Monday, March 15, 2021

Seasons of the heart...


Even though the sun is still fierce outside and the humidity last night was thick in the air, just knowing that we are in autumn, knowing that in the weeks ahead, little by little, an easing will come, my heart is preparing for the slowing of cooler months. I am so ready for this, and amidst the heat of early autumn in the tropics, I am seeking out those things which stir my mind to enter the rest of winter when it arrives.

Today as I waved my husband off to work with a packed lunchbox and two flasks of cool juice, my thoughts drifted to the house, and what chores needed to be done, and I got excited. 

There was a time when mopping floors was number one on my list of dreaded chores, but after prayer and seeking a better way to approach this task, the Father changed my attitude and it has now become a task I enjoy, even look forward to.

Our home is all tiles, apart from the bedroom and hubby's study, which are still bare concrete after having the carpets ripped out after the floods two years ago. We bought rugs to throw over them and to be honest they have served us well so we have tended to forget that one day permanent floor coverings should be attended to. In the meantime, I begin my Monday floor routine by scattering a mix of bi-carb soda and lavender oil over all the rugs in the house, then walk over them, rubbing the mix into the pile with my feet. Aaah, the fragrance is beautiful.

If you've never made your own carpet deodoriser, I highly recommend you try this very simple mix.

I usually use half a jar at a time and as I emptied it after this morning's vacuuming it was time to make more in preparation for next week. I fill a jar to 3/4 full with bi-carb soda and add about ten drops of pure lavender oil, then screw the lid on and give it all a good shake. Once that's done top the jar to the brim with more bi-carb soda and give another shake. 

After I'd made up my next jar it occurred to me how simple a gift this would make, and as I'm off to Blossom's tomorrow I thought what a good gift to take along for her!

I have a lot of those lovely red gingham lidded Bonne Maman jars (our favourite jam if we've run out of homemade) so after writing on a pretty label and filling the jar with lavender bi-carb, I tied the label around the neck of the jar with string. So very ordinary, so very simple, and yet I know Blossom will truly appreciate it. If it were gifted to me I'd be rather happy too.

While the carpet mix was left to infuse deep inside the pile, I vacuumed all the tiled and bare floors, and only then did I vacuum up the lavender bi-carb. 

The fragrance had drifted all through the house and it was then that I decided to scatter some of my newly refreshed jar over the couches, something I used to do when we had dogs inside but hadn't done for ages. Anyhow, while I hung washing and cleaned the bathroom those couches were infused as well. Once vacuumed off it was time to mop. 

Now as I said earlier, mopping was a genuinely hated task up until around July or August last year, because pushing a mop around always made my hips and shoulders ache for days, so I was very lax in keeping up with shiny floors, choosing to spot clean every few days with a cloth and miracle spray. 

Then, on impulse, a totally spur of the moment decision, I purchased a cheap steam mop on sale at our local Woolworths supermarket. Ladies, that $59 purchase changed my cleaning life. 

Today I get such joy mopping the floors that I'm often seen just before hubby arrives home from work giving the kitchen another going over as dinner simmers away.  And this made me think about all the other chores which don't exactly come easily, and whether there are other ways to do them that will lift my heart the way this cheap steam mop has. I'm praying over this and know in my heart that the Lord shall indeed answer.

On the subject of cleaning , I shall admit that I've only recently (since Covid) began watching YouTube and the things I look for there are simple living, Godly living, natural cleaning, healthy recipes, small homesteading and the love of homemaking. Like all homemakers I also need inspiration to slow down, care for and appreciate this dwelling the Father led us to purchase. You see, for the longest time I would rush through things because I also needed to work on new designs and manage the internet side of the business. I would often spend hours each afternoon hand embroidering patterns for one of my clubs or creating a new free design - and none of that was wrong, but over time I found my time increasingly given over to the "habit" of stitching the afternoons away. I look back now and realise this was one of the reasons for that feeling of 'overwhelm' at day's end when half the things I should have done around home were now on tomorrow's to-do list and that list was already long enough. 

Before about 2014 homemaking was my first and most enjoyed priority and the business balanced nicely alongside it. Then the business took off in a big way and I had offers to write books, design fabrics, be sponsored by thread companies and even to become an ambassador for Lecien Fabrics. It was thrilling to be noticed, to be asked. But around that time I was also in the midst of delving deeper into what it means to live a "gentle domestic" life, so I declined all offers except the Lecien ambassador program, though after 16 months I decided that wasn't for me either.

Once again home and business balanced nicely, until we moved here in September 2018. Our first home, and here were were in our late 50's, starting over and having no idea what we'd gotten ourselves into. Close friends had tried to prepare us for the work needed in bringing this dream of home, garden and some self-sufficiency to fruition because they had already walked those hard yards at a much younger age than we now were. So, over time, especially last year, we were burned out physically and things began to slide. My afternoons were spent 'resting' with stitcheries and watching old British mysteries. The yard chores could not be ignored but the inside ones weren't given the attention they required...and then the overwhelm, the guilt, the stress of needing to catch up. 

