Tuesday, April 2, 2024

April theme, and block 4 of Joy in the Ordinary...


Hello April!
Well, we are a quarter of the way through the year, and do you think (like me) that it's rolling along at a rather brisk pace? Having pondered this same idea for the past few years, I have decided to intentionally s..l..o..w.. things at home the best I am able, in order to enjoy the gentle rhythms and tasks and relationships and events, of my very ordinary life.
Rushing to finish one thing in order to do the next seems to just add mental, and perhaps physical, stress much of the time. Yes, we do have tasks to complete around home, at work, or in the garden, each day, but wouldn't it be far more conducive to good mental health if we slowed a bit and actually enjoyed the process, and were consciously present right in that moment. 
Some would call a homemakers life 'mundane' or 'boring' - yet those ordinary things which make up the normal rhythm of our day to day lives can be anything but boring. The work we put in to our homes is essential for creating our own little sanctuary, an escape from the outside world, and a haven of rest for those who live within our walls or cross our threshold to visit. 

You may remember that our dishwasher broke down on Christmas Day last year. We arranged to have it fixed a month later...and since then I have only used it twice. For all my life (before we moved here in late 2018) I had always done the dishes by hand, and for the first few months in this home I continued with that habit. But then I began to use the dishwasher, and a new habit was formed. 

Through my life, when standing at the sink washing dishes, hands covered in suds, I would be looking out of a window as I went about my task, and those were some of the most insightful times with God. It was a prayerful time and slowed my mind, and that came about with the slow rhythm of washing and rinsing each dish, each cup, each bowl, and the other bits and pieces I'd cooked with to make a meal. Repetitive tasks do not require much mental stimulation, as we do them by instinct, formed over many years, so our mind is freed to rest (or worry, which I choose not to do) and that allows us to ponder, pray, listen, and breathe. 

So even though the dishwasher is fixed, I choose not to use it, but just run a cycle once a month to keep it in working order. I am relishing the morning, noon and evening visits to my kitchen sink, where I bask in the simple pleasure of slowing, praying, and listening to the Lord - along with the birds who sing and chatter not far from the window. 

In block 4 I've captured a little scene of cooking utensils and measuring cups, because I wanted to celebrate ordinary things in an ordinary kitchen - for those ordinary things help us create wonderful meals and treats, don't they?!

Use the link below to download the free pattern

DOWNLOAD Block 4 of Joy in the Ordinary BOM

If you have missed any previous patterns in this year's free Block of the Month, go HERE

APRIL theme...

Last month the theme was simplifying. How did you go with that? Personally I have simplified many aspects of life here on our quarter acre, but also in my mind and daily practices. Spending a whole month exploring a theme has been wonderful and I find myself carrying them forward into the next month as well.
This month the theme is a little different, but I felt so impressed in my heart to do this that I put my hands up and said "Okay, Lord". 

Do you have a to-do list? I have two at the moment. They sit on my desk and as I complete one of my to-dos I draw a line through it, and enjoy the feeling of satisfaction for a task completed. 
Ha ha!! Actually, sometimes I do not feel a lovely sense of satisfaction, but annoyance at myself for not getting to it sooner. I do like to get things done as time allows, and don't procrastinate very often, but I often find myself imagining I have more time than I really do. 

Being that I have recently decided not to rush through tasks, or cram a lot into my days anymore, it may seem counter-productive to shine a light on a to-do list - however, working my way through it s..l..o..w..l..y.. will bring a great deal of pleasure as results gradually reveal themselves.

I was thinking about the various areas of a woman's life, and the many ways we can create something from nothing, so I'm going to start this month's theme with that aspect in mind. You see, there's a to-do list of general things that need to be done...but what about a list of things we'd like to do if we had the time, enthusiasm, and means? Having something lovely, creative, worthwhile, energising or helpful on a personal to-do list can actually awaken the mind, stir the senses, and add excitement and more joy to an ordinary day. 

Here's a few areas I have written down which might spark something in your heart to follow through on...

