Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Removing old layers to see what matters now...

Life is meant to be lived, and as you edge closer to the winter years that truth becomes far more valuable than in younger seasons. You know, it can be quite confronting to ponder the long time passed, and the much shorter time ahead. I'm definitely not thinking negatively (or morbidly) about this truth, but rather taking notice of it in order to wisely choose how I use the days God continues to gift me from now on. 

And that's why I've been absent from blogging for a couple of weeks. I found other things to do, things that were not only productive, but joyous and fun. Even the regular domestic tasks of my simple life took on new delight, and I woke up excited to go about my chores and put things in order around home. There's also been fresh creativity in my days, and truly, this quite surprised me. 

I took my own advice about 'walking the room' again in April, and discovered what I had suspected for a while. 

My style has changed from the overabundance of pretty things around the home (most of which I made and designed) to being considerate of what my husband and I genuinely like. I think simplifying can do that, perhaps? The past few years my personal decluttering of things that have no value, or take up time or space unnecessarily, has helped me look at all aspects of the life I have chosen to value and pursue...and when those layers are lifted away, its much easier to see what is left in a new light. 

Taking away from the 'scenery' within our walls meant that I am able to consider and plan what I can make or build or re-purpose, to create a home atmosphere that really reflects who we are in our little home on a quarter acre, not just me.

It's also easier when some things are stripped away to recognise what offers satisfaction, enthusiasm, and purpose, for both my husband and myself. Much of what is displayed around home is there because I designed and made it over the past fifteen years of creating my business, Elefantz Designs, but it's quite a mismatch now if I'm honest because there's a variety of style changes which follow my growth as a designer, and it simply never was a reflection of my husband's rustic Australian country style. So...I'm removing items I'd not considered previously, and giving prominence to the artwork and colours which hubby and I both like. Naturally, some areas are more me than him - the kitchen and laundry for example! But that's okay, a homemaker makes a home for herself and her husband, so it is natural to bring some of him and some of her into the home, right alongside the 'we'. 

Over the past few weeks I've really enjoyed using up smaller fabric pieces and making reversible jar covers for my homemade jam...but over time this spread into many jars in my pantry. 

Not every jar has a cover because I like them scattered around, bringing a very homely look to the kitchen. I also made some for Blossom but 3yo Charlie absconded with them, insisting they were hats for his dinosaurs and the girl's dolls. Ha ha!! 

After about fourteen fabric covers, I made one with a crochet edge...

...and then progressed to an embroidered cover, which I absolutely love and shall be making more of. I'm thinking of cows, ducks, birds, and little garden scenes. I  may even use some of the stitcheries from HERE or those I've included in this year's free Joy in the Ordinary BOM

But this little bee pattern was a purchase I made on Etsy last week. I was looking for different jar cover patterns and bought this one - however, I did not realise it was only a pattern for the bee. Still, I do love how the designer has displayed it on linen with a lace edge in the photo. 

The jar cover pattern I have been using came from Olesya on Youtube, who shares THIS wonderful tutorial! If you fast forward to around 16 minutes you can watch it (be sure to turn on the subtitles)...but I never fast forward as I am inspired by her homemaking and enjoy every minute of her videos from Belarus. 

I completed the first crochet rug of the year and look forward to using it if winter arrives, as that is always a surprise in the tropics, and have begun a second rug in much earthier colours. 

After months of contemplating how to use some kookaburra fabric Annabel sent me for Christmas, I decided it would be perfect for the French Press we use for de-caff coffees on the weekend. 

I love kookaburras, have done so all my life. Our front door has a stained glass kookaburra, and there's a hand painted canvas of a kookaburra just inside our front entrance. When they visit in the garden I am enthralled! Last week I had three 'laughing' in the Poinciana tree, and then another sitting on the edge of a potted rose. 

They seem to frequent our home mostly in autumn and winter so I expect to see them often over the next few months. Never heard a kookaburra? Well, have a listen and you'll understand why we say they laugh...

