occasional thing during detox weeks. But now I make it three times a week (it's that easy) and Mr E told me the other day that he prefers this than any other 'milk' because it never makes him sick and it tastes good too. Big tick on my prayer chart cause men can be the hardest to move from what they grew up on to what heals their bodies.
I soak 1 cup of almonds in water for about four hours or overnight, then rinse them before adding to the blender with five cups of cold water.
My blender has a nut milk setting and it's made in 60 seconds.
Then I pour the blended almonds and water into a nut bag and squeeze all the milk out.
Store almond milk in the fridge and it will keep for around 5 days.
This makes just over a litre of almond milk which we go through in around two or three days as we begin each day with a bowl of fresh fruit salad and an iced almond milk latte (decaf).
My Homemakers Heart task last week was to clean out the cupboard underneath the kitchen sink. Did you do that too?
My timing couldn't have been better because after I pulled everything out I discovered water all along the back of the cupboard due to a leak in the dishwasher hose.
As soon as Mr E came home he fixed it and I could finish cleaning and re-organising that area. Crisis averted!
I added an extra task to my kitchen clean up over the weekend by scrubbing the exhaust fan over the stove. Let's not even ask how long since the last time it was cleaned, okay? Let's just focus on how bright and sparkly it is now. LOL!
My task for this coming week is to sort out the laundry room. It's a tiny space and when we moved here hubby fitted some wire drawers for me because there was literally nowhere to store anything.
Now it's become a big mess so I'll go through everything and make some changes.
The other side of the laundry is just a tub and the washing machine. We recently gave the tumble dryer to Blossom because we don't use it and this has freed up space on top of the washer. I have a plan to utilise that space with a couple of nice baskets where I can keep the new cleaning cloths and washing powder.
I have a friend who has the most beautiful laundry and when I visit her I love to walk through it. It's large, yes, and organised, but what catches my homemaker heart is the beautiful touches of homemade and other items which decorate the walls, bench and free standing cupboard.
It had always been my intention to pretty up my little laundry when we bought this house in September 2018 but when the roof came down during the floods last February and then we had to wait months to have it repaired and the walls repainted, I think a lot of my good intention was redirected elsewhere. Over the next month I plan on bringing this little space by the back door to life.
Shall you join me this next week in the task of giving your laundry a clean and de-clutter?
Does your stove top exhaust need a scrub as well?
Hopefully in next week's Homemakers Heart post I'll have made some good progress on my laundry to show you.
I'll leave you with a HAPPY photo today...
While Blossom and Rafaella were in the chemist yesterday, Cully May and I sat out front chatting away while we waited for them.
She sparkles, this little granddaughter of mine! Time spent with her and Rafaella always leaves me overflowing with love, and as they drive away later in the day I can hear them calling "Bye Nana, I love you!"
You know, I think I need to shout out to God "I love you!" more often, with that same delight and enthusiasm these precious little girls show me. He'd be just as chuffed as I am.
Bless you heaps, sweet friends, and may the days ahead be bright and hopeful no matter what trials you may be facing. Lift your eyes unto the Lord and worship Him with praise for in His strong and gentle hands you are held safe and sure.