Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Sermon to the Birds . . .

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

St. Francis was a very kind and loving man . . . kind and loving not only to humanity, but to all living things. He referred to the birds as his "little brothers of the air," and he could never bear to see even one of them harmed in any way.

At Christmastime, he scattered crumbs of bread beneath the trees so that they, too, could feast and be filled with the joys of the season.

A boy once gave him a pair of doves, which he had snared. St. Francis had a nest made for them, and by and by the mother bird laid her eggs in it. One at a time, the eggs hatched and a nestful of young doves grew up. They were so tame that they sat upon the shoulders of St. Francis and ate from the palm of his hand.

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

There are many, many stories told of this kind man's great love and compassion for the timid creatures which lived in the fields and woods.

One day as he was walking amongst the trees of the woodland, the birds saw him coming and flew down to meet him. They sang their sweetest songs to show him how very much they loved him, and then, when they saw that he was about to speak . . . they nestled softly in the grass and prepared themselves to listen.

"O, little birds," he said, "I love you, for you are my brothers and sisters of the air. Let me tell you something, my little brothers, my little sisters: You ought always to love God . . . and praise Him. For think what He has given you. He has given you wings with which to fly through the air. He has given you clothing both warm and beautiful. He has given you the air in which to move and have homes.

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

And think of this, O little brothers; you sow not, neither do you reap, for God feeds you. He gives you the rivers and the brooks from which to drink. He gives you the mountains and the valleys where you may rest. He gives you the trees in which to build your nests.

You toil not, neither do you spin, yet God takes care of you and your little ones. It must be, then . . . that He loves you. So do not be ungrateful, but sing His praises and thank Him for His goodness towards you."

Then, the Saint stopped speaking and looked around him. All the birds sprang up, filled with joy and spreading their wings. They opened their mounts to show that they had understood his words. And . . . when he had blessed them, all began to sing; and the whole forest was filled with sweetness and joy . . . because of their wonderful melodies.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of value more than many sparrows." ~Matthew 10:29-31

Turn off the music below and listen . . . this is Todd's favourite hymn, as sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It's just beautiful.

I just love this story of St Francis of Assisi. It is a wonderful reminder to me of how very much my Heavenly Father loves me, and how I can place my whole trust in Him. Even when I am not feeling very brave or strong . . . He will lift me up and give me the courage I need to be able to put one foot in front of the other and move forward.

This is my last post before my trip. I seriously doubt that I will be able to get online whilst I am away, unless I can figure out how to use wi-fi in some hot spots with my i-pad. I'm not very technologically aware, although to many it may seem the opposite! All I know, I have learned from trial and error and I often forget it as soon as I have learned it! I have set up a series of posts to post in the English Kitchen each day . . . my top recipes which get the most traffic. It's very interesting to actually see which ones that they are. You may be surprised or maybe not!

We'll be dropping Mitzie off this afternoon to where she will be staying whilst we are away. We took her there yesterday for a little visit so she could have a sniff and so that she wouldn't be too unfamiliar with it today. We have NEVER left her anywhere really. This will be hard on both her and on us! Well, me I guess . . . Todd is not all that bothered! Men usually aren't! She will have two young lads to play with for the next few weeks, and probably will be horribly bored with us when it is time for her to come home again at the end of that time!

I promise to take lots and lots of photographs, so many that you will all be saying to yourselves at the end of it all . . . enough already! But that is me. I cannot change! I'll carry your love and well wishes with me to the young couple and be back before you know it!

Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . Double Chocolate Muffins. Scrummo!

Love you all! See you in two weeks!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Simple Woman's Day book . . .

FOR TODAY, June 26th, 2012...

Outside My Window...

It's a beautiful day. The sun is shining gloriously. Perhaps we are on a trend??? I don't know for sure . . . but it would be nice if summer has finally arrived . . .

I am thinking...
Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. ~Hebrews 12:1
Two days until my trip to Canada. I am trying not to be nervous about it all, but it is difficult. Why I let the thoughts and opinions of a few people do this to me, I don't know. I will probably never understand, but I am doing my best to move forward and just put one foot in front of the other and trusting in the promises of the Lord. I cannot control the actions of others . . . but I can control my own and my reactions to them. If I do the right thing, that is all that matters.

I am thankful for...
I am thankful for this heart of mine that is open and soft and receptive. It is a loving heart, a seeking heart . . . a learning heart.

From the kitchen...
Not a heck of a lot actually! I am going to really get rid today as well . . . no point in having things about that will go off whilst we are away.

