Thursday, 18 August 2011
Home is where you hang your heart . . .
“Ah! There’s nothing like staying home for real comfort.” ~Jane Austen
I’ve always loved reading Jane Austen. Her novels are always full of witty irony, and compelling slices of eighteenth century English family life. They are also cosy and full of the author’s love of comfort. Reading one is just like nestling back into a big puffy chair, next to a warm, companionable fire. They feel like home.
The big house I used to work in, while very beautiful to look at . . . and full of many treasures of art and antiques . . . felt quite far removed from those feelings. It felt a little bit like working in a museum. Most of the rooms, while beautifully decorated, were quite cold and imposing. Not many felt like a home, except for maybe the laundry room, which was the servant's domain!! It was all done in a very formal French Country style . . . even the family pictures that were situated here and there in strategic positions seemed posed and artificial. There was not one room that was warm and inviting, not even the rooms they actually lived in. Everything was for show.
Personally, I don’t really have a decorating style, not unless you can call “shabby clutter” a style! What I do have, and what I strive to present to all those who come to visit us . . . is a home with a spiritual grace that presents the solace of comfort to all.
Here in the lounge/diner, because it is the main room we spend time in, we have a comfy two-seater sofa . . . always free and welcoming for anyone who enters our domain to sit in themselves. It is nothing special, really. I hope to one day get an arm chair to go with it. There is a cosy electric fire in here that looks like a real coal fireplace . . . and when it’s on you can see the flames flickering through the coals in the fire grate. Even when the heating element isn’t turned on, but just the flickering coals, it immediately presents you with the feeling of warmth and cosiness. On a rainy day, you just want to grab a blanket and curl up next to it.
Even our bedroom is cosy and comfortable. I have endeavoured to make it so by putting a patchwork quilt on the bed and a lovely inviting pile of books sitting next to the bed, just waiting to be read. On the walls are pictures of things that have meaning to us, such as the Saviour, and water colour prints of country scenes of areas in England that we love.
My house is full of a collection of odd plants and curiosities that I have picked up on my travels . . . and little trinkets that have been given to me, that hold special places in my heart. Nothing much of worth to anyone else but me. There is a tale to be told about each object, a special story attached to each trinket. Each one holding my history, and a tiny bit of my soul. Dust collectors to some, but treasures to me.
When I am at home I am at peace, for that is the feeling I get while I am there. It makes me never want to leave, however humble it is. It is a place I long to return to when I am away. It is clean, and comfortable and it cradles my body and soul. It looks and smells of home. It is a place that shelters dreams. It is my own personal little nest, and I have built it in the same way as a bird that gathers bits of fluff and debris from the garden to cradle her chicks, weaving it into what is, to me, warm and inviting, and comforting.
I do hope that everyone who comes to visit us feels those same comforts. I have a door that always swings open to those whom I care about . . . be they an old friend or a new friend . . . or simply an acquaintance. I hope that when they leave my home, after having spent some time within it's beating heart . . . they will feel as if they have just been stroked like an old cat stretched in front of a fire . . . and that they will want to return one day soon.
Home is truly where you hang your heart.
I wanted to tell you about the promptings of the heart today as well. Todd had a Dr's appointment yesterday regarding his hearing aid. I normally wouldn't go with him, but yesterday I felt prompted to do so and so . . . I did! As we went into the waiting room, I looked over and there I saw a woman I had not seen since we had lived in Chester before, quite a few years. She was someone I had worked with in the Care Home and someone that I had truly treasured at a work mate. Most of the girls there had been quite ignorant to me, but not Rose . . . she was a foreigner too, from Germany and so I spose we were in the same boat. She had always been really friendly to me and I had thought a lot of her. I had actually been looking for her since my return, hoping that I would see her on the street one day or in a shop.
I greeted her, and sat next to her, and then we began to chat. She told me that she had had breast cancer and a radical mastectomy on her left side, and that now the cancer had returned and was on the right side. She has had a rough few years and was no longer able to work. I was able to put my arm around her and comfort her, and I will go to see her soon as I know where she lives, and I think she would like that. Because she has epilepsy they will not give her radiation or chemo, and so it will be another mastectomy for her. I think she needs to know the Lord's love more than ever . . . I would ask if you could keep my Rose in your special prayers.
There is a great debate raging over here at the moment about the strictness of the punishments that are being handed out to the rioters and those who incited others to riot last week. There are some who think that they are being dealt with too harshly. Perhaps if the bleeding hearts had been the ones who had their homes burnt to the ground, or their shops looted, emptied and burnt . . . they might feel differently. As far as I am concerned there is no punishment too harsh for these people. Sending someone to the colonies as slave labour for stealing a crust of bread to feed their family is harsh . . . sending someone to jail for a few months because of their complete selfish and total disregard and lack of feeling for others is not harsh enough in my opinion . . . it's a good thing I am not a judge I guess!!
It's for cert I would not be feeding them pie, especially not this tasty pie here today. This one is dangerously good people!! Dangerously good!
*Chocolate Chunk Pie*
This is a rich and sweet little taste of home. Who doesn’t love chocolate chunk cookies, filled with nuts . . . this is the same, only moreish. I like it warm, accompanied with a nice scoop of ice cold vanilla ice cream melting over the top . . .
2 cups plain flour
2 TBS caster sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ cup cold butter, cut into bits
1 large egg yolk
2 to 3 TBS ice water
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup soft light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup plain flour
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans or walnuts
1 ½ bars of good quality milk chocolate (100g each) cut into chunks
(I use Green and Black’s organic)
First of all make the pastry. Put the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and blitz to combine. Add the butter and the egg yolk and blitz again, pulsing only until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the motor running, add 2 TBS of the ice water and process only until the dough masses into a ball, adding the extra TBS only if needed. Remove the dough from the processor. Shape into a ball, kneading in any remaining flour if necessary. Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill for about 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 150*C/300*F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured surface, Line a deep, 10 inch, pie dish with it. Trim and crimp the edges. Set aside.
Mix the sugars and flour together in a medium sized bowl. Stir in the beaten eggs and then the melted butter, mixing well to combine. Fold in the nuts and the chocolate chunks. Spread the mixture into the prepared crust and bake in the heated oven until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean, approximately 60 to 70 minutes. Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool when done. Serve warm with some ice cream, or let cool completely before serving. Either way it’s delicious!
In The English Kitchen today, Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob with Herbs!