Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Lessons of the past...


It's been quite a shock to skip over spring, and have summer arrive three months early, but that's the way of seasons around the world now so I have quickly adjusted my expectations to accept whatever the good Lord sends our way. After all, just waking each morning next to my beloved is a gift which I never fail to thank God for, and that perspective helps me to focus on everything I can give praise for, rather than what I could lament.


Yesterday I pulled up the remaining tomato plants as the green vegetable bug infestation had become too difficult to control. Jennifer lost and the bugs won. The hot and humid days bring them out 'en masse', each day adding more to their numbers than the one before, and far too many tomatoes were lost. Best idea was to take away their 'dinner' and bring the remaining fruit inside. 

Some will ripen on the dining table near the front window, others will be fermented, and still more shall become a fried green tomatoes side dish this week. I may dehydrate the ripening cherry tomatoes, but I'll see how things go. Chutney and pickles are another option.

The last butternut pumpkin, lettuce and bok choy were picked today, but we've still got snow peas growing so we feast on them each night. Spring onions do well here all year round, as does rocket (arugula), plus the 'new to us' beet greens are in abundance for the time being. It's wonderful to still have greens for our daily salads, but I've planted out more radish as we've gone through the last lot already. All the cucumbers, which gave us a bounty this winter, are gone, as is my coriander (cilantro) patch as they do not like the burning heat. 

I'm so glad that strawberries are cheap at our supermarkets right now, having arrived very late in the season, so I'm stocking up on them for jam making later in the week. This is the end of the tropical growing season, so I'm gathering locally what I can to preserve, freeze and use immediately. We will very soon be reliant on the spring/summer growing seasons of the cooler southern states (I'm in Australia if you weren't aware) and already we see prices higher than I can ever remember. 
Rockmelons (cantaloupes) are already $7 each, so next winter we will grow them.
Our local egg farm just closed because they cannot get workers to collect the wonder there's an egg shortage every second week in the supermarket. 

As I pondered all this last night, and reflected on the menus of my childhood living with Nana and Pop, I acknowledged that we've really strayed away from the simple fare of those days. Today, with all the cooking programs, social media sites and cookbooks, many people are buying a lot of different ingredients for just one meal...and that can be expensive. Add up the cost of spices (some you may only ever use once or twice in a year), special cuts of meat, vegetables which are out of season locally and so they're flown in from overseas, and any other number of ingredient requirements needed to re-recreate the recipe which caught your eye and made you won't be cheap. 

Now I don't know about you, perhaps you're quite well off and can afford those luxuries, but as house mortgage rates rise (ours has gone up four times in the past four months, and we feel the pinch, even with a small mortgage) my husband and I have had to sit back and assess all our expenditure - deciding what is necessary and what is not. Considering this, we reminded each other of what it was like growing up with grandparents (he was raised by grandparents too, just like me) and how very wise they were with money, having gone through the Great Depression and WW2. They experienced first hand what it was like to raise a family in those years and and learned what it was to go without. Those lessons were ingrained in their mind, and we want lessons like those to guide our ways in the difficult time ahead.

I've begun making bottles of natural teas every few days. Hibiscus for bringing down blood pressure (and it's working), and a mix of lemon balm/mint/ginger as a night time tonic to help me sleep (also wonderful). I used to have these as hot teas every so often, but now I have them as iced tea straight from the fridge - and neither of them are sweetened, as they're lovely and fresh just the way they are. 


I'm currently re-reading The Servant Queen, an inspiring book by the UK Bible Society about the faith of our late Queen, Elizabeth 11, her legacy coming to mind often over the past two weeks. Did you watch the funeral? We full of respect and dignity and love. 

Another read, though actually a daily study, my husband, Blossom and I are reading from the Complete Jewish Bible these days, and I cannot recommend this highly enough as it explains so clearly much of Jesus' teachings and what they meant to the 1st Century Jews He was living and ministering among. Brings the Bible, and especially Gospels, alive in quite an unexpected way.

In the evenings before bed I have another re-read. This book by Mrs Sharon White (you'll find her blog HERE) is one a handful of titles by her which I have purchased...

