Thursday, February 29, 2024

Being creative on stormy days and block 3...


I've been meaning to blog for days, but life has been full of other things, mostly home and family, and so much rain that our gardens are glistening from the water in and around everything. Of course it was perfect weather for weeding, so I did that in the half hour or so before sunrise each morning (if the rain took a break). Any later and the heat and humidity was more than I could handle when exerting energy gardening. It's good to know the town dam has plenty of water so I am not complaining too much about this summer's wet season. 

One thing I have really missed though, is hanging washing on the line. It is so rare for me to not have that opportunity, especially living in the hot tropics. We do have a dryer, but until all this rain through February I could count on two hands how many times I've used it in the past four years - it just sits in the laundry and I lament it taking up space! Ha ha! Until this summer. Throughout the past few weeks it has been used almost daily, but today the sun reappeared and I got so excited carrying my overloaded washing basket outside, my feet ankle deep in water, to peg everything on the line. 

So it's quite appropriate that the little design on the March block of this year's free "Joy in the Ordinary" project is a washing basket. 

Use the link below to download the free pattern

DOWNLOAD block 3 Joy in the Ordinary

If you missed the first two blocks they are HERE

What do you miss when the weather in consistently inclement over a prolonged period of time? 

Keeping busy inside is important when everything is dark and gloomy from storms, and for me I find it even more of a challenge in our summers when the temperature is still hot, sticky and humid. I'd much rather these stormy weeks be in winter when you can wrap yourself in a blanket, sip hot tea and have a big pot of soup or stew on the stove. But the reality is that we all must live within our own climate, not allowing it to get the better of us. We need to be thinking creatively about ways to add joy to our days, and a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere within the home. For me this is usually done in the kitchen, and I have indeed enjoyed many hours making this and that recently, but I also worked on two small slow-stitched projects, and the larger project of a crochet lap rug. 

The pattern I am using for the rug is from Lucy at Attic 24 and it's her Trellis Stripe design (she taught this five years back when making the Sweet Pea rug, which I made for my youngest granddaughter, Rafaella - you can see it HERE)

The colours for this version of the Trellis Stripe are more subdued than those I used for Rafaella's 1st birthday blanket. You can find Lucy's free Trellis Stripe/Sweet Pea pattern HERE

Our air-conditioner in the main living area stopped working last Saturday so it's been a challenge to keep adding rows at night, but thankfully the fans are running on high and the air con in the kitchen allows a tiny bit of cooler air to flow through. 

The slow stitching has been w o n d e r f u l...simply wonderful. It was a quiet, almost soothing, very gentle pastime, each day for a while after lunch when the morning's household chores were completed. In fact, when it was finished, I made another...

These are simply lovely little rolls, made from 10" squares of fabric, and very thin fusible parlan between the layers of fabric. You make a square from the fabrics and parlan, then hand quilt it. Fold in three corners and stitch them together like an envelope...

Make a very fine length of fabric for the wrapping tie, and sew it to the point of the open end, keeping one side of the length short and the other twice as long. 

I keep my reading and stitching glasses in them. So lovely! You could make these any size, and I think they'd be lovely as a gift. I'm already working on a third. If you'd like me to do a tutorial for this pouch just let me know in the comments. 

Another thing which has brought me a delightfully peaceful heart, and something that also added to my stillness in February was watching a video each day from a wonderful homemaker in Belarus. Her name is Olesya and she lives in a small house with her husband and son. Every video she shares recipes, sewing, homemaking, and she also shares updates on the very ramshackle old house in the forest that she and her husband are working on, with the hopes of moving there one day. I have learned much and been inspired by Olesya, especially with baking and with the sewing she does for her home to make it more cosy. I'll leave the link to one of her videos, and then you can go to her channel and will definitely find something to interest you. Oh, and there are subtitles and soothing music, but I had watched her for a week before I realised there were subtitles! Make sure to click on them so you can read her thoughts...

