Thursday, June 20, 2024

Pruning, free pattern, and the $2 dress...


I originally planned for June to be a month of focusing on friendship - with others, but mostly growing deeper in my friendship with Jesus. 
We all make our plans at one time or another, and often they are well thought through, good and productive, but have you found that sometimes God will take our plan and widen it's scope to grow us, or to make us aware of extra things that need to be included or perhaps discarded?
June has turned out to be a rather insightful God-widening, lovingly pruned, friendship walk between me and my Lord, and I believe, as always with the lessons God brings us, that it has been for my good, for His glory, and to help me flourish and bear fruit in these latter years of life.
As I reflect on the first half of 2024, His pruning shears have been in regular use within the garden of my heart and mind - it's just been a tad more evident this month. 
My friends, if you're undergoing a holy pruning season right now, do not resist it, but surrender to the work of God within you, for only He can remove the things which stifle our fruitfulness for the Kingdom, and flourish us in His blessed gift of life for the years still before us. 

JUNE at home...

We have lived here in the tropics for fifteen years now, and this is the coldest June we have experienced. Many of you will give a chuckle when I tell you the average night temperatures lately as your own winters are fraught with snow, ice and blizzards...but for us, who have barely more than a pair of jeans, some socks and a couple of cardigans to complete a winter wardrobe, it's definitely been a surprise.  For the past three weeks it's hovered around 11-14C overnight (51-57F) and with no heating in the house we've had to pull out both quilted coverlets and a polar fleece blanket for the bed. Hubby is wearing socks to bed as well. 
I was still swimming my laps in the cold pool at 6am every morning until Monday this week when it was so black outside that I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. Hence, swimming is now around lunchtime when the weather is a rather glorious 25-26C (78F) though the water is still extremely cold. The winter solstice is just days away so by my calculations I may be back to 6am swims the second week of July. God willing. 
We have had no rain since March, other than one morning of good showers in May, so the ground is dry and crunchy...

We've done a heap of tree pruning lately, and are still working on building up better soil in the small raised beds which we hope to use next autumn for growing the normal 'summer' vegetables we've raised every winter since buying our small home on a quarter acre. But it was a wise decision to not grow them this winter as the past few years they have been hammered by pests and bugs. By resting the soil (isn't God wise about resting the soil every seventh year?!) this year we have been able to work on other areas of the gardens - removing some trees, plants and shrubs; moving and re-moving fences; replenishing soil in raised beds and the front yard; making use of large pots for flowers and herbs; and tending to the fruiting trees and shrubs currently producing, such as blueberries and passionfruit. I am also just about to lift the ginger as the tops are dying and it's risen out of the soil and looking luscious. I get very excited about the ginger because every year it has been a success. 

Even our huge Poinciana had a prune, before hubby installed the birdhouse he made whilst teaching back in 2020. This tree is a real bird attracter and it's such a joy to sit underneath and look up at all the different types of avian visitors. 

Hot meals are on the menu at last, and soups rank high, such as this curried roast pumpkin & garlic soup with coconut cream and sauteed minced chicken. 

Many herbs are flourishing in the cooler temps, and I'm enjoying the surplus of coriander leaves (cilantro) because I can only grow it here in winter as the weather is too hot and humid the rest of the year. 

Blossom and the children visit every week, or we meet somewhere for a treat. They love to see what I have been baking and end up taking home a few containers full, so I've been trying a few different recipes lately, such as these sourdough choc-chip biscuits (cookies). You can find the recipe HERE

 Some cooking of a different kind has also been taking place. Magnesium lotion is very good for aches and pains and sleep, but it's quite expensive, so I made my own for a tiny fraction of the cost. The instructions are HERE and the result is lovely. My eldest daughter Kezzie has requested some, and I gave a tin to Blossom yesterday. It makes a great item for the gift cupboard!

