Monday, February 3, 2020

The Homemakers Heart - week 2...

How did you go with your tasks last week? I'm sure some of you already had lovely clean kitchen drawers but I must admit some of mine were in need of a jolly good de-clutter, scrub and some thoughtful re-organisation.

It's usually every twelve months or so that I begin the rotation of 'deep' cleaning various areas of our home and I find that the kitchen is my favourite place to begin because it's the most-used room in the home and with so many drawers and cupboards it's also a collection magnet for stuff I'm not sure whether to keep, donate or throw away. Fortunately with every year that passes there's less of that kind of stuff to collect because we're always looking to simplify, but some still manages to find it's way into what should be purposeful places within the kitchen and the end result is not pleasing to my eye.

This last week was very full with family and health and work and a broken refrigerator so it was only yesterday that I was finally able to slow down and apply a few hours to cleaning out four drawers. Fortunately, once I got going my cleaning extended to the storage container shelf and a restocking of the new refrigerator we bought on Saturday. 

My drawers are large and deep in the kitchen, which I love. When I think back to Nana's kitchen there was a small half-hutch with three tiny drawers across the top and two open shelves along the bottom hidden by a short floral curtain she'd made.

These are my four drawers completed...

It gets easier each year to 'let go' of the excess and keep that which we use regularly along with a spare, but when it comes to mixing bowls I keep a good amount because I use multiples each day - though I have become mindful of keeping the better quality ones, and I do rather like bowls with a spouted lip for pouring batter into cake pans or egg-y mixes into pie plates.

My storage container shelf was dreadful, things everywhere and difficult to find two parts for one container when I need it. This was another area where I was able to discard what isn't needed and keep only that which is used regularly. 

I like to prepare food ahead for the week so having enough containers to fill with grated carrot, corn kernels, chopped melons, various pickled vegetables, fruits, vegetable salads, baked goods and dressings etc is very important. I recently bought some new containers for specific purposes and this helps enormously with my enthusiasm for weekly meal preps each Sunday or Monday.

Of course the biggest barrier to my meal prep this weekend was the fridge dying late on Friday. Still under (extended) warranty it's not a brand with parts easily available so it will be around 6-8 weeks before we get a working fridge again. Living in the very hot tropics mid-summer means you simply must have reliable refrigeration to keep food from going off, which it can do when left on the kitchen bench in one night. 

On Saturday after discussing this news my husband decided we'd go ahead and buy a new fridge, a larger one, and so we did. He hired a large trailer and brought it home that day.

We have a very small spare fridge out back that has been struggling and was in need of repair (everything in it freezes or melts depending on the day) so I was able to save some of our cold items for 24 hours (praise God it only froze the melons) until the new refrigerator was cold and the freezer chilled. Phew!

This morning I did a grocery shop and all is well again. The larger fridge is way better than the one which chose to quit on Friday and will suit this vegan lifestyle because we load up on fruit and vegetables and nuts every few days. The freezer section holds all our nuts, seeds, frozen berries and veg, plus ice for smoothies.

Once the old fridge (old as in four years, sigh...things are not made to last) is repaired in 6-8 weeks it will replace the 'truly old' fridge out back as that's where all our cold drinks, juices, kombucha, animal food, potatoes and onions are kept.

Yesterday afternoon I finally got around to baking that Apple Bread recipe again (which I mentioned last Friday) and what I like about a second bake is that you get to tweak it. Though I liked the first one I made, there was just a couple of things I wanted to do differently.

As you can see it's loaded with yummy apple pieces, but I must warn you it's not sweet. A few people commented to me that the Black Bean Brownies recipe I shared last Monday wasn't sweet enough for them and that next time they'll add a bit of sugar or rice malt syrup, but hubby and I find it sweet enough because we rarely eat sugar these days and served with berries and coconut yoghurt it's quite delicious. 

So here's the recipe for Apple Bread which I've tweaked from the original at
If you want it sweeter increase the maple syrup to 1 cup.

