Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Tis the little things . . .

A heart full of thankfulness,
A thimbleful of care;
A soul of simple hopefulness,
An early morning prayer.

A smile to greet the morning with;
A kind word as the key
To open the door and greet the day,
Whate'er it brings to thee.

A patient trust in Providence,
To sweeten all the way,
All these, combined with thoughtfulness,
Will make a happy day.
~Author Unknown

I was sitting here watching some television yesterday and I happened upon a show where everyone seemed miserable and unhappy about one thing or another. It seemed that there was nothing good in their lives, or not that they could see in any case.

I am one of those lucky people that has always been able to find the good in everything. My glass is not only more than half full, my glass over-flows with blessings both small and large. I think that once you reach 50 you begin to realize that every day is a blessing. Just being able to wake up in the morning is a blessing. Good health is a blessing. Being loved is a blessing. Loving others is a blessing. It's not the big grand gestures that have the most meaning, but the small and simple things.

Things like dandelion wishes, and falling stars . . . showing your grandchildren how to make a blade of grass sing . . . watching a baby rabbit nibble on the weeds in the garden . . . the nuzzle of a warm wet nose as man's best friend begs for a stroke . . . the warmth in a friend's voice as they greet you . . . a hand that creeps over the sofa only to wrap itself around yours . . .shoulders to cry on, laugh on, and sigh on . . . the sight of a bumble bee flitting from flower to flower in an awkwardly beautiful dance . . . sticky little hands that beg to be picked up and a sticky cheek to cuddle . . . the sound of birds nesting in the eaves . . . the smell of a loaf of bread, fresh from the oven . . . the sound of a brook as it trickles over stones and meanders on it's way . . . the look of surprise and gratitude on the face of a stranger after you've done them a small and unexpected kindness . . .

Yes, my mother was right . . . the best things do come in small packages, and my life is full of them.

In the greeting card business it's never too early to be thinking ahead. I did a delightful little painting yesterday and I think it will make a wonderful Christmas Card. It's called "Think Snow," and will be posted in it's entirety over HERE after I finish this post today.

I had some bananas that were just on the verge of needing to be thrown out yesterday and found a new banana bread recipe to try. I love banana bread and I do have a favourite recipe that I use most of the time, but I am always willing to give a new one a try and this one was exceptionally good. Adapted from "The Ultimate Recipe Book," by Angela Nilsen, this one is a real winner.

*Banana Nut Bread*
Makes one 8 by 5 inch loaf
Printable Recipe

There is no greater gift to come from something that looks totally rotten than a banana loaf. In fact the blacker the banana, the better the loaf. This bread is light and flavourful and smells heavenly when it is baking.

4 ounces pecan nuts, toasted
(Keep 8 to 9 halves whole, but chop the rest)
3 medium bananas, extremely ripened, the blacker the better
the finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla
8 ounces all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
4 ounces of softened butter
5 ounces of light muscovado sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
4 TBS dairy sour cream

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/375*F. Grease an 8 by 5 inch loaf tin and line it with parchment paper. Grease again and set aside.

Peel the bananas and mash them with a fork. Try to get them as smooth as you can, but a few lumps won't hurt. You should have no more than 8 ounces of mashed banana. Stir in the vanilla and the lemon zest. Set aside.

Cream the butter together with the sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk in the beaten eggs in thirds, making sure each addition is completely mixed in. Stir in the mashed banana and the sour cream.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Fold it gently into the creamed mixture, 1/2 at a time, taking care not to over mix. Stir in 3/4 of the chopped nuts.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing over the top. Scatter the reserved pecan halves over top along with the remaining chopped nuts. Bake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 1 hour, checking after about 45 minutes. It should be well risen, nicely golden and a skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Allow to rest in the pan for 5 minutes to cool slightly before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling completely, peeling off the paper first.

This tastes wonderful on it's own, but spread it with a bit of softened butter, and you have nirvana . . .


  1. Oh that bread looks so good! I love things that are chock full of nuts. And you are right.. the simple things in life can be the most wonderful. I have been looking for the simple things for a long time now and hopefully this year will bring more of those and less of the complicated type.

