Monday, January 8, 2024

Ordinary things...

Our dwelling place - whether it be a house, a flat, a caravan, a yurt, or a room in someone else's place - is perhaps something we too often take for granted. Where we live may not be where we'd most like to be, but if it's where we are right now, then we need to be grateful for it. 

A bowl of nourishing food and a thick slice of bread on the table when the family sit down together for dinner, a pillow beneath your head at the end of the day, clothes to wash, floors to sweep, windows to look through as you go about your ordinary daily tasks, creativity to move things around and add small displays here and there...a home encompasses so much, regardless of its size, position, or appearance.

It is almost 9am on Monday morning as I write this, and as I went about my early morning home blessings (for I do not think I like the word 'chores' anymore) it occurred to me that with each small task I felt a tug to give thanks for the privilege of doing it. 

Making the bed, preparing a healthy breakfast for hubby, making a good lunch to take with him to work, washing and drying the breakfast dishes, cleaning the bathroom, watering the indoor plants, feeding our pets, getting a load of laundry in the washing machine...each task was done with love, and a prayer of thanks offered. Many days I don't think to do this, but today, as I pondered Gratitude (our monthly theme) I felt a deep sense of privilege to have this small home and call it our own. 

Mondays are my meal planning day, but before doing that I check what fresh fruit and veg we already have in the fridge that need to be used up, and plan to use them tonight and perhaps tomorrow too. 

 Now that I have an idea for tonight's evening meal, I can plan the rest of the week and a shopping list for extra ingredients. Recently I began a new monthly habit of going through my very large recipe folder, and removing some recipes that would be good to make in the following weeks, and then storing them in a smaller comb-bound folder. This makes meal planning much easier...

This week I'm going to try the Cheese and Herb pie, a recipe found in an old magazine I was pulling apart but have yet to make. As we choose to be meat free two to three times a week now, I'm enjoying making things I know my husband will eat. For many, many years I would make things he wasn't very keen on simply because I liked them and hoped eventually he would too. But that did not happen. Lesson last.

I think he will like this new pie recipe, because he loves Spanakopita, just like Ross, my Cypriot son-in-law. I baked both men a tray of Spanakopita each last week, and they were soon demolished. Oh how happy that made me!

Last week I also baked a delicious Focaccia with rosemary, Celtic sea salt and red grapes (my favourite topping for Focaccia), a Coconut Jam Slice with my last jar of homemade mixed berry jam, and two Malt Loaves which I shared with Blossom. Every member of our family got something they loved to eat last week...and each of them was very grateful. What a blessing it is to be able to cook, don't you agree?!

I haven't had many roses lately in the garden, they always seem to come out in a flourish of abundance together, then they do nothing together for weeks on end. But I did notice two pink blooms opening when I watered them yesterday, so after those early morning tasks I went in search of other pops of colour in the garden to create a small bouquet for my desk.

How grateful I am for these blooms! Flowers, no matter how small or sparse, can lift a dull corner just as much as they lift a weary heart. Oh and my heart has been a little weary the past few days...for I tend to forget about my 'enlarged heart' condition, and push my body a bit more than it can manage on such hot and humid days as ours. After our lovely Sunday morning drive down south with Molly-dog to Alva Beach and Claire, I was in the garden yesterday afternoon trying to prune and trim and water and tidy, when I realised my heart was not happy at all as tiredness swept over me and breathing became less easy. Dear hubby sent me inside to cool air conditioned comfort and for the rest of the afternoon I rested a while, baked a bit, and prepared some sewing tasks - all of which made me feel quite normal again. So very grateful for a cool house, and Molly-dog is happier inside as well.

Our pug, the Molly-dog, can be a handful at just over a year old, but she's a real delight too. A constant companion, fortunately she enjoys sleeping beside me on the couch when I'm resting each afternoon with some stitching or crochet to do. She adores my husband, and sleeps beside him on the couch during the evenings when we watch a movie, sermon, or documentary. But, as with pugs in general, she doesn't cope well with the high heat and humidity of a tropical wet season. We are both hanging out for the warm (not hot) winter.

I have planned some afternoon sewing for this week, and a bit more crochet edging too. Last year's old tea towels will be cut in half and re-hemmed for cleaning rags...

Some of my oldest cleaning rags will be retired as I have worn them out, and they frayed dreadfully over the past two years (lesson learned about hemming every raw edge this year). 

And the crochet edging will be on the final four new tea towels I purchased for 2024. I thought I'd lost them, but discovered they were sitting underneath all my crochet cotton yarns, neatly stored in their own little tub.