4 cups of chopped un-peeled apples
2 large eggs or 3 small
1 cup of pureed stewed apples or grated zucchini
½ cup maple syrup or honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp vanilla powder (or extract)
2 teaspoons mixed spice (or combine cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup plain spelt flour
1 ¼ cups plain white flour

Preheat oven to 180C (350F)
Line a 5” x 9” loaf pan with baking paper
Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl. Add everything except the flours and apples. Whisk together.
Fold through the flour and the apples until just combined.
Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out.

Optional: throw in a cup of raisins or dried cranberries with the apples and sprinkle flaked almonds over the top before baking.

Do you ever buy a piece of fabric for a particular purpose?
Have you discovered years later that same piece of fabric languishing in your stash and still not made into the project you'd planned for it?
Me too!

Once the kitchen was cleaned and the apple bread baked Mr E trotted off to the shed to work on his dirt racer (go-kart) and I was free to play in the sewing room. I did have a certain project in mind but I couldn't get my eyes off this lovely linen bird fabric which I think is about five years old, maybe six.

When I saw it at Spotlight all those years ago my idea was to make a simple tote bag because I use them a lot and find totes to be incredibly useful when you only need to carry a purse, sunglasses, keys and phone - which is all I take when we go to garage sales or markets. 

So I postponed my original sewing plan and in an hour had myself a new and pretty linen tote ready for next weekend's bargain hunting.
It has nice long handles and I've boxed the base so things sit nicely inside...

Some red buttons below the base of the handles...

...and inside the lining is made from an old Tilda print which compliments the bird fabric beautifully.

You may be wondering what project I postponed yesterday? Well, it has to do with a new bag of pegs my dear husband bought me...

It's so incredibly hot here almost all year that pegs tend to dry out in the insane heat, crack and break.
There was a time when I'd remove the pegs when I brought the washing inside but then I decided it was easier to leave them on the line. Downside is that they will indeed dry out, crack and break over time. 

My intention yesterday was to make a peg apron with a decent sized front pocket where I could simply keep my outdoor pegs when not in use, and they'd be right within reach when I was hanging up the washing next day. This was what Nana had and funnily enough one of the very first designs I had published in a magazine (2010) was a peg apron!

My style and skill has changed so much in ten years but I still love this pattern because it was created with Nana in mind. 

Hopefully in another week a new version will be ready to show you and I won't have so many broken pegs in future.

It's been a while since I visited the local library, something I used to do a lot before last year's floods. So many things changed after that and I'm not sure why, but the daily rhythm of life took a different turn and I simply followed along. 

But recently I was pondering our eleven years of homeschooling and the books we read together as a family, the memories made, and the ones Blossom and I will still talk the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. You know, there is so much written within those wonderful books about homemaking, family, faith, cooking, sewing, preparedness and walking through adversity.

And that's what prompted my visit to the library. 
I intend to read them again.

I used to read loads of historical fiction to the kids, many of the books hundreds of years old (we certainly expanded our vocabulary!), but once homeschool was over and my own life veered off into the path of embroidery designs, I was never interested in reading any sort of fiction again. I tried and have successfully read four books in the last ten years, though each of them was based on medical facts about certain brain injuries, but honestly, the urge to read fiction is not in me these days.

The Little House books are based on Laura's own life, her own stories, her memories so dear of her mother, father, siblings, husband; the highs and lows of a prairie life, motherhood, loss, joy, relationships and making do with very little. Reading through each one our whole family were enthralled - we even took audio books of them on holidays.

And this is why I'm starting over with them; because there's much to learn and ponder and be grateful for as each book closes and another begins. I'm not embarrassed to sit in the doctor's and read them whilst waiting for my appointment or a test. Quite the opposite! If anyone asks I get to share the wonderful experiences our children had when as a family we gathered around and settled in for hours to draw mental images of Laura's conversation as she wrote about her life.

