Friday, July 21, 2023

Bread, garden, and the quiet life (free patterns)...


 I really do enjoy baking bread. And not just the daily loaf, though that's an essential for my darling man, who dearly loves a few slices of bread with his supper each night. What I enjoy more than the daily loaf is baking a variety of other breads which can be served in different ways, and made into lovely work lunches for hubby to enjoy. 

This past week I made another focaccia, but with two different toppings - Celtic sea salt, garlic & rosemary; and rosemary, olives and sundried tomatoes. 

We eat this with almost anything! Now that we're even more mindful of the grocery bills, much simpler nutritious meals grace the table, and a delicious freshly baked focaccia instantly lifts a bowl of soup or a pot of baked beans to new heights. It's inexpensive to make, easy, and fun. Three great qualities in a home-baked bread!

I also made Cypriot Pita breads, as my son-in-law is Cypriot/Greek and loves anything I make him from his these were a test run (which hubby and I gobbled up) and as they were very successful I'll now bake them for Ross, Blossom and the children. 

I picked tomatoes, cucumber, and lettuce from the garden, opened a jar of home-pickled capsicum, and thinly sliced a small lamb leg steak as our filling. 

I had not made any fresh yoghurt (absent minded), so decided to try my hand at making my own mayonnaise, something I've often thought about but never followed through on. Well, goodness me, it was easy!! If only I'd known sooner, this would have appeared in our menu years ago. No more buying it from the store, so more $ will be saved in our grocery bill. 


It's such a blessing to harvest from the garden. Each day I gather supplies for our meals, which can be tomatoes, cucumber, cucamelons, lettuce, rocket (arugula), spring onions, baby beets, snow peas, capsicum, jalapenos, zucchini, rockmelons, passionfruit, herbs...some days its a bit of everything, other days it's just a few, but every single day we get a bowl of these cherry tomatoes.

(that big yellow ball in the centre is a golden passionfruit)

I pack some of the red ones up in a container for 5yo Rafaella as she eats them like strawberries. In fact she can't get outside fast enough to pick some when she visits! 
Cully May prefers to pick cucumbers because she likes them sliced and put into her school lunch box instead of fruit. 

The blueberries are now in flower, which is early as we're still in's not been much of a winter; I'm sitting here in a sleeveless dress and sandals, STILL. Such is life in the tropics. 

An excitement this week are bananas appearing. We have eight banana trees at present, and the first has produced a flower, which in turn is bringing forth bananas. Can't wait, as I'm not much of banana fan, unless they're home grown - for some reason they taste way better.

The lemon and lime trees still have fruit almost ready to pick from last season, but there's loads of flowers on them again. Where we live the citrus trees tend to fruit year round. 


I decided not to blog 'just for the sake it' quite a while ago. Even though I enjoy sharing sewing, cooking, gentle living and all the things they entail, it still doesn't seem right to blog when there's not much to say. 
So many blogs these days are overrun with advertisements, as the bloggers use them to make money, yet all it ever does for me is make me want to close the page and forget them. Do you feel that way?? I'd hate to blog for money, to be on that hamster wheel of having to write for the sake of it, no matter whether I had something genuine to write about or not. 
Naturally, I'm still a pattern designer, and do need to make a living from that, so when I have something new to show you I will share it here...that's quite normal for me. But apart from that, when I open this page to write, it's with a hope that you are encouraged in your own life by some little thing I might say or show you. 
How often are we all inspired by a few simple sentences, a photo, a recipe, an idea, a passage of Scripture? For me, this happens regularly through the blogs I still enjoy visiting (the ones without ads), and through the books I read or listen to, as well as in conversations with my darling Blossom, or my dear friends Rosie, Allie and Fee. 
Anyhow, just thought I'd explain a bit more (from a couple of months ago) about why blogging has slowed at Elefantz. Of course, that doesn't mean you won't receive a bundle of regular blog posts one month! After all, lots may be happening and I'll be inspired to share it all, especially as I'm considering hosting a stitch-a-long in a month or two that you (and I) might enjoy. 

Quiet for me is also just pottering about at home, keeping everything running as smoothly as I'm able with hubby working six days a week. 
Balancing our decreased budget is a skill being fine-tuned at present; emptying the pantries to do up an inventory will fill my time next week; getting the most from the garden while we can before the insane heat returns in spring is a daily task; cooking from scratch 99% of the time instead of 90% of the time; sketching and drafting brand new designs for a 2024 block of the month; plus making time to enjoy my grandchildren, swimming a kilometre each day in the pool, and deeply, very deeply, immersing my mind and heart in the Word of God just as the sun tips over the horizon at daybreak.