  2. You're right about hitting 50! When you're younger you just can't imagine a world without you in it!

    What bothers me is how the term 'middle aged' gets younger every year. 35-year-olds are now 'middle aged'. So what are we then? And our mothers must be right off the scale!!

    love, Angie, xx

  3. See the good in everything, everyone...that's my philosophy too! :o) I'm 36 so technically I'm middle aged...How did that happen?! LOL! In many ways I grow more and more comfortable with me as I get older--the inner stuff. It's the outer I still have some problems with--like the ever increasing gray hair that coloring really doesn't take, things sagging, oh, the list could go on! But it is the simple things that always mean the most to me... Like your banana bread today! And LOVE your new illustration for Christmas time. Do hope you might offer some Christmas card sets in your shop later this year. So happy to get a chance to chat with you later night--always the best treat! Happy Day, my friend...LOVE YOU HEAPS ((BIG HUGS))

  4. You have some lovely pictures in your entry today. The precious little things in life make it all worth while it seems. So much around us is there for our enjoyment yet many don't take the time to look. I know being an artist means you do have to be ahead of the seasons. It's just very hard for me to thinks ahead to cold winter when Spring has barely warmed up here. I love bannana bread. Your's is looking very good.

  5. What a lovely post, Marie, and your banana nut bread looks scrumptious!

  6. Oh my Marie that looks wonderful! I have bananas here, I try to buy more that the kids and hubby will eat but sometimes there's still not none to bake with!! They love they're nanners!!

  7. What wonderful photos. What delightful words. I enjoyed your blog this morning!

  8. thanks for such beautiful thoughts this morning! its true how the best things come in small packages. i need to pause more often to enjoy the simple things. thanks for the reminder!

  9. Yes, with butter, thank you!

  10. Marie, I have enjoyed your thoughts this morning and was just discussing with friends this week about how much more we do tend to appreciate things as we grow older. It may be that we just have more time to focus on the beauty all around us when our nest is empty, but whatever it is I love it. The joy of just being alive is exhilarating and having the time to ponder, look and listen to life. Every season has its highlights!

  11. Great looking banana bread. I have to say that even though I'm only 31 I think I do appreciate the little things. At least most of the time.

  12. That bread looks really good.

    I like the design at the top of your blog.

  13. Yummy bread Marie! And so true - we really should be happy to just be alive. You always put things in perspective. Have a happy day!


  14. The bread looks wonderful, especially with the butter. I can just about taste it! I can tell you are one of the people who sees good all around you. I love that about you. I'd like to think I'm one of the lucky ones that can find beauty in just about everything I observe..........

  15. I could eat that bread and stare at your cards all day...

  16. I'm happy....... Grins Gaz x

  17. It's so funny that you post this! I just had this same discussion with my sister. I was eating my homemade banana bread at the time! lol! That is what actually started us down the road about the little things that make you warm banana bread slathered in butter!

  18. I can smell that banana bread from here, Marie! Loved the dew drops on grass photo. Thanks for coming by to welcome me back... school has taken up so much of my time, but now the year is almost over. I have lots to share. Promise to post some this weekend. I missed you terribly. I think my husband fixed the problem. I'm still using aol software, but we have a satellite dish connection (TIme Warner) and he found out he is supposed to refresh the box thingy (that connects us to the internet) at least once a month. Now everything seems to be working just fine. Neither of us know much about servers and security. I just like the speed... and it seems I have it back. Just popped in to say hello! and thank you!

  19. Ohhh that banana bread looks so good, I could go for a slice right now :)

  20. Though I do eat carbs, I usually try to cut them quite a bit in my everyday eating. I love banana bread, but darn every one of the recipes has so many carbs, even the low carb ones, because of the bananas themselves. This recipe does look delicious & I will save it for a carb-filled treat. Or at least pass it on to someone who bakes more than I, because it does look fab.

    As for the little things, positive perception is a gift you give yourself, one I do indulge in, but not as often as you I can learn something here. ~Mary


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