As you can tell, I love to fold over the corners of pages/topics I want to re-read! Her books are mostly blog posts she has written since about 2009, and full of her love for home, family, and more importantly, Jesus. In so many ways, as I read, it's like my own story of life. 


With every new season I tend to look over our living space and attempt to make it function that little bit better. Last week it occurred to me that when we walk in the back door, from the garden, no matter how much we try to avoid it, we bring in leaves, grass and sometimes muddy water. I've always had either the blue couch or the dining table against the wall of the back door, so dust and debris end up either under that couch or scattered under the table and between the chairs. 

My new re-arrangement is probably the most sensible one yet! I made a walkway from the back door into the kitchen at long last.

My desk is now in direct line from the new air conditioner, which really is important as I need to do work each day there and our spring/summer/autumn is ghastly hot.


I hope and pray each of you are doing well, in whatever circumstance you are facing. Though a believer for 31 years, the Lord is still stretching me, He is still guiding me, and He is still forgiving me when I fall along the way. You may have that same testimony? 

No matter the mortgage increases, the cost of groceries, or the scarcity of eggs, if we can curb our spending, eat and live more simply, be mindful of not using the car more than we need, switching off appliances at the wall when not in use, give thanks for all we have, and above all be content knowing that we are children of a great and mighty God who shall supply all our needs according to His riches in glory (note, the Word says needs, not wants)...then we shall be okay. 

The Bible directs us to look to the old ways, and the old ways for me are the examples I saw growing up in Nana and Pop's tiny flat. Simple meals, small delights, contented hearts, creativity, beauty in flowers, there's no garden too small, hard work, staying home each day and not wandering off to socialise because attention to keeping home was most important, cleanliness of self/belongings/home, regular daily rhythms, respect for God, generosity to those in need, and restful evenings together as a family.

What have you learned from the old ways of your childhood? I'd love to hear them.

Bless you heaps,

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Lin said...

I have long tried to shop seasonally for fruit and veg, refusing to purchase produce that has been flown around the world. I look forward to my summer tomatoes and berry fruits, avoiding them in the winter, and winter root vegetables for soups and stews. That way they become a treat to look forward to each season. Of course, home grown is better but that is not always possible. We are coming to the end of our tomato crop now and I am looking forward to enjoying what is left as soup or sauce through the winter. xx

Allie said...

(Jeremiah 6:16) "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.
I think this verse makes so much sense - and fits your post perfectly. I don't remember much about childhood, unfortunately, but I do remember my grandpa making fried onions and potatoes for meals, and the abundance of food - picking raspberries in summer with him for our breakfast - simpler is better. I like to watch videos on youtube about great depression cooking, and hear how they lived.
Our city just put out a poll on how the residents feel about the overwhelming deer population. Hopefully they'll do something about it, as nobody can really grow a garden! I'm going to be looking into options on growing food year round, a friend's nephew does that, they have a whole room in their house devoted to an indoor garden and eat well all year. We'll see, lol! The quality of produce has really gone downhill in the stores. And meat is just too expensive.
Great post, dear girl! Love you!

terricheney said...

There was a point in my childhood where we lived in a home without running water and all that entailed, outdoor facilities, hauling water. Growing up we gardened big time and preserved and froze foods for the coming winter/spring when fresh was scarce. My mother was not as frugal as my grandmothers but she taught me a great deal just the same, about using less expensive cuts of meats. She also taught me about poor spending habits as hers were atrocious for all her frugal ways in the kitchen. I learned to sew as a girl and made all my own clothes through high school.
From my grandmothers I learned the wisdom of simple seasonal pleasures and foraging for wild foods, and a hard work ethic that has stood me in good stead.

Mary-Lou said...

Hi Jennifer, what a truly lovely post and I100% agree with you! I have had a lovely 6 days in Co Clare with my husband and dear friendMargit who I met in Israel in1985. She lost her Mum after caring for her on a 1 to 1 basis for 10 years. She heads out to Nepali October and January to Cambodia to see the children she supports. It's cheaper to go there than live in Germany. I have just done 2 hrs gardening in ours all garden lovy weather here atm. I love that verse of Scripture. We need to immerse ourselves in His word and tell others Jesus Loves them. Lots of love ❤️πŸ™πŸ˜˜πŸ’•

Susan said...

