Sunday, 4 January 2009

Marie's Sunday Six Smile Makers

I'm so excited. Here it is my first smile makers post of the New Year! Only 51 more to go before Christmas! (Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

1. Poetry

*The New Year's days are white with snow,
The winds are laughing as they blow.
Across the ponds and lakes we glide,
And o'er the drifting snow we ride,
And down the hills we gaily slide,
For it is winter weather.

Each rushing stream is warmly dress'd,
An icy coat upon it's breast,
And on each branch of every tree,
Packed in as close as close can be,
The next year's leaflets we can see,
All nestled in together.

~Celia Standish

When I was a girl my mother had a book of fireside poems that I loved. I remember it had a green cover and I loved to take it out and read it. Last summer when we were up in Cumbria I found an old book of poems called "The Fireside Book of David Hope." It was only a pound and so I bought it and I have enjoyed it ever so much. I have another book of poems called "Poetry Please", put out by the BBC. I just love reading poetry, but you have probably already guessed that as I post a lot on here. They bring a smile to my face and a song to my heart, and I hope that you enjoy reading them too.

2. Miranda
On New Years Day I got to talk to a lil blonde lady from Texas that makes me smile. You may know her already, she's Miranda from A Duck In Her Pond , or Duckie, as I like to call her. I met Miranda on my other journal over on AOL over a year or so ago. She left a comment there for me and I followed her back to her page. The rest is history. She writes the most wonderfully entrancing little stories. I truly think she is quite gifted, and if you have not already discovered her, you really should hop on over there and read some of them. Just look at that lovely face. How could you not love a gal like that!!! I bet she makes you smile too!! It was so wonderful to finally be able to put a voice to that face. Amazingly enough, the day after I spoke to her a little package arrived in the mail from her and inside was the most beautiful little kitchen fairy and some other little sussies. It was so thoughtful of her to send them to me and they made me smile too! (I hope she forgives me for borrowing her picture from off of her page!)

3. Family
I got to talk to my oldest son on New Years Day and I could hear my oldest grandson in the background playing. (My son had called us on New Years Eve, but old fuddie duddies that we are we were in bed sleeping!) It was so wonderful to talk to him and to listen to Gabriel at play. I have only seen Gabriel once and he reminds me so much of my son when he was small. I know every grandmother thinks her grandchildren are the best, and I am no different. I have two lovely little grandsons and another on the way shortly and I think they are the best!! They are as different as chalk and cheese. Gabriel is dark and has dark curly hair and Jonathan is very fair with straight as a stick blonde hair. They are both adorable. But then how could they not be?? They have great parents. It's such a wonderful thing to have your children grow up and turn out to be good citizens, wonderful spouses and great parents to their own children. It lets you know that you must have done something right!

4. My old playlist.
With Christmas over , it was time to take off the Christmas Carols and put back on my playlist. I really love the music on my playlist. I know it's not every one's cup of tea, but I like to think there is a little bit of something for everyone on there. Most of the songs hold some sort of meaning to me and they are songs that touch my heart in some way. I hope that they touch your heart too.

5. New Calenders.
With the New Year's arrival, it was time to put out the New Calenders. I have a Mary Englebreit one this year. I just love her artwork. Now I have a calender here in the kitchen with her artwork on it that brings a smile to my face every time I look at it. How could it not!! One of our old calenders from last year had the art of Liz Lemon Swindel on it. It was so beautiful and I will miss it. We took one of the pages and framed it. It was her painting of the Saviour called, "The Prince of Peace." We have it hanging down here in the kitchen over in the corner and it's just beautiful. I hope to frame many of the others as well. My friend Lesley, up in Ellesmere Port did that with a calender they had of Simon Dewey's art (another lds artist) and it looks just lovely scattered throughout their home.

