Monday, 31 December 2012
In My Father's house there are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am . . . you will be also.
I have been daydreaming this past week . . . about what I would do if I ever had the money. I've always done that. When I was a child, I used to pour over the Sears and the Eatons Catalogues and dream about the clothes and things and toys that I would love to have from their pages . . . and as an adult, and young mum, I used to dream about the clothes I would buy my children, or the toys . . . and how I would furnish my house. Those couple of hundred of pages brought me hours of day dreaming pleasure, and they never cost a dime.
Even now, in my later years . . . and too quickly approaching so called "Golden" years . . . I still put myself to sleep nights, thinking about the type of house I would love to have and how I would furnish it, beginning on the front porch. I never, ever make it as far as the kitchen!! Never . . . I get to the living room and before I know it . . . I am zzzzzz . . .
Now, of course there is Pinterest. You can find pretty much anything on Pinterest and I have been known to waste more than a few hours in it from time to time (almost every day truth be known). It, too, costs nothing but time, and is a way of collecting "things" without cluttering up the house. I think at last count I had something like 174 boards . . . filled with all sorts of things, from soup to nuts. I have my favourites of course . . . and I have no secret boards. What is the point of having a secret board? I don't know! I have no secrets. I bare it all!! What you see is definitely what you get with me, and I like it that way. No surprises.
One of my favourite boards is my "Inspiration From the Word of God" board. I just love scripture and I love to read scripture and take it into my heart. This is a fun board for me, because I can pin to it some of my favourite ones . . . in unique and colourful ways.
One of my favourite scriptures is 1 Corinthians2:9, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."
It is this thought which is uppermost in my mind as we stand here at the closing of the door on the old year which passes, and on the clear threshold of the new year to come.
We can not know the future which is in store for us. We can dream and we can plan . . . but ultimately our hope is in the promises of God's word, which stands true for each of us. When we put our hope and our faith in Jesus Christ . . . we seal our destinies and we need not fear anything that life has to throw at us.
Having our faith centered on Him, means that we can rest in His promises and know that they are true. The Scriptures tell us that we can spend eternity with him . . . that one day He will come and get us and bring us home to live with Him forever.
I love the fact that my Heavenly Father has a plan for me . . . for my future and for every tomorrow of my life on earth and beyond. This is a blessed assurance to me . . . I know that I am loved and safe, no matter what. Despite the slings and arrows which life can and will throw at me, my future is bright. God knows my course and God knows me. He loves me and He will provide for my ultimate tomorrow.
I can daydream . . . and I can plan, but at the end of the day, I trust in Him for all things.
Knowing these things to be true brings me a great Peace of heart, and gives me all the confidence I need to face tomorrow and the coming year . . . and whatever it may bring me. I need not fear a blank page for the words which may be written on it . . . if I let Him guide my pen.
There is nothing as inspiring to me as a new and clean page.
I don't seem to be shaking this cold of mine at all. I just think it is getting better and bang . . . it knocks me back again. I am wondering if maybe I should see the Doctor. If I don't see any improvement in the next couple of days, I think I will.
We have no exciting plans for New Years Eve. Yes . . . we are those boring people who go to bed early, and then winge at midnight when the fireworks wake us up! hahaha My parents always used to go out to a New Years Eve Dance at the mess on New Years Eve. My ex and I never did. For one thing hiring a baby sitter was far to much of an expense on top of everything else and for another he always used to work New Years Eve, having had Christmas off. The married guys used to get Christmas off so they could be with their families and the single guys New Years so they could party with their friends.
I never minded. I would always plan a little party with the children. Some years we were able to stay awake until midnight, but mostly we weren't. We'd have our finger food buffet and watch films and laugh and enjoy the evening together as a family. I never ever felt that I was missing out on anything, and I still don't. Well, except maybe for a hangover, and that's not something I think is to be desired in the least!
