Friday, December 30, 2022

December Days and the end of a year...

 I hope you've not overdone yourself this month? Many of you have a large family gathering at Christmas, which requires a bit more than the usual energy expenditure when family or guests visit for an 'ordinary' meal together. Hopefully you enjoyed this special season though, sharing the love and light of Jesus with those around you at home, and those far away whose voices made merry your heart over the phone or in a card or newsy letter. 

Ours was a fairly quiet Christmas, as is normal. We arrived at Blossom's around 7.30am to share breakfast with her, Ross and the children, opened gifts, listened to all that the children wanted to tell Poppy (as he works six days a week and does not see them as often as I do)...and we hugged, ate, played with the grandkids, before heading back home two hours later. After our visit the family had a tidy-up and Charlie had a nap, before they headed off to Ross's fathers house. Last year they came to our home, and will again next year, but in between years the main hours of the day are spent with Ross's family. :-)

Hubby and I relaxed the rest of the day (an unusually wet and moderately cool summer day for this time of year in the tropics), enjoyed a lunch of chicken cous cous salad and fresh baked bread, then we actually went and had a nap - something very rare for me as I normally cannot sleep in the daytime. Later we swam and floated in the pool between rain showers, and finished the day with a movie and some snacks. Oh, and some chocolate. mmm. nice. 

On the 28th of December we celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary. After breakfast he read to me a section of our marriage ceremony from the bible, and I read my part to him (both from Song of Songs). Then my dear man had to leave for work so I made sure dinner that night was one of his favourites (Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad), and I recreated our wedding cake. The brother of hubby's best man was a baker and made a beautiful banana cake with passionfruit icing at my husband's request. I made a much smaller version, but very yummy, and yesterday dear Blossom came by for the day and so the cake was shared amongst the children and the leftover section given to them to take home. 

Now here we are, just two days from New Year, and I'm finding it to be a time of deep reflection on the year which has passed, something Blossom and I discussed in detail yesterday. New Year for us is a time to shake off things from the old year which had proved cumbersome, overwhelming, or simply not worth our effort. We spoke about the positives we had learned about ourselves, about God, and about life during 2022 and how we intended growing in a number of areas which we noticed needed our attention. We made some good plans, but we also invited the Holy Spirit to change those plans if need be, and to give us discernment and wisdom to hear God and follow where He leads us in 2023. 

Have you had a time of reflection? Any thoughts you'd like to share?

So how have I spent the past three weeks of absence from blogging? Well, I have moved my small sewing room around to accommodate more of an office area, and I'll show photos of that once I finish reorganising shelves etc. During these early days of going through every shelf and storage area of the sewing room/office I have been implementing ways to use less space, and was able to find larger storage containers for my threads which actually take up less room because instead of seven thread boxes I now have three, plus one container of duplicate threads which are still in skeins and can be stored elsewhere. 

I use mostly DMC stranded embroidery threads in my designs, but also Cosmo as I have the full range of them. As Cosmo are more expensive than DMC and not as readily found overseas, they tend to be my go-to for personal use or patterns which do not require specific thread numbers.

I love the enticing rows of pretty threads, their colours offering a glorious sheen in the morning light...

My January reading list awaits, though I do admit to having already finished one of the books this week, 'Gracious House Keeping' by Mrs Sharon White, which I really enjoyed.

The British Bake-Off recipe book was a gift from hubby, as was the yarn pack for Attic 24's new Crochet-a-long which begins in just over a week.

Reading, crochet, stitching, writing, baking, the garden...these are all things I look forward to through the coming year, some of which I spoke of last month in THIS blog post about planning ahead. 

I've begun to play around with some slightly different bread recipes already...

....and have harvested calendula flowers (which have been dried naturally) and will soon make tins of calendula salve for the family. Loads of elderberries have been processed already, which I processed into bottles of elderberry syrup for health and cool drinks this summer.

