Friday, January 5, 2024

January - a month of gratitude...

 One of the things I have decided to do on the blog this year is to give each month it's own sub-theme, and that will always be something which will tie in with our main theme for 2024, Joy in the Ordinary. 

Let's begin the month by turning our hearts away from self, and showing gratitude to others.

January is a wonderful month for looking back over the previous year to make decisions about what to eliminate from our lives, and what to give more time to. It is also a good time to remember those who were there for us during the last year and let them know how much that meant to us. 

From childhood, to well into my forties, it was common to send a thank you card to those who had in some way touched our lives for the better. It was common to write real letters by hand. It was normal to send cards on special occasions. It was natural to make time for all kinds of correspondence that required adding a postage stamp and a walk to the red posting box. And wasn't it so lovely to open our own mail boxes and find a card or letter lovingly sent from family or friends? 

Being the first week of January I decided that showing gratitude by mail would be a nice way to begin the month, so I have spent time the past few days creating a set of stationary you might like to download, print up, and use for just such a purpose. It's a free gift from me to you!

There are two sets to choose from and both are included in your free download - a Scriptural set, as well as one without Biblical reference. 

In each set you'll find decorative writing paper, small pocket cards to add in a letter, and greeting cards. 

You could also print up a few and make little gift packs to use as presents during the year. I love things like this because they are easy to post in an envelope and that's rather helpful for those of us who are watching the pennies in 2024. 

I made gift packs with the small cards, greeting cards and envelopes. Some were printed on white heavy weight paper, and others on some lovely lemon paper from a coloured bundle I bought in 2010. Fortunately I found matching lemon envelopes too. 

The sprays of watercolour carnations and forget-me-nots which feature on the stationary items, remind me of Nana. Her wedding ring was a band of gold forget-me-nots, and she grew carnations in the summer. When my husband was at University he did some extra work in the semester breaks to save up and buy me my very own gold forget-me-not ring. It was the most beautiful surprise!!

When we lived in Esperance (Western Australia) back in 2007-9, Blossom and I would often window shop on sunny afternoons before spending a 'girlie' hour at the local tea rooms which overlooked the ocean. One such afternoon we discovered a pretty blue forget-me-not mug in the window of the jewellers, and it was on clearance. Well, my heart skipped a beat and I bought it. To this day, whenever I use it my mind drifts back to the simple days of my childhood with Nana and Pop. 

Forget-me-nots really are the perfect floral embellishment to a gratitude card or letter, I think. Life today moves far too quickly, with social media, television, and even conversations rushing by without much thought of their purpose...which makes us forget a little too easily, the things we should hold close to our hearts, the needs of others in our prayers, and how we could better have used that wasted time. Yes, I do believe gratitude and forget-me-nots go hand in hand. 

Use the links below to download the Gratitude Stationary files... 

The New Year clean has begun...

The new year has me cleaning the house, one room at a time, to remove what's not needed and move everything else (not bolted down) around to a more purposeful position. I began at the back of the house in our small laundry, which runs directly off the kitchen and opens out to the backyard. It gets the afternoon sun rather fiercely, and needs a curtain to cover the smaller window, but as I am still not sure what fabric from my stash to use for that purpose, I am yet to achieve that goal. However, it was good to clean and scrub the drawers of cleaning items, rags and gloves with vinegar and water, and put things in order once more.

On the other side of the laundry room, I finally went through all the random jars I'd collected and chose to keep only the best jars for filling with jam. It's summer here in Australia and this month is the time for making large batches of plum and vanilla jam (our favourite) to see us through the next year, with a few extra jars as gifts. They were scrubbed exhaustively, dried, and capped ready-and-waiting. 

The remainder of the space was well scrubbed, and things like the tub of Eco Store washing powder topped up and two teaspoons of eucalyptus oil added and shaken through. Eucalyptus is a wonderful antibacterial for the wash. I clean my washing machine with vinegar and water in a spray bottle so that I can scrub the gasket with only a rag before running the machine on an empty cycle. 

