Wednesday, November 25, 2015

In the sewing room

Dear Blogging friends, 

I think its about time I did an update from the sewing room (which is a little messy at present so no photos of the space!!). What have I been doing — not a lot really! I started to make a top but ran into difficulties trying to understand the pattern so taking it off to discuss with friends who sew! But I have been buying patterns, thats really the easy part of sewing!!  I buy most from eBay —usually the older patterns that are often out of print or no longer in demand. These are my favourites and I have managed to find some treasures. 
I was so excited about the pinafore (jumper) pattern (below) — I have been searching for the perfect pinafore pattern and struggle to find anything I liked, this is what I have been wanting.  The pattern is a little too large so I will need to make it small, but I look forward to giving it a go!!

As to the other pattern (long green dress from Buttericks 5461) I plan to make this for summer but before I do, I am going to be clever and make a top using this pattern to see how the neckline goes — the pattern says it is "fast" and "easy",  I will let you know if this is true!!

I mentioned in a previous post how I was making a quilt for a friend who is turning 50 next year — here is the fabric I am using. I just love all those purples (my friend's favourite colour) and can't wait to start cutting. I have been delayed in starting this job due to major back problems where I can sit or bend for too long — making sewing and cutting difficult. Hopefully soon I can get started on this project. The green is for the back of the quilt.

I recently finished this over-sized mug rug (place-mat) for a young man of 10 who loves dogs. Whilst it isn't perfect I am quite pleased with the end result.  I learnt a few things in the making of it— such as, free motion quilting is REALLY hard and I have no idea how the experts get it so even and beautiful. The pattern comes from Craftsy and they have 24 different designs of boys and girls with cats and dogs (2 for each month of the year). I have bought most and look forward to using them of various projects. 

I have another (secret) project I am working on that involves appliqué, sewing, fabric, art etc... I will share the next time I do a "In the sewing room"!!!

My dear cousin (Bets) from Betsy's Boutique has been busy knitting and this is what she made recently for one of her clients — I just love the rainbow colours. Don't forget to visit her Facebook shop if you want to make an order. 

And I do love this bright pink one with the pale pink elephant ears. So cute for a little girl.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Do you use a table cloth?

Do you use table clothes these days?

Are they in or are they out of fashion?

My mother always had a table-cloth on the table, it was common practice when I was growing up in the 1970s. We used it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These days many people do not use them at mealtime instead using place mats or nothing at all.

My mother had quite a collection of table-clothes, I think I own one.

According to Your (who have written the history far better than I could):

The earliest proof of the existence of tablecloths, is drawn from the work of a poet named Martial who died c.103 AD who mentioned them in his writing, so tablecloths are believed to have come into use in Europe in the first century AD. Prior to this high-ranking Roman households are thought to have possessed tables that were exquisitely carved and therefore too ornate and beautiful to be covered by cloth!  By looking at early artwork that still survives, it appears that the very first cloths appear to have been very plain and used simply for catching mess and wiping up spills.

Tablecloths gradually became more popular, particularly among European nobility and aristocrats. By the fifteenth century, every household apart from the very poorest would have used a tablecloth of some description, even if it was hessian sack. The middling folks (there was no middle class at the time) would have had plain, cheaper cloths while the poor would have used hemp cloth and the destitute would have had no table coverings at all. During the Medieval period, it was de rigueur to use the finest linen tablecloths. The linen had to be as white as possible. The higher ranking you were, the whiter your tablecloths were expected to be. This is because conspicuous consumption was the order of the day. If you think about it, this was a time long before chemicals, washing machines, dryers and irons, so you had to employ lots of people to keep your household linens clean. By having the freshest, whitest tablecloth you possibly could laid out on your dining table, you were effectively saying, “Look at me. I have lots of money! I have lots of workers!”

At the time linen was a hugely valuable commodity that cost a great deal of money. It had to be harvested, handspun, bleached and then hand-woven into cloth by a Master Craftsman. It was then bleached and calendared. During its existence it had to be carefully looked after in terms of washing and pressing. Linen was so valuable in fact, that it is present in wills and probate inventories right up to the twentieth century, and was seen as a family heirloom.  Households often kept their linen on display, either in a linen press, or stacked somewhere where it could be seen by visitors. As ironing was not widespread until after the late Middle Ages, a smoothed tablecloth was also a sign of a well-run household.

Below are some lovely examples of table-clothes and even though I don't use them very often, I think they really do add something extra. Thankfully it is no longer important to have the whitest of white table-clothes, which are both impractical and rather boring.

I asked my lovely Facebook friends if they used table-clothes and most said yes (it was, however a very small sample). Interestedly, the purpose of the table-cloth was more about protecting the table rather than for decorative purposes. And the table-cloth remained on the table between meals when it was used for other purposes. 

