Monday, June 30, 2014

The Splendid Book for Girls



 



I could not resist this up-cycled journal that was created from a vintage book. The title and the cover with its old fashioned values just seemed to be perfect for my homemaker's journal. Inside the journal are some of the original pages from the book including an excerpt from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. The creator of the up-cycled journal included a note in the insert in the front cover that he found in the Splendid Book for Girls. It was a Christmas gift to 'Elaine from mummy and daddy' from 1956. The plain note book pages are divided into sections to use for whatever you want to journal.

This is what I used mine for....

1. Life Verses

The Scriptures and passages of the Bible that are so special to me. Some of my favorites are Deuteronomy 8 v 6 -10, Psalm 145, Ephesians 2 8 - 10, Psalm 144 v 12, Isaiah 54 v 13 and the verse which should be in every Christian homemaker's journal Proverbs 14 v 1. A wise woman builds her home... oh how I desire to be a wise woman!

2. Priorities

I like to remind myself often of what my priorities are. It is all too easy when our days are busy to jumble them up. No 1 is my relationship with the Lord but if I am truthful there are many days when my schedule does not reflect this. Number 2 is family - my husband and children. I have written down here a thought of mine 'My husband should have the best of me, not the leftovers at the end of each day.'

Following relationships I have used several more pages to outline some thoughts on homes. It is my homemaker's journal after all.

One of my homemaking goals is
'To create somewhere lovely that will delight the soul of others and refresh them, pointing them to the One who gave us everything.'

I recently came across a quote by Sally Clarkson which had to go into my journal.
She says 'I must bring the reality of God and His life into my home. My home must be a true and vibrant picture of the living God.'
This truly is my heart's desire.

There are more quotes from Godly women who have inspired me that I am still adding to my journal.  I may share my favourite quote from Elisabeth Elliot in a post soon. I call it my homemaker's wake-up call.

3. Recipes

Only the best and most used recipes go into my journal. They include a rhubarb cake which is my husband's favourite dessert. Chocolate mocha pudding and lemon meringue pie which are the most requested desserts in this home are also there as is a peach cobbler recipe which is so splattered with batter in the cook book it is barely legible. Have been making this same cobbler for 20 plus years so it is a keeper! An excellent recipe for a loaf I came across recently that I make in my breadmaker is also referred to often. It's so handy having the journal sitting there on my kitchen dresser. I am still writing out the recipes and I will soon begin creating an address section.

 I am not adverse to technology. I have a smartphone which I am using to create this post and a new Samsung Note 8 that I just love because it fits in my handbag and comes with a stylus pen. I used it on Sunday to write sermon notes and it was just fabulous. You can create recipes and upload photos with the Note but I don't think I will use that function as the handwritten recipes in my journal hold so much more appeal plus there is no risk of deletion and old fashioned journals don't have screens that crack if dropped onto kitchen tiles! I am currently paranoid about dropping my new tablet as I wait for the cover I ordered for it to arrive. Interestingly, I chose a brown leather cover that had the look one reviewer said that ' reminded them of an old fashioned journal'. That was me sold for that particular cover!

I am all for keeping a homemaking journal simple. I don't write out schedules for housework or meal plans. I honestly think it is quite possible to over-complicate homemaking and housework with organizational materials and manuals. I just wanted one place to write down everything I need to reference or be reminded of on a regular basis. I can now dispose of all those separate address and note books that were cluttering up my home office.  It really is my 'splendid' book!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ordinary Days





It's been some time since I posted. Life has been busy... too busy to write blog posts. Today is no exception. I have to drive my daughter to the airport. She is off to New Zealand. She will be meeting up with a Canadian friend. She is going snowboarding in Queenstown and visiting her grandparents in the North Island. She loves to travel.
 
For two weeks we will have just 5 children at home. Our son moved out of home in March. He has a fantastic position with an IT company in a city about 2 and a half hours from here. I miss hearing his Christian music blasting down our hall! That is probably the most stark reminder that he doesn't live here anymore... my hallway is so quiet! We speak on the phone often. In fact we probably have more conversations than when he lived just down the hallway!

So much more I could share but this home sweet home and my family require my attention. So this post is ordinary... no creative makeover projects, no inspirational pieces, no useful homemaking or homeschooling advice.... isn't there a tonne of that already out there on the net? Just one photo to share of a corner of my home.  My tea tray which sits on my huge kitchen dresser... I might show you more of that one day. I now have three dressers and one buffet which are overflowing with china and tableware. I waited over 20 years to see my dream of having a kitchen dresser and lots of pretty tea cups to sip tea from. Now I have dressers and teacups in abundance! They make my home seem so homely. 