I'm also working on a new little bag, one that I can take in the car on our Sunday morning drives through the countryside. It always seems odd to be taking my handbag on a country drive, especially when we're only stopping to have home-made morning tea in a grassy patch somewhere. I originally designed this about nine or ten years ago, but the bag I featured the stitchery on wasn't as useful as I'd hoped at the time. 

The fabric above the stitchery is actually a good solid tea towel, and that's what I'll be using for the bag. The stitchery will be needle-turned onto the front of the bag...well, that's the plan so far. The other part of the plan is to use that cotton yarn in the photo to crochet a pretty edge around the top of the bag as well. This may or may not work, though in my mind's eye it is simply lovely...but the execution of my ideas don't always bear fruit. I'll show you when it's done, and if you'd like it, I can share the stitchery design as well. Let me know. 

Ordinary days are, to me, the foundation of living a calm and happy, simple life. Many women don't hold much stock in a clean sink, a made bed, fresh meals, a swept floor, clean clothes folded neatly or hung and put away. But I think these everyday tasks hold hidden joy for the homemaker heart within us, when we remember to be grateful for all we have in the home to care for...and especially, who we care for. 

Take care dear ones, and may the week ahead be one that shows gimmers of joy here and there when you least expect them. Water that grateful heart attitude inside you, and let it bloom brighter than before. 

Let me know what you've got planned for this week, will you? I imagine all of us in our homes, tending to the ordinary things of our individual and unique lives, and then I ponder our quiet times of rest and I lift my tea cup to God in honour of all the like-minded women who make their homes a sanctuary. God bless you precious sisters, and God willing I'll chat again soon...


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!


Julie said...

Oh another wonderful post dear Jennifer. I know I have said this before but the "ordinary days" ... the days where I have nothing in the diary, no-one calling & nowhere I have to be - are my happiest days. I can take my time with my tasks & just breathe. I know you find this too. Your new bag will be delightful. I was in a market place this morning & I saw Spanakopita for sale & I immediately thought of You! Wishing you a wonderful week dear friend x0x

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post. I had grand plans for the month of January. But unfortunately, my first week was completely derailed by the flu (both my husband and I got it) your post is such a nice encouragement to get back to my plans this week. And also to listen to my body. If everything isn’t perfect by the end of the month there’s always February.

Anonymous said...

I couldn’t agree more Jennifer. We take so much for granted. As we were watching New Years fireworks, I thought, there are people on the other side of the world with bombs going off! I thank the Lord we can sleep peacefully. My teenage son was complaining bout our shower the other day. I’m thinking, thank God we have water out of a tap, and water that is heated. We are so Blessed. Bless you Jennifer for your post xx

Lin said...

Lovely flowers Jennifer. We are into daffodil season here and I found the first bunches from Cornwall in our supermarket last week. So bright and cheery on my kitchen windowledge while outside it is literally freezing. The hyacinths Philip planted in a bowl for the house are flowering too. Nothing like flowers to brighten a home. Have a lovely week and look after that heart! xx

Margo said...

It’s such a pleasure to read your posts and see all of your beautiful handiwork. My plans for the new year have been scuttled by Covid for both my husband and myself, but I am hoping that I’m able to get back on track soon. I miss my daily readings and my prayers and am struggling to get back to a routine. I am anxious to get back to quilting soon. I have always loved homemaking, sewing, cooking and all those things that make a house a home and consider it a lost art. Your blog is refreshing and I look forward to seeing your posts and think of you halfway round the world from me enjoying the same things. We are covered with ten inches of snow here, breathtaking beauty all around us.
We are so blessed.

Remembrances said...

Oh my, I love the "look" of your new bag and can't wait to see it finished and, hopefully, download the Attitude of Gratitude pattern.

Our lives have gone well this past week and I have certainly been experiencing many ways to be grateful for what I have! Again, Jennifer, thank you so much for your inspiring post.

Be sure to continue to take care of yourself - I know that for many of us self-care is low on our list of important things to do, but just remember, if we don't take care of ourselves that list will soon not get done!

Phi. 4:13

Carol J said...

Dear Jennifer,
Right now I’m taking a short rest from my daily chores to read your post. As I read, I feel gratitude wash over me as I consider the blessings of having the modern conveniences to accomplish these daily chores. Thank you for the patterns you make available to us. It is a calming time for me as I read your posts. Tonight we are anticipating snowfall in our area. I enjoy our winter respite from summer gardening chores. May God bless you and keep you in his care.

Emma - Barradale Farm said...

I love a yurt made it into your post! Ha!

I hope you are feeling better from the heat now. I too struggle in the hot weather and often find myself getting dizzy.