And so for this last day of 2012 I'd like to close in wishing each of you a very happy, blessed and fulfilling 2013.
“Fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.”
~Thomas S. Monson
Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Cowboy Casserole. Tasty and economical.
Saturday, 29 December 2012
I watched a rosebud very long
Brought on by dew and sun and shower,
Waiting to see the perfect flower;
Then, when I thought it should be strong,
It opened at the matin hour
And fell at evensong.
I watched a nest from day to day.
A green nest full of pleasant shade,
Wherein three speckled eggs were laid;
But when they should have hatched in May,
The two old birds had grown afraid
Or tired and flew away.
Then in my wrath, I broke the bough
That I had tended so with care,
Hoping its scent should fill the air;
I crushed the eggs, not heeding how
Their ancient promise had been fair;
I would have vengeance now.
But the dead branch spoke from the sod,
And the eggs answered me again;
Because we failed dost thou complain?
Is thy wrath just? And what if God,
Who waiteth for thy fruits in vain,
Should also take the rod?
~Christina Rossetti, Everyman's Poetry
I think this poem is about our impatience and the capacity we have to take matters into our own hands because we tire of waiting for others to do the right thing Or we judge others harshly, thinking to ourselves . . . they should have done this . . . or they should have done that. But who are we to judge? To take matters into our own hands?? Should we not leave all of that to a much higher power than ourselves? There is a scripture which tells us that the same stick which we used to measure others will be used to measure us.
I often speak these words to myself . . . there, but for the Grace of God . . . go I. I am not perfect, not by a long stretch. I have my own weaknesses and failings that I will have to account for at the end of the day . . . never mind adding to them by being judgmental and harsh with my fellow man. Oh, I do fail at times . . . but am quickly brought up short when I realize what I am doing and then repent. Oh, thank God for repentance and His perfect love for us . . . for forgiveness.
I love to read poetry and ponder on it's meanings. I don't know if the things I get from it are what the writer intended . . . I only know how the words make me feel. Oh to be blessed with such a talent to move hearts and minds . . . and to give pause to thought with only a few words. Simply amazing.
Patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can - working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!
~Dieter F Uchtdorf
In The English Kitchen today . . . A Simple Ice Cream Cake.
Have a fab Saturday!
Friday, 28 December 2012
I have always enjoyed these few quiet days which lay between Christmas and New Year . . . this quiet interval between excitements. This is a time to catch our breath and ponder the new beginning which lays ahead, in just a few days time.
I think it's a good thing that we don't have to face this New Year immediately after all of the excitement of Christmas, but have instead . . . a few days for reflection. A few days upon which to make a quiet approach to the new year which sits in the doorway. A few days to remember past mercies and marshall the rabble of our good intentions.
Cynics would poo poo and espouse the futility of making resolutions , , , and indeed in truth, most resolutions made in the new year, quickly falling by the wayside . . . but that doesn't make it a bad thing to make resolutions.
I think it very good and very proper to take stock at the end of an old year and ponder on things you might like to change in the new year. This is the perfect opportunity to make a fresh start, to stiffen up the will . . . and who doesn't need a bit of starch put into their flabby spines??
And we needn't feel like failures either if these resolutions quickly fall by the wayside . . . we need only feel human, for it is a very human thing, this ability to not stick with things . . . to be a little weak. Resolutions are soon routed by the devil unless subjected to extreme discipline . . . and isn't it fun to try irregardless of whether we will succeed or not? I think so.
The person who never makes a New Year's resolution must be either very self-satisfied or very lazy. Oh . . . they may never be spoken out loud, these resolutions . . . but we make them all the same. I never begin a New Year without at the very least wanting to become a better person in the months to come.
And do I succeed??? I do believe so. I do. I may never stick to that diet . . . but I always improve myself in some way, however big or small. And that's what counts.