This is when I really looked for inspiration to be the homemaker my heart longed to be again. So much of it was there inside me, but I was tired, weary, the balance of business was far greater than home, and I needed to bring things back to where they needed to be. I needed to start fresh and to stoke the flames of love which still simmered for a gentle domestic life. 

Things are different now. A refreshed love has bloomed for cleaning, cooking, organising, preparing our home to be a welcome sanctuary when my husband walks through the door each evening. My homemaker heart is restored and with each new day I am excited about what is ahead and how I can tend this precious little home to the glory of God.

When I take a lunch break now, it feels very deserved, and the food is delicious whether it's a simple sandwich or a bowl of leftover curry and rice, because I'm truly hungry and in need of a half hour with my feet up and a nice cup of Earl Grey. 

Loving our homes, enjoying them, being excited about tending to daily tasks and creating a place of warmth and welcome for others to enjoy and feel safe and loved - this is where the weight of balance needs to lean. 

Removing part of my business last week was like opening a window to autumn; saying farewell to one season and welcoming the next with joyous anticipation. 

I am so very blessed to have two homemaker friends who inspire and encourage me in that role - Rosie and Fee. I'm also extra blessed to have Blossom as my loving daughter, a woman of faith and courage in adversity, a constant prayer partner and Bible study buddy who teaches me as much as I teach her. 

But there are things which I also need as a homemaker, and that's where I use YouTube to glean from, and be inspired by, a handful of wonderful homemakers.

Right now my lunch times are spent watching Lea's videos on preparing practically and spiritually for Autumn around home and in the kitchen, as well as Niamh's videos on natural cleaning (we don't share the same spiritual beliefs but she has wonderful advice for slow, natural living).

Today I have Lea's autumn inspired apple/cinnamon/ginger/lemon tea simmering in a pot on the stove to enjoy over ice tonight (because it's still hot and humid here, sigh). Just watching autumn in cooler countries gives me joy and hope for what is ahead soon.

Maybe you're struggling with balance too?

Have you lost a bit of that love for the gentle domestic life, has it been pushed down because demands call you elsewhere? Friend, pray and ask the Lord to bring balance back into your life. He is faithful and will show you how. 

Now I have a bowl of passionfruit to play with and I've promised Blossom a sweet Passionfruit Slice will accompany me tomorrow, so I shall sign off and offer my hugs and a prayer over all of you tonight.



Tammy said...

God day to you Jenny, What a lovely post today to read ... The passion fruit slice sound delicious. especially as I haven't eaten breakfast yet and am trying to get a few things done earlier today...Your lavender bicarb deodorizer sounds lovely. But with my allergies I have to stay away from all scented things. Maybe I need one of those steam mops....My floors are looking rather dull in the tiled kitchen and baths...Especially if they are easy to use and if they don't weigh too much...That would be a big plus indeed

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the sweet morning read with my cup of (decaf) coffee.
Thank you.
Mary Beth

Little Penpen said...

Most of my floors are tile, too. I will definitely look for a steam mop this week. I bought a lightweight rechargeable vacuum last year and it was a game changer, too!

JES said...

A peaceful read... thank you xoxo

♥️ JES

1PrairieGirl said...

I so appreciate your encouragement in homemaking. It is so easy to denigrate the simple act of caring for our homes. For 36 years I have been home full-time. It has been such a rich blessing. In these later years I am changing up some of my routine and chores to match my diminishing energy. But it is so wonderful to be at this time of life when there is no need to hurry. I thank you for the YouTube suggestions. I look forward to searching with the keywords you provided. May our Lord God richly bless you and you bless me!

P.S. I live in the middle of the United States in one of our least populated states. It is a long way from you, but it is comforting to picture you half a world away keeping your home.

Joanne said...

Hi Jenny,
Just stopped by this Monday afternoon and there was a new post !
We can get that jam here as well :)
Passionfruit, lavender, apple, cinnamon, ginger, lemon and a great looking sandwhich...I'm getting hungry :)
almost time to get started on the evening meal here. Baked potatoes and red cabbage. 8 C today and that will be our high this week !
hugs, take care,

terricheney said...

So much of what you wrote of today is speaking to me on a deeper level. Thank you for taking the time to share it!

Farm Quilter said...

I bought a steam mop about 7 years ago and totally love it!! It definitely makes cleaning hard floors much easier. I'll admit I'm jealous of the warm you enjoy in Australia (even in January and February) because the cold just invades my bones and it takes so long to get warm!! We had hail here today - very small stuff, not damaging at all - and I just want sun and heat!! Come on spring, anxiously waiting for you!! Even with wool socks and the furnace set to 75F (24C), my feet are so cold. Passionfruit slice sounds amazing, with a nice cup of Earl Grey!!

gail said...