I learned canning and preserving foods, but not from my mother or aunt. I learned by making a lot of mistakes! One summer when Paul and I were camping, it was ripe black raspberry time. The forest we stayed in had a meadow surrounded by berry bushes and down the road an empty house with scads of red raspberries. I had never picked berries, so Paul took me and we picked and picked and picked. He had to go back to our campsite and bring the car because we (I!) picked too many to carry. LOL But then, what to do with them all?

Off we went to a little store nearby which carried food, furniture and anything else the country folk needed - including canning supplies and advice. We bought all the jars and Sure Jell and sugar we needed, and a big pot for the woodfire grill at our campsite and we spent two days making jam. Okay, it had a slight smoke taste, but we ate it all winter and it was so good. That was the beginning of my canning adventures. =)

My grandmother and mother had canned when I was very little, but I was too little to help, and then my mother died when I was 9. My aunt did grow a garden for the first few years I lived with her, but not after my uncle retired - it was only roses, roses, roses then! Good memories, though. Thanks for your thought-provoking post. I hope your new furniture arrangement simplifies cleaning and life!

Anonymous said...

In a family of modest means who were beset by financial difficulties, I learned very early the difference between “want” and “need”. My mother had to be frugal and resourceful in order to feed and clothe us. In my own adult life, I have been fortunate to live more comfortably, but still had to budget carefully when my children were small. My own children have been quite successful and I don’t see that those lessons have been passed on to my grandchildren in the same way. They all have good hearts and are willing to help others, but the current world situation will test them. Perhaps that is a good thing.
I have begun veggie gardening in a much more purposeful way since the pandemic began and still enjoy preparing healthy foods from scratch, as I have always done.
Thanks for your lovely posts and photos of your home and life. I need those “slow down” reminders! At 71, my energy always gives out before the to do list is completed.

Martha N said...

Dearest Jennifer, I just read your newsletter and had to come immediately and comment! I also love blogs and getting to "know" someone as I feel I have gotten to know you. We have lots of interests in common but live in such different climates and across the world from each other! I love hearing about your days. Your blog has been such an encouragement and blessing to me and, I'm certain, to many others. Sending you God's peace, Martha

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny, I always enjoy reading your blog posts and always look forward to them. I have been following you for many years. Although I am not a Christian I find much wisdom and joy in what you write and share with us and I have learnt so much. So glad you are continuing with regular blogging. Thankyou for all your freebies and tutorials. Cheers, Sarah

Elizabeth said...

Jennifer, I do enjoy reading your posts!! I have not yet taken advantage of a single pattern you share...but perhaps one day. Things this year have been so full of chaos that I have not done anything crafty in a long time...even before this year was hard...but we had a fast move due to the hospital where we lived trying to kill my husband, verified by a doctor friend in another part of the state, so our son dropped everything and moved us near him, on the opposite coast of husband survived and is still recovering...and in ways me too, for I also had a varient of covid in addition to what happened to him. Many doctor visits to get established here plus all the usual parts of life and resettling etc. So it is lovely to read peaceful things on blogs like yours...hope you keep writing!!

Lorrie said...

Dear Jennifer,
As your garden diminishes because it's becoming too hot, ours is, also, because of the cold. I'm still harvesting green beans, zucchini, and tomatoes, and planted a winter garden of lettuce, kale, and brussels sprouts. I try to purchase what is in season and have filled my freezer with berries of all kinds and some vegetables, such as green beans for soups. Carrots stay in the garden most of the winter and are pulled as needed. I canned some lovely peaches and made jam this year, and it is satisfying to have a stocked larder. We have been blessed financially, and do not worry for ourselves, but our hearts ache for so many who are struggling, and we want to help where we can.
I read your recent email, and heartily concur with your thoughts about blogging. So many have left that platform, yet it is the best for getting to know people, and I continue to blog as I have for 15 years already.