Oleysa also did a video on making Tilda dolls...I have never made one, but now I will give it a try. You will find it here

In the kitchen I have been baking bread regularly, roasting whole chickens, making chicken bone broth to store in the freezer for use in winter, gathering elderberries and freezing them to make tonics later, and enjoying comfort favourites from my childhood. A new sour dough starter is on the bench, and I am hoping it's not too soon to get this going as it never fares well in the high heat and humidity of our climate at this time of year...but I miss making sour dough. 

I save chicken carcasses and when I have two in the freezer I make a big pot of broth using up all the older veggies and scrap ends, plus herbs from the garden, apple cider vinegar and lots of garlic.

I made 3 litres of bone broth from the batch last week. These are now in the freezer. Next week I'll roast a leg of lamb and use the bones for lamb bone brother. It's so good to have a variety in the freezer ready for soups, stews or casseroles. I am praying for a cool winter this year, not another warm one. I would love to slow stitch with that crochet rug over my knees. :-)

For comfort I always think of Nana's baked rice custard, so that was on our menu this week. I have shared the recipe before (here) but one thing I did not explain was that for every extra 250ml of milk you use, add another egg, a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, and a little more cooked rice. 

It was SO delicious on its own, but tonight I'll add stewed black plums on the side. I am salivating now. And my heart is full of warm and fuzzy memories of sitting around Nana's kitchen table with her and Pop, laughing and loving together as we feasted on this dessert. 

I was asked to share the recipe I used for dishwashing liquid, so I shall do that today before I forget. Blossom and I have tried a few different mixtures for dishwashing but this is the best so far and we have decided to stick with it. 

Just be aware that it needs to be stored in a glass pump bottle, not a squeezy bottle (you may use too much). I got my bottles at the local TK Maxx store for about $7 each. I need to use about six pumps for a sink of water (not those big large sinks, just normal ones) because this is small pump, and not a lot comes out. Less is more when you're assessing how much you'll need. I made this three weeks ago and have only used about a quarter of the amount I had in the bottle during that time. Very economical, and also excellent for doing dishes. Lovely on hands too!

Also, the ingredients separate when not in use, so just turn the bottle upside down a few times (not shaking) when you plan to use it and everything will mix together again. 

1/2 cup distilled water (I use iron water from the laundry section of the supermarket)

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1/2 cup Sal Suds

1 tablespoon jojoba or almond oil

10 drops of lemon essential oil

Mix together and store in your glass pump bottle. 

Below are photos of the beautiful flowers I received from my husband and Blossom last week on my 65th birthday. They are glorious! It was a very special day with my family, and Blossom even arranged to have Kezzie and Dee on a video chat with all of us while she lit candles on the cake, and everyone joined in the singing. Afterwards we kept laughing and chatting - it was very special indeed. 

I know this was a long post, but I like getting things shared in one post a week now, rather than a few shorter posts. Time is precious isn't it, and I am happy to spend a few hours writing one post from my heart each week, as a letter to a friend...but the rest of the week my heart and time belongs to family and home, exactly how God designed it to be. 

(Blossom and I on my 65th birthday)

Thank you for all your comments each week - ladies, you are amazing women, living such varied lives, and yet so often quite similar. We are joined in the heart, you and I, with the same love for this God-gifted desire to make our homes a sanctuary, a place where family want to be, a place where love and welcome, beauty and warmth, fill every room. What you and I create within our walls, in this quite ordinary life, has more value than we could ever imagine...God bless you always. 


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Anonymous said...

Mostly I miss keeping the windows open for fresh air when the weather is bad. We are in the midst of a significant wind storm currently with snow forecasted overnight and tomorrow. Possible blizzard-like conditions. While I miss the fresh air and warm breezes I am thankful for a snug home and warm stove to keep us comfy. I also appreciate the time to sew and stitch while my gardens sleep.
Happy birthday my friend! Your birthday is the day after mine. I was blessed with two bouquets of flowers and have been enjoying their fragrance all week.
I admit I have been checking your blog daily since last Monday. Reading your posts is always like time spent with a dear, sweet friend. No drama. No stress. Just peace and love and grace. Thank you for posting today. Good night my friend from upstate NY in the US

Michelle said...

