Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Simple Woman's Day book . . .

FOR TODAY, July 31st, 2012...

Outside My Window...

The sky is overcast and there is drizzle . . . one must always take the bad with the good. We have had a nice run of sun . . . so a bit of rain cannot be turned away. We would soon be complaining had we none!

I am thinking...
I think I could turn and live with animals.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition
Not one is dissatisfied.
~Walt Whitman

Whoever has watched a bird in the spring building a nest, twig by tiny twig must surely be humbled by the sight of their endeavors. They search through what they find, picking only the best for the nest, and discarding any they deem to be of no use, refusing to hang on to that which is too big, or too weak to be of good. How much more could we be like the birds. We need to let go of those things that are of no good to us . . . those things that are too big, or too weak to sustain us and help us to build our nests.

I am thankful for...
The tender mercies of the Lord. I struggle with a few things in life. None of us is perfect. I am ever grateful that when I stumble He is there to help pick me up again . . .

From the kitchen...
I have several nice bottles of freshly made Plum Chutney ripening. It is going to be so delicious when I crack it open in a few months time . . . when the autumn leaves are falling and summer is just the whisp of a memory . . .

I am wearing...

Light blue M&S cotton nightie, printed with small forget-me-not sprigs, and decorated with lace and light blue ribbon. Tis very pretty. I do so love pretty things . . .

I am creating...

I have a few irons in the fire.

About half done. It's looking really nice. My friend from OZ, Suzan, has finished hers and it's just beautiful. My fingers are itching to get this one done now!

I am also working very hard to get my stuff ready for our "Christmas In July" activity for RS this month, which is actually going to be a Christmas in August activity. We're having it this Thursday.

My offering will be edible gifts you can make for your friends and family . . . like Gifts in a jar . . . Gifts in a Mug . . .

I am also really liking these hot cocoa cones . . . and I am completely enraptured with . . .

These!!! Are they not the most adorable things you have ever seen???
It's going to be such a fun night. We have a whole lot of workshops set up . . . creative gift wrapping, crafts to make, etc. I hope that the sisters enjoy what we have to show them, and that we have a great turnout!

I am going...
I am not going much of anywhere this week. I have a lesson to prepare for our Relief Society meeting on Sunday morning. It is to be based on Chapter 10 of the RS Society book, Daughters in My Kingdom, and is called, "Live Up to Your Privilege." So far nothing is coming to me. I sure hope that something comes into my brain soon . . .
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.

Still reading this.

Peony In Love, by Lisa See
I love Lisa See novels. I am very interested in Oriental culture.

“I finally understand what the poets have written. In spring, moved to passion; in autumn only regret.”

For young Peony, betrothed to a suitor she has never met, these lyrics from The Peony Pavilion mirror her own longings. In the garden of the Chen Family Villa, amid the scent of ginger, green tea, and jasmine, a small theatrical troupe is performing scenes from this epic opera, a live spectacle few females have ever seen. Like the heroine in the drama, Peony is the cloistered daughter of a wealthy family, trapped like a good-luck cricket in a bamboo-and-lacquer cage. Though raised to be obedient, Peony has dreams of her own.

I'm also reading this:

The Pact by Jodi Picault
For eighteen years the Hartes and the Golds have lived next door to each other. Parents and children alike are best friends - until Emily Gold is found dead with a bullet wound to the head, and police immediately suspect her boyfriend and life long best friend, Chris Harte, of murder. The police doubt Chris’s story of their suicide pact.

With this riveting psychological drama, Jodi Picoult explores the dynamics of intimate relationships under stress -- from the seemingly inexplicable mind of a teenager to the bonds of friendship and marriage. Her books are real page-turners, and she has a way of presenting all sides fairly which always gives food for thought and discussion.

All are on my Kindle. It's so much easier to manage in bed than a book, and a lot easier on my wrists.

I am hoping...

am hoping that we have a really good turnout on Thursday evening. We put so much work into these activities and it's really nice when the sisters come out in support of all of our efforts!

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 too. No surprise there! There is the added sound of wet streets as cars pass over it . . . not a bad sound really, and the smell of wet pavement.

