Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Tea

It has been nearly a year since we started this journey of a true empty nest.  The newlyweds first anniversary is but one month away.  Can you believe it?

Such experiences are best explained by the word Bittersweet.  Those life events we go through which truly are difficult but also wonderful... sweet and bitter. 

I'm finally getting used to the new normal and only recently starting to embrace it for its' value.

All of us have seeds of creative desires within us, projects or plans... things we once wanted to accomplish but set aside due to work responsibilities, marriage, children, or perhaps caring for a loved one with an illness over the years.

The process I've been going through recently has been to shine a light on those past creative desires and bring them to the surface again.  Obviously within limitations of health and budget... but still do-able.

For instance, I may have once wanted to hike the Appalachian trail but that would no longer be wise or physically possible.  However, I've decided I will get out more this year to walk a few other trails other than "my own" just for the purpose of seeing nature in its' various venues.

Yes, I am a bit of a tree hugger but only in the Biblical sense that I so feel His presence when surrounded by nature.   Indeed, I find amongst the trees and gardens and creeks and flowers and even fields of corn... the inspiration to Worship the Creator and never the creation itself.

My long neglected sewing machine has been repaired and ready for use when the inspiration comes to quilt or craft or create again.  I haven't used it much since Christopher was a toddler (there was a reason for that). :)

I'm not forcing myself to sew again, for I know one day I'll decide to replace the laptop with the sewing machine on my long table and try to remember how to thread the machine.  The desire will probably come from a certain fabric which is begging to become part of a quilt or the apron on a teddy bear.  Who knows what will be the inspiration?

There was a time I always had a needlework project in some stage of work but that, too, was set aside for responsibilities needing my attention.  That is a definite possibility for a soon-to-be project... bringing back a much loved hobby from the early years of marriage.

Sooo... all this talk about soon, and maybe, and perhaps, and planning, etc.  Is there anything I've already set out to accomplish?  I'm glad you asked... for I'm rediscovering the fun of trying new recipes and food stuffs.

For years I depended on tried and true recipes to put dinner on the table for the three of us and my kitchen creativity was brought out in my baking.  However, with only two of us at home (and one of us a diabetic), I don't bake nearly as much as I used to.

Since there now were only two of us to try new recipes on, I became a little more adventurous with various spices at first.  Then I would purchase one unusual (to us at least) ingredient once in awhile to see if we liked it or not and something happened to my cooking.

I found I enjoyed it much like I did in my early foodie days.  Back when my husband, a preschool Stephanie, and I would walk the boardwalk in Michigan after a Saturday morning "breakfast out".  We'd often end up at the gourmet kitchen shop where I would look for new ingredients or a gadget to try.

I started using Amazon credit to purchase a new cookbook here and there over the past two years.  Although I purchased a few wonderful American cookbooks, I began to purchase books from Italian, Irish, English, Australian, and French cooks. 

I have other cookbooks on my Wish List to add as I can, including one by a Mexican cook.  (Thank you all who enter your Amazon shopping through the widget on my blog!)  I've also once again started reading books about food by people who love to cook.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that reading cookbooks (especially those lovely books with lots of beautiful pictures) and finding creativity in the fixing of dinner would be the first former love to return.  It really never went away completely, it just needed permission to resurface in different circumstances.

For you see... in all of this I had to change my thinking.  I realized once again that creative cooking just for the sake of my own enjoyment is fine in itself.  I don't need to have "company over" or be cooking for a crowd to spend an hour perusing a cookbook for a new recipe and spend time in the kitchen chopping, slicing, stirring, tasting, and then serving... just the two of us (or even just to serve you... the cook).

In my old way of thinking, the use of time experimenting with something new and wonderful would only be "a good thing" if it was to feed my family or perhaps for a dinner party.  Imagine what freedom it brought to realize one can collect recipe books and spend time thinking of new recipes to try... for dinner on Tuesday night.

I'm learning that life is not all or nothing.

I'm working on this thinking for the garden, too.  Since we won't be able to expand the garden (finances just won't allow it this year), I need to remember it is still fine to spend time reading gardening books and magazines... researching new ideas... learning more about composting, etc.

Even if I'm just planting the usual lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, and herbs this year.  Gaining knowledge and wisdom just may produce better lettuce.

Is there anything you used to love to do that has been set aside?  Is there any room in your day to dust off those old God given talents and spend just a little time on them... painting a picture, playing a musical instrument, writing poetry, needle working a chair seat, or learning to bake a perfect pie crust?

It doesn't matter if you are sixteen, sixty, or one hundred.  There will never be perfect circumstances so start now.  Is there anything you have always wanted to do but you stopped because your circumstances changed?  Try again...

That desire to create is in your physical and spiritual DNA... put there by He who created... everything.

