It was indeed a full week. The kind that can catch you off your guard in more ways than one. It began with days slightly cooler than we've had this winter, and they were just what was needed to refresh body and soul before the soon-to-return tropical heat.
But little Charlie, just 31 months old, who had been battling fevers that came and went with increasing lethargy over the few days previous, ended up in hospital on Tuesday. He went downhill on Monday night and the doctor thought it was a blood infection so after being rushed into Emergency early Tuesday morning, he was monitored through the day, and once his fever was back down Blossom (who had barely slept for days) and Ross were advised to take him home to continue recovering from what was now believed to be influenza. Apparently the paediatric wards in our hospital were overflowing with babies and small children battling Influenza A or B, and RSV, so it was deemed safer for him to be at home. We only have a few paediatricians in Townsville (the waiting list to see them can be two years) and I can only imagine the strain that puts on parents, and our doctors and nurses in Paediatric wards.
I called on my two prayer partners (all the way over in the USA) Allie and Susan, and more friends prayed after I posted on Instagram. What a blessing to have so many praying for our little fellow and all the children still in hospital. Charlie is continuing to recover well, and we are praising God for His faithfulness again...as if we can ever praise Him enough, for He is faithful day by day.
One afternoon I was out in the yard taking the washing off the line and glanced over to my right where a visitor had arrived...a Muscovy duck! Perhaps you don't know, but birds are a true delight to my heart and when I am in the midst of trials, or weariness, or extended seasons of deep prayer, God uses birds to remind me He is watching and that I can be sure He is working in the midst of every situation. This past week having a Muscovy spend two hours in my company before flying off into the sunset was a miraculous example of the Father's care - for I had never before seen a Muscovy duck in real life.
The next day I was outside tending the garden, continuing to pray for Charlie and also for the rest of Blossom's family (who were exhibiting symptoms of head colds) when one of my favourite little birds, a Willie Wagtail, came to visit. He was sitting atop the wire on one end of the raised garden bed....
...and he stayed for ages while I chatted away to him. Of course, maybe it was Mrs Willie, and I did say that in my one-way conversation with this precious visitor, but no matter, my little friend didn't seem to mind, just happily wagging his tail feathers to and fro for my delight.
On my to-do list for ages has been to write up an inventory of everything in our pantries, especially the small one in hubby's study, and the one in our linen cupboard. The main pantry (below) will come last because it's mostly full of the items we use weekly like baking staples, rice, pasta, spices, oil, condiments etc. and my bread machine.
The little pantry shelving inside my husband's study is wedged between our second fridge and his gun safe, a position which attracts more dust bunnies than anywhere else in the house. When I buy up on long term items after seeing them on special at a really good price, I just got into the habit of putting them anywhere I could find space, so it was very important that I took time one day to remove everything, clean the space, line the shelves (at last!) and then put everything back in sensible categories.
Here's the dusty awful before photos (excuse the photo quality as it's a dark shadowy room)...
As much as possible I like to make everything from scratch - stewed fruits, jams, tomato products, pesto, yoghurt, bread, soups, broths, and even our milk (cashew and almond milk being our favourites), but life can be unpredictable so having basic meal items on hand like this means that if for any reason I have no time to cook from scratch, other options are on hand. This is also why I keep a supply of home baked breads and muffins in our freezer...oh my, these are so handy for easy breakfasts or a side plate.
Lately I have been baking a large focaccia every Sunday (I have shown photos of the various ones from the past few weeks in previous posts) and I divide it into three. We enjoy a third that night for dinner and use some of it for my husband's work lunch the next day. Two portions go into the freezer. One of those portions will be defrosted and served with soup one night later in the week, and the final portion stays in the freezer so that we always have some on hand when needed.
Yesterday was Sunday, my busiest day in the kitchen, and I decided to play around with a new focaccia topping...well, it was a success, so delicious! I added grapes, pine nuts, rosemary and celtic sea salt before baking.
I think this is the best one I have made...in fact I am eating a tiny leftover corner from last night as I type this blog post. Having never roasted grapes before, this will be repeated many times in the future.
In the garden we've had an infestation of green vegetable bugs through the tomatoes. I catch them and squash them every day whilst picking ripe tomatoes, but the past few days their population increased dramatically so I decided to pick every single tomato off the vines. The ripe ones will be added to the mountain of ripe ones already on the kitchen benchtop and I'll use them for salads, fresh tomato and onion chutney, and as a quick pasta sauce.
But we had loads of green tomatoes...
...so they have now been washed, chopped finely along with onion and salt, and left to sit overnight. When I finish this post I'll drain them and begin the process of cooking a nice batch of Green Tomato Relish, which I'll preserve for use over the next year. Last year I made Green Tomato Chutney, but we prefer a relish so I've got a good old recipe to try from my 1959 Queensland CWA cookbook.
Hubby used a natural pest spray on the tomato vines after I removed all the fruit, and we pray the next flush of tomatoes on them won't attract as many bugs.
Yesterday, while the focaccia was going through the first and second rise, I made four jars of jam using some frozen berries and cherries that I'd bought for half price around Christmas. That's another thing with stocking up - frozen fruit and meat and vegetables and bread etc only last a certain period of time, not forever, especially here in the tropics. I try to look and see what needs using up a few times a month and then shop from my freezer. By doing that I free up space for any new bargains I find, or for freezing bulk meals I've made, breads, muffins, fruit etc.
I'm going to rest today as much as possible after doing the basics of washing and tidying, making relish and gathering vegetables from the garden. The past week was full on and my Fitbit attests to that, but it's not good to have those kinds of weeks back to back if you can help it. Intentionally slowing whenever possible is life-giving, so I will pick up a book, brew a cuppa and go sit under the poinciana tree for a bit as it's a wonderfully relaxing place this time of year...
....before looking for hidden beauties to pick and display in a vase on my desk.
I was asked to share how I make nut milks, so I'll do that next week because I can only take photos of one kind of milk at a time (when I make them).
I'll be back in a couple of days with the next Virtuous Wife BOM pattern. Oh, and over the past couple of weeks I've added ten more patterns to my Etsy Shop, so if you wanted to browse pop over here.
I'm also currently working on designs for a brand new Stitchery Club in my spare time (you can hear me laughing, right?)...well, I'm making spare time cause I'm intentionally slowing, and there's something rather relaxing about working on a new piece of fabric with needle and thread in the evening or during that hour of rest each afternoon before taking washing off the line and starting dinner. All I really want now is a new chicken coop and some more chickens so I can slow down even more. Birds you know? They have that effect on me.
God bless you all, and may your own week be one where you see the kind and faithful hand of God working in your life, even in the very smallest of ways. Look around you and be amazed...look up and give thanks. :-)