Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Simple Woman's Day book

FOR TODAY, August 31st, 2010...

Outside My Window...

It is light outside and I think we are going to have a good day today weatherwise! It's about time! August has been a total washout!

I am thinking...
About the senseless killing of the Bishop of an LDS Ward in California on Sunday. You can read about it here. Only 42 years old and the father of six children, the youngest only 6 months old. It makes me very sad.

I am thankful for...
The beautifully sunny day we had yesterday for our picnic at the chapel and for the sunny day we are supposed to have today! That will making picking up our catalogues so much more pleasant!

From the kitchen...
There is still some Victoria Sponge and some Rhubarb Crumble. Todd must be slowing down!

I am wearing...
Pink and grey pajamas. The bottoms are grey with pink stars all over them and the top is pink with some grey trim. Comfy and warm for these cooler nights we are now having.

I am creating...
I still have a SALE going on in my Etsy shop. I have marked down all of my dolls and prints by more than 10%. I would like to make room for some new stuff. Lots of sketches done. I just need the time to paint now! I also need to re-organize my craft room. Todd moved the computer in there and it's a right tip!

I am going...
I don't have a lot of plans for the rest of this week, except for my Primary Presidency Meeting on Wednesday evening. Some weeks are like that, which is good . . . blessedly empty of activity and then again, other's are too busy! I like being busy, but I also like having nothing to do!

I am reading...

The Time Of My Life, by Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi

In a career spanning more than thirty years, Patrick Swayze has made a name for himself on the stage, the screen, and television. Known for his versatility, passion and fearlessness, he's become one of our most beloved actors.

But in February 2008, Patrick announced he had been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Always a fighter, he refused to let the disease bring him to his knees, and his bravery has inspired both his legion of fans and cancer patients everywhere. Yet this memoir, written with wisdom and heart, recounts much more than his bout with cancer. In vivid detail, Patrick describes his Texas upbringing, his personal struggles, his rise to fame with North and South, his commercial breakthroughs in Dirty Dancing and Ghost, and the soul mate who's stood by his side through it all: his wife, writer and director Lisa Niemi.

A behind-the-scenes look at a Hollywood life and a remarkable love, this memoir is both entertainment and inspiration. Patrick and Lisa's marriage is a journey of two lives intertwined and lived as one--throughout their years in Hollywood and at home on their working ranch outside Los Angeles, and culminating in the hope and wisdom they've imparted to all who know them. This book will open the door for families, individuals, and husbands and wives to grow, bond and discover entirely new levels of love and sharing, proving that life shouldn't be lived as a series of endings, but rather as the beginning of greater strength and love.

I am hoping...
Now that my youngest daughter is expecting a child of her own I am hoping that perhaps things can improve in our relationship. She has been somewhat estranged from me for a number of years now. I don't know what the problem is. It is like she has basically cut me out of her life, and if I didn't chase her up every now and then, there would be no communication at all. In fact, I only found out she was pregnant by reading something on facebook. After talking to my son the other day I discovered that everyone already knew that she was expecting, except for me. It was the same when she got engaged. I was the last to find out. My mother was told by her plumber . . . and I hadn't even been told yet, although I had long suspected. I love my daughter so very much and I wish I could heal this rift between us . . . but until I know what it is that I have done wrong there is not much I can do. In the meantime, I just keep communicating as always, like nothing is wrong and hoping that one day that will be true.

I am hearing...
Clock ticking, keys tapping . . . Mitzie snuffling next to me here on the sofa. Classical FM is on the telly, playing softly in the background. Life is good

Around the house...
I now have two baskets of ironing to work my way through instead of one! It seems to be growing! I'm not sure what that is proof of . . . either I am getting lazy or I have way more clothes to wear than a person needs!

One of my favorite things...
is the autumn . . . I love, LOVE the cooler evenings and the crisp feeling in the air. You get sunny days that are very enjoyable and not hot and sticky. Just days that you can get out and about and enjoy what's left of the warmish weather. They are even more special because you know that soon it will be winter. I love the changing of the colours of the leaves and the special smell that autumn brings. It is my favourite season of all.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...
Not a lot really!! Sometimes that's a good thing I am thinking!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Are you getting tired of puppy pictures yet??? Good! Coz I have lots of them! This is one of Mitzie lazing about on the sofa next to Todd. She was feeling very comfortable here! She is such a little charmer and we love her so very much. I think she's really smart. She is picking up on her training really quickly. The only thing she isn't taking to is walking on a lead. She seems to want to chew on it and hold it in her mouth. I'm not sure what to do to change that. We haven't taken her out on proper walks yet as until she has had her last shot she really shouldn't be out and about where she could run into other dogs, so we are basically just trying to lead train her in the back garden. I have her almost sitting still now for grooming. She is getting the feathers now on the backs of her legs and her belly. She can also be very stubborn we have discovered. We just have to show here that we are more stubborn!

