It's been tempting of late to just shut myself inside with the air conditioner and ignore the gardens completely. This stifling autumn has been our hottest on record and when I open the door each morning the hot blast of thick humid air takes my breath away.
But instead of closing the door and hiding away I turn the ceiling fans onto high and open all the doors for two hours so we can get fresh air circulating through the home. In that time I make breakfast for the two of us, feed the cat, prepare hubby's work lunch, make the bed and put on a load of washing...and then I go water the parched garden beds before closing the doors and embracing the cool breeze our air con sends forth.
I feel incredibly grateful to have air conditioning, because there would have been a time in this town we have called home for the past decade, when people simply had to suffer through the endless heat and get on with work inside and outside of the home. So to have a whine, and admittedly I do, about the eight months of summer, is something I need to cease from, though it won't happen overnight, but maybe after we relax through the refreshingly tepid winter days, a time when most people here are able to think more clearly, myself included.
Pondering how those who lived before us got on in life during these uncomfortable seasons, my mind drifts back, as always, to growing up with Nana and Pop. They had far more to contend with than weather, yet I never really heard them complain unless it was an occasional comment about the rising price of meat. They simply just 'got on' with life, one day drifting in to the next, the natural routines of his work at the wharf, and hers within the little home and caring for me, making up the ebb and flow of day to day rhythms.
I'm sure their example is what inspires me to invest in the lives of my own grandchildren and teach them about the old ways, something most don't know anymore. Because I lived the old ways naturally, due to being raised by grandparents (as did my husband who was also raised by grandparents), I need to teach these precious grandchildren through my stories, hands-on teaching of life skills, and also by my own example of choosing to step back into a simpler, slower life now, while I'm still around.
Yesterday I homeschooled them in the morning and we learned about nature, classical music and the Nutcracker ballet, and finished with art and craft. But what I really loved was when I was in Blossom's kitchen making chicken pot pies for our lunch, 4yo Rafaella climbed up on a stool and said, "Teach me Nana. I want to cook with you."
The pies were just about to be cooked but I had leftover puff pastry so I gave her a ball of it and some grated cheese and soon she was pressing out flat circles of the pastry and sprinkling cheese across the top. "Look Nana, I made cheese pancakes. Can you put them in the oven?" And so I did.
I made a batch of cheese twists to put in the oven as well, and after lunch I baked apple and currant pies for their dessert later that night. Rafaella was involved all the way and informed me that she wanted to be a "cooka" like me. Well, that melted my heart.
When I came home my mind was firmly fixed on my own childhood in Nana's kitchen so I baked one of her favourite desserts, baked custard. though back then we never called it dessert - everyone called it pudding (a reader on Instagram reminded me of that fact, as I had completely forgotten it).
I had a few slices of fruit loaf in the freezer so I thawed them, buttered them, trimmed off the crust and placed them in a buttered enamel dish - because Nana always baked custard in an enamel dish.
When I was young Nana would often serve up the leftover baked custard with breakfast the next morning. Yum.
Milk, egg, sugar and vanilla essence is mixed thoroughly and poured over the bread, then a sprinkle of nutmeg dusted across the top.
I bake it in a water bath, the small enamel dish sitting inside a larger one which is half filled with hot water.
About thirty minutes later it came out of the oven looking so delicious that I could barely wait until after dinner to enjoy it...but I was a good girl and did wait.
The recipe is very basic really, and the same custard mix as I use in Nana's Baked Rice Pudding (here).
Still in the mood to bake I made a second batch of rock cakes for the week. The batch I made after covering the dining chairs on Tuesday went to Blossom's, so yesterday's batch will keep us in morning/afternoon tea treats over the weekend.
It had been a really big day, and in that hour before needing to start dinner I decided to sit down with a cup of Tumeric Latte, a rock cake and a homeschool book I am re-reading, having first read it twenty years ago.
I've missed being a homeschooler since the children grew up, but it's all coming back to me now and my heart is overjoyed at being able to be a small part of teaching my grandchildren.
Which all leads me to another aspect of changing with the seasons.
Remember back here I wrote about reducing my Elefantz business? Well, it's just happening a little sooner than I'd planned.
I'm going to close my Faith, Heart & Home stitchery club after the May patterns go out on April 30th, so there's two months left of the Club if you're a member, as you'll still receive the April and May sets of designs on their usual days.
Those who are doing the Heart of Psalms or Heart of Home block of the month quilts do not be concerned. I'll still release those remaining patterns in my Etsy shop each month until all twelve blocks have been completed.
When I began this club last October, I did not remember just how busy and time consuming a new club with all new patterns every month was. When I had the original Stitchery Club (it ran for 52 months) and then Faith in Hand Club (14 months) I wasn't able to invest as much into homemaking and slow living the way my heart yearned to do. Now with Blossom's three small children, and the opportunity to be a real hands-on Nana and help with homeschooling, plus this unruly garden which I love, and a home - our very own home - to tend and care for and infuse life and beauty into, well...I simply don't have the drive to keep pushing myself as a designer.
Of course, it's still part of me, but now I'll be able to do it when I have time or inspiration, with no monthly deadlines to keep. And there's a brand new block of the month which I stitched last year and have never had time to write patterns or piece into a quilt...another thing I can complete at my leisure and share one day.
Sewing is a joy, and I expect it to become even more of a joy as I drop off the hamster wheel of design work. I have a hundred older patterns which could be added to my Etsy shop but I've not had time, so I can get on with that as well, plus, I plan to sell many of my original stitchery pieces later in the year and into next year.
Friends, there is a really deep and satisfied joy in my heart as I share this news, this change of season, with you. I hope you're happy for me too.
Now tell me, what season of life are you in, and do you think there's a change coming?
Bless you heaps,