The next day I began in the kitchen, pulling everything out of the cupboards and off the shelves, again washing with vinegar and water. It was wonderful having all the surfaces, drawers and shelving done, and a few more things removed from them. I tend to declutter regularly through the year, but do not donate anything unless I am very sure we won't be using it, so a few items find their way to the donation box in my car boot each time I do a deep clean of the kitchen. 
Now I need to wash the front of the cupboards and drawers, clean the windows, wash the curtains, and get the double sink sparkling...but not till Monday. It's Friday afternoon as I write this, and before hubby arrives home from work I plan to make a spanakopita for dinner, and something for dessert - though exactly what I have not yet decided. 

I hope you are doing well in this first week of a new year, and that should you be struggling in any area of your life that you remember to lay your burdens at the feet of Jesus and pray for His help to get you through. He will always be our Rock and an ever present help in times of trouble. Don't hold back, dear ones, call out to Him for all your needs.
But remember too, that He is our provider and gift-giver, so offer your prayers of praise and gratitude to our Lord regularly. 

God bless, and God willing we shall chat in the next post. Let me know what you've been doing around home this past week, and if you have a specific gratitude to share with myself and other readers. You may inspire us. 
Oh, before I go, please receive my gratitude for all your prayers for our Blossom. She's still on antibiotics and not yet recovered from the pneumonia, but she is definitely improving. You ladies are wonderful...


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Delight in Nature said...

Good morning Jennifer. What a lovely blog post and how kind you are to gift us the stationery download. You asked us what we have been grateful for recently. I am truly blessed and have many things to be grateful for. A good friend became aware of my difficult financial situation and gifted me a sum of money that has become my safety net. I intend for it to sit in a little savings account and only to be used in emergencies. I can't tell you what peace of mind this has given me. Whilst I am extremely grateful to my friend I will never forget who is the great provider. In the Bible it states that God will provide for my every need and He has through my friend. Thank you Lord.

Kay said...

Thank you for the beautiful post today. I was listening to an interview on the radio this week and the person interviewed said that so many people wake up in the morning and immediately start looking at the news on their phones which makes that they are starting the day with negativity. I am trying to start the day being more positive so your post this morning is perfect. Thank you for helping me start the day with happiness and positivity and kindness. X
I always make batches of jams and chutneys for our year and also for Christmas presents, lots of my friends and family receive a bag of them every year from us. It means that I can get lots of presents done all at once and reasonably priced too.

Lin said...

Lovely stationery Jennifer and your ring and mug are gorgeous! Well, I did clean out my food cupboards yesterday as I had noticed a couple of sticky rings but will be leaving the rest of my spring cleaning until it's a bit warmer! xx

Beth said...

Forget-me-nots have long been my favourite flower. We had a lot of them in our garden at one stage, until my sisters decided that they had got to the point of weeds, and pulled them all out. Thankfully a few have survived, although it would be nice to see more of them again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jennifer for the lovely stationary. I am grateful for much. I turned 65 years old this year and as I look back, God has provided for me all of my life. I am grateful for you my dear, half way around the world. Over several years you have taught me how to embroider! And also how to slow down and enjoy life. God bless you and yours Jennifer.

Anonymous said...

Previous “Anonymous” comment was me - Sandy.!

ginabishop0404 said...

Thank you so much for the stationary, it is just beautiful. I love your forget me not ring, it is gorgeous and such a thoughtful gift. I also want to thank you for sharing your blog with us, I find it so peaceful and calming to my soul. I look forward to each and every post.

ginabishop0404 said...

Thank you so much for the stationary, it is just beautiful. I love your forget me not ring, it is gorgeous and such a thoughtful gift. I also want to thank you for sharing your blog with us, I find it so peaceful and calming to my soul. I look forward to each and every post.

Peggy said...

Thank you so much, Jennifer, for your generosity in offering all of us the lovely note cards. They are truly lovely and I adore the idea of having a pretty little card with a saying as a tuck in.