One thing I love about British Television are the special shows that they put on at Christmas. You can always rely on at least a few of them, and indeed sometimes we are spoilt for choice! This year was no different. I really enjoyed the "Call the Midwife" Christmas special. It was wonderfully inspiring and very cheering. Coronation Street and Downtown Abby left me quite saddened however . . . with ends that I had not expected. I am glad that I did not watch them on the day . . . why can't people be happy at Christmas? Why does there need to be this tragedy all the time? I know it makes for good ratings . . . but a bit of cheer would be much better I think!
I don't want to say more for fear of spoiling the viewing pleasure of our North American friends who have not yet seen Season three of Downton Abby and this years Christmas Special. What a cracking show it is!
Which got me to wondering why someone doesn't create a television series surrounding Jane Austin times, or Dick Turpin times. Is there nothing interesting with that time in history? I think that a series based in that time era would be fabulously entertaining. It seems that all the historical series are late Victorian or Edwardian. We've been watching "North and South" again . . . with Patrick Swayze. It just never gets old.
Yes, I do believe we are somewhat boring people. ☺ That's just the way we roll . . . and with that, a thought for today . . .
“You could ask yourself, 'How did God Bless me today?' If you do that long enough and with faith, you will find yourself remembering blessings. And sometimes you will have gifts brought to your mind which you failed to notice during the day, but which you will then know were a touch of God's hand in your life.”
~Henry B. Eyring
Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Crispy Chicken Breasts with a Honey Garlic Sauce.
Wednesday, 26 December 2012
Christmas Day is short . . . and over all too soon. We spend weeks preparing and then in a few hours it is past . . . thankfully the memories live long. The gifts, the food . . . the candles and the tree . . . they are not all by any means. As I turn off the tree before bedding down at the end of day . . . I hear a glass ball fall to the floor . . . plop, it explodes softly. The day has gone like the glass ball . . . the smiles and excitement over for this year . . . but as I sweep it up into my dustpan I catch a glimpse of myself in the shards and I am touched by the shining moment that this Christmas was for me, despite my horrible cold and stuffed up nose . . .
The brilliant sight of two grandsons, a son and a daughter in law . . . in the matching jim jams opening up their presents together via the i pad, a fabulous piece of technology which allows me to watch my two angels Gabriel and Luke come down the stairs together . . . catching perfectly the excitement in their faces and voices as they glimpse the tree for the first time. Santa has been and I am watching it with wonder and joy and a teensie little tug on my heart strings because I cannot be there . . . but it is short lived, because I am filled at the same time with gratitude that I am able to be there even in this smallest of ways. And we can see them and they can see us and the love . . . it's there too. And I am grateful for a son who is sentimental and loving and . . . so very kind and thoughtful.
A Christmas Dinner that I couldn't really taste . . . it was a bit cardboardy because of my cold, but Todd said it was delicious and he enjoyed it very much . . . the usual turkey, sprouts, stuffing, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, bacon wrapped chipolatas, gravy and cranberry sauce. It did look pretty on the plate. We sent plates over to our guests in their home because I daren't risk infecting them with my germs . . . they appreciated. I did the cooking. Todd did the clean up, and Mitzie enjoyed a little plate of her own, minus any potatoes, onions and the like . . . traditions.
The Queen's Christmas message at 3 pm and knowing that halfway around the world my son was listening to it via the radio. Traditions kept, even if you are thousands of miles apart. Makes my heart smile. This was the first year it had been shown in 3D. Amazing stuff. We don't have a 3D telly, and I'm not sure what difference that would make . . . but it was nice all the same.
Family voices on the telephone from afar . . . mom, dad . . . Eileen and Tim. Remembering a phone call on Christmas Eve from my dear Lura and her grandchildren singing "We wish you a Merry Christmas" to us . . . they all delight my heart and make it smile.
Family, friends . . . love. That is Christmas.
