Having a week off from blogging was lovely, exactly what I needed because there were a few needful things to be achieved and time had suddenly been lacking to complete them.
It's wonderful to be able to say "I'm nearly caught up" and know that slower days now that the weather has finally cooled to a beautifully mild (and unusually wet) late autumn will keep me on track. I just seem to find my rhythm easier in the cooler months and a lot gets done without any hurry.
Not sweltering day in and day out certainly helps too as I wasn't born to a tropical climate but have had to adjust over the eleven years we've lived in this part of Australia.
I had a big list of things to accomplish when I logged out of the blog last Tuesday and one by one a line has been drawn through them (do you gain great satisfaction crossing things off your to-do list as well?). Some were small and a few required more time; some needed me to think and plan, others were naturally creative...but each gave me joy.
Shall I begin with the baking?
Bread has always been one of my baking delights. My husband could eat bread morning, noon and night, and I'm not far behind. But the actual process of choosing what loaf to bake and then following through each stage until you finally slice off a crusty end to peer inside and inhale delicious aromas can sometimes thrill me more than the eating!
Last week I had plenty of garlic on hand so tried out a different type of garlic bread recipe, one where the raw garlic is kneaded in with the dough.
Turned out really nice, the texture was gorgeous, but next time I'll roast the garlic instead of using raw as that will add more flavour (even though I added twice as much garlic as the recipe suggested).
We ate this for days with soup, as bruschetta and finally toasted sandwiches.
Remember a couple of weeks ago we changed the living room around and made it cosier by exchanging the heavy charcoal recliner couch with our old blue one? You can see it behind the bread above.
Well, in between baking the garlic bread and trying the next new bread recipe another change was made. We sold the charcoal recliner couch and 'finally' bought ourselves recliner chairs instead. You see my sweet husband is 6' tall and I am just a wee touch over 5'1"...this has made our choice of couches over the years a bit of hit and miss. What is comfortable for him is not for me and vice versa.
Whilst cleaning out all our housekeeping files and receipts on Friday I came across a quote from five years ago that we were given when looking into purchasing separate recliner chairs suited to our individual sizes. It was out of our budget so we had to ditch the idea but I did keep the quote in hope of maybe one day.
That day was Saturday. We were at our local hardware store and it was so busy we needed to park a short walk away...right in front of the shop we got that quote from. There was a big SALE sign out front, 50% off that weekend only...so in we went, just out of curiosity. Twenty minutes later we walked out having purchased the exact recliners we had quotes for five years earlier...and even with some inflation since then we paid just 60% of the original price first quoted. There were only two in the shop, both in our 'size' and in a neutral grey that works so well with splashes of colour in our home. Had we wanted a different colour it would have been an 18-week wait and cost much, much more.
God really blessed us.
The blue couch is on the other side of the living room now and we listed the charcoal recliner couch next day and sold it within an hour. Again, we have been blessed. Mr E's neck and back appreciates the right size chair and my back and knees appreciate mine.
So back to bread...a fruit loaf this time. I baked this recipe from Paul Hollywood's "How To Bake" bread book, though I did the first knead in my breadmaker and not by hand...
My loaf had apricot, sultanas and cranberries.
After the first proving in the breadmaker I remove the dough, knock it down, and fold it as per Paul's very basic instructions before placing in a bread tin for the second rise.
This was SO good...we've had it toasted with honey or cut straight from the loaf and buttered (vegan butter)...I think the rest would make beautiful French toast so that could well be breakfast tomorrow.
The only change I'd make to the recipe in future is to add a teaspoon of mixed spice to the dough, or perhaps some grated orange rind.
The only change I made to the recipe this time was switching golden syrup for treacle because we don't have any treacle. Molasses would work if you're in the US and want to try the recipe (just click on the recipe photo and it will come up larger, then save to your computer).
Whilst baking this bread I scrubbed my kitchen windows and sink - if I'm in the kitchen it's often an opportunity to cook and clean at the same time, especially when baking.