I am wearing...

Blue M&S nightie. Slippers.

I am creating...

I have a few irons in the fire.

About half done. That will be shelved until we get back. This time I will finish an afghan. It will NOT end up in a box in the loft . . . gathering dust.

My third Christmas Card for this year. I think it has a soft feel to it. It's supposed to look like it is snowing. I hope that it does. It does to me at any rate! I thought it has been a while since I did a little girl, and she just popped out!

And another one for my Christmas cookbooklet that I am working on. These remind me of the lights we used to have on our tree when I was a girl, except that they were all sorts of colours . . . it was my father's job to untangle them each year and get them working. Oh, how he cursed that job. Inevitably one would be burnt out and so they would all stop working and he would have to test each one to find out which one it was!! Not his favourite chore I am thinking!!

I am going...
week, I am . . . . going to Canada!! Wahoo!
I am reading...

Call the Midwife, by Jennifer Worth
I really enjoyed the series by the BBC and thought I would like to read the book. Books are always a lot more detailed than films or television shows. I am really enjoying this book. It's fabulous and I am glad that I picked it up to read. It details the life of a young midwife in London's East End in the 1950's and is a real peek into the way of life which existed there during that time period . . . the hardship, the poverty, the sadness, the joy, etc. I highly recommend.

I am hoping...
am hoping that the next few weeks in my life are the best ever!

I am hearing...
Nothing new really. The keys are tapping. The birds are singing. The odd car drives by. The clock is ticking.
Mitzie and I just had a cuddle on the sofa. She likes her morning cuddle. I do to. No surprise there!

Around the house...

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

When we get back after our holidays, I am really looking to simplify things. I got a new book recently entitled "Simple Country Wisdom, 501 old fashioned ideas to simplify your life" by Susan Waggoner. I want to apply this philosophy to my life and home. I have a tendancy to live "large." Too much of everything. There will be a great purge I am thinking. This is not an easy thing for a packrat to accomplish, but it can be done and it will be done!
One of my favourite things . . .

I love
the sight and smell of clean, freshly laundered sheets hanging on the clothes line . . . the way it snaps in the wind . . . I think back to my mother when I was a child, and who . . . no matter the time of year . . . would hang out the clean bedding to dry, every Friday. Fridays were bed changing days. My mother had an old wringer washer . . . and no clothes dryer. It was a job from beginning to end and in the winter her fingers would crack with chillblains from hanging the laundry out in the bitter cold, but she did it. At the end of the day she would bring it into the utility room and it would be frozen as stiff as a board. She would hang it up in the utility room, next to the big old furnace overnight. It smelled beautiful. The smell of line hung laundry always takes me back to that time . . .

Something new about me ...
was 8 years old and I was running away from home. I can't remember why . . . only that I was. I had an old skate box, which had a handle on the top. I packed it with a few things and I was leaving . . . I was going to sleep in the garage and sneak into the house for food at night. Oh, the mind of a child . . . the thought never occured to me that the door would be locked, or that my father would notice I was in the garage . . . I never followed through on it in any case. I cannot remember why, but I suspect my mother talked me out of it. Have you ever wanted to run away??? I have wanted to run away sometimes as an adult . . . but it's not something that you can really do is it? The faster and further you try to run . . . your problems only follow you, and running away never really solves anything does it? It only compounds the problem . . .

One of my guilty pleasures ...

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

Day dreaming. It has ever been so. You may often find me sitting there doing nothing . . . eyes glazed over . . . I'm not really sitting there . . . in my mind I am off on an adventure of some sort. Oh there is no end to the places and adventures my mind has taken me on . . . it's quite marvelous actually!

Pet Peeves...
Cigarette butts and trash in the front garden. We have a long iron closure gate and it is lined with mesh, but somehow this stuff finds it's way in. I can understand the odd crisp bag or candy bar wrapper . . . the wind will carry them everywhere . . . but cigarette butts right next to our front door???? That defies understanding. How do they get there????? Where do they come from???? Littering drives me up the wall full stop! It really makes me angry sometimes when I see someone doing it, and I have to bite my tongue. It's so disrespectful . . . to the world, to the community . . . to others. It's a real act of selfishness.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

“Love is the motivating principle by which the Lord leads us along the way towards becoming like Him, our perfect example. Our way of life, hour by hour, must be filled with the love of God and love for others.” ~Henry B Eyring

I just love the Presidency of my church. They are such wise and caring men and one could do a lot worse for themselves than to follow their counsel in all things. I ponder their words and thoughts regularly. They nourish me. They enlighten me and bring me deeper understanding of life and all that it entails. They uplift and carry me to places I never thought I could go. They are a guide and a protection against the evil one and all that he stands for.

