Monday, July 31, 2023

Last week of July...

 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 if we can ever praise Him enough, for He is faithful day by day. 

Also this past week:

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)...

I removed everything and prepared a notebook to write down exactly what we had in that pantry, how many of each, and what we needed to stock up on...

...and listened to my latest audio book while I worked away.  This is the third book in the series, set in 1923 after the Great War, with two wonderfully different and endearing main characters, Beryl and Edwina. There's a touch of Marple in the stories, so as I have now officially read/heard all of Agatha Christie's books (some twice) this series has definitely helped to fill my mystery book gap. 

Now for the 'after' photos.
The shelf lining has certainly brightened the area, but more importantly, everything is in it's right place at last, and I can easily plan meals for those occasional weeks when I like to "shop from the pantry and freezer and garden" to save on grocery expenses during a tight week. I do in fact think this is a wise habit anyhow, for we need to use what we have on a regular basis and not just store more and more and more without checking use-by dates. 

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 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... 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). 

Other requests were for the recipes I've used for Cypriot Pitta Bread and Focaccia. Both of those are on Paul Hollywood's website HERE and HERE (I make one large focaccia, not two smaller ones).  

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. :-)


Don't miss out on any Elefantz news or free patterns. 

Subscribe to my blog posts HERE and receive them direct to your email inbox.  

Or sign up HERE for my free newsletter which often has extra benefits, freebies & tutorials!


That Crafty Cara said...

I enjoyed this post so much. Praying for your little guy.
But, oh, the heart flutters over the organized pantry photos! And that focaccia bread looks amazing! What a lovely bunch of photos to make a homemaker's heart happy. Thank you for sharing them!

Lin said...

So glad to hear that Charlie is improving and hope that he will make a full recovery soon.
Always satisfying to see tidy pantry shelves and your focaccia looks delicious! xx

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
Thanks Jennifer for a great read this Monday morning :)
Hoping Blossom and family are all getting better.
I looked up Willie wagtail " The Kalam people of New Guinea highlands called the Willie wagtail 'konmayd', and deemed it a good bird; if it came and chattered when a new garden was tilled, then there would be good crops "
Then I searched about Muscovy ducks. There is a lot of info including " 5 reasons not to have them" :)
Dust bunnies ! Where do the come from ? How fast do the multiply ? We get them here too !
Love the sight of a well organised pantry/storage space ! It's easy to loose track of those use-by dates. I've thought " oh, that's a long time from now" and then all of a sudden " a long time from now " was yesterday !
I see a can of Jackfruit on the shelf. How do you use it ? I've heard it a few times on line but havent tried looking for it here yet.
Focaccia with grapes, pine nuts and rosemary sounds delicious ! I'll have to try it ! I planted a small rosemary plant in the garden this summer hoping it will grow to a beautiful bush with those beautiful flowers in Spring !
We used to make jam from frozen fruit in the Canadian Winter when it was too warm in the Summer. That's a delicious smell in the house !
Thanks for the bread recipe links :)
Wishing you creative moments !
hugs, take care,

Anonymous said...

Prayers for you and your family and a special one for little Charlie.

Anonymous said...

Hello Jennifer, thank you for another lovely post. I’m saddened to read about little Charlie. I will pray the little girls don’t come down with it. It seems to be a very vigilant flu. The Willy wagtails have been visiting our garden as well this winter, although it really doesn’t seem like winter down here on the south coast of NSW either. Beautiful warm days. Blessings Gail.

Cheri S said...

My goodness Jennifer , my prayers are up and running . It’s good Charlie is home and recuperating. He is wraoped in Gods arms and so to the rest of the family . What a special blessing too for the Muscovy duck to show up, God is good ! 🙏🏻

Mary-Lou said...

Dear Jennifer, wee Charlie is in my prayers and all the family as he recovers! So sorry to hear of this trauma!. Thank you for your lovely blog! As Always!! You will never believe it, I can relate to that story re the birds! After being healed from breast cancer 2016, Psalm 91 became so precious to me and in 2017!,whwn I was in a wheelchair for 3 mthsfollowing ankle op, Mark my lovely hubby put up a collection of bird feeders for me to see from a window to aid my recovery. Also anytime I see special birds ie red kitesor buzzards I know The Lord has put them there as a treat for me to remind me of His Mercies are new Everymorning! Even the tiny scrawny Robin that flew into our kitchen a few days ago looking for food! It's a lovely wee reminder we are in His Care! XX

Winifred said...

So sad to hear about poor little Charlie you must have all been exhausted with the stress. Hope the girls are recovering too, God bless you all.

My what stores you have in your pantries! Wish I had one. Kitchens here don't tend to have them now, just cupboards but I remember ours at home when I was young. It was really large, lovely & cool and housed all kinds of stuff.

Must try the foccacia bread recipe, it's a while since I've made it so thank you for the reminder about it. I'll be doing that tomorrow.
It must be lovely for you enjoying some cooler weather. We've been having some cool weather too for most of July & unbelievable amounts of rain!
Take care will be remembering you all in my prayers. God bless.

Kim @ Purring Cottage said...

I, too, greatly enjoy the variety of birds that come to my feeders in the northern Michigan winters. Because of the cost of seeds and the fact that they don't need it so much, I decided to leave most of the feeders empty over the summer and focus on the hummingbird feeder only. Every morning and throughout the day I'm rewarded with several sightings of these cute "flying jewels." God blesses us with so much!
Hoping and praying that good health reigns in your family now.

Tammy said...

Good day Dearest Jennifer. I am so sorry to hear that Charlie David was so ill. I am happy to her he is improving though. Your duck photos and bird photos are just lovely. Your pantries are immaculate. So clean and organized. Your breads look delicious. I just love reading your Blog posts.

Love Always,

Susan said...

Somehow, I did know about you and birds. It might have something to do with how often they show up in your embroidery designs! =)

I loved this post, bugs not withstanding. I hope DH's bug solution works. I do not like gardening for bugs, or for the squirrels and raccoons in the neighborhood!

Your grape bread looks marvelous. The cleaning and sorting and recording of the pantry next to the gun safe was just what it needed, and you are organized to buy smarter now. I have a shelf in the dining room, next to the kitchen, and one in the garage basement also.

If you don't rotate the goods, you do miss the best by date. I don't throw it out because of that, since I often find no difference in taste when I get around to that jar of pickles or tomato ketchup of box of noodles. Still, it's good to keep track!

Carol R said...

God Bless you and your family. God is good all the time and blesses us every day.

FlourishingPalms said...

You are such a busy lady! No wonder you are taking time to sit, and relax with a cuppa and book. You deserve it! Gosh, I'm worn out just reading about and seeing everything you're doing. Those pantry shelves look great, well-sorted, and you make me appreciate that it's my hubs who handles all that in our (his) kitchen. He monitors sell-by dates and makes all our meals. As much as I'd love to keep focaccia on-hand (I really enjoyed making it last week), I don't often eat bread. I love it, but it too quickly makes its presence known in the way my clothes fit! Since March I've worked very hard to lose weight and return to my proper size. I'm not willing to relinquish those efforts! Love seeing your laundry hanging up, and the birds that have come to visit you. They're all beautiful, and charming. I hope Charlie is quickly getting back to normal.

Kay said...

Sending more prayers for Charlie and the family. X

Donna P. said...

Jennifer - I love your blog so much. Just found out how to make my own mayonnaise and I've never heard of purple sweet potatoes. I love learning new things. You are such a blessing! Thank you!
Blessings to you and yours