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
The first week of 2024 has flown by !
Forget me nots are such a joy to see spreading through a garden :)
The Christmas things have been sorted and put away but the Winter things are keeping it cozy :)
Thanks for starting the weekend with this post :)
hugs, take care,

Maggie said...

Hi Jennifer
I feel very blessed by your posts, embroidery, etc. I have made many of your patterns and actually have a big binder just for them. (This binder came as a birthday gift from a friend!). Just working with your patterns is like having some devotion time. Lovely.
I try to live in gratitude every day as my life has blessings too numerous to count. The struggles, I think, come so I don’t forget that. I pray you and your family is especially blessed this year with good health, a calm spirit and a sense of God’s presence.
Blessings and peace

Kim @PurringCottage said...

Forget-me-don'ts (as my grandpa used to say) are my daughter's favorite flowers, so I think of her when I happily see them and I've successfully grown them in various gardens.

I'm working on organizing and restocking my pantry this month.

One of the things for which I'm thankful this morning is the memory of the cute barista girl at a coffee shop yesterday where I stopped to get some fresh-ground coffee. I think she was new there because she was just so excited to get to do the grinding since she hadn't been allowed to do it by herself yet. She kept saying how thrilled she was and giggling, and her joy was infectious and it made me want to be more demonstrative of my joy in the "little things." Many moments of felt joy add up to a joyful life.

Your focus topic for this year made me think of the book "Ordinary Heroes" by Tim Chester and I wonder if you want to consider another read-along. The chapters include: The Pardon of the Cross (How do you know God loves you? Will God's love stand up in court? Humility, Confidence), The Practice of the Cross (The way of Jesus = the way of the cross, Everyday martyrdom, The value of Jesus, The way of the cross = the way of joy)...ending with The Adventure of Hope. I recognize that not everyone is a reader, and not everyone is a Christian, but maybe some other ladies besides me might be interested.

Thanks again for your generosity and encouragement.

Allie said...

Oh girl I LOVE the stationary! Thank you for such a lovely gift! I too love forget-me-nots, my boys used to pick them for me when they were little. Love your ring, and your teacup...

I'm getting the urge to deep clean, but I still have Christmas things laying around. We've been sick for the last week, and I've done NOTHING, lol. It was a nice break, honestly, but incredibly boring. I'm really glad to hear that Elizabeth is on the mend! Love you!

Juanita said...

Jennifer, I have been following you for a while now, but this is my first time leaving a comment. This post hit close to home as I write to God every morning. I thank Him for just being here. I thank Him for waking me up and taking care of me. I let Him know I am grateful for my family, the roof over my head, my health, and even though I am dealing with cancer, I know He is there for me and is working it all out. I feel great and I am happy. The Lord is surely my rock.

Scarlet said...

What a beautiful gift to all of us with the stationary. Many times I have searched for stationary, but alas, it is not quite right or too expensive!

This week I attended a Pray in Color workshop that was delightful. Organization of the household budget, returns taken care of, and general getting my home in order after the holidays. It feels so good and I must say this has been one of the best first week of the new year in a long while!

Thank you for sharing your talents with us and may your family be blessed!

Anonymous said...

Good Morning Jennifer,
Thank you for your lovely post - they always brighten my day and are a source of encouragement. I can so empathize with Blossom as I have been enduring a long recovery from another bout with co-vid - the initial symptoms were minor, however several days after its onset the pulmonary symptoms exacerbate. Your cards are lovely - thank you! I know they will brighten the days of those I know. Prayers continue for Blossom. How wonderful to have such loving memories of your Nana - truly a blessing :)
Well, I am off to do some deep cleaning also - there is something about an orderly and clean house that brings a peace to one's life and heart.
Hugs and hugs,

Remembrances said...

Thank you so much for another uplifting post and for the stationary! I had determined that this year I was going to write actual snail mail letters to friends and family because I feel that texting has taken over our communications. Therefore, your stationary is greatly appreciated! My word for this year is JOY - I normally choose it on my birthday, which is a week before Christmas and this year I turned 75, so I am consciously seeking joy in my life every day.