I have definitely been keeping my hands busy. Here's a few more occupations I have applied myself to this month...

(first cross-stitch project in more than a decade!)

(protein balls for hubby's lunch box)

(the garden out back, focusing on herbs, flowers and greens)

(garlic rolls using Olesya's recipe here)

I have also completed the final Dresden block for Blossom's 30th birthday quilt and will be sewing them all together with white borders this week. 

I wrote an April to-do list at the beginning of the month, and as I wrote about back then, I included some self-care to-dos as well...hence the sewing! I have been so happy making time to sew things for home, try new recipes, and grow new things in the garden. 

But there are other to-dos that pertain to home-maintenance, correspondence, sorting our cupboards and drawers, deep cleaning under large appliances such as the washing machine and fridges, and emptying the pantry so I can go over all the shelves with pine oil to deter bugs (it really works). Then I will begin some new things like making salve from the calendula flowers I grew last year, making candles for the first time, and painting a very old bookcase. 

I have finished two books so far this month - one of Mrs White's homemaking volumes, and the first of the Rose series by Roger Lea MacBride (these are stories from the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder's daughter, Rose) which I enjoyed immensely. In fact I am taking it over to Blossom's today as she'd like to read it herself, and later to her girls. 

Now here's a good tip if you have old musty books. I bought this first book of the Rose series very cheaply off eBay and it really smelled bad, the kind of musty dusty smell that causes you to sneeze a lot with every page. I remembered something from our homeschool days and decided to give it a try. Put a small saucer of bi-carb soda with a few drops of essential oil (I used eucalyptus) in a plastic container with the book. Place the lid on and leave the book for 3-4 days. After that time the smell should be gone - and for this book, it was. :-)

I read recently - "If I do not take care of myself now, I won't be able to in the future' - and it has given me much to consider. Once again, with the winter season of my years coming quickly, I need to nourish the body, mind and spirit in ways that will help me in the journey ahead. Just yesterday I learned that I have hearing loss, and in one specific aspect it's quite substantial in both ears, so this just increased my awareness of looking after myself better than I have in the past. 

However, God is Sovereign over all my life, and the most important thing I can do for my future years (God willing I have them) is to draw even closer to Him, to study His word deeper than I already do, and to pay attention to that still small voice which no hearing loss can silence. If I do this, then the rest will fall into place because He is my Father who loves me, and Who daily refines my thoughts, desires, character and beliefs. If you are wanting to take better care of yourself, seek the Lord first, and He will show you how. 

Till next time,


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!


Ruth said...

I'm in the U.S. and just found, or I should say re-found, your beautiful blog. The string holder is what drew me to it this time. I have a string holder hanging in my kitchen, made by some unknown homemaker many years ago. It's a lady's head with bonnet, embroidered face, with string coming out between her lips. It's sewn over the bottom half of a cardboard salt box. I love the one you've made! Listening to the kookaburra's laughing made me remember this song from Brownie Scouts when I was a little girl. Do you know this?
Kookaburra sitting in the old gum tree,
Eating all the gum drops he can see,
Stop kookaburra, stop kookaburra,
Leave some there for me!
God has blessed me with more than 84 years. My hands aren't as active as they once were, but your stringholder has inspired me, and it seems that the method of sewing the gathering ribbon on the outside (instead of sewing channels on the top of the bag) is such a great idea! Thank you so much. God bless you always, and your dear ones, too. ♥♥♥

Ondrea said...

I am pleased you took some time off and focused on your home and yourself. Lol, good to see you doing crosstitch again after a decade, I hadn't done it for about 3 decades! I hope you enjoy doing it again as much as I do. Good to do something a bit different. That is so cute....Charlie pinching the jar covers. Made me laugh. I love that bee embroidery. Did you know it is Little House on the Prairie's 50th reunion? Check it out on You tube. And I forgot to tell you that Melissa Gilbert has a prairie clothing and homemakers company. I haven't read that book and a great handy tip for refreshing the odour from old books. I have a few older posts to catch up with so apologies if I don't get around to reading them...life has been interesting again.

