Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Dreaming Dreams . . .

"There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, "Yes, I've got dreams, of course I've got dreams." Then they put the box away and bring it out once in awhile to look in it, and yep, they're still there. These are great dreams, but they never even get out of the box. It takes an uncommon amount of guts to put your dreams on the line, to hold them up and say, "How good or how bad am I?" That's where courage comes in."
~Erma Bombeck

I've always been a dreamer. When I was a little girl, I used to daydream about one day becoming a great writer or artist. I'd write little stories and poems, and even short plays for the children in the neighbourhood. We used to act them out in my best friend's garage behind an old gray blanket we had hung over a skipping rope strung across the expanse of the garage, our willing audience sitting out in front of us on every lawn chair in the neighbourhood that we could find.

The clothes for my paper dolls were never good enough. I always had to make them more and I'd draw them out, colour them and then cut them out to play with them . . . scraps of material became clothes for my dolls, along with snippets of ribbon and tissue.

I always wanted a beautiful big doll's house. I never got one, but I had the old and discarded Sear's catalogues. I used to cut out pictures of furniture, carpets and dishes and paste them onto cardboard boxes and that was my doll's house and furniture . . . I got a lot of pleasure out of doing that and I expect I enjoyed it every bit as much as I would have enjoyed a real doll's house.

When I was five I wanted a Chatty Cathy doll. Never got one, and so I tied a string around my Little Miss Eaton doll's neck and would yank on it every time I wanted her to talk. We had wonderful conversations together . . .

I also really wanted a Tressy doll whose hair would grow with the push of a button and a yank. That was a bit harder to manufacture, but I managed . . . it didn't matter to me that her name was Barbie and that her hair was made out of scraps of coloured yarn . It didn't even matter that I had to stick it on instead of pull it out. For those few golden moments, to me at any rate, she was Tressy . . .

I remember wanting a Clue game so badly that I could taste it. My friend Susan had one and I spent hours over at her house playing it with her. I ended up making my own out of bits of paper and cardboard, drawing in and colouring all the squares and pieces myself and cutting them out. Everything was quite authentic and true to the game. It was as good as any that could be bought . . . at least in my child's mind, and I, for one, got hours of enjoyment out of it

Yes, I've always been a dreamer and always had dreams. As an adult my dreams have changed somewhat, but have not been all that different. I still long for the things that I basically longed for as a child, to be an artist and a writer. I don't dream about dolls anymore or games I don't have. I do look at the catalogues from time to time and wish I had this or that and I am betting Todd is wishing that we had a pound for every time I say . . . when we win the lottery . . . He knows it will never happen, as do I. We don't buy tickets coz we're Mormons . . . but hey, a dream is a dream, right!

One thing that I had been working on these past half a dozen years or so was writing a cookery book. I have spent minutes, hours, days and months poring over my recipes and testing them, editing them, photographing them etc. Compiling them into the shape of a book wasn't all that easy really, as I have tons and tons of recipes that I have saved through the years and that were my tried and trues, my favourites. I wanted to include all my family recipes, and recipes gifted to me by special friends. I wanted it to be more than a cookery book. I wanted it to be a keepsake and something I could be proud of, a sacred snippet and remembrance of my cooking history. It was my dream to one day see it in print.

I never did try to send it to a publisher. Call it lack of faith, or what you will, but I think I realized before I even started that, unless you are a celebrity chef or blogger, publishers, especially in these economic times, just won't touch you. They're all about making money, big money . . . and risking an investment on an unknown just ain't going to happen. So I decided to go the route of self publishing. I investigated all sorts of self publishing venues and finally decided to go with A few months ago my dream became a reality when I published my very first cookbook. I can remember saying to my Todd at the time . . . even if nobody ever buys it, at least I can say that I have finally done what I set out to do and made my dream a reality. I knew that I would either sell or buy copies for family members, coz well, let's face it they love me and it's only natural that they would want one. I sold a few downloads, and was well pleased to do so.

Imagine my joy and surprise the other day when I received this e-mail. (I will leave the sender's private information out to protect her identity!)

Hi Marie!

Just had to let you know that I received your “Recipes From the Big Blue Binder” cookbook! I can’t tell you how thrilled I was. It is so well done and I love how you included some of your drawings and writings. Look forward to using the book this week!

Thanks again for sharing these recipes!


I looked over at my Todd, with the largest grin ever on my face. I said to him . . . "Todd, what does it mean when you write something and have it put into book form and then someone actually buys it and likes it?"

"Well," he said, "I think it means you are an author."