Two simple ingredients for the sink, bicarb soda and vinegar, work a treat, and for the windows just vinegar and water. From there I cleaned out under the sink again (that was one of my first Homemakers Heart challenges in February) because three months between particular area cleaning in a kitchen can be a long time.
While the dough was rising on my fruit loaf I baked a batch of rock cakes for hubby and we enjoyed a delicious and relaxed afternoon tea that day.
My work list for Elefantz when I began my week off blogging was quite long and I knew that if I was going to move forward and finish things I'd need to fit in a 'fun' project somewhere just for my own delight. Blossom and I often watch old episodes we've saved of the Great British Sewing Bee and I always say "I must make myself a wrist pincushion" but never do, so I decided my fun project would be just that!
I took a few photos along the way in case you wanted to make one as well. They are really very simple but so very useful.
You first need to make the round pincushion. I simply draw two circles that I've traced from a small bowl, one for the back, one for the front, and sew around them with a 1/4" seam, leaving a 2" opening for turning right side out.
Then I press a hem around the open edge, maintaining the curve of the circle, before filling with polyester stuffing and whip stitching the opening closed. Fill it rather firmly but not so much that you can't close the opening.
Using Perle thread or three strands of embroidery thread (I used Perle 12) criss-cross back and forth, always bringing the needle back to the centre, until you have eight sections in your circle. Pull the thread gently as you sew each section until it puffs a little.
Secure the thread in the centre of the bottom side when you're done.
I fussy cut the top of my pincushion using the last bit of fabric leftover from THIS recipe book (free pattern) and once the criss cross of thread was complete I added a button to the centre.
Now you'll need a piece of fabric for the cuff, plus a length of cotton lace (although you can omit the lace) and a tape measure to measure how big your wrist is.
Add 3" to your wrist measurement.
My wrist is 7" around so I cut my green pindot fabric 10" long x 3" wide.
Fold the fabric in half lengthways and sew the raw edges together with a 1/4" seam. Turn right side out and bring the seam to the middle instead of the side and press open.
Sew a 1/4" seam along ONE open end. Turn the wrist cuff right side out, fold in the open end by 1/4" and whip stitch the opening closed.
Lay a piece of cotton lace over the seam line of the cuff. The lace should be about 2 or three inches longer than the cuff. I just used the scrap piece I had on hand which was already longer.
Sew the lace in place along both side edges.
Cut yourself a 2" length of velcro (hook and loop)...
Fold the lace over the ends of the cuff.
Place the velcro at each end of the cuff, on opposite sides of the cuff - one on the lace side and one on the fabric side. Sew the velcro in place and at the same time you'll be securing the lace as well.
The ends of the lace and the velcro are both hidden when you're wearing the cuff.
Turn the pincushion over to the wrong side and lay the right side of the cuff (the lace side) over the base, centring the cuff with the centre of the pincushion.
Hand sew the cuff to the base. Don't pull the stitches tight, just enough that everything stays secure and there's no puckering. I used Perle #12 thread and small stitches.
It fits perfectly and I'm really happy that I got to make use of that beautiful fabric and the last length of a favoured piece of cotton lace.
These would make simple gifts if you're looking for pretty ideas to restock your gift box.
When I was taking photos of my new lace-cuffed wrist pincushion this morning I remembered another tutorial I shared back in 2017 for a Christmas tree pincushion made from three of those round tied pinnies...
If you feel like making one you'll find that tutorial HERE.
I gifted this to a very dear friend and always intended making another for myself...maybe I'll add that to next week's list of things to make and do?
There's a lot on my heart to share as I've been soaking in God's Word this past week and writing a lot of scripture in my journal, but that can wait till another day when my thoughts have fully formed and hopefully translate to words of encouragement...but if you need encouragement today, pop back to that old pincushion post because how I felt then is exactly how I still feel today.
Bless your darling hearts and may the days ahead bloom brighter and add joy and hope to your thoughts and your prayers...