Friday, March 11, 2022

Homemaking as the seasons change...


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,


Robyne said...

I'm glad you are following your hearts desire Jennifer as you seed into the lives of your Grandchildren. May you be Blessed.

TN Quiltbug said...

I have just one more school year of being a homeschooler, as after next school year my sweet daughter will start university, though she will still be living at home, as it is just down the road from our house. Since there are eleven years between our two children, it feels like my entire lifetime that I have been a homeschool mom, and it has been twenty five years since I started homeschooling older brother. I feel the need of much prayer, as I move into the next season of life. I have no idea what it will look like, or what I will be doing, but I do know my Shepherd will be there.

diana said...


Susan said...

I am always happy for someone who is following their heart's desire, especially if it has been placed there by God.

Tammy said...

I'm not even sure which season of life I am in any more. Maybe you can help me define it. I help my Mom and Sisters often. I still have an adult special needs son who will always be in my and husbands care. Daughter has moved out and finished with University and is a teacher. But has decided to move back to our home as she doesn't like living in the city at all. She misses the country and her big family. So this summer she is returning to live with us full time. SO I seem to be busy always . Husband still has a several years before he will be able to retire from his career . Although he retired early from his military career in 2004.. So I guess I will just keep plodding along like I currently do.... And hope to enjoy each and every season as they change and make the most of them all and stay thankful that God allows me to be here for them. And continue to be filled with Gratitude. Jenny I am always happy for you Dear. you deserve the moon and the stars .

Allie said...

What a blessing to be able to help homeschool those little ones - both for you, and for Blossom!!! And darling girl, I am SO happy that you're stepping off that hamster wheel. It won't be long before you wonder how you ever found the time, lol. Praying for you always!!!!!!!

Farm Quilter said...

I'm so glad you are listening to the leading of the Lord. Blossom and the grands will be blessed by your presence and wisdom, and you will be blessed by them. My oldest and I are still slogging through the grief of the last 2 years...too many losses in such a short period of time has us floundering...totally reflected in all facets of our lives. Even though the Covid I had the beginning of February was mild, the total lack of energy still hangs on. In my head I'm 25 with all the energy and strength that goes with that body is reminding me I'm approaching 70!!

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
So happy for you as you make your changes and own wishes for your company we all love as Jenny of Elefantz :)
Enjoy the journey !
Baked custard ! One of the first things I learned to make along with scones :) Thanks for sharing the photo's ! Looks so good !
It's 10 C this morning! A Spring feeling and a light breeze to air out the house ! So enjoy that :)
Climate is changing. Here the garden trend seen is more palm and olive trees and plants grown in the south of Frace.
We have an air conditioner the last few years. The warm weather periods are getting longer and longer.
Looking forward to visiting yor etsy shop :)
Enjoy the weekend !
hugs, take care,

Jill at emeraldcottage said...

oh it all looks soo yummy! And the cheese pancakes sound delicious!

Donna P. said...

Funny you should mention seasons of life and change. I was just thinking about this the other day. Mine is coming up in April. My daughter homeschools as I homeschooled her and her younger siblings. There are times I miss it and sometimes - not. This April I will be helping her again - and I really have to say I am looking forward to it.
Praying this new season in your life will be a blessing to you and yours.

kupton52 said...

I, too, have been thinking alot about seasons of late. My three daughters are grown and I have 5 grandchildren, ages 1 month to 10 years. My husband and I have lost both our parents so I feel like we've moved up to "next in line" to leave. The world situation makes me think we might really be close to the end of this plane of reality. I also just had my 69th birthday and it boggles my mind to think "I'll be 70 my next birthday"!!! That could not possibly be true.....but it is. I am trying very hard, perhaps too hard, to be content in whatever "state" I'm in but I so miss when my children were small...I was better organized, my homemaking skills were sharper, I baked and cooked more and enjoyed those things more. I think I just had an epiphany---I'm depressed! My husband also just retired so we're spending as much time together as when we met in college in the 1970's. Anniversary #50 is coming up next month. I'm rambling now...time to stop typing and continue pondering. "Love you long time, Jenny"! Blessings from West Virginia, USA!

Lin said...

Now to me that is Bread and Butter pudding - yes, we too always had pudding, not dessert - but it was a pudding I never had as a child and I can only assume that it was not a pudding my mother liked! There are so many variations of it around now, no longer is it plain white sliced bread but croissants or pannatone. Lovely for you to be able to step back and enjoy your family and home. xx

Kim said...

I, too, am pondering a changing season of life as my youngest of six graduates homeschool in 2 months. I've been asking the Lord what focus he wants me to have now and have yet to see anything clearly. I do hope to make more charity quilts and kindmof hope to get more involved in our church music. There could be the possibility of helping in a local soup kitchen. We'll see. Of course, there's the ongoing homemaking, including many of the "chores" like gardening and baking that you also find enjoyable.

Ondrea said...

It is good that you are winding down a bit even though we shall miss your designs. Family and better health are the most important things. Although people lived through harder times , that is all they knew and I am sure many did complain as we sometimes do. We are products of our environment and I often wonder if my grandsons will truly understand the different lives we and our parents and grandparents lived and endured. This is why putting pen to paper is so important, so future generations can read about it. Your girls must live you schooling them and it is a wonderful experience to share. My 5 year old grandson loves baking with his nana and his mum ( I do more crafty things with him). Lots of yummy food there. Oooo I loved bread and butter pudding. Those were the days .

Pink Rose said...

Hi Jenny oh my your baking looks so yummy and I haven’t had a turmeric latte in ages .
It will be nice for you to not have the pressure of deadlines and to spend time doing the things that you enjoy ,take care lovely lady 💕

Guida said...

Good luck with your homemaking, each of us knows when a change is needed in our lives, I wish you all well. Take care. Guida

Createology said...

Dear Jennifer your decision to reduce monthly pressures is indeed a wise one. Family is Priceless and far more important. I suppose I am in the Sunset season of my life. I certainly do not feel as old as my age says. I am realizing life is short and I must do the things that make me happy. Blessings my friend…

Sherry said...

My dear Jennifer, it's so nice that you are able to step back and enjoy life with your family. I know your grandchildren are a special joy to you. Even though it is soon to be summer here in the States, I feel like I'm in the winter of my life. I'll be 65 this year and can't do so many things that I used to do. My head tells me I'm still too young to feel this way but my body is not listening. But I still try to do what I can. I'm starting to feel the need to complete some things to pass down to my son. That will be what I spend my time and energy on in this season of my life. Thank you for listening my friend. Prayers for you and your family. Special prayers being said for peace and understanding for this chaotic world we live in.