I baked my first Panetonne this December, which 4yo Rafaella absolutely loved, and made many jars of jam for gift giving. I also baked fresh scones to go with the jam for my elderly neighbour because she often requests both from me. :-)

Another plan for relaxation next year, besides the crochet and reading and baking, is some cross-stitch. It's been years since I did this, and though I prefer the rhythmic surface-hand-embroidery of my own designs, I do love cross-stitch and have a desire to pick up some Aida cloth and stitch some lovely pictures for our home. These are the patterns I purchased, two designs by Plum Street Samplers (love her designs!).
Stitching scripture, and my fondness for cows...

As my re-organisation progress continues in the sewing room/office, I have had to consider the hundreds of original hand embroidery pieces I have designed over the years, and stored away. Naturally I cannot use them all, even though every piece contains the memory of a time and place when I sketched the idea, traced the design onto fabric, and spent many hours hand embroidering to create a pretty picture in needle and thread. 
I have put aside the ones I really, really love and want to keep, and have begun sewing them into items I can use - but I am also sewing some into items I will sell in my shop further into 2023. 

This is a bag I shall keep! The Jane Austen design is truly one of my favourites and I will probably design more patterns using her quotes in the coming year, but for now, I love how this stitchery came alive as the pocket on a new bag...

The handles have ties, slightly off centre, which I thought was a lovely touch. 

Now let me show you one of the stitcheries which I'm currently completing as a cushion cover, and this one will be listed for sale in my shop later in January.

At the moment I'm still hand quilting the borders. 

The patterns for both of these hand embroideries can be found in my shop as instant digital downloads - use the links below. The detailed patterns are only for the hand embroidery blocks, not the bag or cushion cover instructions.

The fabrics used on the cushion cover are old Tilda prints, some of my favourites, so as I normally do at this time of the year, I stitched part of the Heartstrings embroidery again and bordering it with these lovely prints, made my self a new pincushion for 2023.

The only change I made to that section of the Heartstrings stitchery was to add a leaf to the tailfeather of the bird. I highly recommend you try using sections of embroidery patterns to create smaller projects. If you need some inspiration have a look at this old blog post from 2018. :-)

Before I sign off today, in response to some queries, yes I shall continue with the Emilie Barnes book study as we're only half way through the book, and I'm sorry I took such a long hiatus from it (but I needed to put my attention elsewhere for a while). 

As is usual every new year, the annual January tea towel blog post (with free pattern) will be shared in a couple of weeks, and we shall get back on track with Emilie Barnes and the next chapter, titled "The Secret of the Kitchen" at the same time.

I'll be back on January 1st (or 2nd) with the next free pattern in my new "Virtuous Wife" block of the month quilt. 
If you missed the November and December blocks they are HERE

I pray we all experience the grace and provision of our wonderful God in the coming year; that we grow closer to Him and draw further away from the ways of the world; that no matter what we face, we remain assured that we are not standing alone, but are held fast in the strong, loving, faithful arms of Christ. 

Bless you heaps!! See you next year...

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Terri - Palm Bay, FL said...

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and God bless you and yours. Thank you for sharing all that you have this past year and for the Bible studies and the walk with God. May 2023 bring you and yours much peace, love, joy and happiness.

God bless you all.

Sandy in WA said...

Thank you so much for the wonderful 2022 designs. Wishing you many Blessings in 2023.

Lynette said...

As a new subscriber to your blog I can honestly say that I have been touched by everything you create and share. Having a fellow Christian that share and inspire others the way you do is truly appreciated. Looking forward to more in 2023. May our God and Father shower you with all that you need in 2023 and may He keep you safe as you trust and come closer to Him in the new year! x

Gail Blume said...

Jennifer, thank you for the "Happy Homemaker's" pattern. I will make it into a Journal cover for my Home journal for 2023, very pretty.

All the best for 2023 to you and your subscribers

God Bless!


Lin said...

