Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Homemakers Heart and a little story...

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.



Margie said...

It’s 5:30am and I do love getting up early and finding a new post from you, dear Jenny. I love this glimpse into your life. I’ve been trying to eat better also. It’s my daughter’s birthday today and I made her a vegan and gluten free cake. It smelled good baking. We’ll see! Till we meet again around our ‘kitchen table’ and our scrubbed kitchens may God bless you and keep you!

Pat D. said...

Hi Jenny,
I loved reading the story about your childhood. It brought back so many memories of mine. I was a chlid of the '60's too. It was just a part of our daily routine to walk to school, have a furry friend that loved us, and had a Mom at home and didn't complain because that was the way it was back then. Those are the years I wish I could go back to. I guess you had to be in that era to appreciate the simple and ordinary days that brought out our imaginations, playing outside for hours, riding our bikes, playing house, I could go on but how I miss just being a kid.

Little Quiltsong said...

Loved your post - and the story about your childhood - how amazing with your little dog, I find that so special. I too had a very long walk to school from Grade 2-6. Somehow no one worried that you had to walk that even at lunch time, eat and be back to school on time. We had boundaries, of who could stay for lunch, and who couldn't, as there seemed to be limited space for that - maybe due to supervision?!? Enjoy your laundry reorganizing. A cupboard would be nice. I have a very tiny corner laundry in this house, but the cupboards really help.

Kay said...

I always look forward to your posts. From you I learn about housekeeping, crafting, new things to cook, and just love in everything. x

Allie said...

Well you know I love the Nana stories - brings back memories of my own grandmum!!! What a dog Soxy was, my little Tommy was more my mum's dog than mine....even though he was a birthday gift. Your apron is darling and men are too smart for their own good, lol!
Love seeing all the food you make. What a treasure Blossom is. And those precious little girls!!!! Be well dear one!

Joanne said...

Hi Jenny,
Bitsa ! Great name for the meals I make here :)
Loving the homemakers hearst posts !

Montse said...

Que historia tan bonita nos cuentas hoy , yo también tengo bonitos recuerdos de mi infancia, también iba andando a la escuela ,tu pan tiene una buena pinta ,nos cuentas cosas muy bonitas .

learn with miss hillbilly said...

So I've been vegan for several years now. More of my searching has left me oil and nut free as well now. I do the nut free because my overly fluffy self wasn't losing any weight with all those nut butters lol. I LOVED fresh made almond butter.
I don't drink milk but I've swapped to oat milk for my cooking. A person I know was really feeling she needed a blender. So I gave her mine. Now I can't make my oat milk...lol what was I thinking??

Anyway...I have a whole in my heart. (Did I tell you that yet? It caused a small stroke in my eye.) Since then I've taken away all oil from my diet as well. My family gifted me an instant pot and a fryer/ convection oven for Christmas. Hoping this will allow me to eat my fried pickles that I love so dearly...minus any oil :)

learn with miss hillbilly said...

hole.. not whole..., but I do pray for both our whole hearts. <3

Tammy said...

Cully May is so adorable... You are so blessed to have these 2 precious grand girls... I can't wait to see your laundry when you get it done.

Lesley Gilbert said...

Loved today's story but my favourite photo is the last one - how can you not smile when you see that face :) <3

Kate said...

When I was about 5 years old, we had a little collie mix dog. My mother would send she and I up the street, to watch for the bus bringing my grandmother home from work. We would sit on the curb in view of my mother, until we saw the bus, then would head down the cross street to meet Nan at the bus stop. I learned later that all the neighbours were watching me too. Thank you for reminding me of that lovely memory.

Mandy Currie said...

Hello Jenny, what a lovely post, I look forward to your homemaker's heart, they are great. I loved your Nana story and will look forward to more. I too remember and cherist the memory of my Gran, she was a special lady. You are so lucky to have Blossom and your grans near you, my step-son and grandson and family are still in South Africa, we miss them terribly but we do Skype. I don't have a laundry in this little flat but am still working on my kitchen lol. Regards Mandy xx

Julie said...

A beautiful post Jenny & I just adore the photo of your Nan & little Soxy. I am loving this Homemaker's Heart series. Also that last photo - how could you not smile. My laundry is not very pretty on the eye & also has our shower out there. I made a simple bunting in some pretty pink floral fabrics & appliqued the words "Laundry" on the flags - it looks great & brightens up the space.

Kathy said...

I love the story of the dog walking you to and from school and also the memory of the school port - I was born in 1963 so not far behind you and we had the rectangle school port to take to school each day. We used to catch the bus to and from school for 10 cents and it was 5 cents half way to the shopping centre. If we wanted lollies we would get off half way and use the 5 cents to buy 10 lollies [back then you got 2 lollies for 1 cent]. Think milk bottles, ripe raspberries, bananas, teeth etc. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

Susie said...

Such a lovely post. My mum would sometimes wear an apron when I was younger but ALWAYS had her curlers in. Only in the last five years since she turned 80 has she let that go.
I didn't realise how easy the almond milk was to make - thank you so much. I truly thought you needed more almonds than that. I made cashew milk years ago and it required alot of cashews, which as you would know are very expense so assumed it would be the case for the almond milk also. I buy almond milk for myself all the time as I find I get motion sickness alot these days if I have dairy in my tummy (especially when I do pilates on the reformer machine even hours after my coffee). That 'icky' feeling is almost non-existent now I have switched to almond milk, however the one I use is very expensive. I might try that cashew cheese also but I need to find nutritional yeast and nut milk bags now. Thank you.

Jacqueline Knox said...