Around the house...

I have fallen in love with this "Family Tree" I am racking my brain trying to think of ways it would work in my house. I have textured wallpaper in my lounge and I don't really want to replace it . . . I really dislike textured wall paper. I wonder if I could convince Todd to just remove one wall of it and put up some plain paper in it's place . . . then I could very easily paint a tree like this and hang our family pictures on it's branches. I'll test the waters . . . I'll let you know how I get on!
One of my favourite things . . .

I am totally bonkers about buttons!! I love them. I could sit and run my fingers through them for hours like a pirate runs his fingers through his chest of silver . . . to me they are like little tiny treasures . . . and I can never have enough of them. I hate sharing them too, which is very naughty of me. I keep them in a heart shaped box that I painted up years and years ago . . . and every one in a while, I have a play with them. I find it oddly comforting . . . It must be the child in me. When I was a girl I used to love to run my fingers through my mother's button tin and there were some inside that I truly coveted . . . another sin.

Something new about me ...
I am a very emotional person. I cry at sad movies . . . I cry at national observances and ceremonies . . . I cry with joy . . . and I cry when someone I love is hurt . . . emotion is always waiting to overcome me. I wouldn't have me any other way.

One of my guilty pleasures ...

Hotel Chocolate Truffles . . . thankfully I don't indulge myself very often, but when I do watch out! I almost can't stop myself!

Pet Peeves...
That little piece of sticky tape that they put at the end of a brand new roll of aluminium foil. You always ruin about an inch or sometimes more of the foil in the package trying to take it off . . . and then there is that strip that always gets cut out when you go to tear a piece off . . . it lies in the channel between the edge of the box and the cutting edge, only about half an inch in width but the whole length of the box. I wager that by the time you have finished the roll, at least 12 inches of it will have been discarded as useless . . .
It annoys me to no end.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Birds learn how to fly . . .
never knowing where flight will take them . . .
~Mark Nepo

Some of our greatest joys and pleasures in life and our successes only come about after we have taken the risk and put ourselves out there. Fear prevents us from "becoming" that which we could and should be.

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

“The happiest people I know are not those who find their golden ticket; they are those who, while in pursuit of worthy goals, discover and treasure the beauty and sweetness of the everyday moments.”
~President Dieter F Uchtdorf

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 . . . Nigel's Hot and Sweet Plum Chutney!

Happy Day all!!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Simplifying the home . . .

Country Living Simple Country Wisdom: 501 Old-Fashioned Ideas to Simplify Your Life

"Only a very exceptionally gifted mind could cope singly with the problems which present themselves in the perfecting of a home."
~Arnold Bennett

I've been reading this book for a few weeks now, Simple Country Wisdom by Susan Waggoner. It's really given me a lot of food for thought. For a while now I have felt over-whelmed in my home. It's been like . . . we just have TOO much stuff . . . and I have had a yearning to simplify things . . .

So far it's only been a thought . . . a tender ache in my soul. The knowledge and deep set feeling that I need to pare down.

I spend countless minutes on Pinterest . . . looking at pictures of well planned and thought out rooms . . . and find myself wishing that I had the time, talent and money to be able to do the same . . .

There is in me, a longing to simplify our home . . . to slow things down and keep my house in the old fashioned ways . . . a yearning for simple, traditional country living. I know . . . I live on the edge of a beautiful city . . . but my home can still be an oasis of simplicity, by making a few changes.

And the first one is in aspiring to live twenty four hours a day . . . to be present in my life and in my home. I have a home and I need to live my life in it . . . and I need to create in my home the Island that I want to live on . . . my haven in a modern chaotic world. A place that I love to return to, which brings me peace, contentment and joy. My home must and should be an expression of me at my best, and that is my goal.

I know it can be done . . . and I know it needn't cost the earth. (It mustn't cost the earth because I don't have the earth to spend!) It can start with little things . . . like getting rid of clutter and organizing things in a way that bring me peace, creating order out of chaos.