Happy birthday Jennifer! You are very blessed to have such a wonderful loving family to help make it special.


Joanne said...

Looking good Jennifer !
Sour dough , I should give it a try this year. The smell of fresh baked bread is the best !
I was wondering how Townsville copes through the dry season.
Thanks for posting :) All your photos look great !
hugs, take care,

Angela said...

Happy birthday dear!

Your blanket is so lovely! Are the yarns one of Lucy's packs?

I know you talked about how to do crochet edge but I cent seem to find it. Ty!

Lin said...

Lovely birthday picture Jennifer - Happy Birthday! and beautiful flowers. Thank you for another delightful little stitchery. The crochet is looking lovely. I have made a few of those little square bags but buttoned them like an envelope - what a great idea to make them into a roll, I have one I am using at the moment which has lost its button so I could easily add some ribbon to tie it with, Thank you for the idea. xx

Carla said...

I am a huge fan of all things Tilda! I have almost all her books and enjoy making her stuffies! They are adorable and so much fun to make. You'll love them. Here in the States we just beginning our spring and am loving the warmer weather.
Birthday pic with your daughter... priceless!
Take care

sjaoce said...

Yes, I would love a tutorial for the "envelope roll". It is so cute and lends itself to so may uses. You are so creative. Thanks, Jenny!

bcarlf said...

Yes, I would really like a tutorial for the little pouch. It would give me inspiration to use up some smaller fabric left-overs to make some so cute useful gifts. Thank you so much for your beautiful blog. Such a pleasure to read!

QuiltE said...

Happy Birthday Blessings, Jennifer!
Love the simplicity of your monthly embroideries, yet still a lot of detail for interest. I take it serious, choosing coordinating threads for each month's.
Definitely I want to make your envelope rolls. Not so sure I will do the hand quilting though. Can see them being useful for so many things, and in so many sizes. Even a large one for rolling up an embroidery or quilting project in progress? Look forward to seeing your future tutorial. Many Happy Returns to you!

Robin in New Jersey said...

Happy birthday, a little late, but no less heartfelt. Such a lovely photo of you and Blossom. It looks like she is doing well.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Jennifer! Thank you so much for your posts. I too, look forward to reading them. They always fill my day with joy. I live in Florida, and we are starting to see and feel some spring in the air. This past week we've seen a lot of cloudy days. When the weather is cloudy, I turn on some Christian music and work on my sewing projects. That seems to keep the clouds in my heart away. I too, would like to see a tutorial of your envelope rolls. I think they would make a nice Christmas present.


Julie said...

Another wonderful post dear Jennifer. Wishing you a very happy but belated Birthday - that is a gorgeous photo of you & Bloss.💗 Yes I watch Oleysa all the time - I find her very soothing to watch & I love all the Tilda things she creates. Enjoy your day dear friend - we are getting touches of autumn here now & its wonderful x0x

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! 🎉 Thank you for your post. It is so calming and peaceful. And thank you for sharing the video and your recipe and all that you share. You are so generous. May God bless you abundantly!

Judith said...

Happy belated birthday! I very much enjoyed seeing your beautiful face so now I can put a image with your words.
I, too, would love to have a tutorial on the pouch. As someone mentioned it would be great to carry projects in for instance at the doctor's office. May God bless you and your family

Angela said...

Happy birthday! Love reading your posts. Thank you for everything you share. Angela

Alison said...

I recently saw a video on YouTube from Kate at The Last Homely House - it was dated January this year, where she made one of those pouch rolls from scraps. It is a lovely gentle watch if you are interested,

Tammy said...

Happy Belated Birthday Dearest Jennifer. Seems like we are all experiencing crazy weather on this big planet all the time anymore. I love the new block #3 of the stitch along. And goodness your slow stitching is gorgeous as well. And another crochet project for you as well. . Congratulations on all you have been accomplishing.

Anonymous said...

Happy late Birthday! Thank you for sharing so freely and giving of your time to write. Thank you for sharing the soap recipe. I look forward to giving it a try. I pray your day will be lovely!

terricheney said...