The herb and cheese pie looks delicious. I might add it to the list for dinner this week and make ricotta from our goats milk.

This week is going to be a quiet one here. Grant has returned to work after his holidays and we already miss having him at home. Today I will vacuum, mop, and menu plan for the week ahead and sort my click-and-collect order. I also need to help Henry organise his wardrobe which is currently chaotic! Angus and I did his wardrobe the other day. This afternoon we might pop a movie on and I'll go through my fabric and start cutting squares for a small pair of curtains for Elsie's room. A nice job I have been meaning to do for ages, but I keep putting it off.

Throughout the week I will do a bit on my garden each day. It got out of control while we were in SA so there is lots of weeding to be done. There is straw to rake out of the goat yard and spread on the garden too, and the goat will need fresh straw laid in her shed. I also need to chip away at decluttering. The linen cupboard, my wardrobe, the bathroom and under the kitchen sink are on the agenda. Space is at a premium in a yurt!

A lovely post Jennifer. I hope you have a good week ahead and will continue to hold your family and Blossom's health in my prayers. xx

Anonymous said...

I’m grateful for the encouragement I receive from reading your blog, Jennifer. You brighten my day and spur me on to be a woman who glorifies God. And I love being a homemaker and get such good inspiration each time I visit here. Blessings Gail.

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
By just reading these comments I see there is such an international group sharing your love of ordinary things and living the simple life :) From 10 inches of snow by one, hyacinths blooming by another all meeting here at Elefantz :)
All your baking sounds dilicious !
A Wintery sunny, -5 C today ! Wonderful to see the sun shining in !
Starting a new cross stitch pattern/kit today :)
Have a great week :)
hugs, take care,

Kim @ Purring Cottage said...

I'm reading this a day "late," but actually just at the right time because I'm feeling lazy as we await our first big winter storm and needed the gentle, kind encouragement to get at my housecleaning first and then enjoy the restful time that would be well-earned. Thanks again for inspiring diligence and beauty.

Tammy said...

Dearest Jennifer. What a pleasant surprise to read your post today. We had absolutely terrifying storms on yesterday and again in the wee hours this morning in my part of South Carolina, USA. Your lil Molly Dog looks so adorable. We have no do just 5 cats. And we dote on them.

Lori said...

Such a lovely post, Jennifer! I was just taking a wee break to read it when I was interrupted by a phone call saying that the septic people would not get here today as planned. But we are first on the list in the morning. At first I was quite upset, no showers, no flushing, no washing dishes for 2 days now. I continued to read your post and thought about how much I can be grateful for in this: running water (can be tossed outside on the plants!), water to at least 'wash up' in the evening, a yummy meal. So, thank you for the reminder to see the blessings, no matter what!

Scarlet said...

Dearest Jennifer What a blessing to have someone who, like me, loves being a homemaker. Though I don’t bake as much as you do, I do love experimenting with crockpot recipes. This new year I hear your voice while blessing my home, “finding joy in the ordinary “. Truly, I am blessed to be able to be at home . May God bless you and your family.

Maria McCabe said...

Dear Jenny,
Thank you for this post. You have once again reminded me of all the many blessings I enjoy. I love being a homemaker and feel blessed to be able to enjoy making our house a welcoming home. It is a blessing to find joy in the ordinary.

God bless you and your family,

Nancy said...

Thank you for your refreshing view and how all that we have is a blessing. I’ve been enjoying your posts for the past few years and share them with friends. You are a blessing!

Bobbie said...

I always love your posts, They make me so happy to be the homemaker that I am and always wanted to be. Could you tell me what you use to write out the words on your embroideries before you stick them. The lines are always so thin and sharp! Thanks.

Beverly said...

I just love your posts! They encourage me to get moving and finish a project or start a new one. It matters not which I choose☺️. Each post gives me a lift and puts a smile on my face. Thank you for continuing your posts. I love each and every one.

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Hi Bobbie :-)
I use a pigma pen. Ages ago I did a post of the things I use...
and more here...

Judith said...

Thank you again for the quieting and calming of my heart and mind which I receive from your writing. I have adopted your Joy in the Ordinary for this year. I am viewing tasks in my home as blessings - blessed to have warmth, water, food and shelter when so many do not. Christ loves you.

Mary-Louise Parker said...

Lovely post ad always, I always feel I am on a visit to your house! Yes do rest Jennifer and take it easy. God loves us to meditate on His word.. I love all your ideas. This is from a very Cold but Beautiful Frosty Ireland. XXMary-Lou

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reminding me to be thankful for the everyday blessings.