That may all sound 'busy', and yet it's not, for none of it is rushed - now. 
I was moving faster the first two weeks after we found out our income was going to be greatly reduced, but that only caused mental stress, and mental stress is bad for I've let go and chosen to slow back down and move at that wonderfully calming pace I worked at before; doing what I'm able whilst being a tad more attentive to the 'how' and 'whys' so as not to waste my energy or time, but to value it. 

Cooking is definitely a skill to be grateful for. Being able to 'whip up' a meal from the items on hand genuinely helps any woman's budget, but I think learning new skills adds to that ability, so as well as making use of the local library's cooking section, watching YouTube lessons, and having a go at making basics I once had only purchased (like the mayonnaise), I've also scoured the shelves of a few local op shops for cheap cookbooks that have an abundance of recipes we'd enjoy. For only a couple of dollars I found these two recently...

Both have a large variety of recipes that have minimal and 'ordinary' ingredients, easy steps, and look as though they'll be quite delicious, so I am very much looking forward to expanding my ability to work with little whilst still delivering good flavours. I'll turn the pages each afternoon as I sit out under the huge and shady poinciana tree with my cup of tea, a time when I stop everything and simply enjoy the beauty and solitude of our garden. Having a quiet place to sit mid-afternoon helps enormously with slowing the mind as well as the body. Along with the cuppa I take a novel with me (current read is Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey), or a cookbook, or my Bible, or a sketchpad, or just my camera in case the birds arrive to entertain me with their chatter and songs.

Before I sign off, let us take a moment to look at 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12...
"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life. You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

No matter what challenges come along in my life, or those odd moments when I question what I'm really doing with these latter years, I tend to end up back in these two verses assessing my priorities in the light of God's Word....and peace eventually fills me. It has become a compass of sorts, one which points me back to where I'm called to be, for too often doubts can creep in and I question the choices in  my life which once were so sure. 
This passage of Scripture holds wise instructions for homemakers like us who crave a quiet life, a productive life, a life which has value beyond our human understanding, because seen through the eyes of God it will have eternal significance - and that is what matters. 


For some quiet life encouragement, perhaps you'd like to stitch 1 Thessalonians 4:11? 

I shared two free patterns based on that passage of scripture during the Covid crisis in 2020, so I'll share them both again today for those who may have missed out. So often I find scripture sinks deep when I stitch the words or simply contemplate a certain passage, so whether you make the small stitchery or the larger mini quilt, or both, may you be blessed with every stitch.

Use the links below to download the patterns...

God bless you lovely ones, and we'll chat again soon, so till next time...
Hugs and prayers,

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Tracy said...

As a reader of blogs, rather than a blogger, I much prefer to read quality rather than quantity. I also hate intrusive ads and pop-ups. Your blog is a lovely calm space which is a joy to visit.

Anonymous said...

As always your posts brings smiles and encouragement. I live verse and try to remind myself to “be in this world but not of it”. God bless.

Lin said...

Oh my, that focaccia looks good! And home made mayonnaise is way nicer than the stuff you can buy. I once watched a programme about how commercial mayonnaise is made - never again! xx

Wendy said...

Thank you for your lovely blog and the time you take to make such beautiful posts. I may not comment enough, but I do want to tell you how comforting your work and photos are to me. You are a blessing to my soul. Thank you and God Bless you and yours.

Martha said...

Thank you for another blog filled with wisdom, encouragement and God's word. I definitely appreciate that you are not always promoting this, that or the other to spend money on. Your photos are beautiful to look at. Love, love, love the scripture and will meditate on it until your next blog.

Allie said...

Oh that looks so yummy! I too hate blogs filled with adverts. They just aren't friendly - even though I've stopped blogging, I still read a few, and yours is top priority! I feel as though I'm stopping by for a cuppa (I WISH) and we're just chatting.
I love that verse. Leading a quiet life, working with our hands, making a home, feeding our families - yes. This is serving the Lord. Thanks for the reminder, and sharing your darling patterns again!

Angie in SoCal said...

I always look forward to your blog posts, Jenny. Today as I got ready to take a morning break, after squeezing a small Valencia and mixing it with cold water, I was pleased to see there was a blog post from you. I smiled and settle in to read your message from your quiet and comforting life. Blessings,

Dots said...