I loved reading your story about your Nana Jenny. I missed growing up with my Nana as we came to Australia from England when I was 8 in 1964. She was a great cook and I would have loved to spend time with her in the kitchen. I am thrilled to tell you that my own daughter has a love of cooking and actually cake decorating which is something I have never done. She has also just proved to be a 'chip off the old block' and just been to sewing classes and had my old sewing machine repaired and is making clothes for her nephew and as well as other things, drafting a pattern from one of my Mum's dresses to make her another one. She lives in Sydney while I am in Melbourne, so I am not there to watch over her shoulder. I have always thought of myself as 'old fashioned' as I have always taken a pride in providing a warm and inviting home and enjoyed my life of domesticity. Thank you Jenny for such a wonderful group that highlights I have never been alone in the gentle arts.

Susan said...

A wonderful post, all the way from Nana and Soxy to Cully May, and everything in between. My laundry room is part of my garage, and not in a separate place. The entire garage could use cleaning, but not at this moment - too wet, too cold, and too much going on with Regan. But it was added to my mental list a few days ago for things I want to do this year. Now the kitchen vent and fan - yes, they could use cleaning. I've done it a few times, but not often enough. I have an amazing ability not to see things like dust and linty build up. Also fingerprints on light switches. =) I'm glad you had a chance to shop with your girls, and figured out a wonderful solution for both of you for bread machines! <3

Farm Quilter said...

Soxy was amazing!! You could not have had a more wonderful companion in your childhood! I do miss my bread machine...I know I should make it anyway, but the bread machine certainly spoiled me. Maybe I should buy a small one! Love how your change in diet is agreeing with Mr. E as well as helping your migraines. I need to share your blog with a friend who loses way too many days every month to migraines...she is a wonderful sister in the Lord who lives on the other side of the country from me. Lifting you to the Lord in prayer.

Anonymous said...

I totally loved the Soxy & Nana story and can't wait to hear more! :)
I had no idea that you used to publish Elefantz Home on-line magazine. Wow! That sounds so incredible! Is there any chance of getting to read those issues? I'd be happy to pay for it. The magazine must have been fabulous just as your posts are now! You're such a talented lady! Thanks for creating a spot here on your blog where your readers can go to relax and refresh!
Blessings to you & your family!

Jenny of Elefantz said...

What a blessing to know she's following in your footsteps, even though a state apart. :-)
And I'm so grateful you now know there are thousands of us who love the gentle arts and homemaker life. xxx

Ondrea said...

Reading about the 60's and ladies in hair curlers made me smile. My mum still puts a couple of curlers in her hair lol. I remember the hairspray too. I only have one apron and only recently started wearing it. I used to go to kindergarten on the bus by myself when I was only 4 years old. One woukd never even contemplate such a thing these days. My school case was a blue one and I still have it. I really need to get stuck into my kitchen cupboards again but just can't seem to motivate myself. As for the laundry...... Cully May is such a beautiful photogenic child and she certainly does sparkle.

Annabel said...

Dear Jenny, Your little Grand daughters are just divine. This is a beautiful post. I love your Nana and the little dog and the whole story. Are your magazines still online to read? My Nan was quite similar. The scene in the lane seemed very familiar. I have been op shopping and found cotton waffle weave fabrics to make the cleaning cloths like you did a few weeks back... I have plenty of pretty prints to use up. I loved that project! With love Annabel.xxx

Nanna Chel said...

Jenny, I am way behind with reading blog posts and I just read that it is your birthday tomorrow. Have a really wonderful and blessed day and I do hope you do something special which I am sure you will do. Yes, I had a port when I was at school but I rode a bike so I think it was strapped on at the back or perhaps I had it in a basket on the front. I can't remember now as it was very long ago...back in the 1950s and early 1960s. Your dog sounds so very faithful like most dogs are. Big hugs from down south and I hope you are feeling okay.

Wendy said...

Oh Jenny .... I love reading your blog ... every bit! As a try to be a Godly woman, I will not say I am envious of how you make your life appear while I read your words, but I admit to wishing my life looked more like your blog. With that being said, I know not of the troubles and pains you have experienced to achieve your apparent happiness and I believe God has me where He wants me, I just need to be patient enough to accept what is and pray for what will be. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to the next Homemaker installment :) God Bless!

Essie said...

Dear Jenny...Have read your posts for quite some time now and thought I would finally tell you how much I enjoy them and all you share. The story of your school days and Soxy brought back memories of my childhood, too. I grew up in New York State, the Finger Lakes area, and rode the bus to school every day. It was a long ride and I've always been a reader, so it was time spent devouring wonderful stories. I finished school in the late 60's but I so remember the simpler life of that time, too. I also enjoy the sharing of your faith and how you weave the Lord into everything you do. You're a blessing!

Michelle said...

I've just signed up so I don't miss your blog posts! I was just looking at the top of my kitchen exhaust the other day - so I think I'll give it all a good clean. We had a little dog called Soxy growing up - only for a year or so because he got a tick and died! We were very sad! The photo of your Nana reminds me of my Nana - hair in rollers and an apron on! Keep up the good work - I really enjoy reading your posts. God bless, Michelle!

Angie in SoCal said...

My laundry area is in our garage which is filled with DH stuff to the brim. And on the window sills he has his trays of seedlings which I enjoy browsing to see how they are doing. That's as close to plants as I come in that space. Since it's really his space (I just use the washer and sometimes dryer) I don't spend much time there. But we've always had a clothes line. I like to hang the clothes and listen to the birds while I hang the clothes out - mainly the sheets and towels because it makes them smell so nice.

Jenny of Elefantz said...

No, they're not, but I'll slowly share snippets this year. :-)