6. My Christmas Cards.
Putting them away was another opportunity for me to sit down and read them all again and think about each person that sent them to us. To me they are like little tangible whispers of love that came our way from all across the globe. When I put them away I got to look at all the ones from last year as well, and the year before . . . as I touched each one I thought about the person that had sent it and said a little prayer of thanks for the blessing of having that person in our lives. The place looks kind of bare without the Christmas Cards hanging up and with all the decorations put away . . . I think Todd would revolt however, if I dug them back out and put them back up again!!!

We have had some really cold weather here this past week. More mornings than not I have looked out to find the ground covered in a thick blanket of frost. Very pretty, but I do know the birds suffer so because of it. We are extra careful to put out more food for them during these times, especially fatty food. We put out extra suet and the bacon fat and meat trimmings. They do look cute all puffed up like they are, but I do feel for them. It's such a miracle to me that they managed to survive the low temperatures the way they do. This is soup weather!! I made us a delicious pot of Roasted Tomato and Garlic soup for our lunch the other day that we had with some toasted cheese sarnies. What is it about Tomato soup and grilled cheese that is so comforting?? I don't know . . . I only know it is the perfect taste combination!

*Roasted Tomato Soup with Garlic*
Serves 4

I know that this looks like a lot of garlic, but roasting the garlic really mellows it out and gives it a wonderful flavour. This is a delicious soup, just perfect with a grilled cheese sandwich for dunking!

3 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 TBS of roasted garlic (see below)
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 1/4 teaspoons dried
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/4 teaspoons dried
1/4 teaspoon (or more) dried crushed red pepper
6 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt broth
6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 200*C/400*F. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Roast until the tomatoes are brown and tender. This should take about an hour. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

Transfer the tomatoes and any accumulated juices to a food processor, along with the roasted garlic. Pulse until slightly chunky. Transfer this mixture to a large pot. Add the rosemary, thyme and dried crushed red pepper, mixing together well. Add the chicken stock and bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until soup thickens slightly, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To Roast Garlic:

Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F. Take your heads of garlic and peel them down to the cloves, leaving the heads intact and the skin on the individual cloves. Using a sharp knife, cut off 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the tops. Place each head on a double thick square of aluminium foil, large enough to wrap loosely around the head of garlic and close tightly. Drizzle each with a bit of olive oil and season liberally with some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring the foil up to cover it completely and seal.

Place the sealed heads of garlic on a baking tray and roast them in the heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until they feel soft when lightly pressed.

Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool enough so that you can easily handle them. Remove the cloves from inside the roasted skins using the tip of a sharp knife, or the tines of a fork. You can also squeeze them out.

You now have roasted garlic just ready to use in things like soups, mashed potatoes, spread over warm and toasted french bread, mashed and mixed into sour cream as a topping for baked potatoes, etc. You can freeze it in small containers for long term use as well.

PS - I keep meaning to tell you Lyn, that is snow you see falling on here. It's not your eyes!! I love it so much. It may rarely, if ever snow here at Oak Cottage in real life but I think I shall keep it snowing here on my page for a while yet, coz I love it so!


  1. Hi Marie --

    I loved seeing your smile makers for this week! It's so nice that you were able to talk to your son -- how wonderful!

    And who doesn't love Duckie -- she is the sweetest girl!

    Your sandwiches look so warm and homey. Perfect for a cold winter's night.

    Have a wonderful Sunday Marie!


  2. A super six to start a new year here, Marie! Lots of smile-makers here...Including today's recipe! Nothing like tomato soup and a toasty cheese sandwich to cheer a chilly day! It's cold here in Norway too. Had to bundle up like going to the North Pole to go out and see my in-laws yesterday--LOL! But it was a great day. :o) Hoping to catch you on MSN for a chat tonight--can't wait! Missed talking to you while we were away.Hope you & Todd are having a lovely Sunday. LOVE YOU HEAPS ((HUGS))

  3. Morning MAJ, comment number two from me now I'm getting back into the swing of things! I love the poem and you smile makers, then I got down to that soup.... Now I need my breakfast!
    I'll be making a note of the recipe. Gaz ;-)