Picture:  Grandma's Garden by Robert Duncan


Anonymous said...

I gave up sewing when my girls were little ,I was looking at beginning to learn smocking ,that was 17 years ago....I have just learned that my neice is ging to have a baby ,and I thought of smocking !!Like it was yesterday !!LOL Karen

becka said...

Lovely post, Brenda. Everything in its season. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Brenda,

You're right, even in my 60's, I am returning to my interests and re-discovering myself after years of caring for others. Life is short and there is no time like the present.

Bless you for your blog and your always wonderful posts. I look forward to them daily.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful teatime thoughts today! I just took up embroidery again, after not doing it for years and years! I forgot how relaxing it is and how it leaves the mind free to ponder about life events, etc. Now that my husband has retired, I've found it's one of those things that can also take interruptions easily as well! Now, I just need to get back to scrapbooking! Thanks so much for sharing.
Hugs and Blessings,
Laura C. (From WA)

Carol said...

I am so happy to hear that you were able to have the sewing machine repaired. (In MD)

Kim said...

Thank you for this post. I've been an empty nester for several months now and sort of floundering. You gave me much to think about. I was wondering if you would share about some of the cookbooks you've purchased. I would have to buy through Kindle. There are so many to choose from, I hardly know where to start. Thanks!

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

Lovely post Brenda! Just the right post to start my day with.

I rarely sew although I love fabric. I almost love "collecting" fabric as much as I do plates - all those colors and patterns.

As to expanding the garden, don't forget you can plant around the perimeter in the ground - at least that's what I've done in mine. Besides flowers I have fruit but I could just as well plant lettuce, garlic or swiss chard etc. Containers - don't forget those! Especially on your deck where it'll be easier to tend to them. Containers don't have to be expensive pots from Home Depot either! Wine crates, kiddie swimming pools & boxes made from those free pallets etc. I know Lowe's sell damaged bags of dirt at reduced prices if you don't have any compost to fill those containers. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that there are other ways you can expand your garden besides building more raised beds :)

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi dear Brenda,

Well, I can guarantee that my parent's new house didn't have any good details such as yours. Marble windowsills? Love that. I saw those in old houses in Sweden.

Sending love,


Debbie in KY said...

Brenda, where did your Amazon widget link go from the right-hand sidebar? Am I blind today? LOL!

Heather L. said...

Cooking was my only creative outlet when we were in Scotland and that is really where I learned so much (via one particular magazine). Now I feel like my cooking is not so creative but I think once the kids grow (and the budget grows) I will do more again that way. Interesting how creative outlets change with the seasons of life.

Karen Andreola said...

Has it really been almost one year since you entered an empty nest? I remember reading about it and it seems like not long ago.
Threading your sewing machine will come to you like getting back on a bicycle. I wonder what you will make first.
A tree hugger in the Biblical sense is something I can relate to.
Enthusiasm for trying a new recipe comes when my friend includes a handwritten recipe card in with her paper letter. I'm in a cooking-creativity-lull right now but expect to be awakened when I open a new cookbook. It usually does the trick.
Thank for your ideas.
Karen A.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post that reached right out and spoke to me! It's wonderful how God can work his ways with us and we don't even realize it. I too will be an empty nester as my youngest goes to university in the fall, and started to make plans for myself. In the midst of searching for a nice saddle horse, good horse friends offered me one of theirs that they no longer have time for! So now my daughter and I will be able to go riding together now that we will have 2 horses, and I'm just so excited. I had a very low budget, and there was no way that I could have been able to purchase this new horse. I am also going to be open to restart my old interests! I have been reading you for quite some time now, and always enjoy a cup of tea with you! Sandra (from Canada)

Unknown said...

Beautiful post! I love how you said, "Life is not all or nothing." Such wisdom...for me and the season, I'm in with small children, some of the creative pursuits get set aside...however, you encouraged me to sometimes just do a little something to keep that creative fire doesn't have to big or complicated, but just the simple process of it can bring so much joy...


Vee said...

So much that could be on the list...why don't we allow ourselves to dream right out loud? It is part of our inheritance. Thank you for another lovely post, which I have read a few times now. (My baby just celebrated his tenth wedding anniversary. Where does the time go?!)

La Tea Dah said...

We are on the same journey --- and your thoughts reflect mine so well. It is a journey and I'm discovering that it really is challenging for a stay-at-home, homeschool mom.

Rebecca said...

We spent vacation time with my brother and sister-in-law. I was impressed that she has taken her flute out of the case and is taking some on-line flute lessons. She is playing beautifully - we played some piano/flute duets. She's also taking organ lessons.

You've got me thinking about what to try myself :)

Anonymous said...

A beautifully inspiring post, Brenda. I am the same kind of tree hugger that you are! Creation glorifying its Creator, it just invokes worship for God on a daily basis for me.