As a closing thought I would like to leave you with this:

"The unexpected kindness
from an unexpected place,
A hand outstretched in friendship
a smile on someone's face,
A word of understanding
spoken in a time of trial
Are unexpected miracles that
make life more worthwhile"
~Helen Steiner Rice

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!

Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Simple Summer Berry and Lemon Tartlets!

I wish for you a wonderful day!!

Psst . . . have a look at Recipes From The Big Blue Binder. I think it's shaping up rather nicely.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Tending a Garden of Thankfulness . . .

“And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.” ~ D&C 78:19

I try to spend some time each day, several times a day, looking up to the heavens and thanking my Heavenly Father for all the many blessings I have in my life. I do this both by myself, and together with my Todd. It’s so good to be together as a family, no matter how small, and to hear daily expressions of gratitude to our Heavenly Father that are shared by the both of us. It’s at once a very humbling and a very inspiring experience. There is something very special about sharing one’s faith and life with a man who shares the same connection. It was something that I prayed to have, for many, many years. Prayers do get answered, and not always in the way we expect them to be either!

The Lord intended His children to enjoy the good things in life. "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25). With all that we have, we must also have grateful hearts, and we must teach our children not to take all their many blessings for granted. I wake up each day and I look around me and I pinch myself, just to make sure I’m not dreaming, and then I say a silent thanks to my Heavenly Father for all that He has given me and seen fit to bless me with.

Thank you. Two simple words that can convey all the depths of your heart to it’s recipient. Two simple words that say it all. Two simple words that should never be left unsaid. Thank you is a wonderful phrase. Use it. It will add stature to your soul and heart. Never let a day go by without saying thank you to someone, at least once, for something . . . and most especially to your Heavenly Father.

Even in the darkest of corners and experiences in life, there is something to be grateful for, some little spark of light. That’s how I try to live my life, even though it’s not always easy to do so. But how can you find what you are not seeking . . . look always for the light and you will find it, and when you do . . . be grateful and give thanks. Know, always, that it is there waiting for you to discover it, even though at the time it may be obscured by our own self doubt and self pity.

When I look back on my life, and see all the experiences that I have had, that I had thought to be really bad experiences at the time, as well as times of sorrow and disappointment, (and there have been many) I have discovered that they were really times of great growth and enlargement, mind and heart expanding. I am able then to give thanks for these disasters, however large or small they might have been. Each setback has brought with it a little gift, a lesson to be learned, a pearl of wisdom, some blessing to be enjoyed, if not right at the time, then later . . . when my mind has cleared and my heart has settled.

We each one of us have that power within us, that special gift, the opportunity to be able to turn our sorrows into joy, our defeats into triumphs, our darkness into light . . . it only takes two little words . . . Thank you . . .

There is something to be thankful for each day of our lives . . . even on what we think are the worst of days . . .

“Stop looking for the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight.”
~Gordon B Hinckley

The sun is shining gloriously outside my window this morning. Fingers crossed it stays for the day!! I have one more bill to pay before we go away on Thursday and I want to go into town today and pay it. Plus we want our hedge trimmed before we go away as well. It's gotten way out of control! That can only be done when it's not raining!

I spoke to my mom yesterday afternoon, as I always do on Sundays, and she seems to really be looking forward to our arrival on Thursday. I am looking forward to seeing her too. My father won't be coming and I totally understand why . . . a journey of a thousand miles is a large one to someone in their late 70's . . . and he is too tired. He only had his pacemaker fitted in December . . . I cried, even though I understand. I cried because I don't think I'll ever see my father again. It made me sad. I love my dad. Still, I am grateful that he is still with us and that I can at least talk to him when I want to.

I don't show many recipes on this blog nowadays . . . although I always do point you in the direction of one . . . today though, I'll treat you. Thai Chicken with Peanut Dipping Sauce. Delicious!

*Thai Chicken with Peanut Dipping Sauce*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

I love the flavour of chicken thighs. They are a lot juicier than breasts and can stand up to the rich flavours of this spicy sauce. It is the perfect company meal in these warmer months, as most of the work can be done ahead and the chicken cooked once the guests arrive.

