Sunday, 15 March 2009

Marie's Sunday Six Smile Makers

Happy Sunday everyone. The birds are singing and I think we're going to have a lovely day today. We had a pretty nice one yesterday as well. I just love spring and I just love sharing my Sunday Six with each of you. Sunday's are one of my favourite days!

I wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake,
beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
~William Wordsworth

It makes me smile to see all the daffodils bursting out into bloom around the countryside, in the towns and dales. A lot of the traffic circles near where I live are just loaded with them, as are roadsides and gardens. I just love to see their little yellow heads dancing and frolicking in the springtime breezes. They are so sweet and yellow. They make me happy. They are such a beautiful burst of colour after the dull winter that's waning!! Looking at them just makes me feel all happy inside!

Knowing that people make my recipes and then enjoy eating them makes me smile. This is a picture of John, my friend Lura's husband (Grammy's News ) eating some of the Chicken Pot Pie that she made for him earlier this week after seeing my recipe for it on here. He looks like he's really enjoying it! That makes me happy. All the recipes I post are ones that we love here at Oak Cottage and it really makes my day to find out that some of you are making them and enjoying them too!!

I am so proud of the people of the United Kingdom! They dug really deep into their pockets this year and raised a full 17 and a half million pounds more this year than the amount they had raised in previous years, breaking their record. It is so nice to know that despite the rough times that a lot of people are having during this recession and credit crunch they are still able to think of others that have so much less than they, and that they are so generous and have such big hearts! I love the UK, and I love the people here. They make me proud to be one of them and they make me smile!

I got an e-mail from my son earlier this week to tell me that my grandson Gabriel just loves his sock monkey! That really made me smile! It was so much fun making them and to know that my grandson has fallen in love with the one I sent to him really did my heart good. I wish that I could have been there in person to see his little face when he opened his gift, but at the same time it does my heart good to know that across the miles there is a little piece of me making my little grandson happy!!!

Having guests makes me smile! My sister in law, Barbara and her daughter, June (Todd's niece) are here visiting for the weekend. We have such a small family over here. Todd has a brother, and then of course Babs and June, and an old Auntie that lives in Devon, plus her son and his wife. We hardly ever get to see any of them, so to have Babs and June here for the weekend is just wonderful! I have enjoyed cooking special meals for us all and then yesterday we did a bit of site seeing locally. Last night we went to see the film, "The Young Victoria," which was really, really good! It's just nice to have some family around, and to be able to spoil them is the icing on the cake!

Yesterday when we were out and about, I spied this lovely candle. Sweet Peas are my absolute favorite flower of all. I just adore them. I fell in love with the scent of this candle, and I really liked what it said on the tin . . . "The One I Truly Love," for I truly do love them. I was so pleased that Todd bought it for me as an early Mother's Day present. Now I can smell sweet peas all year round and when I do I can think of my sweetie pie and how much I love him too! He is so thoughtful and kind and . . . well, I just adore him. That makes me smile in a very big way!

And there you have it, my smile makers list for Sunday the 15th of March, 2009. What's making you smile today?

On Friday night I cooked us a lovely chili to have when Babs and June arrived. We had it on a bed of rice with some cheese scattered on top. It was truly delicious. No beans in this one!

*Texas Style All Beef Chili*
Serves 6

I clipped this recipe from a Women's Day magazine, probably about 20 years or so ago. They used to do a series called "The Best of the Best." This was what they considered to be the best chili and I have to say, I agree!

4 slices streaky bacon, chopped
2 pounds timmed beef brisket, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 TBS chili powder (mild)
1 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried thyme
pinch of ground cinnamon
1 cup beef broth
1 (14 1/2 ounce) tin of chopped tomatoes in juice
2 dried chipolte chiles

Cook the bacon in a large saucepan or dutch oven, over medium heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Remove and reserive drippings. Return 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat to the pan, increase the heat to high and add about 1/4 of the beef. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is well browned and the juices evaporate. Remove to a bowl and repeat with the remainder of the beef, repeating in 3 batches until all the beef has been browned, adding more bacon fat as needed, and placing the beef into the bowl. Set aside.

Add 2 more tablespoons of the bacon fat to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes, or until slightly browned. Add the cumin and cook, stirring until it is fragrant and toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, paprika, pepper, oregano, salt, thyme and cinnamon. Cook, stirring for about a minute longer. Add the reserved bacon, beef broth, tomatoes with their juices, chiles, 1/2 cup water, and beef with any juices that may have accumulated in the bowl.