Susan says, and quite rightly so that the first step to bringing order to a home is . . . to . . . get rid of the clutter. With clutter . . . your home becomes one great big "To Do" list . . . and she is right. That is how it feels. In order to do anything in my house at the moment . . . I need to move things. Dusting takes so long because there is far too much bric a brac and things that I am keeping because they may come in handy one day . . .

I need a home where everything has a place and where there is a place for everything . . . and if there isn't a place for it, then it has to go. Items that are floaters never really get put away . . . they just move from room to room.

Source: bhg.com via Marie on Pinterest

I have far too many magazines, cookery magazines . . . so many so that they in and of themselves . . . are quite overwhelming. Every so often I have a cull . . . I need to have another one now in fact. Susan suggests that when a magazine is more than a few weeks old, you go through it a second time and then tear out whatever you wanted to keep, stapling continued articles together and putting them into an office envelope. (My ex boss had about 6 filing cabinets filled with recipes pulled from magazines. I DON'T WANT TO GO THAT FAR!) Then, in a few months time, she suggests you sit down and go through the pages you have saved and rethink of why you saved them . . . and if the mood has changed . . . get rid. I know for myself, I am always turning over pages in my magazines and thinking . . . I want to cook that. I make lists of ingredients. I go to the shops and pick them up. I come home. I can't find the recipe that I originally wanted to make because . . . I HAVE TOO MANY MAGAZINES WITH THE PAGES TURNED DOWN! It's infuriating.

I don't need that in my life.

My challenge this week is to simplify my home by paring down the magazines. I'll let you know how I did next Sunday.

This is going to become my Mantra.

I finally got the whole of the Olympic's Opening Ceremonies watched yesterday! All I can say is WOWSA!! What a fabulous EVENT!!! I was quite overwhelmed with emotion as I watched, especially the beginning part where they showed Great Britain going from it's humble beginnings, through the Industrial Revolution on up to the present time. It was all so very well done and I, for one, am very proud to be British. I know . . . I am Canadian too . . . and I am proud to be Canadian as well, but Great Britain is my adopted homeland now, and I am also proud to be British!!

That Paul Mc Cartney gets in everywhere doesn't he?? haha I was not surprised to see him near the end. I'd been wondering where he'd pop up!

Source: google.com via Kelly on Pinterest

Another one of my favourite parts was when James Bond escorted the Queen to the stadium. Who says she doesn't have a sense of humour!

I just love the Queen! She's the best. She's a spiffy dresser, and she sure knows HOW to make an entrance!!

I just thought the whole opening ceremonies were brilliant and showcased perfectly just what a fabulous country this is and how very much we have given to the World in the way of culture, music, technology, etc.

Must dash now as I have to get ready for church, but do let me leave you with a special thought to carry you through today . . .

“It isn't as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don't worry. I say that to myself every morning. It all works out in the end. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers.” ~Gordon B Hinckley

Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . delicious Lemon Drizzle Tarts!

Happy Day all!!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Poetry Saturday . . . Miss Thompson Goes Shopping

In her lone cottage on the downs,
With winds and blizzards and great crowns
Of shining cloud, with wheeling plover
And short grass sweet with the small white clover,
Miss Thompson lived, correct and meek,
A lonely spinster, and every week
On market-day she used to go
Into the little town below,
Tucked in the great downs' hollow bowl,
Like pebbles gathered in a shoal.

So, having washed her plates and cup
And banked the kitchen fire up,
Miss Thompson slipped upstairs and dressed,
Put on her black (the second best),
The bonnet trimmed with rusty plush,
Peeped in the glass with simpering blush,
From the camphor-smelling cupboard took
Her thicker jacket off the hook
Because the day might turn to cold.
Then, ready, slipped downstairs and rolled
The hearthrug back; then searched about,
Found her basket, ventured out,
Snecked the door and paused to lock it
And plunged the key in some deep pocket.

Then as she tripped demurely down
The steep descent, the little town
Spread wider till it's sprawling street
Enclosed her and her footfalls beat
On hard stone pavement; and she felt
Those throbbing ecstasies that melt
Through heart and mind, as, happy, free,
Her small, prim personality
Merged into the seething strife
Of auction-marts and city life.
~Martin Armstrong

(This is the only photograph I could find of the author.)