Anonymous said...

Hello Jennifer,
O please blog again. The world is going crazy just now and I can’t understand why common sense is no longer prevailing . Although having just written that it really is all in the Book. Why am I surprised? My grandmother was really quite amazing when it came to really sensible, frugal living. How I wish I could remember more of all she knew. In her later life when rubber gloves became the norm, she would cut them up for rubber bands if they developed a hole (I’m 71 and still do this). She washed and rewashed plastic bags and cut up old towels for wash clothes. If sheet wore in the middle she cut the down the worn middle and joined the side seams to get extra wear. She was a hard worker and had a few simple recipes that she cooked over and over again, and the were delicious. Especially her rock cakes.
Please keep blogging. We learn so much from the like minded people here. We need to encourage each other in these strange times.
Blessings Gail.πŸ’•

Anonymous said...

I have followed you for years and I absolutely love reading your blog. I’m terrible about leaving a comment. I will try to do on all the blogs I read. I really enjoy when you write the grands. My grandson is six and each age has their fun experience. I also like when you show how you have changed up some things in the house. I love to change my room around. Take care. Hugs,

Julie said...

Hello dear Jennifer - I don't know how I missed this post. I have just read your newsletter & wanted to stop by & say that I 100% agree with you regarding your feelings about blogging & Instagram. I have such an affinity for blogs & blogging & Yes it takes time & effort but like you, I enjoy the feelings of sharing & also reading of how other bloggers go about their lives. So much more than instant instagram where you upload a quick pic. I shall always, always visit your beautiful blog dear Jen ... you are one of my all time favourites & a dear friend. xx

Jenny said...

Dear Jennifer, thank you for your recent email newsletter and for this blog post. I do come to your blog, read all of your emails, and also read the comments from this lovely community, all for the feeling of peace it brings me. I am "old school" and love reading blogs and living a simple life, and I'm thankful every day for other like-minded souls who help encourage me!

P.S. I love the walkway you've created just by moving the couch. It has inspired me to consider a similar rearrangement in my own home. :)


Farm Quilter said...

I used to read lots of blogs daily, but suddenly I was no longer doing anything else!! Not what I wanted or needed, so now there are 4 blogs I read when they hit my mailbox, because I have come to "know" these ladies. The others, I'll read occasionally, but not often. The prices of everything have definitely led to no air conditioning here and trying to wait until the end of October to turn on the heat (it's 64 in here right now, so wrapped in blankets with the dog hiding between my calves under the blankets to keep warm). Cooking for one is not my thing, so I try to cook one thing a week and have that as my main meal all week long. Not grocery shopping often now and relying on the food I have gotten extras of in the last 2.5 years to get me through...may lose some weight as well!

Bonni said...


I look forward to seeing your emails about your blog pop up in so I can go and read your posts. I forget to leave comments which is my fault and I really should remember since I blog also.

I love learning from the past. I am sorry that I don't have any space where I live to have a garden nor enough light in my place to grow inside, Perhaps that is best because I really o hate to weed. Grandma and Grandpa always had a garden and grew lettuce, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions and such. Grandpa took care of the garden and would take a chair out there when he had to weed or bring up its bounty, Grandma would do the cooking and canning and to this day I miss her apple butter and stewed tomatoes.

One of the things they also liked to do, which my mom and I did also after they passed and we moved in, was to take the bounty of the elderberries to our neighbor and trade with another neighbor who had produce that we liked. The neighbors wife didn't make pies so mom would make the neighbor elderberry pie and when she came home she had an armful of vegetables. Exchanging food with neighbors was always happening and appreciated.

You help motivate me to continue truing to get better with my needlework.

Thank you so much.

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
What a day ! Started out at 4 C and warmed up to 20 C !
That was perfect weather for the garden hedge removal work ! It's gone ! Job done !
Love to see your new furniture arrangement :) If it's not nailed down there are so many possibilities :)
Why boil just two eggs when there's room for more in the pan ?
I enjoyed reading the other comments. There were quite a few that reminded me of growing up.
Gails suggestion about cutting up rubber gloves to make rubber bands is so cool !
hugs, take care,

Robin in New Jersey said...