Imagine that. This little girl who once wrote prose on the back of cereal boxes and on scraps of paper torn out of old scribblers and who had a dream to one day be a writer has actually written something that someone was willing to fork out good money for . . . and, what's even more important than that . . . they liked it! AND . . . I didn't have to pay them to or give birth to them in order for them to say so! That, my friends . . . is the icing on the cake. That, my friends, is a dream . . . come . . . true. I am an author.

I had dreamers on my mind yesterday when I was painting away in the afternoon. I had sketched this girl earlier on in the week and I was really pleased with how it turned out. Click HERE if you want to see what I am talking about . . .

I had a mother would could make (and often did) make soup out of just about anything. There was nothing that was safe from her soup pot and we all loved her soup!! Even today if you go to visit her she is sure to haul a big ice cream bucket full of homemade soup of one kind or another out of her freezer to thaw out and feed you for supper. And . . . it's always delicious! I love to make soup too and often do. We had a huge bone leftover from our New Years Eve roast dinner and so the other morning before we left for church, I popped this into the slow cooker. When we got home we were rewarded with the most beautiful smells as we walked into the kitchen here at Oak Cottage. All that was needed was to warm up a crusty loaf of bread and we were in heaven . . .

*Marie's Beef, Barley and Dried Mushroom Soup*
Serves 6

Comforting, thick and hearty this soup is full of lovely rich and earthy flavours. This is stick to the ribs food. This is winter food. This is . . . like a warm hug on a cold winter's day.

1 medium brown onion, peeled and diced
1/2 cup diced celery
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 small turnip, peeled and diced
(Or a chunk of swede (rutabaga) peeled and diced)
1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1 large soup bone, either leftover from a roast or purchased specifically for this purpose
(If you are using a purchased one, roast it for in the oven first, until it is nicely browned. This
helps to bring out all the flavour)
1 to 2 cups of leftover roast beef, cut into cubes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chipolte chili paste
6 cups boiling water
2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
4 oxo beef stock cubes, crumbled
1 bay leaf, crumbled
1 tsp dried oregano
1 heaping TBS of tomato paste
1/2 cup pearl barley

Put the dried mushrooms into a small bowl. Cover with boiling water and then set aside for a few minutes to soak. Scoop out the mushrooms and place them into a slow cooker. Strain the soaking water in through a sieve. Add all of the remaining ingredients, and give them a good stir. Pop on the lid and set it on high. Walk away for 5 to 6 hours and forget it.

When you are ready to eat, take off the lid and remove the bone. Trim any meat that may remain on it off and cut it into chunks and return it to the soup in the pot. Skim any fat off top if there is any and then ladle out into hot soup bowls. Eat, hot, with warm chunks of crusty bread on the side. Delicious!

PS - If some of you could spare a few prayers for my good friend Hazel I would appreciate it so very much. She has been hospitalized with this flu that's been going around and could really use some, thanks so much!


  1. Hi Marie!

    I really enjoyed that quote by Erma Bombeck. She is one of my favorite authors. I loved your thoughts on dreams.

    I don't know where I've been, but I didn't realize that you had actually published your cookbook! I knew you were working on it, but I didn't know it was for sale.

    That is so wonderful! Everything you make looks so delicious. Is there a link to purchase it on your blog?

    I hope it has warmed up for you today and that you have a really wonderful day!


  2. Oh, I just saw the link. Silly me, I haven't noticed it before.



  3. I just ordered it.

    Yay. I can't wait to try out your wonderful recipes.


    PS - I will stop commenting now...

  4. Good morning dear,
    I am so glad that your dream has come true. Good for you. I used to dream that I would become a motivational speaker or a education week speaker and people would flock to hear my words of wisdom. I got a taste of what that would be like when I used to train teachers and speak at their inservice meetings. I did that for several years at local school districts and at our county office of education where I was the trainer of teachers...but I never went beyond that...I guess I put that dream in a box and kept it there...and now I think it is too late to bring it out and do more with it. I think that I was given the gift of being a good speaker. Of course I used it as a teacher, especially in my college classes I taught and when I was working as a mentor and a trainer....but....I wonder if I could have done more? If I had worked harder to promote myself could I have become a motivational speaker and made big bucks?...or been used at BYU education week or especially for youth? I am afraid that my dream to be a great public speaker will remain in the box and unlike you, I will never know what it feels like to accomplish it.

    I am happy for you. I am proud of you. You are very talented and truly amazing.When I win the lottery I will buy one of your wonderful cookbooks for all of my family and friends. (Like you I never buy a ticket but maybe one day someone will give me one and I will win)

    I love making soup. I will try this recipe for sure.

    Because of you I have had a smile on my face all afternoon. Your friendship is dear to me and I appreciate you more than words can say.