And just as a closing thought for today . . .

The cheerful heart has a continuous feast!

And there you have it . . . my day book for the first week in June. Don't forget to hop on over to the Simple Woman to check out the other day book entries! (Or better yet, do a simple day book entry yourself! It's not that hard and I am betting you would enjoy it!)

This is a dessert that I often made for dinner parties up at the Big House when I was working there. I miss doing the dinner parties. I always loved the challenge of orchestrating them . . . the picking of the menu, the shopping, the planning, the cooking and presentation . . . I am thinking of giving one on one cooking lessons here in my home. I'll need a larger stove first though, so they will have to wait a while . . .

*Little Lemon Souffle Cakes*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

Delightful little cakes guaranteed to turn even the simplest of occasions into a special affair. Deliciously tart and combined with a lovely sweet raspberry coulis. (see recipe below) Fabulous!
nonstick cooking spray
3 TBS butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
4 large free range eggs, separated
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 TBS all purpose flouf
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk

To finish:
raspberry coulis (see below)
softly whipped cream
fresh mint sprigs

Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*. Lightly coat six (10 ounce) ramekins with some cooking spray and place in a large roasting tin with deep sides. Set aside.

Cream the butter with an electric mixer on high speed for about 30 seconds or so until fluffy. Add the sugar and beat well until combined. Beat in the egg yolks until the mixture is creamy. Gradually beat in the lemon zest, lemon juice, flour, salt and the milk. Beat for about 3 minutes on medium speed until well combined.

Clean the beaters well. Beat the egg whites with the clean beaters until stiff peaks form. Fold the yolk mixture carefully into the beaten egg whites. Divide the mixtue evenly amongst the prepared cups. (I like to use a small ladle to do this) Add hot water to the roasting pan to reach about halfway up the sides of the cups. Place the roasting pan on a baking tray for ease of getting it in and out of the oven. Bake for ten minutes, uncovered. Reduce the heat to 150*C/300*F and bake for 30 minutes longer, or until a knife inserted near the centre of each comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for several hours.

Place some raspberry coulis on the bottom of six chilled dessert plates. Carefully unmold each lemon cake onto the top of the coulis. Top each with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprig of mint to serve.

*Raspberry Coulis*

The fancy name for fruit puree or thick sauce, a coulis (meaning strained) is perfect served over ice cream or chocolate cake. You can use this recipe for other berries such as blackberries and strawberries.

300g of fresh or frozen raspberries
juice of one lemon or lime
1 to 2 TBS icing sugar, or more to taste

Place the raspberries in a saucepan and add the lemon or lime juice. Mash gently with a fork or potato masher and sift the icing sugar over top. Stir until it dissovles. Heat the raspberries just until simmering, then push them through a sieve with a wooden spoon. Discard any solids left in the sieve. Taste the puree and add more sugar if desired, although the coulis should be somewhat tart, with a strong flavour of the berries.

Over in The English Kitchen today, Triple Threat Crispie Treats! The perfect after school snack!

Monday, 30 August 2010

A garden party of a different sort . . .

A few weeks ago my good friend Tracy asked me if I would mind doing one more Blog Cafe, and I was very happy to oblige! Today I thought I would take you to a very special place . . . tread carefully now . . . and slip through the gate quietly . . .

When you step amongst the blooms,
Beware, they're really fairy rooms
And 'tho they only reach your knees
To fairies buds are tall as trees.

Cleverly hidden near the ground
Tiny colonies can be found
Behold the pastel Four o'clocks
Shade resting fairies perched on rocks.

Queen Anne's Lace, shimmering white
Blossoms plucked in morning light
Make silver threaded wedding dresses
And veils to cover lovely tresses.

Fairy babies so sweet and small
Quite simply hard to see at all
Asleep on Bachelor Button beds
Babies Breath pillows at their heads.

Fairy babies so sweet and small
Quite simply hard to see at all
Asleep on Bachelor Button beds
Babies Breath pillows at their heads.

I hope you hesitate to take
the finest daisies strong and straight
Alas, they're truly parasols
For days of sun or mild rainfall.