A lovely catch up Jennifer. Christmas sounds blissful - no pressure, nice and relaxed. I love your new bag. My very best wishes for 2023. xx

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
Reading your blog today brings creative excitement for 2023 !
Thank you for sharing, writing about your time spent with family during the holidays.
The photos of the embroidery floss in their containers look great, bright, colourful! Such an assortment of colours ! Makes me happy just looking at a rack full of embroidery floss and well organised containters :)
I'll be enjoying Daisy A Day stitcheries and finishing off a project to wind down 2022.
Best wishes to you and your family for 2023 !
Hugs, take care,

Mary-Lou said...

Happy New year! And Happy Wedding anniversary! We went to Dublin for the day! Got caught in busy traffic! But managed a15 minutes horse drawn carriage ride around Stephens Green! With a horse called Mr Johnny Cash! Quiet Christmas day with our son and Brian who has dementia, my husband brother. Church was lovely on the theme Mary pondering. You can watch it on Whitewell Metropolitan Belfast on catch up! Christmas day. Our daughter Megan and her husband popped over. On Christmas eve we had Hannah and her boyfriend, our oldest daughter. Lovely blog. Thank you Jennifer I am going through Isaiah with David Pawson on u tube. Xx

Farm Quilter said...

Your Christmas sounds lovely - time spent with family is to be treasured. I pray the new year will be you and yours many blessings.

Anonymous said...


Little Penpen said...

Happy Anniversary! And I can’t imagine Christmas in the swimming pool! What a wonderful day!! It was crazy cold here! Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary, Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! I loved reading about your Christmas. It sounded so joyful and peaceful. Ours was quiet as well, and that was very welcome. Thank you for all your inspiration thru the year. I agree that we don't know what's ahead of us, but God does and will always be with us. Thank you for the reminder!

Susan said...

Our family Christmas was cancelled due to the blizzard we had and I am still recovering from surgery for kidney stones. We rescheduled a get together for the middle of January. I am glad you had a wonderful, relaxing Christmas and anniversary. I pray your new year is blessed with health, happiness and prosperity.

Kim said...

The beauty of your blog, your words, and your embroideries (and colorful flosses/threads) was just the soothing influence I needed on this "terrible, horrible, bad day" (which I hear you may have in Australia too. ;) That, and a cup of tea, progress on repairing a quilt, and time in prayer with our loving Lord. I've been spending some time looking at what goals I want to set for 2023 also and your reminder to be gentle even with myself is a good one.
May God bless you and yours as you continue to encourage and bless others.

Julie said...

Another beautiful post dear Jennifer. I love the photos of your floss threads all lined up in their containers. I think I might have to sort mine out after seeing this. Mine are a bit of a shambles at the moment. Wishing you a peaceful blessed New Year my dear friend ... I am pleased & relieved to read you are okay as I was worried by your absence from blogging for 3 weeks & just about to email you when I saw your post. Much love x0x0x

Pilarín said...

Feliz 31 aniversario de bodas!!!!
Espero que el Año Nuevo os traiga lo mejor de todo y que podáis disfrutar mucho de la familia.
Feliz 2023 lleno de proyectos creativos compartidos!!!
Besos desde España,

Anonymous said...

Bless you and yours, Jennifer. May 2023 be filled with His love, peace and much joy.🙋🏼‍♀️💕

Christine M said...

Sounds like a lovely Christmas Day. We had a quiet one too. Happy anniversary to you and Mark. Your bag is beautiful. Happy New Year Jennifer. xxx

Susan said...

I love the sound of your Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, we went to a Brazilian Steakhouse for dinner, our tradition for several years. It's an expensive wonderful meal, where you choose from 15 meats they bring around (along with pineapple to cleanse the palate) some table dishes and a fabulous salad bar. I save all year so we can go and have a nice family meal the boys enjoy and I don't have to cook. I can't stand long enough to cook a big meal yet! That takes us about 2 hours, and our Christmas starts with that.

On the Day, we open presents in the morning, and I read the Christmas story from Luke and from the Book of Mormon, both of which I love. The rest of the day is quiet activities, like reading and napping. Happy anniversary to you two. Mine was the 19th, and I remembered many wonderful times. It was the 54th one, the 13th without him.

I wish you the very best of new years in 2023, many inspirations, and a closer journey with Christ and with your husband and family. And no migraines!