Phi. 4:13

Mary-Louise Parker said...

What A lovely treat. I might card and give it a go! Thank you! Just finished making 2 wholemeal wheaten loaves! When my eldest daughter Hannah popped over with her boyfriend, both 30!.so I gave her one! Our son has the flu so I made a blend of raspberries that had being frozen, vanilla yoghurt, orange juice, 1 banana, spinach and rocker, cinnamon and manuka honey, blended together we all had a glass each! I got the greens free!. Bless you heaps XX love Mary-Lou

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jennifer, for the lovely stationary. I will print some and have it setting on my desk just because it's so beautiful and makes me happy to look at the lovely flowers and read the wonderful verses. There's something about flowers that just always brightens my day. I'm so glad to hear Blossom is on the mend. As for gratitude, I'm grateful for so many things. My husband passed in October and I'm grateful to have had so many happy years with him. I'm also grateful that God has kept a close eye on me since my husband's passing and is helping me deal with so many things that have popped up. He truly is faithful! Blessings to you and your family. Mary

Judtth said...

I have already printed out several of the lovely cards to send to friends in the next few days. Thank you, thank you for sharing the design with us!! The cards will bring joy when they are opened by the recepient as I know I received JOY from sending them.
You have inspired me to do a deep clean in January with your post. I begin tomorrow. One room a day - declutter, donate, disinfect, dust and be ready for the New Year.
God bless you, Jennifer.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jennifer for giving so freely of your patterns and new stitching. I am grateful for your emails and blog that always lift my spirits.
Gods richest blessings for the new year.

Thank you for the stationary.

Nancy Harris, Oklahoma City, Ok. USA

Wanita said...

Jennifer, I enjoy your blog posts so much. Thanks for the lovely gift of the stationery and all the lovely patterns you share with us.

I'm glad to hear Blossom is doing better. I'm praying for her recovery.

May God bless you abundantly in this new year.


Donna P. said...

Good Morning, Jennifer from rainy Florida. Thank you so very much for the beautiful stationary. I also love forget me nots. My father in law loved them too and when he passed, small envelopes with seeds were given out at his funeral.
I've not started my spring cleaning as it has been so damp here that whatever I've done never seems to dry completely. ;-) Doing the basics for now.
I'm glad to hear Blossom is improving. Continuing to pray for a full recovery.
Blessings to you and yours, Donna

Ruth said...

Thank you so much for the lovely stationary designs! I printed a couple to use now and will keep the files for future use. I also want to tell you that I made the teacup/C. S. Lewis book embroidery for my 28 year old grandson, who loves his tea and books including C. S. Lewis books! He loved it and it is perfect for him. He is an architecture student at Notre Dame now. Thanks you again!!!

Joni said...

I loved the story of your beautiful ring. I, too love forget-me-nots and have a nice bunch of them in a shady corner by the veg garden gate right next to my Great Grandmother's Pulmonaria flowers. I wake up so thankful and grateful and will share these gorgeous cards with my friends to brighten their weeks. Blessings to you and praying for Blossom.

Lorna said...

Thank you< Jenny. so much for your posts and for the beautiful stationary. Forget-me-nots are a favorite of mine, too. I have a patch of them growing just outside my door. It is fun to see each year where more will show up as the seeds have blown to start new plants. I often press them and the color remains true which is not the case with many flowers that are pressed. I also get into the mode of cleaning out cupboards in January. Somehow that just seems the thing to do. I have a love for pretty dishes but at this age (76), I am not going to be using a lot of them so many are being passed on. I try to mentally sort them into what I really need, what I really like, and what I am willing to part with. The last two categories get a little confusing, but I am trying! AND---your ring is absolutely gorgeous! Continued prayers for Blossom. I have never responded before but have been reading your posts and making your patterns for a long time. Thank you so much for all of it. I love the idea of simplifying and all of the Bible lessons you share. Thank you again and again and again!

Kim said...

Oh, there's also Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tush Harrison Warren

Carol O said...

Jenny, I love your new Ring and you are the Sweetest!! Thank you for everything!