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
For the marinade:
2 TBS light soy sauce
2 TBS Tamarind Paste
1 TBS peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 spring onions, minced, both the green and the white parts
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the sauce:
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)
4 TBS smooth, unsweetened peanut butter
2 TBS rice wine vinegar
2 TBS tamarind paste
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TBs runny honey
1 TBS peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
the grated zest and the juice of each, 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 spring onions minced, both the green and the white parts
1/2 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded and minced (wear gloves to do this and DON'T rub your eyes
or lips while doing it!)
Crush red pepper flakes to taste

First make the marinade for the chicken. Stir together all the ingredients in a shallow glass bowl or a large zip lock baggie. Mix them well. Add the thighs, rutning them over in the mixture and rubbing it in to coat them well. cover and set aside at room temperature for at least half an hour, or cover and leave in the refrigerator overnight. Obviously the longer you leave them, the more of the flavour of the marinade will penetrate the meat.

While the chicken is marinating, you can make the peanut sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. I use my stick blender for this and it works very well. Serve immediately, or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week.

You can either cook the chicken on a grill or on top of the stove. Remove the chicken from the marinade, season lightly and either place on the heated grill or in a heated heavy skillet that you have sprayed with some cooking spray. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side, basting with some of the marinade, until it is golden brown with slightly darker edges. If you are cooking it on the grill, moved it to the sides and put the lid down, cooking it for another 2 to 3 minutes. If you are cooking it in a skillet, lower the heat, cover and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Discard any remaning marinade.

Remove from the grill or the pan and place on a heated serving plate to rest. Brush with some of the peanut sauce and let rest, covered loosely in foil for about 5 minutes. Serve hot, with the remaining dipping sauce on the side. Delicious!

I'm talking about Fish & Chips over in The English Kitchen today!

Happy Monday all!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

A Sunday melange of thoughts . . .

Once upon a time . . . there was a feeble old woman, whose husband had died and left her all alone, and so . . . she went to live with her son and is wife and their own little daughter.

Every day the old woman's sight dimmed and her hearing grew worse. Sometimes at dinner her hands trembled so badly that the peas rolled off her spoon or her soup ran from her cup. The son and his wife could not help but be annoyed at the way she spilled her meal all over the table, and one day . . . after she had knocked over a glass of milk . . . they told each other enough . . . was enough.

They set up a small table for the old woman in the corner next to the broom closet and made her eat her meals there. She sat all alone . . . looking with tear-filled eyes across the room at the others. Sometimes they spoke to her while they ate . . . but more often than not, it was only to scold her for dropping a bowl or a fork.

One evening just before dinner, the little girl was busy playing on the floor with her building blocks. Her father asked her what she was making.

"I'm building a small table for you and for mother," she smiled, "so you can eat by yourselves in the corner of the room, someday when I get big."

Her parents sat staring at her for some time and then suddenly they both began to cry. That night they led the old woman back to her place at the big table.

From then on she ate with the rest of the family . . . and her son and his wife never seemed to mind a bit when she spilled something every now and then.

~Adapted from a tale by the Brother's Grimm

Now that I am getting older, I can really relate to this story . . . but I hope that when I was a much younger woman I was never that lacking in compassion towards those who really needed it. In fact, I know that I was not . . . and if occasionally I might have been, I beg for forgiveness . . . This is a lesson we should learn when we are young . . . for the sake of the generation coming before us.

Well . . . I bottled it and I didn't get my nails done. After reading the problems that others had had with it, I was too afraid to have them done. Instead I will treat myself to a full manicure just a day or so before the wedding. Perhaps a French one. My nails will still look nice and I won't have ruined them.

I am very blessed to have the luxury of being able to do this . . . I know.

A few bits that I painted yesterday afternoon . . .

Some Christmas balls. For the Christmas Book I am putting together.

Gingerbread, pine branches and apples . . . again for the Christmas Book . . .

Snow men . . . you guessed it, for the Christmas Book! As you can tell, I am having a LOT of fun planning it and doing these little doodles for it. It's shaping up quite nicely. It will obviously be a bit larger than the other cookbooklets I have done, which reminds me . . .

The Summer picnic one is still available but will only be available for 3 more days, and then it will be gone . . . gone . . . gone . . .

With the warmer weather and the arrival shortly of "Summer" I have created a whole new Cookbooklet, entitled "The Great British Picnic." Filled with over 36 new recipes, including several types of flavoured mayonnaises, flavoured butters, beautiful sandwiches, delicious spreads and dips, a tasty assortment of salads, a variety of cool soups, refreshing beverages, picky bits, cakes and general scrumminess, all perfect for celebrating the summer season in a very British Picnic Way. (We are great picnickers over here!) There's something here for everyone!