Shades of azure, everlasting
bushy, spreading, shadow casting,
Silent tents of Forget Me Not
Where fairy soldiers guard their flock.

Leaves are stripped and gently dried
to make canoes for midnight rides
Moonlight kisses transparent wings
And shines upon the crowns of kings.

Fairy dust has a tinkling sound
Try to catch it fluttering down
Before it quietly disappears
or blends with rainbow dew drop tears.

So in the flowers when you play
Remember what you've learned today
And if you hear a tiny sound
Quickly glance down to the ground.

You may just get a fleeting glimpse
of golden wings or faint footprints
For gardens whether large or small
Are not quite what they seem at all.

~ Diana Greenwood, Garden Fairy.com

Now come on in . . . closer . . . the garden is set for a little tea party for you and for me . . . We'll sip dainty cups of chamomile tea . . . and munch on the lightest of scones . . . filled with lovely hazelnuts . . . shhhh . . . don't tell anyone . . . nutella!!!

Fairy scones fit for Fairy Queens . . . why . . . that would be You and . . . Me!!

*Hazelnut Scones*
Makes 12
Printable Recipe

Light and fluffy scones, chock full of hazelnuts, with a lovely dab of nutella in the centre and a scrummy vanilla glaze. What's not to like?

2 cups flour
1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 TBS unsalted butter, chilled
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup nutella or other hazelnut chocolate spread

For the glaze:
1 cup sifted icing sugar
few drops vanilla
1 TBS milk

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Sift the flour into a bowl. Whisk in the sugar, hazelnuts, baking power, baking soda and salt. Drop in the butter and cut it into the flour mixture, using a pastry blender or two round bladed knives, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Whisk together the buttermilk and the vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and stir in with a fork to form a soft dough. With lightly floured hands divide the dough into two halves and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly pat each into a five inch circle. Cut each circle into six wedges. Transfer the wedges to the baking sheets. Using the end of a wooden spoon or your finger, make a small indentation in the centre of each. Drop a teaspoon of nutella into each indentation carefully. Bake in the heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you make the glaze. Whisk the glaze ingredients together until you have a smooth drizzable mixture. Drizzle over the warm scones with a spoon in a decorative manner. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve.

Note - these can also be served warm and do freeze very well.

Drop on over to The English Kitchen where I am baking a lovely Rhubarb and Ginger Wine Crumble!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Marie's Sunday Six

Welcome to my Sunday Six Smile Makers Post. I just love Sundays. Sundays is the day we get to go to church and renew our covenants with the Lord and Sundays is the day I get to share all mt blessings with each of you!! From where I'm sitting this is a win/win situation. I hope you think so too! This week I thought I would tell you about six things around my house that bring a smile to my face!

Its not a mansion in the sky, nor a cottage tucked away in the countryside. It's only a pokey little terraced house on a Housing Estate, but my home makes me smile. It is a reminder to me of miracles and the goodness of my Heavenly Father. 7 months ago when I lost my job and we lost our home we had no idea of what we were going to do, or where we were going to go. As always, Heavenly Father provided for us and led us here. We were so blessed that this house was available and empty just at the time we needed it. God is good and faithful. Being able to live here reminds me of that goodness daily.

He's not Brad Pitt, and then again, I'm no Angelina Jolie . . . but he's my Mr Darcy and I'm his Elizabeth Bennet. I love this special man so very much. Each day I am busy living my Happily Ever After with him. I waited almost a lifetime to find this special man and every day together brings a smile to my face and my heart. No, we do not always get along. We are human, afterall . . . we have the odd argument or disagreement. He makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes, and I know I make him want to pull his out at times as well (especially when I am telling him how to drive!) . . . but all in all, he is a special blessing in my life and I am so thankful for his presence in it. Just when I had given up hope of ever finding anyone that was worthy of spending my life with . . . he showed up. No, it was not on a white charger . . . but he did rescue me from having to spend my life alone. Each day he brings me joy. I love him and he loves me. That makes me smile.

Our bedroom makes me smile. We don't have anything fancy like a four poster bed and mahogany furniture. We have white furniture from Ikea that we built together, and it is ours . . . all ours. In our last home almost all the furniture we had belonged to someone else, including the bed. Finally we have a bed to call our own and furniture to call our own and we had the pleasure of having built most of it ourselves. I know Todd might not think so . . . and I was a bit of a pain in the arse when we were building it (my pedantic side showed really strongly, but then again, being organized helped the process to go a lot smoother), but I have some very fond memories of us building it and working together. My ex husband was never easy to work with. He used to curse and swear and shout his way through everything. Doing anything with him was a nightmare. Todd is the exact opposite. Very calm and gentle. He does not get fluffed or curse and swear. Doing things with him is a joy in comparison and that makes me smile.