Hello Jennifer, So appreciate you. Love that you cook great meals and talk about how to fix things good to eat. When God satisfies our mouths with good things! We need to know ways to prepare foods. Add that we are Countries apart, I love that you grow bananas and talk about that. Because we can't grow those in Ohio. I've never seen or ate passion fruit before. So I learn about so many new things. I love that.
So hoping to recover more, so that I can get around better. I miss cooking, especially baking. I miss all that the most. I cook some. But nothing like I would like to do. When I can, I am gonna make focaccia bread and Ciabatta rolls.
Be well, Jennifer.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for another beautiful post. I do look forward to reading your posts. You encourage me to slow down and examine my own life. Thank you for that.

Julie said...

How beautiful Jennifer. Thank you for the stitcheries - I too am craving a quiet life. When I turn my diary over for the week & there is nothing in it- to me thats a gift. I love seeing what your garden produces when its mid winter - it always fascinates me. The only thing I am able to grow in winter here is brassica's & silverbeet, which the hungry birds feast on. I have never properly learnt to bake bread - I used to do some in Mum's breadmaker but I would love to learn to do it by hand as you do. I must make some time to learn this skill as I think my husband & I would really enjoy homemade bread. Wishing you a peace filled weekend dear friend x0x

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
A beautiful blog post from you to enjoy while enjoying a cup of tea on this cooler 17 C , Saturday afternoon :)
I enjoyed reading all the positive comments from the others :)
Such as
-Quality rather than quantity
-brings smiles and encouragement
-You are a blessing to my soul
- I love that you grow bananas and talk about that.
-blog filled with wisdom, encouragement and God's word
-I feel as though I'm stopping by for a cuppa (I WISH) and we're just chatting.
Such a lot of love !
I thought about making that Quiet Life Mini Quilt the first time around ! Now it's back in view on todays post! It still looks so lovely and means much more to me now that it did then. We do learn as we get older don't we :)
Thanks for sharing your " commercial free" days !
hugs, take care,

Susan said...

Oh such a beautiful garden! I like seeing your pictures. Paul takes pics of what he's doing in mine. I know my okra are growing, though I can't see them, even from my balcony by the bedroom, and I know the flowers out front are growing and multiplying, because those I CAN go stand on the porch and look at ... or sit down and pretend like I don't need to as I look. LOL My snake plant are just bursting out of their pots, and I hope to have at least one bloom, as that's only happened once in my life, but it was in this house, so I'm hopeful. Else I'll separate them into lots of pots and give them away, because there will be plenty more growing to take their places.

I've never actually seen a living banana tree, so that was a treat for me. To imagine, it grows just like citrus does in the desert I love! I have no fruit in my yard, but my friend, Stacey has some, and is planting 5-6 more in an orchard on one side of her house. I will get to watch hers grow. =0 She shares with me, too.

Thank you so much for all your gentle words of wisdom, and Thessalonians. It's one of many great passages we can rely on, as we trust in God and our Savior. You are always an inspiration to me, Jennifer, and I rely on you to help me keep facing the right direction. =)

Anonymous said...

I want to come eat at your house . . . you make everything look so yummy and inviting :o)
I think I may try to make mayo someday.
Kathleen - kakingsbury at verizon dot net

chipmunk said...

Thank you, Jenny, for another comforting and inspiring blog. You have indeed inspired me to try making mayonnaise; our quail are giving us ten eggs a day, which is WAY more than we use. I have been collecting them and dehydrating the unused ones for this winter, but it would be pretty neat to have fresh mayo for our cucumber salads!

Ondrea said...

You are so creative with your cooking and baking. I have been watching The Great British Bakeoff and they have come up with various focaccia and other bread ideas. I don't bake as I can't eat much bread. Lol, I also don't cook as creatively . Hmm, blogs with ads really annoy me as I struggle to find the next sentence or paragraph and don't look at them anymore as they are too distracting and end up a chore. I only look at one blogger who does that but I find it really frustrating and difficult. Advertising is everywhere these days and I am over it. As for the quiet life, unless unexpected stress occurs, my life is a bit too sedentary. I have no social life and realise I am quite alone apart from being blessed with family which I am forever thankful for. I have never been one to gossip and have found this to be a problem when I have been in group situations as I never fit in. The norm seems to be gossip, rumours and treading on other people's toes without a thought. Cynical? Lol.

Ruth said...

I so look forward to receiving your emails, they are very comforting and inspiring at the same time. Your suggestions for not wasting resources and finances are encouraging to me too, as I also am in my later years and always looking to find ways to save money. I've been reading you for years and I was wondering if you have ever contemplated writing a book. I find that you are a very eloquent writer. Your interests spam many subjects so it could be a book more centralized or one simply like your emails which span several topics. It's just an idea that could also bring in more income. Have a blessed day!