And so to my photo. I have quite a selection of boutique teas. They are certified organic and blended here in Australia by a naturopath. I sell them at the markets together with the cake stands that I make from vintage china plates. English Breakfast is my default tea but I also adore French Earl Grey. For something more delicate I sip white rose and goji. The tea in the sachet envelope is saskatoon berry brought home for me by my daughter when she visited Canada. My other teenage daughter often makes a pot of tea late in the afternoon. We sit together at the dining table in our family room and share pins and discuss vintage decorating and table setting ideas. She is my vintage girl. The one who loves to dress smart and wear dresses and sometimes hats. She gets stopped on the street by strangers.... both men and women who tell her how lovely she looks! 

So time to post not knowing if this will even appear in your reading list. The synopsis of the blogs I read when I do have time have all disappeared from my reading list apart from the top one. So not expecting many comments. .. especially for an 'ordinary' blog post. But needed to let you know I am still here. Still working out what I should share about at this blog. If I just share about our ordinary days would you still read? Okay, I have to go now. Leaving for the airport shortly! Hope you are enjoying your ordinary days!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Girl in the Corner


photo credit: lilongd via photopin cc

She stood in the corner of the room watching, waiting for the ballet class to finish. Nearby, a group of mothers who were all well acquainted chatted amicably among themselves. They didn't seem to notice the girl in the corner and seemed oblivious to her presence but I did. I was in the same position. I traveled from the country into the town to bring my little girls to their classical ballet class. I didn't know the other mothers and I didn't know the girl who stood in the corner. She fascinated me. She dressed conservatively and wore no make up. I wondered whether she was a member of the local group that re-enacted the Victorian heritage of the town - quite a number dressed in Victorian costume as a matter of rule. I knew I should really go over and introduce myself but with an older boy in tow and a wriggly baby on my hip who would soon need a feed, as soon as the girls had curtsied to their teacher I raced over grabbed their hands and quickly ushered them out of the hall to strap them into their car seats for the 40 minute journey home.

I regretted only smiling at and not speaking to the girl in the corner. The time was drawing near when we would be leaving our farm and moving across the Tasman. Then one week somehow she overcame her shyness and spoke to me. I knew it had been a courageous step for her as she asked quietly and politely whether my daughter would like to come over and visit. Her daughter needed a friend but I sensed that she was also asking on her own behalf and reaching out to me. I took up the invitation. She lived just around the corner and I let out a gasp when I saw her home. A stately Victorian town house with a walled garden. 'Wow, you live here?' She smiled. I had walked past it often and wondered who was fortunate enough to live in such a historic property. Now I was being given a tour of its interior. As our girls played together we chatted over a cup of tea. I told her about my life as a farmer's wife and she told me what it was like to be the custodian of such a grand old home. Caring for it took a lot of her time. I noticed the books on her shelves. Classics and the works of great men of the Christian faith such as Spurgeon and Tozer. A fellow believer, a quiet, and unassuming lady. A gentle soul. She was lovely company and how I wished I had made the effort to get to know her sooner. I saw the sadness in her eyes when I told her we were soon leaving to start a new life in Australia.

Perhaps you also know a girl in the corner. Maybe she attends your church, your playgroup or your ladies ministry meeting. She stays in the background. She sits alone or alongside the older ladies who have invited her to join them but are now engaged in conversation with their neighbour. You may even be that girl in the corner. You are ignored. You look around the room and you feel you don't fit in. I tend to think of myself as fairly outgoing but I know what it is like to be the girl in the corner. Even at church. The one place where the welcome should not be confined to a greeting at the door. On the occasions when I became the girl in the corner I can't really explain why. It's happened at gatherings both large and small. I once attended a swimming carnival run by a homeschool support group that I had not attended before. I barely knew anyone  but I had so much in common with everyone there. I never expected to be ignored, to sit in the stands and occasionally have other women look up from their conversations and stare across at me but no one came and introduced themselves. Needless to say, I never returned to that group.

On other occasions I know many of the people in the room but it seems they are all caught up in conversations with the group they are with so I sit quietly at my table and sip on my tea and wait for the meeting to begin. There is lots of talk about sisterhood but barely a mention of motherhood yet most of the women in the room are mothers or hope to be mothers one day. Why don't they teach about being a wife and a mother? What about homemaking? I once had the opportunity to speak at a large gathering for women. Just a five minute slot in a packed programme. I chose to speak on the table and why it was the most important piece of furniture in my home. I shared about family and hospitality. That was over 10 years ago but recently a woman came up to me and told me that she had never forgotten what I shared on the table.