It's small and it's puny but my stove does make me smile. I fell in love with it's little gold knobs and handles and that sweet little grill over top as soon as I saw it. It's days are numbered however . . . as the oven is really much too small for what I need . . . but until I am able to afford one the proper size this little stove does make me smile. If it only had a larger oven I would be happy to live with it the rest of my days . . . truly I would!

Having my very own craft/sewing/painting room makes me smile. I have always wanted to have my own craft room and now I do. It is not large and I could use a lot more storage space but what a blessing it is to have a room all my own where I can go and create to my hearts content! It truly makes me smile!

This little lady makes me smile from the minute I see her in the morning until the minute I go to bed at night. Her little personalty shows through more and more each day that passes. She is a moxy little dear and so very happy. Full of life and energy, with so much love to give I could quite happily just sit and watch her and play with her all the day through. When we lost Jess I didn't think that I could ever bear having another dog in my life . . . my heart ached so, and it still does. Jess was a very special animal and a friend. We loved her so. Mitzie is a reminder again of God's goodness and love, and has taught us that our hearts are big enough to hold more than one special animal and friend. We are making new memories with her and growing with her as well. It is a real treat to have a puppy around. Neither one of us had ever had a puppy before, so we are learning too! We are so very blessed!

And there you have it, my Sunday Six for this week! I hope that some of them brought a smile to your face too!

When I was home to my mom's in July I spent some time going through some of her old recipes that she had clipped and written out and collected through the years. I always spend some time doing that. There are real treasures in that old book of hers. I was very excited to find this recipe. It is her pancake recipe and is very good. It was clipped from the old Star Weekly magazine, which was pretty much a Canadian Institution back in the 1960's. Delivered to the door once a week it was filled with articles and recipes etc. These are the pancakes I grew up with! It's a good, solid, basic pancake recipe. No surprises here, just plain old fashioned goodness.

*Sweet Milk Pancakes*
Serves 3 to 4
Printable Recipe

Nice fluffy and delicious pancakes. A good all rounder. See below for some other variations.

1 1/4 cup sifted flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3 TBS sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup sweet milk (I think this just means not sour)
3 TBS butter, melted

Measure the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into a large bowl. Whisk together. Whisk the egg, milk and butter together in a beaker. Add all at once to the dry ingredients and whisk together quickly until smooth.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brush with a bit of oil. Scooping out 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake, drop each measure into the heated and greased skillet and cook without disturbing until the surface of each pancake is covered with little bubbles. Turn over with an egg flipper and brown on the other side. Keep warm in a very slow oven whilst you cook the remaining pancakes in the same way. Serve hot with butter for spreading and some maple syrup, or pancake syrup, or golden syrup, or even molasses!

Apple - Add 1 large apple, peeled and thinly sliced.

Banana - Add 1 large banana, peeled and thinly sliced

Blueberry - Add 3/4 cup of blueberries. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

In The English Kitchen today is a good old fashioned Rice Pudding. Delicious!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

The quiet time of year . . .

This is the quiet time of year for the birds . . . all is silent down in the wood where shadows lay dark beneath the heavy foliage of late summer . . . tis the last holiday of summer.

Where now are the blackcap, the whitethroat . . . the warbler?? We wonder as we walk, acorns crunching beneath our feet . . .

The lark too holds his peace. How lonely it seems in the fields without his song . . .

An old plum tree stands, it's branches heavy with fruit and the wasps cluster thickly over the cracked ones, greedily feasting on their sweetness . . .

Apples turn their rosy cheeks towards the waning sun and pears hang juicy and ripe on gnarled and overladen branches . . . waiting to drop on the ground.

The corn stands neatly stacked, ready for the autumn thresher to do it's job, and the stubble in the field lays ready for the plough to til it under . . .

Heather lays it's pretty pink and purple blanket upon the moors and commons . . . mauve rolling hills in the distance . . .

Garden roses bloom in a flurry of second bloom . . . as if they know it's soon their time to go to sleep for a season . . .

This is the hour of maturity . . . a season of fruit and fulfillment . . .of gathering and garnering . . . the quiet time of year . . .

Mitzie in one of her quieter moments yesterday! She found her bark finally! I was beginning to wonder if she had one at all . . . she had not barked or anything since we brought her home. The neighbours little Jack Russell somehow managed to find it's way into the garden yesterday, and his arrival was announced with great glee!! I need to find the hole he got in by so that I can plug it up. It wouldn't do for our sweet little girl to go missing one day . . . perish the thought!!