I'm still working my way through each series of The Great British Sewing Bee, which definitely ignited the desire to sew my own clothes, so I recently bought a couple of patterns from Spotlight to try (along with more yarn to finish the trim on my new kitchen curtains)...

I also bought a bunch of reduced chrysanthemums as my roses are not faring well in the blooming department this winter and have been duly pruned back. 

I think in my last post I mentioned buying $2 sheets at the op shop in order to make some dresses because I don't want to use 'good' fabric until my skills are better honed. Well, I made my first dress from a $2 sheet and I quite like it so it's being added to my spring/summer/autumn 'housedress' wardrobe. There was even enough fabric left to make a top, which I'll be sure to do in the future.

I watch GBSB on the iPad Britbox app while I cut and sew...

(all done except the top stitching and hem)

(final fitting...and such a serious face as I put a hand in the pocket and assess the fit.  LOVE a side-pocket and was happy to learn how to include two)

(top stitching done)

Not bad for $2, and this inspired me even more to keep sewing my own clothes. 
Using up my quilting fabric for purposeful items around home is another sewing avenue of late. These are for my linen cupboard and each buttoned square contains a set of sheets. So easy to make, as well as being pleasing to the eye on the shelf. I will be thinking of many more ways to use fabric for organising and storage in future. Do you have any ideas to share??

Yesterday Blossom, the children and I went to the playground and as the kids played for three whole hours, we chatted about life, God, health, pruning, sewing and homeschool. After lunch we headed to a few op-shops as I wanted more cheap sheets for sewing, and Blossom needed clothes for Cully May. 
First stop was the RSPCA op-shop which proved wonderful as all the children's clothes were $2 each, and she found a huge bundle of unused homeschool books for Charlie David's first years. I found a lovely top for myself and a nice huge $2 sheet which could easily make two dresses. The kids loved this new-to-us op-shop as they also have cats for adoption that children are allowed to pet (if they prove to be calm and responsible around animals, which Blossom's children are). Blossom went in with the kids and they played with two lovely one-year-old cats for about 15 minutes...and then Blossom called Ross to ask if they could adopt them. He was in agreement, and she came home with the paperwork. They need to get permission from the owner of their rental home first, so we have prayed and asked God's will be done and shall wait to hear the outcome.

Blossom and I prayed openly about this in the op-shop, just as we'd prayed openly about other things when we sat in the playground with other people around. I'm very proud of my daughter for being so open about her faith in Christ, because I do not see much of this fact I don't remember seeing people just praying together in shops or parks or playgrounds unconcerned about those nearby. This is what we want the children to learn, and I was blessed to have Cully May openly pray with me about something that mattered greatly to her while we were having lunch. 

Children learn by our example. In these last days, when it seems that the return of Jesus is possible in my lifetime, Blossom wants her children to know the Lord, turning to Him before any other, and able to share about Him to those they meet along life's path. That's a lesson for all of us, regardless of age...

2 Timothy 4:2...
" ready in season and out of season..."

I thought I would leave you with a few really good videos that have encouraged Blossom and I recently.

Last thing for today is a free download for you to stitch - "Hope in the Lord". I believe that many of you have struggles or trials right now - it could be health, finances, relationships, or a decision which must be made. Dear ones, never forget that the Lord is right there for you. Never lose HOPE, never let the enemy tell you He does not care for that is a lie. 
Stand firm in your faith, in HOPE, in the truth of our Saviour's sacrifice and eternal love which will stand the test of eternity. He is for you, never against you. His will for your life is greater than your own will for it. Surrender to God and let Him carry you. xxxx

Use the link below to download this free pattern

God bless dear friends, and may you find the delight of pruning to be worth the challenge it initially brings. 

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called, according to His purpose."  Romans 8:28

Hugs and prayers,

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Lin said...

Haha yes, 11 degrees at night here and we are throwing the duvet off! We have yet to reach the dizzy heights of 25 degrees, possibly next week.
Lovely long post Jennifer. You have made a great job of your dress and I do love pockets. The envelopes for your linen are a great idea.
Amazing to grow ginger and your soup looks delicious, as do the biscuits.
Thank you. xx

kiwimeskreations said...