Donna P. said...

A Blessed New Year to you too.
We also had a quiet Christmas Day, spent together. The day after, we visited my daughter and her family, the week before son and his girlfriend, and in February I'll go to AL to visit my other daughter.
I will also be doing "inventory" after the new year. Making room in our RV with all my crafts will be difficult but doable.
Thank you so much for everything you have done for us this year. I have loved reading your blog entries - there's so much in them!
Blessings to you and yours this New Year and always.

CarolE said...

I wish you and your family a very blessed and content New Year.

Anonymous said...

I have the Clara's Kitchen book! I love it. My grandparents were from Sicily. So many of the stories and recipes bring back memories of some of my mother's food and family stories (she was the youngest of 8) and the recipes are so familiar to what her mother and sisters would make. All delicious make-do recipes that have become like a delicacy in some cases.
Kathleen - kakingsbury at verizon dot net

Carol in Texas said...

Jenny, I too purchased the ‘This is the Day” Plum Street Sampler. I have fallen into the lovely web of Flosstube and have returned to crossstitch after so many years! The new patterns and fabrics are so enticing, and the visits with so many othe stitchers are a delight. I’m moving in cautiously….it can be very expensive. And I have a lot from my earlier crossstitch years. I will start that piece sometime this year. I do love it. And I love your blog. Your gentle spirit is a balm to my soul, and I love seeing your embroideries, a needlework at which I never excelled. I guess I need a grid…..needlepoint was my first needle love, followed by crewel, not my best work, and then crossstitch. I left it for quilting for many years, but as I said, I have returned to it with a vengeance! Take it easy as you need to do. Just don’t leave us! The world needs your kind and gentle words and works. Happy New Year to you and your dear family from central Texas.

Dots said...

Hi Jennifer,We had quite a snowstorm, so Christmas Eve and Christmas day were spent quietly at home with the Lord. I've had 69 Christmases in my lifetime, so quiet is cherished. Today is New Year's Eve. This is my granddaughter's due date for their first child. I'm looking forward to the event of a new baby addition to the family. I have been crocheting baby gifts: blanket, 2 hats, a crown, and bought some sleepers. It has been a busy few months. I am not into resolutions. But I am into good health. I have found a blog called that is very good. Thought you may like to check it out. I'm looking forward to a new year. I have reflected on 2022. God did some wonderful things for me. I had a surgery and recovered quickly. All my adult children are healthy, for which I am grateful to the Lord for.Good and bad has happened. But we still praise the Lord. He daily loads us with His benefits. Be well, Jennifer.

Emma - Barradale Farm said...

Your embroidery and creations are as beautiful as ever.

2022 for me was a heavy year, there were a lot of heavy times and worry about important things that were essentially out of my control, and while I looked to God, I struggled to find peace during those times.

But when we have gone through a stormy season we often grow in other ways. I am looking forward to 2023 with a lighter heart, though there remain some very sad things that are out of my control I still need to work to hand over to God regularly.

I'm looking forward to a renewed sense of purpose on my blog and our life on the farm. Our youngest is nearly three, and is growing more independent so that has given me time and freedom to pursue some of the things I love more easily again.

A lovely post Jenny. xx

Vallie said...

How can I order the crochet packet?

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Vallie, all the information is on the Attic 24 site -

Tammy said...

Dearest Jennifer that cushion cover you are working on is just beautiful., I cant wait to see your new dish towel for the new year. I am still busy trying to organize and get my house back under control again. It is going to take me a while though with all the appointments we have coming up, And with a sick cat to boot to clean up behind .
Take care of yourself Dear

Ondrea said...

I love your pretty blue bag. The crosstitch patterns look lovely which has reminded me to complete 2 crosstitches I half finished decades ago. More UFOs! I prefer Cosmo threads as they are a lot silkier to work with than DMC and DMC is no longer the quality of those I have from many years ago. Just my personal observations. I am very interested in seeking out that Anne Of Green Gables related book. I have never heard of it . I hope this New Year brings you and your family an abundance of all good things. Xx