Sunday, 5 October 2008
A lot to do about nothing . . .
Growing old??? Aren't we all! Don't let it get to you, and when you think you just can't take anymore, listen to this statement given by an elderly friend:
"I find," she said, "that with the passing years my pace gets that little bit slower. It's quite true that I don't get about as quickly as I used to, or even as far as I used to, but my oh my . . . I sure see a darn sight more along the roadway!"
This is Conference weekend for the members of my church. It happens two weekends a year, that all the members of my church gather together and listen to special talks presented to us by the leadership of the church. Inspiring, uplifting, and always soul enriching, I just love conference weekends. You can go to the stake centre to hear them live, presented on a big screen in the front of the auditorium, or you can choose to listen to them and watch on the computer at home. Sometimes we go to the Stake Centre and there is a real air of excitement about and you get to see people you haven't seen for several months, and sometimes we choose to sit at home and watch them here, in the comfort of our cosy chairs, with Jess at our feet. A lot depends on the weather. This autumn (they have them in the autumn and in the spring) we are choosing to watch them at home, as the weather is pants! Todd may venture out this morning to go to the Priesthood session however, as that is the only one that isn't televised. That wind is really blowing up though, so he may not risk it.
I love conference. One of the first times I attended my church was on a conference weekend. I was so excited to get to hear the leaders speak, and I enjoyed and found what they had to say so very wonderful that I just kept right on coming! It's always very relevant to the times and there have been many times in listening I have thought to myself that the words were written just for my ears to hear. It's a really special time.
Have any of you been keeping up with the Strictly Come Dancing that started on the telly a few weeks ago? I don't know why I had never watched this series before! This is the first one that I have tuned in to and I am loving it! It's amazing to watch these celebrities dance. A lot of them are dancing for the first times ever, and I am so impressed with all the work that they put into it and with some of the results. This is very entertaining television and there's not a curse word or speck of violence in sight! Bruce Forsythe, the presenter, is so funny and amazing. He's 80 years old and is as agile and witty as any man half his age. I am just loving watching this series! I think it would be wonderful if they got Richard and Judy to go on the show sometime, on opposing sides! Now, that, would make for some interesting telly! (Do click on the hyperlink. It takes you to the homepage of the show and there you can see little video clips and a bit about all the persons on the show. It's really quite interesting!)
Like I said, the weather this weekend is pants. All windy and rainy. I can hear the wind chimes ringing away at the corner of the house and the rose bushes that lay outside my kitchen windows are banging and scratching against the glass. It makes a person well and truly happy to be indoors. I wonder why it is that, when the weather is horrible outside, the home feels at it's cosy best? For some reason it feels cosier then, than at any other time!
treetops toss and sway;
But pour us wine, an old one!
That we may turn this dreary day
To golden, yes, to golden!
Autumn has come, but never fear,
Wait but a little while yet,
Spring will be here, the skies will clear,
And fields stand deep in violets.
The heavenly blue of fresh new days
Oh, friend, you must employ them
Before they pass away.
Enjoy them; oh, enjoy them!"
~ Theodor Storm, A Song in October
One thing with the days getting shorter and gloomier I am having trouble taking good photos with my camera indoors. I have a special lamp that I can use but it's not doing it right and my pictures are just not up to their usual standard. It's frustrating me a bit. I like for my food photos to look scrumptious! I will have to keep practicing in this new light and see if I can get them to improve any.
I did a little painting yesterday. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it yet. In some ways I love it and in other's I don't. I fell in love with the sketch that I did when it first came into my head, and I could hardly wait to get it down onto my canvas and begin painting. I am not sure I like the colours of the birds. I had pictured them more blue and they have come out much darker than I had imagined. Todd thinks it's great, but then he is my biggest fan! I suppose it's the same as it used to be when I sewed clothes for myself when I was younger. Ofttimes by the time I finished sewing whatever I was sewing, I didn't like it anymore . . . I expect I was tired of the sight of it. I can never see my pieces of art in the same way that others do. I start off all inspired and excited but by the time I finish one, they just feel familiar and old hat, and I am never quite sure when someone compliments one if they are being honest or if they are just being kind . . . If they are just being kind though, I surely appreciate it as I put so much of my heart into each one, I would be devastated should anyone say they were horrible!