One of the reasons for the decline in table-clothes is our busy lives — finding the time to all sit down to a meal together (many families eat in shifts or in various locations around the house) and the fact that it adds to the washing chores and many families are time poor and really don't want "another" thing to wash and iron in their week. Place mats are much easier to keep clean and can be quickly stacked away when not in use.

This one is to make you laugh!! What do you think?


Monday, November 23, 2015

Lets focus on the happy things

Happy thoughts I think are much needed at present with all the nasties going on around the world. Whilst it is important to know what is happening — it is not wise to watch and read every possible news story with the aim of catching all the gory detail as that only leads to increased worry and fear, the very thing we must avoid. 

Instead we need to find as much joy in our lives as possible and not focus on the ugly. 

The one place we need to be joyful, is our homes. We need to create places of refuge that is filled to the brim with joy, love and peace as our children need this more than ever at present. They are feeling very insecure and afraid at the moment with all the pressure they have in their lives plus the current world events from refugees to war and terrorism. They need to know that their home is a safe place where they are loved and wanted. They need to know that when life is tough they have a place to bunker down that is beautiful and calm to be in. It is our job as their mothers to create such an environment for them and one that they will find positive attitudes, lots of joyfulness, happiness and full of fun and laughter. 

Perhaps at the moment it is a good time to turn off the news and put on some music and get out the board games and have some fun. Or perhaps watch a funny movie together as a family. I am sure both the children and adults alike will feel much better not hearing all the bad news that is around us. 

So, todays blog post is about happy thoughts and pretty things so our minds can enjoy some beauty and peace instead. And whilst you go through your week, remember this verse — don't worry about tomorrow, God has that under control. Just focus on the now — and best of all, God is looking after us right now and we have nothing to fear. 

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:34)

I don't know about you, but flowers, books and pretty pink seem to be joyful to me which is why I selected this combination from Pinterest. There is something very calming about each of these pictures and calm is good at the moment.

Lets search out beautiful things this week, things that make us happy, bring us joy. Because if we are in the right state of mind, we will pass this onto our families. We can spread the joy in our homes, everyone else in the house will be much more happy. 

Thou art the Lord who slept upon the pillow;
Thou art the Lord who soothed the furious sea.
What matter beating wind and tossing billow
If only we are in the boat with Thee?

Hold us in quiet through the age-long minute
While Thou art silent, and the wind is shrill:
Can the boat sink while Thou, dear Lord, art in it?
Can the heart faint that waiteth on Thy will

by Amy Carmichael


Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Art: Edward Thompson Davis

Artist: Edward Thompson Davis

  • 1833–1867

We have see such ugliness in the last week with the tragic deaths of many innocent people in Paris and in other parts of the world as a result of terrorist attacks. It can be easy to forget that whilst these events are just horrible and most of us struggle to understand why they happen — we need to always remember the beauty that is around us. The terrorists don't want us to see the lovely, the kind, the caring, the gentle . . . but they are all there if we look. Just because the terrorists can't see the beauty, they can't take it away from us. 

Enjoy these beautiful works of art of Edward Thompson Davis, in particular the scenes of family life — a grandmother with her grandchildren, the young listening to the elderly, two children helping each other. This is what we need to focus on. 


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wall papering the home

Whilst I haven't always been a fan of wallpaper, some of the modern papers are just AMAZING. 

The colours look so vibrant and the designs are gorgeous.

At least these modern wall-papers won't kill you!  The famous William Morris wall-papers of the late 1800s were beautiful and every fashionable home had them, but sadly some of the colours were made from arsenic (green in particular) and when the wall-paper were located in the bedrooms (which were  often damp as they didn't have the wonderful central heating we have today) and the windows were closed (particularly in winter) the arsenic vapours would either make the person sick or could even lead to death, particularly children. Fortunately the modern wall-papers (including the William Morris reproductions) are all arsenic free so you can sleep soundly.

Look at the ones above, I would love to have some of these in my home, especially the ones with the delicate butterflies. These are almost works of art. The problem with these papers is the cost, these are expensive which is why they look so good. 

I thought it would be fun to look at some of the different designs available today and imagine them in our homes!!

Are you a fan of wall-paper?
How about the more delicate or perhaps the bolder designs. I always think the bolder ones need big spaces which in my little suburban home is lacking.  Below there is even an example of wall-paper on the ceiling, I quite like it but I would hate to have to put it up!!

What sort of paper would you put on your walls?

I quite like the idea of doing one wall with paper (a cheaper option) otherwise it could look a little over done. What do you think?
Or you can go for these incredible scenes on a single wall - I would LOVE to do some of these and they are not that expensive. However if I had to install one of these, the ocean would probably end up running down hill!!!