    I am going to bed now...I wish you a wonderful day. Love, Lura

  5. Love the post Marie! I did have a Chatty Cathy doll!!!
    Congrats on the book.
    A good looking soup there too.

  6. Hi Marie, I had a tessy doll, the one where you make her hair grow by pulling it and when you wanted it short you turned the button on her back (If I remember rightly!?) I'd forgotten all about her, so thanks for reminding me.
    I love you as an author Marie, your recipes never fail always a crowd pleaser just like you!!
    I don't do the lottery either but I think I will buy a ticket this week and if I win, I'll buy your book if i dont' I will put it on my Mother's day wish list....I have to hint for months before the penny know what Paul's like!! lol

  7. I did the cardboard box doll houses too. It was loads of fun. I think that using imagination is one skill that needs to be developed in every child. We who don't get everything handed to us tend to use our'dreams' to help get what we want more than the others. I'll pray for your friend. Hope she's better soon. Congrats on acheiving your dream!!


  8. Hi Marie!

    Just wanted to say "thanks" for inclulding me in your post!!! (Smile,smile,smile!)


  9. That is just so wonderful. I think I would feel the same way if I ever had a book published. If only one person bought it and loved it I'd be happy! I am so happy for you!!!!!

  10. As a fellow canadian (northern Ontario) I relate to all you say, catalogue furniture , the dolls paper and otherwise.Ice cream buckets of frozen soup, ah Marie.You are truly one of us.Canadians I mean.Even though you are now living in a wonderfully historic country you are still canadain.Congratulations to you on the cookbook, but Marie you have always been an author.Anyone who can read your work knows that as well as a very talented artist.Bravo for you.

  11. Hi, Marie! Congrats on the book sale and a big dream coming true--hooray! Keep dreaming big, my never know what might happen, especially as you are so richly gifted in many ways! :o) I was always a daydreamer too, wanting to be an artist or writer as well. Right now I'm enjoying being both those in small ways, which feels good after a lifetime of dreaming. Love you so, my friend! Hope we get to chat. :o) Oh, and I made a mushroom-barley soup last week, though it didn't have meat in it. ;o) Happy Day ((HUGS))

  12. A lovely post, Marie. You have a wonderful way with words. May you always be a dreamer. Without those dreams I think that life would be so much poorer.

    I wish I'd seen your cookbook before I had filled my "wish list" for the family. But there is always this coming's getting closer all of the time :)

    Congratulations on your success. Just think of the chances you have taken over the last few years, with people telling you "it can't be done" or "you'll fail and be back" and in fact you have proved them wrong and forged a wonderful new life for yourself. wonderful in the weather. I'll jot it down for next week's shopping list. Thank you again for sharing your recipes and your life with us all.

  13. Marie, I am so proud of you as an author!!! A dream come true!!! This is a fantastic post - so happy for you! Much love, Raquel XO

  14. are an author Marie, I love your posts everyday, your thoughts in your posts are like none other I've read. I'm so happy that your cookbook is a sucess. This is a wonderful soup Marie!

  15. What a beautiful blog entry...I always enjoy your posts!

  16. Im a dreamer too my dear and some people kidding me!! But I answer maybe I will be a child of my life, so I am, when I swimm at the pool this hot ans sunny days whit the childs, when we play with dogs when I go to the apricots tree when laugh with Mom some jokes!! I know Im a child of God, but is Ok for me.
    Congrats by the news I told you you are amazing, nice and soooo smart Im proud of you really, I dont know today when I coming on the bus (I go to the city) I thinking I have to go Marie`s Blog and I wll send a letter to her.

    You are really fantastic and your drws beautiful and you know I love paper dolls too!!!!(sadly I dont have any now) When I can I will buy your book because will be a pleasure have your lovely book Marie, Huggss (Im ,je,je I look Todd is so proud!!!!! me too) Gloria

  17. To have dreams is somthing special, you can shear them or ceep them for your self.

  18. I always said you would make it one day Marie.So happy you sold one of your books.Dream on Marie I know it makes you so happy.The soup looks wholesome.Mmmmmm.Take Care God Bless Kath xx

  19. Marie, I'm so thrilled for you, I'll have to purchase the cookbook on payday :)

    The recipe looks amazing as all your recipes do.


  20. I was thinking about the big "Who am I?" question as I washed dishes today. Thanks for the quote from Erma Baumbeck. It's connected to my thoughts & helps me want to have courage.

  21. You are an author! Hooray! I'm going to purchase one soon as soon as I save up a bit! I'm so happy for you!

  22. Congratulations on the cookbook!!
    and sending special thoughts for your friend.... :)



  24. That soup looks really tasty. The dried mushrooms would add a lot of nice flavour!

  25. Congratulations on being an author! I think that is amazing, particularly as you did it all yourself. It must have been really hard work but now it is done you are reaping the rewards - like that email. What a yummy soup!


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