Today's the Sunday that I call my mom. I call her twice a month on a Sunday afternoon and we talk for quite a while. I wish that I could call her every day, but you know how that goes . . . I was living with my mom just prior to moving over here. We get along really well, like peas and carrots I like to say! We had our moments when I was a teenager and being all hormonal, but I love my mother to pieces. She is my absolute best friend. Whenever anything wonderful happens or anything devastating happens, she is the first person I want to talk to, need to talk to . . . even though she is a couple of thousand miles away. I cannot imagine her never being there, although I do know that one day she won't. She writes me faithfully every two weeks as well . . . lovely long and chatty letters. I keep each one in a box and one day when the letters stop coming, I shall take one out each week and read it and it will be like she is still writing me. My mother is the most loyal and faithful person I know. With her on your side you don't need anyone else, it's always been so. I had always hoped that in her elderly years I would be with her and taking care of her, but that's just not happened and it does distress me. I hate thinking of her all alone and worry what should happen from day to day. Not one of us lives close by. She's a very stubborn lady as well, and won't leave her home, not for love nor money, so moving her closer to us is not an option. It would make her very unhappy . . .
Well, I have gone on a lot here this morning and you are probably getting quite tired of hearing it all! A whole lot about nothing! I hope that things are going well, wherever it is that you are reading this from and that the sun shines down on you and that you have a wonderful Sunday, and that you always know that somewhere in rural England, sitting in a windswept, rain pelted and rose covered old cottage there is someone who cares about you very much and is wishing you well! Til tomorrow . . .
I made this delicious stew for Todd and I last night. My Todd loves stews . . . he is such a meat and potatoes kind of guy. There is something quite wonderful about having a stew when the weather is really giving it to you, it's so very comforting . . . This is a recipe I adapted from an old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook on skillet meals that I got back in the 1970's. It was a series of books that I bought before I even finished high school and they have travelled all over the world with me. To me, they are like old and trusted friends . . .
*Beef Stew with Potato Dumplings*
A delicious rich gravy full of tender pieces of beef and tasty vegetables, this is a meal that generally cooks itself. Except for the potato dumplings it takes very little effort at all, but my oh my, is it ever good when it is done . . . not to mention quite economical.
1-1/2 pounds stew beef, cut into bite size chunks
4 slices of streaky bacon, chopped
1 TBS butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 onions, peeled and chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1/4 of a swede, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cupful)
1 (10 1/2 oz) tin of condensed beef broth
1 TBS vinegar (I use balsamic)
For the dumplings:
3/4 cup soft white breadcrumbs
1 TBS flour
1 TBS finely chopped onion
1 TBS snipped parsley
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups finely shredded raw potato
I use my electric skillet for this. Melt the butter in the skillet on high heat until it foams. Throw in the meat and bacon. Stir around and cook until it begins to brown. Throw in the onions and cook until the onions are quite tender. Stir in the flour and mix around until it is absorbed by all the drippings. Stir in the broth, 3/4 cup of water and the vinegar. Add the carrots and the swede. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer, covered, until quite tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
After 1 1/2 hours make the potato dumplings. Combine the beaten egg, breadcrumbs, flour, onion, parsley and seasonings in a bowl. Squeeze as much liquid as you can from out of the potatoes and then stir them into the mixture, combining everything really well. With floured fingers shape the mixture into ten 2-inch balls. Dust lightly with more flour before dropping on top of the simmering stew. Cover tightly and cook for 15 minutes.
Spoon out onto warm plates allowing each person 2 dumplings and enjoy!
*Note - check frequently to see that the stew isn't cooking dry and add hot water as needed.