Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Simple creative days...

When I think of Nana sweeping our little 3-room flat every day, there's always a mind picture of her in an apron, swishing back and forth with a millet broom - from the kitchen, through into the bedroom, and on into the living room, before opening the door wide to finish off on the tiny front verandah. 

There's something so homely and comfortable about a millet (straw) broom, standing by the back door, a sense of living in a different era, a quieter time, a more respectful time, a time when hard work was normal, and life was simpler. 

It's been on my mind for a while to buy one, but I really had trouble tracking one down as these days the brooms are predominantly synthetic, with long narrow rectangular heads and short plastic bristles. But then I had a thought to try a hardware store (yes, it should have been my first thought) and found one!

Very excited at spending just $22 on my millet broom with the strong and sturdy wooden handle, hubby had a chuckle and remarked "whatever makes you happy, sweetheart". Of course, at that stage he had no idea what my other plan was...for getting the broom was only the start. 

With this lovely old Lecien fabric which has sat on my shelf for about nine years, and a gorgeous length of very wide broderie anglaise cotton which was a bargain find at a op-shop before we bought this house more than five years ago, I set to work on my plan. 

How much prettier does it look now? Standing inside my front entrance it is a joy to use! I used the broderie anglaise as the lining, and let it peep out from under the outer skirt of the blue floral print.

I made a tie from more of the floral fabric, then stitched it in place about 1.5 inches below the top rear of the broom cover before gathering it around and tying in a bow. The cover is very secure and I am quite chuffed with it!

Yesterday I promised hubby that I would have a very quiet week, as the past three (from before the cyclone to this past Sunday) have had a lot going on and he could see me fading. So a promise was made and must be kept, therefore I have chosen a few light overdue tasks to do around home, as well as reading, sewing, and making simple meals. 

This dress has needed repair for more than a year...an easy fifteen minutes of hand work and now it is ready to wear again. 

A book I started years ago and never got around to finishing...I'm enjoying it immensely, as it stokes my homemaker heart with old fashioned recipes and simplifying ideas around home. 

Finally, my health notes, taken when watching seminars or reading articles and books, are being transferred into one notebook...

...and I'm decorating the pages with stickers and cut outs as I go along. It's so nice to pretty-up notebook pages.

Blossom and I are both making our own cleaning products these days. Some we like, others we try new recipes until we find one we love. Last week I made a new batch of dishwashing liquid, after purchasing glass pump bottles cheaply at TK Maxx, and this is definitely the best dishwashing liquid recipe we have tried, so it's a keeper. I added a little sticker to front of the bottle...

The cheese & herb pie I made a month ago was such a hit, and so simple, that we had it again last night for dinner with a salad and leftover roast lamb on the side. The recipe will taste slightly different each time I make it due the availability of various herbs from the garden. Last time I had a lot of parsley, thyme and chives. For this pie I had no parsley (it all died in the garden due to the humidity and heat) but I did have sage, lemon thyme and garlic chives...it was still delicious. 

One of my favourite patterns from 2016 was this little pillow I designed with a quote from Mother Teresa. It has always been on display somewhere in our home, but I discovered last week that it had a large stain across the front from one of our 40+ indoor plants growing across it. 

The stain just would not wash out, but turned a dirty brown instead. So...I thought, make another. The colours are different, the fabrics different, but the sentiment is still there, and as I slowly work on this for a while each afternoon, I am happy to know it will once again be on display here. Those words have been a real guide to follow when I have frustrating days or have exhausted myself and feel on edge. Fortunately, now that I am embracing Stillness more, and stopping whatever I am doing before I reach my limit, those times should become rare. 

Have you noticed that when you make a decision to pull back, and deliberately choose to slow your day, or week, or month, that there's more opportunity to complete forgotten tasks, mend something, think more creatively, read books, and cook simpler meals? 

What do you do around home in quieter times? I'd love to hear what you have put your fingers, heart and mind towards lately. 

Oh, and I am slowly working on the cookbook I'll be sharing with you...it's a lot more involved than I first envisioned, but lovelier too. Here's a peek at the title page...

 Okay my friends, it's time to get the washing off the line, set the table for dinner (already made it - chicken and cous cous salad with fresh baked bread), feed the cat and dog, and await the return of my beloved from work.

God bless you in all the homemaking tasks you set your heart and hands towards. May you find joy in the simple, beautiful, ordinary things of life, and spread that joy to all who cross your path. 

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Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,

I know that broom :)
I was so happy when I saw them here at the hardware store a few years ago ! I was frustrated with the heavier, push type brooms and wondered if these, what I used growing up, were still around. I was delighted to find them :) A lighter broom makes a huge difference ! Thanks for the design idea ! I'll give it a go !
Chickens ? I was wondering do you still have chickens ? With all the storms, heat and humidity are they managable or also prone to sickness ?
hugs, take care,

Donna P. said...