Maybe that is why the girl in the corner has come along. She's hoping to be able to glean some wisdom from an older woman. She wants to be a better mother. She dearly wants to hear others share their experiences of everyday life in the home - the place where she knows God has called her to be. And perhaps there might be someone, who like herself is also looking for a friend, someone she can confide in. Not a small group or a Bible study held at an impractical time that she has to travel to. Just one caring person who will call in to see her from time to time. Who will have time to stay for a coffee and some conversation. The next time she ventures out to a larger gathering her new friend will look out for her, she will introduce her to others. She is no longer the girl in the corner. You see she knew all along her value and worth to God. She didn't need to hear another message on that. What she really needed to know and experience was that others valued her as her Saviour did - that they noticed her, spoke to her more than a greeting or a passing 'how are you?' as they dash past to see the friend they really want to catch up with.

Dear friends, can I encourage you to look out for the girl in the corner. Especially, when you attend church or gatherings of women or even your homeschool support meeting. Scan the room. There will be a girl in the corner. She might be a young mother or an older lady. You might say but our church has small groups. She should join one, that is where connections are made and friendships are formed and yes that is true but not every person can get along to a small group. Distance to travel could be an issue or finances. Maybe she can't afford the petrol or doesn't enjoy driving at night. I experienced a road rage incidence once on the way to a woman's ministry night. I feared for my life as the car which had been speeding came up behind me flashing his lights, sounding his horn and sitting on my bumper as I drove at the speed limit. For a long time I avoided attending meetings held at night. Perhaps the small groups are held at an inconvenient time during the day. Or maybe the groups are overly age segregated which is one of the issues I face as a woman in her 40's. Too old for most of the small groups for women and families and too young for others, leaving me with very few options. I have young adults, teenagers, young children and a pre-schooler. I have much to offer younger mothers but few opportunities to minister to them.

Be open to the prompting of the Lord. He will place people across your path or maybe across your street who need to know that someone is genuinely interested in them. Who will smile, make them feel truly welcome and take the time to talk to them and invite them to come and sit with them. It may lead to a sweet friendship, an opportunity to minister or it may be the only time you meet them but they won't forget you because they no longer felt alone or awkward in the situation they found themselves in. I will continue to look out for the girl in the corner and I hope you will too.

P.S She might be visiting your blog.





Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Whole Family Ministry

Today I am sharing the story of how we became involved in a ministry that has a special place in my heart. I have longed for a ministry that every member of my family could be involved with from the youngest to the oldest, where hospitality and the opening up of our home would play a pivotal role. A ministry that would not separate parents from children or take individual members out of the home for long periods. The Lord heard my prayers and after saying to Him ' Lord, we are available, please use us to reach out to people beyond the walls of our home and church' He answered in the most incredible way, fulfilling the desire of one daughter to be a missionary to China by bringing China to our doorstep.

It has been an exciting first year since the initial conversation with the wife of the Pastor of a church we had attended for a number of years before moving to a smaller church closer to home. How her eyes lighted up when I explained that my daughter had a passion for China and was learning Mandarin and she told me of a wonderful couple she had met the evening before who had established a ministry to Chinese students in our city.

Before long we had attended our first Chinese festival and were introduced to some of the students and the partners in the ministry. It became apparent that to be truly involved we needed to move back to our first church and give up the benefits of being involved in a smaller fellowship of believers.
Although we are now in a much bigger  church we feel closely connected because of our involvement in this ministry. We have been able to befriend many of the students and welcome them into our home. My husband is a mechanic by trade and he has been able to assist a number of the students by repairing their cars and helping those who needed to purchase new ones. We became aware of the number of young people from Taiwan and South Korea who were here on working holidays and by helping out just one girl we were able to befriend many others in the same group. Some we have befriended on a more permanent basis and have been able to keep in touch with and others we met only once or twice.  But it became apparent that they all loved being befriended by a family and being invited into a home. One day I received a text from one of the backpackers we had met just once. He wanted to know if he and his brother could come out and visit us again on the weekend. Of course we said yes and they turned up smiling and were delighted to see our children again. They played soccer in our backyard and jumped on the trampoline... for hours! We drove them to a lovely part of our valley for a short bush walk and invited them to stay for dinner as I could see they really did not want to leave! It was the last time we would see them as they would be traveling to Tasmania and New Zealand but I know they were impacted by the time they spent with our family.