Hello Jenny,
I look so forward to your writings. Today’s was very special for me. So often I feel overwhelmed by what needs t be achieved each day. Self sufficiency is very satisfying, however it brings with it quite a lot of extra work chopping, peeling, dehydrating, cooking and pantry prep. I love that, however as I’m getting older, I don’t have the energy I once had. I love that you are praying over your chores and that because of this your attitude has changed. What wonderful advise. I love the idea of the lavender, bi carb freshener and think I might sprinkle some on our bed and give the mattress a quick sprucing when I change our sheets. It is cloudy and cool down here on the south coast of NSW today, and I love these cooler days. Autumn is my favourite month, although this summer has been very mild for us. Thank you again for the effort you put into this blog, you have become such a nice friend to visit with every few days. Maybe one day I paths may actually pass and I’d love to sit with you and have a cuppa. I’m going to try some Earl Grey tea when next I shop, you make it sound so nice. Have a lovely week.
Blessings Gail.

Susan said...

Your quote at the end is right on. Family and home are the most important focus we can have. A good reflective post, thanks, Jenny.

Dawn said...

Oh this is what my heart longs for too. Ive been in a rabbit hole these last 9mths especially and long for out...sickness returned these last few weeks that knocked me for 6...I had to re-evaluate and take it easy. Jen your words speak to my heart. God uses you to gently reveal His plans. Thankyou x

Lori said...

Jenny, I just love your blog. I always feel like I have been invited in to a friend's to sit and have a "cuppa." We are kindred spirits. May I ask, what brand steam mop did you purchase? I, too, have neck/back issues and though I love sweeping and mopping (strange, I know!) I have had my last 2 children at home share that responsibility. Now that one is working full time, my daughter and I must divide up chores. I would love to be able to mop again! Thank you again for sharing your life with us. We are so blessed!

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Lori, I'm in Australia so you may not have the same brand - Black & Decker.

Lori said...

Ah, yes! We do! Thank you, I will look it up.

KingsailK said...

Thank you Jenny so much ,I sat down as a treat to read your blog .It was so lovely,thank you for all you do!

MelissaM. said...

Good morning from the northern coast of California, where winter is ending, and it is still cool and wet and drippy; either from the actual rain, or from the fog drip from the redwoods in my front yard. At least I’m harvesting spinach, lettuce, and parsley from the raised bed garden in my back yard!

Your home sounds so lovely! And I bet it is healthier to breathe in your house without carpeting on the floor, and that’s a fact! My floors are all hardwood with radiant heat underneath, and just a few area rugs here and there, like beside the bed so I have something soft to put my bare feet on in the middle of the night.

I had a thought I’m going to share with you, that you might just opt to not put any permanent coverings on your concrete floor; instead, for a little color you could choose to stain the concrete and just continue to use area rugs! That way you can always move the rugs around to change the color scheme. Just be sure to use good rug pads so you don’t slip and fall like I did on the floor rug that was beside my bed in grade school! I wound up breaking the little forearm bone in my left arm, the ulna, I believe. I was so mad! It was my left arm, and I still had to take my finals in the 5th grade because I was right handed! I have to laugh, because it is mildly humorous how our priorities change in life.

I watched the video you shared about natural cleaning, thank you for sharing that with us!

Have a wonderful day, and stay safe and well,

Jenny of Elefantz said...

The reason we had to pull up the carpets after the flood was due to water coming through the concrete slab. Our home is on a water table so the floors must be recovered, but as the flooding only happened in the two carpeted rooms we shall eventually recover those floors with tiles (all the tiled rooms did not have any water damage)...carpets are a bit hot here in the tropics anyhow, but we bought the house like this in late 2018. :-) Yes, natural us best and fresh air is wonderful! :-)

Jenny of Elefantz said...

I hope you enjoy Earl Grey tea, Gail...I find it soothing, relaxing and almost indulgent. :-)
I hadn't thought to use the bicarb mix on the mattress - thank you for that inspiration! xx

Jenny of Elefantz said...

You are wise to be changing things to suit the season of life you are now in. And I too am smiling, thinking of you across the ocean enjoying the simple homemaker life just as I am doing. xx

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Thank you my friend. xx

Kathleen said...

As I recall, you bought a steam mop many years back...a green Bissell. The only reason I remember is because I bought the same one at about the same time. When that one dude, Bissell replaced for me, as it was still under warranty...with a newer model. I wire that one out and purchased a new, different brand, last tear. At 71, I could not jeep a clean floor wuthoutnut!

Jenny of Elefantz said...

I did buy one many years ago but gave it to Blossom soon after as she had just moved into their first home. I had wooden floors and it wasn't the best thing for them. Now we have tiles and it is exactly what I needed. :-)