Hi Jennifer! Thank you for continuing to blog. You are a treasure! I love your Godly wisdom and encouragement.
The Queen's funeral was so respectful and lovely. The family walking behind her one step at a time was such a beautiful tribute to her. At the very end of the day when they sang God save the King, it looked like Charles teared up. I don't know how they all kept it in all day.
Your home is so bright and cheery😊
Looking forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

Maria McCabe said...

I love your newsletters and your blog. I have been a follower since the days you were created with the other women in a group. Fir the life of me I can’t remember the name of the group! Gumtree?

I watched the coverage of the Queens’ funeral. Even though I’m “across the pond” I love the Royal family. It was beautiful and even though she lived a long wonderful life of service, it was sad. I feel for the Royal family, having to comfort the country while their hearts are broken.

God bless you Jenny!

Maria McCabe said...

I love your newsletters and your blog. I have been a follower since the days you were created with the other women in a group. Fir the life of me I can’t remember the name of the group! Gumtree?

I watched the coverage of the Queens’ funeral. Even though I’m “across the pond” I love the Royal family. It was beautiful and even though she lived a long wonderful life of service, it was sad. I feel for the Royal family, having to comfort the country while their hearts are broken.

God bless you Jenny!

mom2three said...

It's always so interesting to read about life in Australia. I'm in the US. We've had some labor shortages in our town, but honestly nothing that has really affected us. Same with food shortages. Nothing that has affected us, the occasional item that isn't in stock and I have to get it the next week. Prices are up on many things, but stable on others. It seems that the things we buy - lots of organic fruits, veggies and meats, are available and steady in price. The processed stuff is definitely going up significantly, and going out to eat is considerably more than it once was. But, I have celiac and so we don't go out too often, and we don't eat much that is prepared by anyone other than me. Reading about the egg shortage and price increases in your town makes me realize just how lucky we are.

Susan said...

Yours is one of the few blogs I still follow and actually READ every time it comes in. I admit I don't comment on every entry, but do so as lead by the Spirit. One of the things I enjoy most is the blessing you have at the end of your posts. Another is when you share what God is teaching you. I have never done FB, Instagram or any other social media. I am the only one in my family that doesn't do FB. It's sad when that is the only way they communicate 99% of the time. They call or email only when they want something from me.
Another thing I appreciate about your blog, is you don't feel you have to post everyday and so yours is well thought out and worth reading.

Susan said...

Just one more comment: I enjoy hearing about what you are reading. You show two books in this post in which I can make out the title, but not the author. The, "Complete Jewish Study Bible," doesn't show an author's name. The, Jewish New Testament Commentary," does, but I cannot make out the last name on the cover. Would you tell me the author's name and publisher so I can see if I can find a place to order the books. I am really interested in reading these. Thanks, and God Bless.

Lydia said...

I "discovered" you and your blog during the Shabby Roses Quilt days. I so enjoy hearing about your life in Australia (I'm in the US). I've wanted to travel to Australia my whole life. I've enjoyed all the travel photo's and photo's of your rental homes, and now your forever home. The gardens, the pool, the birds, your creative studio space, and all the rest. I've gotten a lot of decorating tips and ideas. I can't wait for new blogs posts to see what you've been doing. I always make time to take a break and really dive into when your blog posts. It's like I'm visiting with a friend. Just wanted you to know how much I enjoy your blog.

Kim said...

I've been enjoying reading through The Complete Jewish Study Bible this year, too. It has helped me notice how often Jesus quoted (or started a well-known, memorized quote) from the Old Testament.

dbwalter2 said...

I love your designs! I made the Psalm 23 into a small quilted hanging for a friend whose husband passed away. It turned out quite nice. Now I find myself in the same place in life in that my husband passed away recently. I haven't been doing any quilting or embroidery. However the other day I remembered the Postcards you created and feel I would like to work on something small. Problem is I can find some of the posts with the design but I can't find any instructions on making the Post Cards. Was that in a separate posting? Thank you for your help. God bless!