Such a wonderful post, Jenny. I so enjoy your writing and articles - I am downloading the pattern to stitch.. just one of many projects I have on the go...ooops. I am trying to get some finished, but then I have a request for a card and the stitching waits, again.
The Lord is currently challenging me to stop and listen - it is a real discipline that I don't find 'easy'.
Your dress looks lovely and cool for the tropics. I did smile at your 'cold' nights - that's a balmy night here at the moment, and some days don't get much warmer than that.

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
So dark ! You have no light pollution :) Must be great to star gaze.
There are more than enough street lights around us and through out The Netherlands that if you see a night map of Europe, The Netherlands is one glowing country.
Using your own quilts to warm you must be a real cozy feeling.
Your home grown ginger looks fantastic !
Looking good Jennifer ! A dress with pockets ! Yours would be a winner on The Great British Sewing Bee Australian edition if there ever is one :)
hugs, take care,

Remembrances said...

Thank you for another wonderful, inspiring post and beautiful pattern. I started making all of my own clothes when I was around 13 years old. Now that I am retired, I don't need as many so I make other items. I use old sheets and other fabric I find at thrift stores as well as upcycling and repurposing clothing that I or my husband no longer wear.

Your ginger looks fabulous! I am growing some right now, my first attempt. Since it is so hot here right now I have it in a pot in a window that faces south so it gets plenty of light but doesn't fry out there in our desert heat!

I often pray in public and find that it keeps me centered on God during the chaos that often surrounds us.

Phi. 4:13

ginabishop0404 said...

Thank you for the pattern and the post. I always love seeing your email pop up in my account. As a long time follower, I will say that each year your post get more and more inspirational for me and I truly appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer! So good to hear from you. We are in the middle of a heatwave here in Northern New Jersey, US.

Thank you for the pattern. My daughter had a baby in April after two miscarriages. The baby's middle name is Hope. I am going to make the embroidery for her. 🥰

Thank you for being an encourager. You are a blessing. 💞

Cheyenne said...

Your words and pictures are a gift from God. A) I love your dress! When I visit garage sales here in Southern California I look for sheets or 100% cotton table cloths with pretty patterns to sew with- last weekend I just found cotton batting 2-3 yards for $5! B) I just read that chapter in Leviticus about not planting in the 7th year -that is how I know God is here, among your words and pics. C) All your food looks so good- the soup makes me think of fall (we are just hitting summer); I love soup and grilled cheese days! D) I love that you and your family pray in public- I hope I see more of that in the world. I would say wish, but that is a bit silly isn't it? I hope it is on more people's hearts to pray. D) Love the embroidery pattern-thank you so much. E)I love your blog- it is inspiring, real, and lovely. I am a subscriber and look forward to new entries. God bless you and your family- Cheyenne

Jenny said...

Thank you for taking time to share words of encouragement and your beautiful creations with us! There are both inspirational!
- Texas

Julie said...

Another wonderful post dear Jennifer. Every time I see the ginger that you grow - it encourages me to try growing it here. I really must get onto this!
LoVe love the new dress - its so sweet & pretty & that style suits you. I imagine it will be nice & cool. I am so pleased to read you are finally getting some cooler temperatures & can enjoy soup & warming food. I hope Blossom & the children are able to get the kittens - I hope their prayers are answered. Wishing you a lovely weekend my dear friend x0x

Donna King said...

Hi Jennifer. Your $2 dress is absolutely darling and so flattering on you. You have inspired me to try something similar. In my case, I have a closet (or two) FULL of fabric that I was always going to make into something, sometime.
Here in Canada, we have just come through a heatwave of temps in the mid 30s with a humidex putting temps into the low 40s. Since we are not acclimated to these temps, that means staying inside as much as possible and hoping our gardens don't suffer too badly.
Isn't it interesting what we consider trials (too hot) that others consider the norm. I'm longing for temps in the teens again so I can sleep comfortably at night.
Lord, help me to be grateful for each new day and to see Your love and Your hand in all those things that I might otherwise find unpleasant.