Other amazing examples: LINK



Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Postnatal depression awareness

This week is Postnatal depression awareness week (in Australia) and its such an important issue to be aware of. A new mother can develop postnatal depression (PND) within a few days or weeks of giving birth. Around one in seven to ten mothers develop postnatal depression — that is a lot of women that we need to take special care of. According to experts, they do not know the exact causes of PND, but the enormous physical, emotional and social changes involved in becoming a parent seem to play a significant role. And something many are not aware of, new dads can also develop PND, particularly if their partner or wife is depressed.

Whilst many women have a wonderful post birth experience, as I did, as we can see from the statistics, not all women do and we need to make sure we do all we can to help. Both by understand post-natal depression but also reaching out with a helping hand. 

Symptoms of postnatal depression (PND):
The range of symptoms experienced depends on the severity of the depression, and may include:
  • Low self-esteem and lack of confidence
  • Feelings of inadequacy and guilt
  • Negative thoughts
  • Feeling that life is meaningless
  • Feeling unable to cope
  • Tearfulness and irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping or changes in sleeping patterns
  • Low sex drive
  • Anxiety, panic attacks or heart palpitations
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things.

Suggestions for family and friends:
Ways you can help a loved one who has PND include:
  • Find out as much information as you can about PND
  • Be patient and understanding
  • Ask the couple how you can help
  • Offer to cook meals, do the washing, grocery shopping 
  • Offer to babysit
  • Offer to help around the house
  • Let the mother know you are there for her, even if she doesn’t feel like talking
  • Appreciate that the father may also be emotionally affected by the demands and challenges of new parenthood

Help from a partner during postnatal depression:
If you are the partner of a woman with postnatal depression, suggestions include:
  • Be patient
  • Encourage your partner to talk about her feelings
  • Accept that her feelings are genuine and don’t trivialise them by telling her to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘get over it’
  • Try to understand her point of view
  • Don’t take her negative feelings or criticisms personally
  • Tactfully limit visitors if she doesn’t feel like socialising
  • Enlist the aid of other family members to help around the house, if and when they can, including with babysitting
  • Tell her often that you love her
  • Show her you love her with cuddles, baby care and housework
  • Don’t criticise her post-pregnancy body or demand she lose weight, as she may already feel low about her appearance
  • Telephone her from work, or drop in for lunch occasionally if you work close to home
  • Care for the baby after work to promote your parent–child relationship, while giving your partner a much-needed break
  • If you are worried, encourage her to see a doctor
  • Go to the doctor yourself for information and advice, if your partner initially refuses to go


Monday, November 16, 2015

How can I be useful to you today?

I have been reading "As Silver Refined - Answers to Life's Disappointments" by Kay Arthur. In chapter 8 "Peace amid the pain" she retells the story of Bruce Olson, the missionary who was captured by South American Marxist guerrillas and help captive for 9 months.

Bruce Olson was held in very poor conditions, in make-shift shelters that offered virtually no protection from the elements: rain, heat or humidity. He was sick with malaria and in a great deal of pain and discomfort. He was tortured and had to witness the deaths and abuse of the other prisoners.

Life was miserable. But regardless, this is what he had to say:

It may seem bizarre to some people, but the truth is that it never once occurred to me that it was God's responsibility to rescue me miraculously from this situation. Instead I believed it was my responsibility to serve Him right where I was. 

What I asked of God from day to day was very simple, very practical, and I suppose quite typical of me; "Father, I'm alive, and I want to use this time constructively. How can I be useful to you today"

How often do we want God to change our situation because we think we have a better idea of what we want or what is best for our families. But what happens if our plans are not God's plan?

Instead of asking God to change your situation, nagging Him, reminding Him that He must have got it wrong — instead ask:

"How can I be useful to you today"

It may be a usefulness in the workplace or at home, on the trip to the supermarket or when picking up your child from school — but wherever you are, ask God to help you use that time constructively and with purpose. 

God is in CONTROL so let Him be in CONTROL. 

We need to live by faith in any situation that God has placed us in, whether we like it or not. 

Bruce Olsen felt he could serve God in any situation, including being held captive in a jungle "I've always felt that I could serve God in any situation, and this one was full of intriguing possibilities. As a result, I wasn't terrified or even particularly anxious about my fate. I knew it was God —not my captors—who would control the outcome of the situation".

Lets live by faith and trust in the Lord as His plans are always right and each morning wake up and ask "how can I be useful to you today?" rather than asking him to rescue you from your situation.

Much more joy, happiness and pleasure will come about by undertaking His work, than by being grumpy that you are not doing what you want to do. 

In everything give thanks; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

(1 Thessalonians 5:18)



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