* Self Care - is there something in your self-care which you've neglecting? A home-pedicure, or an afternoon nap perhaps? 
* Garden - is there a place in your garden that you often think "such and such would be lovely there" or "I'd love to set up a little space where I can sit and enjoy the beauty of nature around me"?
* Letter writing - have you lost touch with the art of writing a letter to loved ones and friends? Do you enjoy receiving letters? Just one letter can be a new door opening...
* Room makeover - Have you seen how people can makeover a room using what they already have? Or can you be creative and make some simple furnishings from your fabric or craft stash to brighten or rejuvenate the space?
* Reading - is there a book, or a few, dusty and waiting? Can you take a quiet time each day and simply read a chapter? 
* Catch up with a friend - pack a little afternoon tea picnic and invite a friend to meet you at the park, botanical gardens, seashore, local duck pond? I am sure you'll both relax and wonder why you've not done it before. 
* Finish a UFO - yes, some people have a lot of UFOs in their sewing room, or within their knitting or crochet baskets. Choose just one. And do a little each day...even 15 minutes adds up over a month. 

And one more thing - Walking the Room

You can read all about this habit of mine over HERE in a post I wrote at the beginning of Covid in 2020.  I usually do this every year, but this year I have not! So for me, this is a big "do the to-do" plan for this week, along with working on a most important UFO - Blossom's 30th birthday quilt which is due by May 26th. 

I would dearly LOVE to hear your thoughts on what I've shared in this post...I read and re-read many of your comments because you give me food for thought, ideas, gratitude, and a friendly smile over this virtual kitchen table we share at Elefantz.

God bless and may His immense love fill your hearts to overflowing in the week ahead. Always remember, you are precious in His sight, created with His touch, and made to enjoy the beauty and wonder of His incredible Creation. Girl, you are lovely. xxx


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Julie said...

Another wonderful post dear Jennifer. Thank you for the pattern - I have just also remembered to go back & download March's one. Yes the year is going by incredibly fast I agree.
I am a "to do list" person also. I wrote one out for the Easter weekend & got everything done on it except one thing. But I cheat a little in that when I write it out I also add a couple of chores that I've already finished & then I can cross a line through them straight away. It is amazing the mental encouragement this gives me to continue. Wishing you a wonderful week dear friend xxx

Lin said...

Thank you Jennifer, another lovely block. Sorry I shall not be joining you at the kitchen sink - my dishwasher makes a much better job of it than me lol!
Yes, I keep a bullet journal with my to-do list for each day, I find those little crosses at the side of the page very satisfying when something is finished. I also keep postcards and letters that arrive tucked into the relevant page and little photographs of my sewing/knitting finishes. Nice to look back on. Have a lovely week. xx

Donna P. said...

Good Morning my friend - another great post. We don't have a dishwasher but many RVs do - I can't imagine where they'd fit! :-) I don't mind doing them by hand - with just the two of us, it doesn't take long working together. As for my to-do list, I have one everyday - just so I don't forget to do things! ;-) And the walk-through - everyday. Can't help it. Lol.
Thank you for more of your insight - your blog has been such an inspiration.

Tammy said...

Dearest Jennifer. What a lovely block for #4. I used to use a planner and had lots of lists. But I never seemed to get it all done. It put to much pressure on me and it caused me to feel like a car racing around a track and never getting it all accomplished. Husband and I are slowly going through the office, shredding lots of useless things, donating lots to charity thrift shops of things that are no longer needed or used by us. This is wonderful and I'm so happy to be getting rid of this stuff. And to know it will be used by someone else.. I am trying to read every afternoon for a bit ...It is helping me lots with the rest and with a break for my mind and body

Tammy said...

I forgot to say Thank you for block #4 Jennifer. Sorry about that.

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
Picking up cross stitch has been wonderful :) While concentrating on this my mind wanders to quilting and future creative project ideas. Listening to myself is distrcting enough as I find I can't listen or watch programs on tv or youtube.Re x stitching has happened :)
I knew a person who used the dishwasher as storage. The kitchen was tiny tiny but the dishwasher was huge in comparison.
hugs, take care,

Emily said...

Auntie Jennifer,
Thank you for the reminder to SLOW DOWN! I have heard so many people say that with young kids the days are long but the years are short. I am really not finding that to be the case! My days go so fast! Some days I get the end of it and think how I have being going hard all day but look around and still see all of the things I didn't complete because I just ran out of time. I am trying to get better at pacing myself and working more efficiently and prioritising better but it seems no longer do we get ourselves sorted that we find ourselves in a different season and so need to make adjustments to cater for new needs and developmental milestones. I have been trying really hard to develop a good rhythm but I feel what I really need to do it let it go and just take each day as it comes. I like to plan but I am also spontaneous and I think it is OK to have a bit of both! I have stopped looking at social media because I was finding I was subconsciously comparing myself with strangers on the internet, who were portraying some false reality and always feeling like I was falling short. Instead I am choosing to surround myself with other real people who actually want to encourage and lift me up, to support me in my God-given purpose. That has been very life-giving. Thank you for being one of those people. Your encouragement and wisdom are such a blessing to me. Love you, Em xox
P.S. My Dad loved the coconut cake. (Everyone else did too!) He said it was just like his Mum's in texture, look and smell but hers wasn't quite as sweet. He supposed that she wouldn't have put as much sugar in because she was used to cooking with rations and sugar was a luxury!