Good Morning, Jennifer. I saw the book you mentioned and went straight to Amazon to look for it. I was thinking to myself, "How could you live like this in an RV when I'm so compact already but just reading the little I did in the sample made me realize I could! As always, something in your blog resonates with my heart and I am thankful and blessed with your words.
Blessings to you and yours.

Miriam said...

Ciao Jennifer, it’s always a pleasure to read you and seeing your pictures. Yes dearest, try to rest and relax a little. You are precious for a lot of persons.
Big hugs and kisses,

Anonymous said...

Once again, thank you so much for sharing your life, your creativity, and your always encouraging words. I ha d never heard of a mullet broom but we do have straw brooms here at our hardware store. I too have been trying to slow down but it seems more and more gets pushed on my plate. Friends and loved ones near and dear and very alone have needed our aid weekly now. Some days I just come home absolutely spent but I turn that weariness into a time of reading and devotion and that is what is most important. Thank you again from Donna Rowe in Magnolia, Texas

Melody Jacob said...

It's wonderful that you were able to find a millet broom at a hardware store, preserving a piece of tradition and bringing a touch of nostalgia into your own home. Embracing these simple, creative tasks can indeed add richness and depth to our lives. Also, I invite you to read and share your views on my new post.

Julie said...

That cheese & herb pie looks just SOoooo delicious dear Jennifer - makes me want to reach into my screen !!! I adore your millet broom - our Bunnings closed in our small town so I shall have to check next time I go to the city - if they have one as I think I'd love to replicate what you have done. How wonderful to bring a simple chore like sweeping into something so pleasurable. xx

Liz Stevens said...

Lovely to see all your work. Are you able to share the dishwashing liquid recipe. I am always looking for tried and true savings.

Sherry said...

Dearest Jennifer, I love your little broom apron and the cheese pie looks delicious! I'm looking forward to your recipe book. When I need to be still and relax, I usually cross stitch or read. I so look forward to your emails. Blessings for you and yours.

Lin said...

Such a lot to take in in this post Jennifer! Those brooms are called besom's here - no idea of the origin of the word but they can be made of anything that will sweep. Love the 'petticoat' on your cover. The cheese pie looks delicious and what a shame about that stain. Look after yourself. xx

gail said...

Hello Jennifer, two things that straw broom reminded me of. We used those brooms in the shearing shed when we had our farm. Also my grandmothers always put a stocking over the top of her broom to protect the bristles from falling out. Take care dear one,
Blessings Gail.

Remembrances said...

I love the apron on your broom! I always keep a straw broom handy both indoors and out and now will have to make them each an apron. When I saw the stain on your embroidery on the pillow, I thought this might be a good thing - you could tea dye the rest of it and it would take on a very vintage look! But then, that's just my crazy way of "making do" and upcycling I guess! Take care of yourself - self care is always a good thing!

Phi. 4:13

Angie in SoCal said...

I have a straw broom and wouldn't be without it. Never thought to give it an apron. It's so pretty. When I want to slow down I read or hand sew or do a puzzle. Look forward to your recipe book. Safely, slowly Ibid you health. Blessings,

Tammy said...

Dearest Jennifer,
Love your new broom. My grandmother used to harvest the broom straw out of one of the fields it grew in near our house when I was a little girl. I would help her harvest the straw and get it from the field to her home and in the shed where she would make straw brooms from it enough to last
her and my aunt until the following year. I also love the beautiful cover skirt you made for it. I have been reading while taking my rest. To transport me elsewhere so I truly get to rest. Instead of my mind constantly thinking about everything I need to do instead of resting

Michelle said...

You always make such delicious food! It inspires me to get into the kitchen and try some new recipies! I love the simplicities of doing housework, as I live alone and a little minimalist, my house doesn't really get very messy but I am very house proud and always try to have a tidy home.
You are one of my favourite blogs and I look forward to your posts!


Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny, just sitting in car while my beloved Joy is at the doctor. Checking for her on my phone how she can get your block on her phone. I saw your article on straw brooms. There is only one Australian straw broom factory left. Tumit Broom Factory. Joy chose one and found out on the site where to get one. She was thrilled with her sharers broom.

Anonymous said...


Sharm said...

Great post Jennifer! I love straw brooms, but the last couple I purchased seemed to loose their bristles every time I used them - very disappointing!!! I try to make many things …our own soap, laundry liquid and a number of other items when I get the time but I’ve yet to find a dishwashing recipe that I liked ……any chance you could share it or email it on please?

Of late my quiet time has involved stitching, sewing, knitting and reading. I really need to get some baking done but this hot weather tends to really take it out of me and the thought of getting the oven going is almost too much to bare! Still, we need some biscuits and cake so I should get onto to that. ………… hmmmmm