So that is where life is at for us at the moment. Quietly and thoughtfully pottering along, doing what needs doing, picking up that which inspired in the past, embracing the day as it dawns and giving thanks for simple things, the love we have for each other and the love our Lord Jesus has for us. 
I had my heart ultrasound last Thursday but won't get results for a few days yet, and then it's off to the hospital on Friday for the cardiac stress test. 
I am feeling wonderfully healthy at the moment, in fact with more energy than I've had in months and no migraines. If you've been praying, THANK YOU. I'll be sure to let you know what these tests reveal when I've got something concrete. 

Now I must be away to begin dinner and soak some buckwheat kernels for dehydrating later in the week so I can begin again the old habit of making our own granola.

WEEK 2 TASK: Your task this week, should you want to accept it, is to finish cleaning out your remaining kitchen drawers and organise your storage containers. 

May the favour of the Lord be upon you, and may His generous love spill over in your life with such abundance that you simply must share it.



Anonymous said...

I have been working on drawers around the house for a month now. Not finished in the kitchen yet but getting there. I am so hoping for an early spring this year, temps seem to be trending that way so I want to have a good start on my spring cleaning so that I'll be able to enjoy the great outdoors when the weather gets nice. Grandma Rita

Beth said...

I remember my Mum reading 'Little House in the Big Woods' aloud to us as kids! I can still picture the front cover of our copy. Good memories!!

Joanne said...

Hi Jenny,
It's fun to see what's in your kitchen cupboards and drawers! A few things bring back memories ! While others make the world seem like such a small place.
The library! Since the Internet has become so easy to access I haven't been there for quite a while. A visit is always on the Winter to do list :)

Kay said...

I am very jealous of your deep kitchen drawers, mine are quite small and a challenge to use sometimes. I did get all of my drawers done last week and a couple of cupboards too. This week I will be doing a bit more in the kitchen including the storage container shelf. My daughter is leaving home this week so her small room (she has the smallest room) needs a good clean when she is gone and I am going to move all of my sewing things into there as presently they are in my bedroom and the the hallway. I am looking forward to having a little space for myself although I will miss her.

Pink Rose said...

Hi Jenny lovely post I always enjoy popping in here for a visit ,hope your test results are good,take care my friend xx

Margie said...

I went a little nuts and cleaned my ‘ pantry’. It’s actually just a larger cupboard. The problem is it’s very deep so things get ‘lost’ in the back. It’s organized now with bigger things in the back so I really can see what’s there. Thank you for the task! Am excited to continue. God bless you and thank you for helping me reconnect with the value of home keeping. ��

Little Quiltsong said...

Another lovely post Jenny! I always love reading about your day and seeing your lovely pictures. I too love organized drawers and cupboards and enjoy cleaning everything out and reorganizing it all. So happy you got a new fridge - and that you have more room to store your groceries in. I'm thankful for our winter months right now, and that many bread and other items can stay in my baskets on the counter. Enjoy re-reading the Laura Ingalls books - we have the series, and also the audio books that I often pull out and re-listen too. Praying you have good test results in the coming days!

Annabel said...

Such a lovely post Jenny! I hope your test results are all good and I am glad you are feeling so well. I love how your kitchen draws look! xxx

Grammyof4 said...

The home where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived and worked is just a couple of hours from me here in Missouri. We have visited there and saw how she lived (simply) and exactly where she was when was very interesting and worth the time since I, too, have always been fascinated by her books.

MelissaM. said...

I have the entire set of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books! A paperback set in a decorative cardboard box they came in that I’ve had since my 20s. I reread them on a regular basis, I love them so much. =^_____^= Enjoy visiting Laura, again! And whenever I have difficulty with appetite, I reread Farmer Boy. That book would make anyone hungry for good food! Such happy foods they eat. Apple pie for breakfast, yay!

theresa said...

January is my month to go through every room, drawer, and closet to organize and purge and clean. It has become easier after the first year I am on my third year of doing it.

Farm Quilter said...