Susan said...

Thank you for the new pattern. Our dishwasher came with the house when we bought it. It was repaired once, but the next time it was not repairable. So, it just sits there so there isn't an empty space ugly space that we can't do anything with without doing a big kitchen remodel. We don't mind doing the dishes by hand. That's what we did before we had a dishwasher. Like you, I like looking out the window and meditating, pondering, watching what's going on outside. A second reason I prefer the handwashing is that there are many dishes or pans that can't go in the dishwasher and so one still has to wash them by hand. I can wash the dishes faster than waiting for the dishwasher to finish all its cycles. It is also much quieter. Thanks for the recipes also. There are some I will try. I am gluten and dairy free so just wondering if you have ever made any of these recipes this way. And one more thing, I enjoy the blessings you leave at the end of most of your posts/newsletters.

Mary-Louise Parker said...

Thank you for your lovely Blog, recipes. JENNIFER, it's much appreciated. I am wrecked as I was trying to downsize our book cases! Very difficult to do! Plenty yet to read! XX Mary-Lou

Patty Mc said...

After being married for 52 years, we moved to a smaller place. Downsizing was a necessity. We eliminated so many things. The surprising part is I don't miss any of it except our acreage and most times I'm happy to be responsible for a smaller yard.
Thank you for another lovely pattern and reminder 'Joy in the ordinary'.

Jackie B said...

Dear Jennifer,
Your post today touched on two things that I miss in today's hurried world: 1. Washing dishes by hand. My stepmother and I enjoyed doing this simple chore together while we shared the events of our day. It was a peaceful way to slow down from life's hectic pace and connect with one another. The second thing I miss: 2. Writing Letters. A letter is like a visit, only better, because you can read it again and again. I save letters, and the older they get, the more precious they become. My son's letters from Marine boot camp, the family stories from my uncle after my father passed away, and of course the letters from my late parents. In this world of text messages and quick phone calls I wish more people would take the time to write a letter. Some day it will be a treasured keepsake.
Thank you, Jennifer, for your lovely patterns and your wise and comforting words.
Jackie B

Allie said...

Love this new block - and that fabric is so darling, it just says "home" to me! Yes this year is going by too quickly, although I have to tell you that after our warm winter and now the return to the cold I'm really anxiously awaiting the warm days of summer.
I use my dishwasher every day - with three of us here, it's just faster. And I only do dishes ONCE a day, it's nice to have them out of sight til after dinner. I like that they get sanitized in the dishwasher. I do have a window above the kitchen sink but never open the curtains as my neighbor's total mess is nothing to look at, lol.
I think I'll have to revise my to-do list. Having things on there that I want to do is brilliant - there's always dishes and laundry, dusting and cleaning, why not make a list for things that bring me joy??? Brilliant. Every day, at the end of it, I find that I've done nothing for my own peace of mind - dishes are done, laundry is done, dinner is cooked, the house is picked up - but something to nourish my soul? Not so much, ever. Think I'll turn that around.
Love you!!!!!!!!!!

Joni said...

My to-do list is integrated into my daily journal. I have monthly goals, weekly goals, daily goals and reminders. I reflect on the jobs I must do to keep the farm running, the improvements and daily tasks. It feels good to strike through a job, keeping record of what went right and ways to improve a task. I am solely responsible for maintenance of equipment, animal husbandry, gardens, orchards and larder. Thankful for every soul who helps me, encourages me and teaches me new skills! We are heading into full-stop Spring and all that entails. I have not yet reached the goal of daily quiet handwork. I use my dishwasher about every 3 days. I enjoy handwashing and did not own a dishwasher for several decades. Pulling weeds feeds my soul these days. It brings much joy when an area is spiffed up and gives a place for the eye to rest and see the beautiful flowers. Thank you for being a touchstone in my life. Be well and blessings to you and yours.

Rajani Rehana said...

Beautiful blog