Also included are "Top Tips for Picnic Success" and "Chic Ideas" for creating a "Very Stylish Moveable Feast!" Interspersed between all this scrumminess, there are witty quotes and my own delightful water colour illustrations! This newest cookbooklet is sure to please on many levels.

The price is £5, payment via paypal, and will be sent to you as a downloadable PDF.

Please allow 12 hours for delivery, due to time differences!

And I guess that's about all for today! I have, as always enjoyed my little visit with you. You always make me smile, you really do. I am going to miss you all ever so much whilst I am away. I am trying to set up a few surprises for you during that time. Finger's crossed all goes well.

“Being humble means recognizing that we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others”
~Gordon B Hinckley

Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bread Pudding.

Have a great day everyone!!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Poetry Saturday . . . Beyond Our Asking

More than hearts can imagine
or minds comprehend,
God's bountiful gifts are ours without end.
We ask for a cupful when the vast sea is ours,
We pick a small rosebud from a garden of flowers,
We reach for a sunbeam but the sun still abides,
We draw one short breath but
there's air on all sides.

Whatever we ask for falls short of God's giving,
For His greatness exceeds every facet of living,
And always God's ready and eager and willing
To pour out His mercy, completely fulfilling
All of man's needs for peace, joy, and rest,
For God gives His children whatever is best.

Just give Him a chance to open His treasures,
And He'll fill your life with
unfathomable pleasures . . .
Pleasures that never grow worn out or faded
And leave us depleted, disillusioned, and jaded . . .
For God has a storehouse just filled to the brim
With all that man needs, if we'll only ask Him.
~Helen Steiner Rice

Another beautiful poem by America's first lady of inspirational word . . . Helen Steiner Rice. What an amazing talent she had to touch people's heart with her words!!

I am not so sure now I am going to go have my nails done . . . I'm a bit worried now after all I have heard about it. I don't want to ruin my nails . . . I just want them to look decent on the day.

When Todd and I first got married, I had quite long nails, but he didn't really like them that much and so I have kept them short ever since, and working with food like I did for so many years, long nails were not really hygenic. I just want them short, squared off and French manicured. I think that is the classiest look, although to be sure there are some really cute things out there and ways to do them . . .

I am far too old for cutsie. That is a much younger woman's game to be sure.

Good news . . . it's not raining today, although it's really cold??? Maybe it will warm up as the day goes along. Here's hoping!

Two weeks from today my daughter gets married . . . she and Tim are such a cute couple. It is hard to imagine my baby girl is now going to be someone's wife . . .

It seems like just yesterday she was my little girl. I remember how very excited I was when she was born and they put her into my arms. I already had Anthony and I loved him to pieces . . . but here was my very own little girl . . . and I felt complete. I had always wanted a little girl and now I had one. I can remember babysitting for the people across the road from our house when I was a teenager and they had a baby girl. I was very naughty and used to wake her up so I could play with her. Little boys are great fun . . . but little girls are so sweet. No matter how old she gets . . . she will always be my little girl.

But then again . . . your babies are always your babies, no matter how old or how big they get!!

I watched the second part in that series on the BBC, The Men Who Made Us Fat last night. (We had taped it.) What an eye opening series this is and as I watch it, I really start to feel quite angry at how we have been manipulated for the sake of corporate greed! It actually makes me feel sick when I think about it. Our health has been compromised so that these company's can become richer . . . and our Governments have allowed them to do it, because they make money off it too . . . One might say we are all responsible in a way, and I suppose we are. Nobody makes us eat any of it . . . but one can never underestimate the power of the advertising dollar, and the way society is manipulated by the media.

Mind you . . . I've never been a "supersize me" kind of gal . . . when I see those huge buckets of popcorn and those gallons of soda . . . I think to myself, how on earth could anyone get through them . . . and what's more why would you want to??? I like medium sizes myself, but when you think that today's medium is twice the size of yesterdays . . . well, the mind boggles. Slowly but surely these things have crept up and up. They say the way to boil a frog is to raise the temperature of his water . . . one slow degree at a time. The frog never realizes that it's being cooked, and before he does . . . it's too late. He's toast . . . despicable.

Well, enough of that . . . an inspiring thought for the day, ok?

"Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to cope with them."
~author unknown

On offer today in The English Kitchen . . . Roasted Summer Berries with Honey Whipped Cream!