Happy Birthday! I too celebrated my 65th this year. In our region of the world, it's pouring rain and cold outdoors...I am snuggled into a fleece pullover and socks to keep warm and glad that my rainy wet weather has come in the cooler season for us. Peach and pear trees and forsythia are blooming. And Florida strawberries are in season. All a sign of the coming new season.

Lovely handwork, Jennifer but I confess I come more for the quiet, calm, lovely, friendly, gentle homemaking chatter. Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us sisters of the home and Christ.

Kay said...

Happy birthday to one of my favourite ladies, you were sent to this earth to bless the lives of so many people. You are such an inspiration to me. I hope your year is filled with love and happy moments. X

Janet said...

Happy birthday dear Jennifer! How beautiful you are inside and out. Your blog always encourages me to be happy with my life - and I am. I love your gentle musings and the way you live your days as a loving wife, mum and nana. My life can get busy so I am deliberately slowing down my days and enjoying my grandchildren more. I know I am blessed and thank God everyday for those blessings. Be blessed and May our Lord grant you peace as you continue to live for Him. Hugs

kupton52 said...

Thank you for another lovely (as they really ALL are) post; especially for pointing us to Oleysa's youtube channel. I would love a tutorial on the little "envelope wraps"...they are quite pretty and look to be so useful. I'm in the USA and have never heard of parlan. Is it a batting or a fusible batting? Have a wonderful and blessed week. Blessings from West Virginia, USA!

Miriam said...

Happy belated birthday, God bless you!

Allie said...

OH that's a darling block! The only time I've hung washing up to dry is in the middle of winter, when the dryer broke, and I had washing strung up throughout my living room, lol! No clothesline outside.
Lovely afghan, dear one, can't imagine working on it in the heat. Your slow stitching turned out so darling.
SO happy you had a lovely birthday, the flowers are just gorgeous! And that pic of you and Blossom is amazing, I love it so much, the joy in both your faces just shines right through. Love you both!

Cindy said...

Happy Birthday, so glad you got time with family. I would enjoy a tutorial for the little pouch, as well. Thank you for sharing your joys and pointing us to Jesus.

Carol in Texas said...

Jennifer, a belated happy 65th birthday! What a wonderful photo of you and Blossom. I know her company is such a blessing for you. I loved reading this blog entry. I would not fare well in such humid wet weather! Central Texas gets a lot of hot weather but it is usually quite dry……and our air conditioners make life bearable then. Right now we’re seeing the first of spring. Our peach and plum trees are in full bloom. It lasts such a short time…..I try to drink in the sight each day. I hope you get some more sunny days so you can hang out your laundry. I use my dryer and love it. I look forward to your next visit.

Simply Ann said...

Your rug is beautiful. We call it an afghan. I am crocheting a pillow for my window seat that matches an afghan I made for it a few years ago. I had so much left over yarn that I also made some large coasters to put under each plant that are sitting in my windows and still I have lots left over. Maybe I will make two pillows! lol.

I also discovered Oleysa several months ago and have really enjoyed her videos. They are very relaxing and encouraging. She makes the most beautiful bread. I plan to make a couple of items that she has patterns for in google docs. One being plant pokes. I have a granddaughter that dreams of being a florist so I will be making some for her.

It’s always a blessing to see something in my email from you.

Frankie Ann

Janie Goodwin said...

I look forward to reading your blog each week! What you share about simplifying your life and how God blesses your family and home has been such an inspiration to me. It has made me take a second & third look at my home and makes me want to become a more dedicated homemaker, and serve God within the home he has blessed me with.
I live in the eastern part of Texas in the USA. We are currently experiencing our spring and the tree blossoms are just beautiful and such a gift! I pray your days are cooler soon so you can enjoy opening your windows to fall!
Thank you for the time you spend sharing your life and your wisdom!


Susan said...

I am curious about why you add vinegar to the pot when making bone broth. I have never heard of doing that.

Debbie said...

Happy birthday Jennifer! May God continue to bless you and your family.