  4. enjoyed the smile makers! my daughters love toasted cheese sandwiches! I also like to add tuna and grill mine. yummmmm
    take care

  5. I actually think it's hilarious you used that picture. I was just reading away and saw that goofy look and mound of barbeque and started laughing! Whenever you come to Texas, you'll get so much BBQ and Mexican food and pecan and apple pie you won't know what to do with yourself! Thanks for the sweet words. I'm glad you got your other package!! Sorry it was so late after Christmas. I'm really glad you liked the kitchen fairy. :)

  6. Your SMILES are a joy to read. It's always good to count your blessings for sure. I have a Mary Englebreit calendar in my kitchen too. I hope your Sunday is a great one.

  7. Oh yes, please keep the snow on - as you know, we Brits can expect the stuff any old time, certainly to Easter!

    Sorry I haven't been around lately. My back has been playing up. Some of that lovely soup might make it better.

    Happy New Year to you both.
    love you,
    Angie, xx

  8. The blonde duck does make me smile! We take down the tree after Jan 6th-the epiphany, which we call "little christmas". I like poetry too :)

  9. Roasted tomato soup is so simple and yet so good.

  10. Marie, I love your six!!! and I love Miranda picture and your son (he is so handsome) and your soup look wonderful and the sandwchich mmmm.
    Even here is summer I take soup some days at night and the childs too! we are a litle special! ji, xxxGloria

  11. Your post today is wonderful, such a handsome son you have! and Miranda is cute even with bbq sauce all over her face!! LOL!!

  12. Great smile maker Marie! It worked for me!

  13. I always love your Sunday Six. I am glad that you got to talk to your son and Miranda.I think that "Duckie" is adorable too. I am sure that the phone visits made your new year's day special.

    Knowing you makes me smile. I could add you to me Sunday six each week.

    My mom used to make me tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches all the time. I will have to try your soup recipe.

    XOXO Love Lura

  14. Ahhh, it's good to be back.
    Sunday Smile Makers is a great idea and thank you for sharing with us all. I haven't discovered Duckie, yet, but will visit her pages right after this. I always love seeing entries where people have had the chance to met up with one another.

    Now, Have a Beautiful 2009~

  15. Thank you for such a great tomato soup recipe.

    Nice poem too.

  16. hey marie! happy sunday to ya! for some reason, i don't see the snow on your page. it isn't working! i'm missing out! we aren't getting snow in real life here either. bummer! no snow anywhere. in real life or blog life...:(

    i loved reading your six. how fun you got to talk to a blog friend and your son this week! and i bet you miss your grandsons like crazy:(

  17. Lovely posting once again Marie.I just love the little friendly smiling faces of those flowers he-he.Sounds you are very happy just now and I am happy too you got to speak with your adorable family.Yes Grandchildren are wondeful as all children are in my eyes.I just love babies and children to bits.How kind of your dear friend to send you all those presents.My calender I chose this year is of nostalgic childrens pictures they are adorable.I intend to frame some too as I have done on many occasions in the past.I bought it in Bath on my visit during autumn.From Robert Fredericks.As you know I love stationary of any sort LOL!!Your soup looks delicious but must stay away from the cheese now I have eaten so many chocolates LOL!!Slimming once again I am afraid." Happy New Year " to you both.Take Care God Bless Kath xx

  18. your smile makers are always great... ;-)

    you are one of my smile makers...

  19. Your smile makers were very cheery indeed. The soup and grilled cheese look wonderful and perfect for the freezing temperatures we are all experiencing right now! xx

  20. I can't think of anything more comforting than a toasted sandwich and a big mug of tomato soup. And this soup sounds scrumptious!

    I know what you mean about people being afraid of garlic. I make a chicken dish that people love (and take seconds and thirds), but you should see their faces when I tell them it's called 20-Clove Garlic Chicken. LOL!

    Your Sunday Smiles are as always a ray of sunshine.


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