Christmas pudding later in the day because we are neither one of us very hungry or have enough room for it right after dinner . . . Todd does love his Christmas Pudding. He looks forward to it every year, doused with custard of course. He thinks he looks grumpy in this photo . . . but I think I just caught him by surprise and he's enjoying his pudding. Nothing else matters . . .
Watching Mama Mia on the telly together . . . adoring the music and the fun. Julie Walters, what a joy she is in this. We've watched it a million times . . . and the message of promiscuity is not the best message in the world . . . but we do so love the music and the bounciness of it all. We sing along, and it's good. I croaked. Todd sung . . .
A sweet pup who doesn't quite get it . . . but she loves the turkey and she loves us . . . and we are happy, so she is happy.
Such is joy.
And so as I sweep up the shards of glass my heart is full of the joy that was my Christmas 2012, and I send up a special prayer for those I love and know so well, and those I love and know not so well. I hope their day was also blessed in small and special ways just like mine.
God bless us . . . everyone.
Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Curried Cranberry and Pistachio Rice.
“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ”
― Roy L. Smith
Tuesday, 25 December 2012
The Christmas mornings of all of my childhood were colored in the same way throughout my growing up years . . . whispered hushing as tiny feet tiptoe into the living room . . . a room all aglow with nothing but the lights from the Christmas tree. The sun is not up yet. Carols are playing. The magic has arrived. What was once bare floor just the night before, is now awash with a seeming multitude of gaily wrapped shapes and lumps beneath the tree. The magic has begun.
The excitement is so tangible you can almost cut it with a knife . . . tempered with grownup yawns from parents who didn't quite get as much sleep as they would have liked, and having had to awaken far much earlier than they had hoped. But the feeling is catchy and they are soon just as buoyant as we are . . .
They have now had their energy boosted with mugs of steaming hot coffee, the elixir of the gods . . .
The next little while is filled with oohs and aahs and sounds of glee . . . and ripping paper, thank yous and wows. In the kitchen mom begins to make some noise as she starts to fry our eggs for breakfast . . . but little brother already has a barley candy toy hanging out of his mouth . . . he will have no appetite for eggs, or toast or anything else.
Always there is a colouring book for each and a new box of crayons, and a bowl holding a tangerine, some hard candy, soft creams, ribbon candy and perhaps a chocolate and a nut or two. The other gifts vary from year to year and age to age, but they always please, even if they are not always the things you had on your list. We are filled with gratitude regardless . . . and happy with what we have.
We spend the day wearing our best clothes whilst we colour and play . . . father snoozes in his chair . . . and mother busies herself in the kitchen pulling together the Christmas Feast. The lights still twinkle . . . the music still plays . . . father snores . . .
It is not long before the air is punctuated with the smell of Roasting Turkey and stuffing . . . and little tummies begin to grumble in anticipation of what is to come.
Tender turkey . . . awash with mom's special gravy . . . mounds of fluffy mashed potatoes, carrots . . . peas . . . stuffing that we all love and can't get enough of. As many times as I try to duplicate it now as an adult . . . it somehow never, ever tastes as good as the memory of hers does . . . we eat and we eat . . . mincemeat pie and fruit cake, Christmas cookies.
We eat until we feel like we will never want to eat again . . . but a few hours later, we are at it again . . . after an afternoon spent in play and fuss . . . we dine on turkey sandwiches and potato chips and possibly a date or feather square . . . a moist slice of fruit cake, and then we settle in to watch something on the telly together. The Queen's message is long gone, having been devoured much earlier in the day, tonight is the time for Andy Williams, Red Skelton . . . Bing and Frank . . . and Danny Kaye.
It is a simple time, filled with simple pleasures and joys . . . family and a deep abiding gratitude for the greatest gift of all. Our hearts are tinged with it . . . our minds are bathed in it . . . can you feel it?
It's love. And it's ours. And it's true.
Merry Christmas one and all.
Monday, 24 December 2012
FOR TODAY, December 24th, 2012...
Outside My Window...