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
That 's beautiful crochet work Jennifer ! Gorgeous colours !
Cross stitch as well :) That's great !
We had a great weekend then back to cold Autumnal rain, hail , thunder, wind sun and repeat weather Monday continuing today. Super if you may stay indoors .
Creativity runs in the family , dinasour hats ! super !
Ruth, I learned that song as well when I was a Brownie Girl Guide.
We have western jack daws that can really get going , not on the same level as these kookaburra's, but I wonder what they're going on about .
Thanks Jennifer for all the beautiful photos and sharing special moments here.
Rose over at Threadbare creations shared a link to Scones from the air fryer. 9 minutes ! Looks like something to try :)
hugs, take care,

Lin said...

Pretty jar caps Jennifer and the little bee is cute. Great finish on your blanket and I love the colours of your new crochet project. Lots of lovely things happening as usual and the garden is looking lovely too. xx

Sue said...

Hi. I just wanted to send a note to let you know I really enjoy your blog. You write in a way that gives me peace. And your work, oh my, it’s just gorgeous! Thank you for what you do. May God continue to bless you! ♥️

Annabel said...

I am so happy you found such a lovely use for that fabric! I completely love the jar covers. Just as they were but then embroidered... crochet edges... oh my goodness. How such simple things can be so beautiful that they lift my heart.... I am also thinking on how most of my life has now been lived and how much I might have left. This makes every day so precious and important. Thats all I can say as words fail me a bit but I know you get it.xxx

terricheney said...

I just wrote about the aging subject on my own blog I am now looking out through the narrower end of the telescope. Like you, I feared I sounded morbid but it's truthful to say that at 65 I realize I'm looking at a much nearer future and much farther past!

Lovely gentle reading. Thank you for letting us know about the Rose series of books. I hadn't realized those were published and think I'd enjoy reading them.

Carol in Texas said...

Jennifer, I have almost finished that crossstitch pattern by Plum Street Samplers! I loved the pattern the first time I saw it, and I waited to see if the attraction lasted…..sometimes my first impressions change and I don’t crave what I thought I did. But after several weeks of seeing the pattern and thinking about it, I ordered it and started it last year. I’m a slow stitcher, and I have several projects going at once, so it has taken a long while to get it near completion. But I still love the piece and that Bible verse is one of my very favorites. When complete I’ll take it to a wonderful framer in the next town and have him work his magic with it. I have one older sampler I did years ago that I finally had framed by him, and I enjoy looking at it so much each time I walk by it. I’ll look forward to seeing how your piece comes alive.

Lorrie said...

The kookaburra reminded me of a song I learned in Pioneer Girls way back in my younger days. I see Ruth mentioned it already, so I won't. But now it's going through my mind and making me smile.
This weekend we are celebrating my father's 90th birthday. He and my mother (87) are still living independently, volunteer regularly, and are involved in their church. They are such an inspiration to me, and as I age, I hope that I am granted health to remain active as they are. Our times are in God's hands and he gives us the freedom to make choices about how we will use the time he gives us.
Thank you for sharing your lovely thoughts.

That Crafty Cara said...

Oh, I just loved this post. I've been trying to find more bloggers who write about the simple joys of being at home and this post hit the spot. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your home with us!

Tina Fulbright said...

I always so enjoy reading your posts. They inspire me so much. I live in the U.S., in Missouri, and not far from the Laura Ingalls Wilder home and library in Mansfield. It is a beautiful place to visit. Thank you so much for all that you share with us. Gods blessings to you and your family.

KingsailK said...

Hi Jennifer thank you so much for a lovely Blog as always XXMary-Lou

Jenny said...

Thank you so much for sharing…always an encouragement. -Texas