I tortured Todd with some pasta again the other night. A delicious recipe I found on the web for a Stove Top Mac and Cheese. My goodness but this was some good! Todd didn't seem to mind overly much and I enjoyed the leftovers with great gusto the next day for my lunch! If anything they were even tastier than the night before!

*Stove Top Mac and Cheese*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Not for the faint of heart, this calorie laden treat, but boy oh boy . . . what a delicious way to go! Easy, uncomplicated and oh so tasty!

8 ounces macaroni
4 TBS butter
2 large free range eggs
6 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 tsp dry mustard
10 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil and then cook your macaroni according to package directions. Whilst the macaroni is cooking, whisk together the eggs, evaporated milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper and mustard in a large measuring cup. Once the macaroni is cooked drain well and then return to the pot.

Stir in the butter until it melts, then stir the egg mixture into the hot pasta. Add the cheese and cook and stir over low heat until the cheese is melted and the whole thing is nice and creamy. Serve hot.

Over in The English Kitchen today we baked a deliciously Traditional Victoria Sandwich Cake! (Plus I announced the winner of my Delightful Hamper Giveaway!)

Friday, 27 August 2010

Friday ramblings . . .


One of my favourite scripture verses goes like this . . .

One thing I have desired of the Lord, that I will seek after;
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord,
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
and to inquire in His temple.
~Psalm 27:4

These words give me encouragement to spend time with the Lord . . . to spend time discovering and enjoying who He is. They are an impetus to me to want to try to do better, to be better . . . to be worthy of resting in His presence . . .

To know the peace that comes when I walk hand in hand with Him . . . the comfort that comes when I am in step with His will for me . . . to feel the strength that comes when I am attuned to His teachings . . .

I am sure that Thomas Blake, a minister of the Lord who lived at the end of the 1500's, knew exactly how I feel. In his words:

Every morning lean thine arms awhile
Upon the window sill of heaven
And gaze upon thy Lord,
Then, with vision in thy heart,
Turn strong to meet thy day.

It is always amazing to me that someone so long ago and far away could have the same thoughts and feelings as I do now . . . I think no matter how different we may look on the outside . . . we each have the same yearnings and feelings tucked away in our hearts . . . that no matter how far away we may remove ourselves from the Lord, or think we have . . . there is still that God shaped hole in there that only He can fill . . .

Just my thoughts this morning . . .

Look at this little sweetheart! I got this idea into my head yesteday that I would put a red ribbon around her neck and try to get a photo that I could put inside our Christmas Cards this year . . . I m not sure I cracked it . . . so will try again, but thought this adorable just the same. I am sure that she thinks me to be quite crazy!

If you have potatoes in the house, you are never very far away from a tasty meal. At least that's how I feel at any rate! I just love stuffed baked potatoes. They are a favourite of mine. I have stuffed them with everything from chili con carne to tuna mayonnaise . . . you just can't go wrong with a stuffed baked potato! Everyone loves them!

*Leek, Mustard and Parsley Stuffed Baked Potatoes*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

These tasty potatoes have all the flavours of a potato and leek soup, except that they come in the lovely crisp jacket of a baked potato! It's like all your Christmas's have come at once!

4 large floury baking potatoes
3 TBS olive oil
1 large leek, finely chopped
2 TBS grainy mustard
4 ounces mature cheddar cheese, grated
4 TBS double cream
1 ounce butter
3 TBS chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 5. Scrub the potatoes and dry them very well. Prick a few times with the tines of a fork and place them into the pre-heated oven, directly on the oven rack. Bake until tender, about 1 ¼ hours or so. Remove from the oven and set aside until they have cooled down enough that you can handle them comfortably.

Carefully slice a lid from off the length of each one. Scoop out the inside flesh, leaving a thin shell. Try very hard not to tear the skin. Put the insides into a bowl, and keep warm.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the leek. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft and tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cooked leek to the potato flesh along with the mustard, cheddar and cream. Mix in well. Finally mix in the parsley and the butter. Season to taste and then stuff the mixture back into the potato shells.

Rub the outside of the potato shells with butter if desired and place the stuffed shells into a baking dish. Place back into the heated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the filling is hot and bubbly, the cheese is well melted and they are beginning to get all crusty and brown on the top. Remove from the oven and serve hot.

And in The English Kitchen this morning, a delicious plum clafoutis!