It's dark and cold and wet, wet, wet. If you were dreaming of a White Christmas over here . . . I got news for you, you're getting a "Wet" Christmas!
I am thinking...
“It costs nothing to be kind."
I wonder why there are so many unkind people in the world? It's not that hard to be kind really. You don't have to even do anything if you don't want to. You just have to NOT do things . . . like not laugh at that person who is struggling and falling over, or not make a snide unkind remark about someone you know.
However the rewards for actually DOING something are fantastic. Not only do you feel better, about the world and yourself . . . but other people feel better too. The grocery shops are always ultra busy this time of year . . . madhouses really. The other week I was unloading my full cart to get ready to pay and a man was behind me with only two things. I insisted he go first. At first he didn't want to, but then he did. I think he was really surprised, as was the cashier . . . and it really didn't matter to me. It didn't put me that far behind and I had helped someone out in the process, plus I felt good having done someone else a favor. Call me crazy, but I do this kind of thing all the time. It's just plain nice.
I am thankful for...
Parents who were strict when I was growing up. I may not have been very happy about it at the time, but in retrospect I know it was because they loved me and wanted to protect me. I am very grateful for their diligence. Had they not been as strict, I may have gotten into all sorts of trouble. As it was they gave me enough rope to enjoy myself most of the time but not enough to hang myself! That was a good thing. ☺
From the kitchen...
I think I may bake some mince pies today. Or maybe not. My cold is really bad and I don't really feel all that energetic. I may just slob around and watch telly. We shall see how the day progresses!
I am wearing...
An old pajama top and an old pair of pajama bottoms and my robe and slippers. They don't match, but they are comfy and do what they need to do. I was feeling so miserable with my cold last night, I just didn't care what I put on. I was in my jim jams really early, make up washed off and everything . . .thinking nobody would call. But our Bishop ended up at our house around 8 pm. Duh. Isn't that always the way it goes. He has now seem me at my worst! Didn't seem to faze him though. He's a nice young man.
I am creating...
I have fallen in love with this afghan. Isn't it pretty? Could this be a new project for the coming new year?? I don't know. It does have quite a few colours of yarn in it. Perhaps I could just pick up a ball here and there. We'll see how it goes.
Love these felt and ribbon bookmarks. So cute and so easy to do. They are a possibility too. I have lots of felt scraps and buttons in my craft room.
I also have fallen in love with this little pin cushion house. What a great way to use up scraps and such!
Whatever I do get stuck into in the coming months I am sure it will be fun, no matter what.
I am going...
There is a Christmas Day Devotional at the chapel tomorrow morning. It all depends on how I feel with my cold whether we go or not. We have decided that Todd will take Christmas Dinner over to our friends tomorrow rather than put her at risk of catching this cold. Our friend Doreen is 84 and has just gotten over a bad patch and I would hate to be the cause of her getting sick again. She agrees it isn't worth the risk, and in all honesty, I think she was rather relieved that she doesn't have to go out. Todd doesn't mind taking the dinner over to them.
The missionaries are coming for dinner on Boxing Day. Hoping I feel better then. We are also having friends over for dinner on Friday evening, so am looking forward to that.
My Berlin Kitchen, by Luisa Weiss.
Along the way to adulthood, I acquired one six-inch chef’s knife, a dark-green glazed cast-iron pot, and the growing realization that baking and cooking were not just a sure way to end up with a pan of warm brownies or a kitchen full of the fragrance of beef stew. Busying myself in the kitchen was how I conjured the people and places I loved the most in the steam rising off the pots on the stove. And when I came down with a rare and chronic illness known as perpetual homesickness, I knew the kitchen would be my remedy.
I am in love with this book. How could you not be. It's an autobiography but with food and recipes. I am totally smitten with it. I do so love this type of book.