I am so happy to hear you are migraine free!!! Praise the Lord for that! Interesting that we both speak English, we certainly call things by different names!! I love learning Aussie English, but I don't know that I will ever call my kitchen counter a bench (that is what we sit on at the picnic table) or clothespins pegs! At least I'm not as stumped as I was when a friend's little girl asked me for the bin in my car. They were born in South Africa, moved to England for a year then to the USA, before finally ending up in Perth. I was so totally clueless as to what she was asking for!! Makes me laugh even though it has been a good 33 years!! Praying for a good report from the doctors with a clear plan that keeps you healthy and active for decades. It appears your change in diet has improved your life thus migraines and more energy is wonderful.

Tammy said...

Oh Jenny thank you for the recipe dear. The bread sounds lovely. I too read all the little house books to my children especially my daughter. Maybe I need to reread them again as well. I actually did a through clean of my kitchen last week including the storage containers. And lemon oil polishing all my cabinets as well. I can't wait to see your apron when you get it done.I am glad you are feeling better and migraine free. Continuing my prayers for you Dearest Jenny

MargaretP said...

Good to hear you have not had to deal with migraines and the cleaning and sorting is going well.
That lovely linen fabric bag is just in time to be your new Library bag, I am sure you will enjoy the Little House books again.

Quiltingwiththefarmerswife said...

Dear Jenny, Thank you for the apple bread recipe. I always look forward to your posts and a recipe is an added bonus. Looking back over the years I can see how my own quilting style has changed....also with books I read. My temperament and forgiveness of others (and myself) has softened too. Is that because of growth in the Lord? I like to think that to be true. One question, don't the birds land on your clothes line and poop? I use to hang the clothes to dry but was so discouraged by the birds. I wiped the line each time I hung clothes but really wanted to bleach that line. Of course I didn't for fear of the bleach transferring to the next batch of clothes. We feed them so they flock to our place but you do too. Is it a problem or do you just 'deal' with it? Blessings for you and your family. Patty McDonald

Jenny of Elefantz said...

I laughingly warn them not to, but the fact is they never do. They will perch on the metal arms or the top of the clotheslines but never sit on the hanging lines.

kupton52 said...

I would be so ashamed for you (or anyone) to see my kitchen drawers today. Thank you for the inspiration...I so need to pare down all the "extras" I have. I've given kitchen things to my 3 grown daughters and still have dupicates (and maybe triplicates)...I really do have a homemaker's just couldn't tell from the looks of things. Blessings....

Angie in SoCal said...

I haven't gotten to last week's task as I'm nursing my 9 year grandson thru the flu and seem to have caught it myself. But I did go through 4 stacks of papers from my computer/sewing room, got rid of a pile of paper no longer needed, found lost bits I needed and filed others. Looking forward to feeling better and I can get to the kitchen. Blessings,

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Thanks my friend. Had a slew of new blood tests at 7am this morning, so along with the heart ultrasound last Thursday and this coming Friday's cardiac stress test there should be some answers coming my way.

Hilary said...

Hi Jenny,
I hope and pray that the test results will be a step to you being fully well. I have ordered The Little House In The Woods, as I was curious, when I ordered I saw so many of her books and wondered if there was a sequence to reading them. Here in the UK I watched the TV series. Take care Jenny and thank you for being here xx

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Yes, there is a sequence. If you google it you'll find the order to read them. :-)

Liz said...

I have followed you on Instagram for a while, and have finally made it to your blog! I find your quilting and stitching work most beautiful and inspiring. My plan is to embark on your Psalm 23 project, while still trying to get my Etsy shop (InspiredByGraceAU) moving along better! :)

Allie said...

You know dear heart, the only thing I miss from the old house was my HUGE kitchen drawers - no getting on the floor to see what's in a cupboard, you know? Yours are just gorgeous. I love your new bag, very pretty, I too love totes but these days stores are making such lovely re-useable bags - I am so stocked up!
I can't give up reading, even though the boys are grown - I still read a book a day. Murder mysteries mostly, the cozy British ones, hubby gets nervous when he asks what I'm doing and I say "research". *snort* And of course re-reading childhood favorites - I'm getting the itch to read LOTR again. I used to read it every year, but haven't since the movies came out. Loved the Laura books!
I'm looking forward to hearing some good news about your tests - I'm so excited that your diet has even affected the migraines, what a God-given bonus!!!!

barcord said...