Kim @ Purring Cottage said...

I agree with Ruth (above). Please consider collecting some of your encouraging, gracious, inspiring thoughts and photos into a beautiful book. I know it will probably take a lot of time and maybe put more pressure on yourself than you'd like, but it's worth considering anyhow.

Carol in Texas said...

What a lovely blog entry, Jennifer. I look forward to the entry when you will share your recipes for this focaccia and a number of other dishes you have mentioned in past blog entries. The bread looks delicious! I am such a bread lover!!!!

Winifred said...

Thank you for another lovely post from your wonderful blog/ It's such a pleasure to hear about how you and your family live, food for the soul Jennifer.

I love homemade focaccia bread too, I don't need to have anything else with it so I must make some again. Your tomatoes look delicious. My granddad used to grow them in his greenhouse & your photo brought back the memories of the time I used to spend with him at his allotment. I could almost smell them & taste the little yellow ones which like Rafaella I used to eat like sweets. Well sugar was still rationed in those days so I loved them. Happy memories.

God bless.

Mary-Louise Parker said...

Thank you Jennifer, I enjoyed so much!! What has been a stressful time for us after years caring for Mark's brother who has been admitted to a Locked unit forhis assessment of his mental capabilities. A clever man, but the Dr's have never met anyone like him he has we think 2 forms of dementia. He does love The Lord Jesus. From there he will finally go into care! God has been with us through it all, not easy but soo thank ful to Him!

Miriam said...

Thank you for your posts and for the Quotes and your patterns again. I like them both and remember the previous post with them. In this period I can’t do embroidery or knitting or other...we are having a very, very long period of heatwave, with temperatures over 40’ here in the south of Italy. I feel exhausted.
Big, big, hug ,

Janette said...

Thank you Jenny! I enjoyed this post so much and enjoy visiting your blog it is a quiet place of calm and encouragement for me and even though I look forward to your posts and am always excited to see a new one from you I much prefer your no ads blog and your posts being not so regular makes them more exciting for me to look forward too.

FlourishingPalms said...

It's always delightful to read your blog posts, perhaps because your lifestyle is so opposite of mine. Seeing your garden, and all the vegetables and fruit you harvest, makes my mouth water. What I wouldn't give to be able to grow a decent tomato here in the sandy soil of Florida. And growing your own bananas? Now that's amazing! I can't imagine how good those would taste. But what's really triggered me, in this post, is your focaccia bread. I'll be searching-out a recipe to see if I can make it in our new, small air-fryer/convection Cuisinart oven. It's way too hot (like 35 C) to justify using our regular (big) oven. Thanks for baking inspiration!

Rhonda said...

Love the reminder had a quiet life is biblical.
I function best in a quiet life, but most of the world seems to be on high speed right now

Simply Ann said...

I have been reading your blog for years and I enjoy it so much. I’m so grateful that you don’t have any ads on your blog for the same reason that you don’t read blogs with ads. It’s the same with YouTube, the ads are so annoying that I just don’t wanna watch anything.
I always enjoy your garden and seeing the pictures of your produce. Here in Colorado things are just starting. I just picked my first couple of tomatoes, and I have some zucchinis that are just about ready to pick. Our current bushes have thrived in this heat, and I have several gallons of juice in my refrigerator waiting to be made into jellies and syrups. It is so hot, in Colorado, that things are drying out and growing very slow. The grasshoppers are the worst that I have ever seen. Now the fires have started so our skies are full of smoke, even though we had a huge snow fall, in fact, some of the mountains still have snow on them.

I am glad to hear that making mayonnaise is easy to do because it is also some thing that I have been wanting to try. I found out I have high cholesterol and the mayonnaise that I have to buy is so expensive. I have also been trying to bake all of our bread and be more mindful of what we are eating.

I haven’t posted any comments for quite some time, but I do read each and everyone one. Keep blogging Jenny, you are a blessing to us all.

Frankie Ann

Annabel said...

You found gorgeous books at the op shop! Books like these cost a fortune and are so beautiful. Your garden is wonderful, I loved seeing the bananas coming on. Scarlett also eats the little tomatoes and I make up little containers for her to take to school. I figure they are so full of goodness and freshness so I need to make sure I keep cherry tomatoes going as well as other types. I agree that cooking skills are so needed. Being able to make something tasty from what we have, what is affordable! Have a lovely new week! xxx