Keeping Faith, by Jodi Picoult
Somewhere between belief and doubt lies faith. For the second time in her marriage, Mariah White catches her husband with another woman and Faith, their seven year old daughter, witnesses every painful minute. In the aftermath of a sudden divorce, Mariah struggles with depression and Faith seeks solace in a new friend… a friend who may or may not be imaginary.
I've only just begun this book, so early days yet, but am enjoying it. I have liked every Jodi Picoult book I have ever read, so no surprise there!
When I was younger I used to read a lot of Stephen King and Taylor Caldwell books. It's funny how your tastes change as you get older.
I am hoping...
I am able to kick this cold well before I go to Canada. I can't risk taking it over to my mom.
When I was younger I used to read a lot of Stephen King and Taylor Caldwell books. It's funny how your tastes change as you get older.
I am hoping...
I am able to kick this cold well before I go to Canada. I can't risk taking it over to my mom.
I am hearing... My Christmas play list, which is quite nice I think. Not overly annoying. It took me a while to find my Christmas mojo this year, but I think I finally found it.
Around the house...
This sight has all sorts of storage ideas for the kitchen. I need help there. Believe it or not I only have about a 12 inch square of counter space to do all my work in. It's just not enough and I find it very frustrating. I need to get things up off the counter and stored away. I have a huge food dehydrator I have never used because I have nowhere to set it and let it do it's job. It's the same with my bread-maker. Just no space.
This is a fabulous idea for storing your measuring cups and spoons. Inside the cupboard. Genius!
I need help in this area as well. Food storage organization. I am always finding things that have gone out of date because they just don't get used in time because my food storage area is in total disarray! I need help!
This is a great idea for the craft room.
Can you tell, I am in organization mode!
One of my favourite things . . .
I have always loved ladybugs, or ladybirds as they are also called. There is something magical about them. I don't know what it is, but I don't mind one crawling on me, or being in the house. They drive my mother up the wall, but I . . . quite simply adore them.
Something new about me ...
I love trees. I have always loved trees. I think they are quite fascinating. There was an old oak tree down South where we lived on the Manor Estate which dated back to Henry VIII time. I loved it. I always thought that if it could tell us a story we would be so amazed at what it had to say. I love trees in the winter, spring, summer and autumn. They change with the seasons and have a unique beauty to share in each one. I have always been going to do a photo journal of a tree. Take a picture of it each day of the year. I think that would be fascinating . . . or maybe not. It all would depend on if you like trees or not!
One of my guilty pleasures ...
I love stuffing. I could easily sit down and enjoy just a big plate of stuffing and nothing else. My mom made the best stuffing in the world. She used mashed potatoes and torn bread, chopped onion, sage, thyme, summer savory, salt and pepper. It always tasted so good. I have never been able to make stuffing that tastes like hers. Hers is the best. My stuffing is good . . . but it's not hers.
We have been getting a lot of empty air calls on the telephone lately. They really annoy me. I think they are marketing calls just calling random numbers trying to find one which picks up. That way they can then lambaste you with cold calls, something else which really annoys me. I used to try to be polite. Now I just say not interested and hang up, and know what??? I don't feel rude anymore when I hang up. I used to, but not now.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...
"All the wonders you seek are within yourself."
~Sir Thomas Brown
We need to learn to love ourselves. Not in a narcissistic kind of way, that is not what I mean . . . but we are often our own harshest critics. If we could only learn to see ourselves the way others see us and to embrace the wonderful creatures that we are totally and fully . . . lives would be changed dramatically. We are not all alike, nor should we try to be. A box full of chocolate coated Brazil nuts can get pretty boring if that's all there is . . . it's nice to have a bit of variety!
As a closing thought I would like to leave you with this:
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."
~Robert F Kennedy
And there you have it . . . my day book for this week. 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!
Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . Mum's War Cake. A family Christmas Tradition, which is egg and dairy free and moist and delicious. It just wouldn't be Christmas without it
Happy Christmas Eve! Only one more sleep!