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!

"Clouds gather,
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.
Be brave!
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*
Serves 5

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:
1 egg
3/4 cup soft white breadcrumbs
1 TBS flour
1 TBS finely chopped onion
1 TBS snipped parsley
1/2 tsp salt
dash pepper
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.


  1. we have "Dancing With The Stars" here and just love it! even my parents are into this show!
    your photos are so lovely!

    take care

  2. I love the quote by your friend!! A new perspective is always good. I really like the painting too!!

  3. I'm so glad you get to call your Mom. I think your painting is great! It's always hard to see what we create in the same light. That's why everytime you like my stories I'm amazed. Your stew looks delicious!

  4. It must be lovely to be able to be able to chat to your Mum. I still miss mine so much she and my Dad have been gone a long time. We had all the bad weather yesterday and today it is lovely and sunny after a white frost first thing, really early this year even here in the north. Take care Love Joan

  5. Marie, I love hearing about your life! Love the weather correlation of pants - windy and rainy - too funny! Stew looks great and picture is beautiful! Much love, Raquel XO

  6. Yes I love the quote from the elderly person, do you think it's God's way of making us stop and smell the roses whether we think we have the time to or not? I too watch Dancing with the Stars here and love it!!I love the picture and the color of the birds. The stew loves lovely Marie just what we need on these cold days. Have a nice talk with your mom.

  7. Tell your Mom we love her too because she gave us you! Does she still live in beautiful Nova Scotia? I know she misses you terribly. Great pictures and oh so cute! Thanks for the economical recipe. Never had potato dumplings before, but know that my husband will love them when I make the stew! I have a request. Have been wondering if you have a really good diet recipe? We have so enjoyed all the recipes of yours that I have prepared and will continue to enjoy them, but I am in need of a great diet recipe as I need to lose about 80 pounds.

  8. I just bookmarked your stew and dumplings I'll be making it on Monday yummy yummy yummy can't wait!

  9. hope you have a wonderful conference weekend! we watch it at home and i feel so blessed to be able to do that. with an 18 month old at the stake center, one of us always has to take her out and then miss half of it:) so i love that she can nap while we watch it. i printed my older kids out little "conference activity books" and they love it. i love this time of year and being able to hear from living prophets and apostles of the Lord. what a blessing!

  10. I know what you mean about getting fed up of a colour before the thing is ready. I once started a cross stitch table cloth but never finished it because of being hooked up to green thread too long. Pity, I really wanted to do that cloth and someone had to show me how to do cross stitch before I started too. I should be praying to be cured of my impatience!

    One thing I never want to be cured of though is honesty and if I tell you I like a painting, then I do! OK? - I like this painting but I did think the dickie birds would have been cuter in a more Kingfisher colour. Just my thought.

    Is there anything to beat stew and dumplings? I think not - unless it's stew and dumplings followed by treacle sponge and custard. Bliss.
    love, Angie, xx

  11. I LOVE your picture and think the birds are a perfect color blue. It is adorable.

    Love the stew recipe too and hope that we will soon have weather to enjoy it in.

    I wish you could be closer to your dear mother. She may change her mind in years to come and join you. My mom said that she would never leave her home and move in with us. She loved her independence and she didn't want to burden us. However, as her health failed she did move in with us. It was a wonderful blessing and never a burden caring for her.

    Enjoy conference...I know you will and so will I. Much love, Lura

  12. what a blessing to have come upon your blog....wonderful thoughts, food, and photo's as uplift me in every way.......thank you so much.........

  13. I'm so glad to be able to read your blog and all your happenings. You write with great ease and makes us feel as though we are right there with you. Take care sweet friend.

  14. Hi Marie... it was difficult to pick which entry to post a comment to, as I don't have time to post in them all. But I picked this one because you mentioned your mother, who lives far away from you. You thought someday you'd be taking care of her, that perhaps she'd be living with you in her later years. I've often imagined that with my own mom. She is living closer to me than yours is to you, though. I can at least see her a couple of times a year, and call her any day at any time thanks to cell phones. My mother chooses to live in Georgia, closer to my sister, which is fine. I just had hoped it would be who could be with her in her last days. Things don't always turn out as we plan them. Sometimes we have to let go of our own plans. I do hope your mom is surrounded by people who love and care for her. bea


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