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!
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.