 
 
There is so much more I could share about this incredible ministry and the harvest it is reaping but time does not allow. It is such an honour to play a part in it and our life as a family has been blessed in so many unexpected ways. The day one of our sweet friends told me that I reminded her of her mother who she was missing very much and after we had visited her on her birthday and made her a cake and presented her with flowers she told us it was one of the best birthdays in her life! I was astounded. Really.. a chocolate cake made by my children and a bunch of supermarket flowers could bring someone so much joy? Sometimes the simple things say so much. I am so grateful that the Lord prompted me to go and visit her in her temporary abode taking with us most of our younger children. We met a lot more young people from Asia that day as we sat with them and my husband manned the barbecue so they could chat. 

These are just some of the stories from our whole family ministry and there will be more to come. The academic year has just begun and the students are arriving to commence their studies. Already this year we have helped out one young man with car troubles. He was a committed Christian and I sensed very grateful for the help and the opportunity to spend time with our family getting to know us. It is true that God does set the solitary in families and He needs more families who are willing to open up their homes to others, especially those who are on their own or in an unfamiliar country and missing their families.  I am grateful that we have the time and have not over committed ourselves or our children to segregated activities away from the home. The freedom to say 'When can you come out? We are home most evenings' is a wonderful thing.
Are you involved in any whole family ministry? I'd love to hear about the opportunities that exist for families to come together to share their homes and their lives with others!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Degree and Debt Free



2013 came to a very exciting and fulfilling close after we traveled to Melbourne to attend our son's graduation ceremony for RMIT University. He gained a Bachelor of Technology (Computer Studies) and graduated with distinction. Those who have followed my blog over the past few years may remember his homeschool story. I am a strong believer in delight directed learning and allowed our son to concentrate on a subject throughout the high school years which he enjoyed which was computer programming. He began teaching himself to program at age 12 and at 16 he enrolled in a unit at RMIT University via Open Universities Australia (OUA). When his friends were sitting the HSC at 18 our son was partway through his University degree. His part time farm job provided income for the initial units and at 18 he set up his own web design business from home. I gave up trying to explain to people who kept asking when he was sitting the HSC. Blank stares ensued when I said he was already undertaking a degree. Now I am being asked what he is going to do now he has a degree! He is not unemployed. He has a successful business and we pray that it will continue to flourish.

We are so proud of his achievements and the fact that he was able to graduate debt free. As more design work came in, he enrolled in more units. The flexibility of the OUA programme made this possible. He studied at home and he worked from home. Exams were sat at an office in the city. Some days he would have an exam in the morning followed by a business meeting with a client! The years of hard work paid off and what a delight it was to take our first trip to Melbourne -  which is now on my list of favourite cities for lots of reasons.

Students who study externally via OUA earn exactly the same degree as those attending the bricks and mortar institution. During our stay our son met up with some of the other OUA graduates putting faces to names of people he had met and befriended on online study forums. On graduation day students from RMIT marched down the street from the University to Federation Square. In the evening the graduation ceremony took place at Docklands Stadium. I had no idea how big RMIT was or how many students would be graduating. In a sea of thousands of cap and gowns, families watched on from the stands above as their sons and daughters waited for that moment when their name was announced and they could step onto their respective stages and receive their degrees. Large screens set up around the stadium meant we were able to see in much more detail this very special moment. I had to pinch myself a few times... it was really happening!

Academic achievements aside... what delights my soul more is knowing that my son continues to walk with the Lord. That his convictions concerning God's Word and the truth it contains are strong and steadfast. That he honours God with his life... how much more important it is to be qualified for Heaven through faith in Jesus!


 

We made the most of our stay in Melbourne. We walked for miles until we sussed out the trams (why are there no large signs explaining they are cashless and you need a card!) and I found the best little vintage shop in the universe where I bought my first chandelier. A real chandelier from the 1940's made of glass and not plastic unlike some modern reproductions  it's for our vintage hire business but hangs outside under the verandah where it is easy to access and admire. Our trip home was eventful. A day of crazy heat that our van could not handle. It was 45 degrees (that's 113 f for my overseas friends!) as we drove through inner Sydney and the decision was made to stop for the night somewhere on the way home which meant we got to visit quite a few country cities and towns. I did most of my Christmas shopping in these towns and found Vinnies (a thrift store) that had vintage china at reasonable prices. Now that is quite something these days!

We were home for Christmas ... a quiet and intimate Christmas this year and an opportunity to relax and enjoy my favourite time of the year with my favourite people - my family.