Bring to the boil, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to simmer, and cover partially with the lid. Simmer gently for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the beef is fork tender. Stir frequently towards the end of the cooking time to prevent it from sticking and getting burnt at the bottom. You may add up to 1/2 cup of hot water if the chili becomes too thick.

I like to serve this hot, on a bed of steamed long grain rice with some grated cheese to sprinkle on top!


  1. Have a lovley weekend Marie. It is a shame you couldn't see Gabriel open his sock monkey but I bet he loves it!!
    I'm loving that beef chili!

  2. Morning Marie, Just as I was reading your latest news..I read what makes you smile today ? and there passing the window was a wee papaer boy who delivers to one of the neighbours. his name we have discovered is Forrest..and he is teh most delightful boy, he always glances in as he passes and has the biggest smile imaginable..and of course I smile that is usually my first smile at the weekend (he only comes Sat/Sun) I even had to reward him one morning with a wee extra pocket money he was so surprised..
    Looking forward to many more smiles this morning then in the afternoon we have a pampering day for the church "carers" first tiem so shoudl be interesting !!
    Much Love Sybil xx

  3. You would think at this time in the morning I would be first!!! What's up with everyone - did they fall out of bed----LOL, only joking!

    I love your Sunday Six Smile Makers too and I love chilli. I suppose you COULD put beans (which I love too) in your recipe if you really wanted to.

    Have a lovely day,

    love, Angie, xx

  4. wonderful smile makers. family is wonderful to have around. and as we get older, the more we treasure that.
    I LOVE candles. That one is darling! enjoy!
    love chili and that one looks extra meaty! yum
    have a great day, Marie!!

  5. At the risk of repeating myself 'I love your Sunday six 'I can imagine your Grandsons delight as he opened his present from his British Granny ,no intention of sending you back now you are a uk citizen ,with a passport lol well maybe for a holiday ,as long as you promise to come home Jan xx

  6. Your SMILES always leave me with a smile for sure. Hope your Sunday is a great one.

  7. Love your six Marie, really, love and make smile. Today you make me smile Early( I wake up so early), other friend of England that mail me make smile, and is the birthday newphew (the little of y sister) mak me smile, she is going to 13 years and is the most small of the childs, she is lovely and love the cook (make lasaña) Huggs and have alovely Sunday and a lovely week my dear friend!! xxGloria

    A little kiss to Todd, Im a lady!!

  8. Such a super Sunday mix here today, Marie! This is a happy post...And I'm glad you're having family to visit--what a treat! And so is that candle...(I was burning the Whispered Wish candle last night that you gave us for Christmas! :o) Such sweet sock monkeys. Hope you'll be making more. mmm....chili...I've not made that in a while--thanks for the inspiration! Due to busy weekend here I may not be able to be online later tonight, but hope we can get a chance to chat on Messenger early next week--look forward to it. LOVE to you all there, sweet friend! ((BIG HUGS))

  9. Our flowers will be popping up soon. Haven't seen any yet, but they do make me happy :)

  10. Hi, I just stumbled upon your blog and enjoyed reading it. You gave me an idea what we are going to have for dinner tonight. I love Canada, now living in Florida I can visit more often. Surely I will visit your blog more often.

  11. Happy Sunday to you dear Marie,
    I planned to drop by Oak Cottage for just a min. this morn before I jumped in the shower to say hello.... but my computer has gone crazy.... and it has taken me 22 minutes to get to Oak Cottage today. I kept getting a blank page when I tried to visit you. It said Oak Cottage but nothing was there. Maybe you were out waking in the garden with your house guests.

    I love you Sunday six as always.... especially that cute guy you put for #2. He looks like someone that I could really love! hee hee

    Must run or I'll be late for church. I am sending love and hugs your way. Lura

  12. I would be thrilled with a sock monkey, too! They're so adorable!

    I am not a big fan of beans in my chili, so this recipe is right up my alley. Don't get me wrong, I love beans...but in chili....well, not so much.

    I'm so glad you've had some family to spoil lately! I know how much goodness it can do....

    (oh! I have fragrance oil in Sweet Pea! I love it, too!)

  13. of course its the best chili, its got "texas" in the name! :)

  14. Wonderful list Marie! I am glad you are having fun with your in-laws. How fun! You are so lucky to have the flowers blooming there. It was pretty nice here yesterday - we spent most of the day outdoors. The snow is almost melted off. (but I heard it is going to snow again tomorrow...)

    I hope you had a wonderful Sunday!


  15. Hi Marie
    Reading your blog makes me smile!
    Hugs, Rhondi


Your comments mean the world to me, and while I may not be able to address each one individually, each one is important to me and each one counts. Thanks so much!