Valerie said...

A lovely post !! Your dresses are so sweet and I to love the op shops we call them thrift shops here in New Brunswick,Canada. God is good and it is very uplifting to read about your daily activities. Val

Mrs. White said...

Thank you for such an encouraging post! God bless you and your family!

FlourishingPalms said...

Your blog posts continue to be inspirational, Jenny. I especially admire that you and your daughter can pray together publicly. If I had anyone to pray with, I would sure do that too! What a beautiful testament to your faith. I am enjoying seeing that you are garment-making now. As I adore making and wearing a dress, I tipped my head sideways to see which patterns you chose :-) The sheet dress you made turned out lovely! Do you wear a dress at home? Or only when away from home? No doubt you're not wearing such a pretty summer dress in your "cold" temps now, but hopefully those cool days will be short-lived. Here in Florida, we've been experiencing 90F-plus (32C+) temps for several weeks... and I'm "over it." It's so hot (and humid), it keeps us indoors. Well. at least that makes for more quiltmaking and sewing time!

Ondrea said...

The cooler weather must be a real shock to you esoecially not having warm clothes to put on or any heating appliance. Brrrrr. I think this morning is the coldest I have been even with the heating on! It is constantly pumping away which means the temp drops really quickly. Clever you making dresses! Gteat idea using sheets for practicing with. I am making soup weekly now and put some in the freezer so we have it at l east 3 times a week. Nothing as adventurous as your soups though. What a great idea having cats at the OpShop! Never heard of that concept before and I would love to have some cats to cuddle. For the first time in my life I haven't had a cat since my last one died a few years ago. At least I don't have vet bills and visits to worry about or concerns about keeping them indoors. I love your sheet keepers. Another great idea. Keep warm. LOL.

Jane Ellen said...

Such a lovely post and as always a God appointed message for me. I too am going thru some godly pruning of which I’m not a big fan of but understand it is necessary in order for me to grow in my faith. My adult children are facing financial and family issues that have this mama “ worried”. God is tracing me to lay it all at this feet and LEAVE IT THERE! Do you ever want to take back at least part of the worry just in case God needs your help?? I’m so guilty but am learning to trust.
I was thrilled to see a current picture of you in your lovely new dress. You are such a lovely lady Jenny!! I just know we would be good friends in real life but I’ll have to settle for social media for now. Please continue to post your encouragement and godly advice. I love to read your thoughts as well as enjoy all the lovely patterns and projects you share with us. Summer is HOT here in Alabama, USA. Today’s high is to be 94 degrees with high humidity which is the real killer! My garden needs rain!!
Jane Ellen

Anonymous said...

Jenny, I made the Magnesium lotion but I have wiped and wiped and mine is still runny. What did I do wrong? BB

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Hi BB...I don't know what's gone wrong with yours. :-(
Did you use an immersion blender? One thing I would change when I make it again, is to make sure the magnesium water is warm before adding the melted components. I think that will make a difference. I did have to drain off some water to get a good lotion thickness, and then it hardened up as the beeswax set. I used coconut oil in my melted mix, as we were given a few different oils that could be used.
Bless you, and I pray you can make it work. xx

Mary-Louise Parker said...

What a lovely post Jennifer. Thank you! Your dress is so very pretty on you! I always love hearing your news! Thank you for the 3 new u tube links. Yes we must immerse ourselves in His word. I put a challenge on myself this year to read the Bible in 6 mths I am nearly there. Next I will take a book at a time and spend time studying it more closely. Yesterday we went to a destashing sale!, where I bought wool, buttons lace, beads etc. It was packed. Such a good idea. I am busy in the garden tending our plants. XXMary-Lou