I did a little clearing of drawers in my kitchen, inspired by you Jenny. I even cleaned the cupboard under the sink, which was badly in need of it. Isnt it lovely when things are tidy and you can find just what you need. My old worn teatowels got the Jenny treatment. Two completed, and 4 more by the machine. I will continue and organise my containers. I have a box for all the lids, and try to educate the family to put them there. Doesn't always work. I still have one drawer to tidy. The cutlery drawer, which seemed ok until I compared it to the others. Thanks again for your inspiration. praying for a return to full health for you. God Bless.xx

Michelle said...

We loved the LHOTP books while homeschooling too! In winter, we'd have a pyjama day and read The Long Winter, and my boys just loved Farmer Boy! I bought my tea towels on sale last week and this week I'm starting on the drawers! Glad to hear you're feeling well!

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

Sorry about the refrigerator(s). We still have our first one (almost 33 years old) in the laundry room. It is much better than the one that came with our house (probably about 20 years old). I'm not looking forward to replacing either of them. Last summer, I got to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in Missouri. I remember reading the books when I was growing up. I should pull the out and re-read them, too. Great books.

Susan said...

I didn't clean my kitchen drawers - I have four small ones, and there's really no room for them to get disorganized! I loved seeing the pictures of your drawers and storage space, though. I have a tiny dysfunctional kitchen. LOL Fortunately, cooking is not my big thing, and lately someone else cooks for me, and I pay her, to help her family and mine. They boys appreciate having food around that they can pull out and bake, and she's making pretty healthy dinners. Which become lunches, too, because she's very generous with amounts.

Instead, I'm taking the opportunity of Regan being in the hospital and now rehab to clean up HIS room, which is an absolute mess! I had gotten a lot of trash out, with his brother's help, and today I washed all the clothes I could find in the main part. Tomorrow I'll do what's in the little closet room. It isn't quite the same as what you're doing, but it is way overdue. His PTSD anxiety keeps him from doing a lot of things, and I don't crack the whip. It would only make things worse for him. I guess maybe this is one blessing to come from his injuries. The silver lining. =)

I AM a fiction reader. I read constantly, everything from children to teens to grown ups. I write tests for a testing company for the children's and teens, so that's dual purpose. Some of the best books are written for them! I liked the Little House books, too. Thanks for sharing what's going on in your life, Jenny!

Martha N said...

Dearest Jenny, you have prompted me to take a book off my shelf to read again: Little House in the Ozarks, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It is a collection of articles she wrote for farm journals beginning in 1911 long before she wrote the Little House books. Practical advice for farm wives of that time and lovely to read. Hope you can find a copy somewhere. It has a 1991 copyright and was edited by Stephen W. Hines.

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Thank you, Martha, I will see if my library can get it. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny, I have a similar problem with my cupboard. We remodeled our kitchen in 2016. I pared down everything from utensils to containers. Today, my cupboard is full of small unwanted containers again. I have managed to keep everything else in the kitchen organized. Our fridge broke down last year and even though it wasn’t summer we still could not wait more than three days to get the new one in. We used up 3 big bags of ice a day and hubby was not interested in keeping food on ice. Fortunately, we had not done our grocery shopping yet.

Do wooden pegs also crack in the heat or is it just the plastic?

I was curious if the embroidery design that says sew with a merry heart is for sale. I would like to sew it for myself. Since my cat died last January 2019 I have not been able to quilt at my sewing machine. I keep cutting fabric for patterns, yet unable to sew. My quilting buddy used to sit in front of my sewing machine while she supervised my stitches. Whenever I get near my sewing machine my heart aches. I am hoping your embroidery puts a smile on my face and my heart.

I enjoy reading your newsletters. Thank you.

Jenny of Elefantz said...

In our intense heat (which lasts for at least 8 months) everything outside deteriorates.