2014 has already commenced . I pray that it will be a year of many blessings for you all. That God will reveal Himself to you more and more ...His ways, His plans, His paths. I hope I find more time to blog but no promises are being made. I hope that sharing some more of our homeschool journey has been an encouragement to someone ... maybe someone who is just starting out or a mom who is constantly being asked 'How is he going to get to university if he doesn't go to school?'. We have been there and know what that is like! The Lord goes with you wherever you go. He is with you every step of the way...so relax in that knowledge and enjoy the learning journey with the precious ones He has entrusted to you. Persevere dear homeschool friends.... you will not regret your decision.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Very Vintage Christmas


I'm writing this post and publishing from my smartphone which is a first for me. Perhaps it will allow me to post briefer posts on a more regular basis but no promises as December looks to be even busier with a trip to Melbourne planned the week before Christmas in order to attend our son's graduation ceremony from RMIT university.

I decided to concentrate my Christmas decorating to one room this year. Our open plan family kitchen/ dining room where we do most of our living! I set up our tree in the corner window and thought I would use some of the vintage props we purchased this year for our business.

I have also decorated our Stanley stove and will bring in more greenery for it closer to Christmas day. The picture I took a few years ago of our decorated candlelit stove seems to be getting lots of repins on pinterest at the moment.

This morning I brought in a little vintage step ladder and draped it with the long, slender fronds from the Kashmiri cypress which graces the front of our home.  I adorned the steps with pine cones, tea light candles, doilies, a favourite Christmas book, added a bundle of cinnamon sticks embellished with a silk flower and now I have the perfect place to set out those little gifts that get lost under the tree! 


Our Christmas tradition of making crackers for the table became a real family affair this year with my 8 year old twin daughters taking over! I had cut out some sweet pictures of British birds and nests from Country Living magazine. They made up the crackers from a kit, covered them in crepe paper and glued on silk ivy and white flowers. Apart from needing some help with tying on the ribbon, they made the crackers themselves with only verbal instructions.  I was amazed at how they knew to fold in the edge of the paper to create a neat seam. They are so motivated to make another set which is a good thing as I have invited a number of the Chinese students and backpackers we have befriended this year to come for Christmas dinner.  If they all decide to come we will have a full house! At least I will have enough plates with all this vintage china, cutlery and crystal I have collected and I have every intention of using it for my very vintage Christmas! Hear the collective groan from the children who know that it cannot go in the dishwasher! The very thought of serving guests food that we lovingly cooked and baked on plastic or paper plates is one that makes me shudder!


I have no idea whether this mobile app for blogger will let me upload more than one photo. So let's tap done for the text and see what happens!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Her great Canadian Adventure begins!





I have to say I am a little envious. I have never met any of my blogger friends, not even the ones who live in Australia and it's only a dream to be able to fly to the other side of the world to meet those sweet ladies I have connected with, thanks to this blog, in North America. But my daughter is living my dream. Right now she is in Canada and has just spent the first few days of her trip in the beautiful city of Vancouver staying with my dear friend Camille from Flowers in His Garden. How grateful our family is to Camille and her family for showing such gracious hospitality to our daughter, picking her up from the airport and welcoming her into their home, looking after her and showing her the sights of the city such as Stanley Park. Camille has just put up a blog post about our daughter's visit so in a moment I will send you over to visit her where you can read more about her stay in Vancouver, see more photos and learn about some of the activities they managed to fit in during such a short space of time. I offered up profound apologies for sending over a tube of vegemite as one gift for the family (I'm English, can't stand the stuff and convinced you need to be a natural born Aussie or Kiwi to be able to digest it!) To compensate our daughter made the family her famous lemon meringue pie!

She's now on the prairie and has been reunited with her friend she met over here a few years ago when a team of young Canadians came over for a short term mission. She's also experiencing the coldest temperatures she has ever experienced in her life -12 c but feels like -20 according to the forecast she sent through! I'm sure it feels like -20 after you have come from one of the hottest springs we have experienced for some time. It reached the high 30's (that's close to 100 F for my friends overseas) in the week prior to her departure! During the next 2 weeks she will be taking a road trip with her friend visiting cities such as Calgary and Edmonton and seeing the Rocky Mountains. She's rather excited about the fact that there is a mall in Edmonton that has a roller coaster - really? She will return to Vancouver and spend another night with Camille and her family before flying out.

We are looking forward to seeing more photos of the country that is part of her heritage. My great grandmother came from a wealthy and prestigious family in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She married an English gentleman at Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal. All places I intend to visit when it is my turn to visit Canada!

My daughter returns home on my birthday and celebrates her 19TH birthday the following day. We are missing her, her cat is even missing her. We look forward to her return, hearing all about her great Canadian adventure and hopefully she will make me her lemon meringue pie on my birthday!

Do pop over and visit Camille's blog to read more about her stay in Vancouver and see those amazing fall leaves!


 http://flowersinhisgarden.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/down-under-up-here.html

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