Miss Thompson Goes Shopping’ was first published in 1921 and is probably the poem for which Martin Armstrong (1882-1974), one of the so-called ‘Georgian Poets’, is best known today. The poem is a piece of pure fun and one can’t help picturing Armstrong smiling to himself as he wrote it. It tells of a shopping trip in the days before supermarkets, detailing the characterful shops and shop-keepers and an irresistible impulse buy. I have shown here this morning only two of the many verses of this poem as it is quite extensive. Perhaps another day I will show the rest. I have fallen quite in love with it myself . . . I can so perfectly picture this old spinster getting ready to have a day out in town . . . If you would like to read the rest of this poem, you can find it here.

Martin Armstrong was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1882 and educated at Charterhouse and Pembroke College Cambridge. His first publication of poems appeared in 1912. He served during 1914-1915 in the 2nd Artist Rifles, then commissioned into the 8th Middlesex Regiment from 1915 through to the end of the war, demobbed in 1919. He served in France on the Western Front. His book. Buzzards and other Poems was published in 1921. Martin Armstrong died in 1974.

Oh how I do so love poetry . . . what a beautiful skill it is to be able to paint such a picture with only words . . .

I had a great day yesterday. It was so much fun cooking at the church Youth Camp. There were a few of us and we worked perfectly together in harmony. It was quite a joy, and inspiring to see the youth enjoying themselves. So polite they were and fun to watch too. Happy to say that not all young people are ill mannered and badly behaved. It was very nice to see, and to be able to serve such a large group of young people who are able to keep standards and still have fun.

The sun is shining again this morning. Not sure what I will get up to today, but whatever it is, I am sure you'll find out about it soon enough! My life is an open book! Must dash, but not before leaving you with some food for thought for the day . . .

"Forget about enlightenment.
Sit down wherever you are
And listen to the wind singing in your veins."
~John Welwood

Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Berry and White Chocolate Pudding.

Friday, 27 July 2012

A Joyful Song . . .

Bird . . .
how free of care you are . . .
with happy note and soaring wings!
Do you know nothing of this world
with all its sad and evil things??

Source: flickr.com via Katie on Pinterest

Nothing. God created me
and put me here
for this one thing . . .
to fill the air with rhapsody,
my commandment
is to sing . . .

Source: google.com via Yvonne on Pinterest

And so the Lord's work
I perform.
My daily song of joy I raise.
For this He brought me
from the nest . . .
to sing His glory,
and His praise.
~Patience Strong

Do you sing the song you were sent here to sing?
Will you sing your song today?
Food for thought . . .

I am off to the Youth Camp early this morning to cook for the day so this is short, but hopefully sweet, this morning. By the end of the day I probably won't want to peel another potato for a very long time! haha At least they've had good weather for the camp!

Looking forward to the Opening Ceremonies tonight in London. I am sure they'll be fab. That is one thing the British do very well . . . Pageantry!

Have a wonderful day . . . and sing a joyful song!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Thoughts on forgiveness . . .

"The cut worm forgives the plow."
~William Blake

Did you know that if you were to cut a worm into two pieces, each cut half becomes a whole and you end up with two worms??? I know . . . it's a great magical mystery! The Worm is one of the only creatures which grows from being cut.

In thinking about that . . . I just have to wonder . . . my mind often ponders things such as this. What exactly is it about how the humble worm lives, which gives it this power and allows it to take it's pain and actually grow from it??? I can come up with nothing except for the fact that the worm is one with it's existance . . . totally in touch with the earth in which it lives, eats and breathes . . . at one with the earth, both inside . . . and out.

Mayhap this is the secret to growing from our wounds . . .

To live close to that which sustains us . . . to live with our hearts, minds and bellies, always in touch with each other, from the inside out . . . to dwell with that which is larger than we can ever be, and to let it take us over . . . lead us . . . heal us . . . sustain us . . .

Perhaps when we feel as if we have been cut in two . . . the secret to healing is to be humble and to embrace our wounds, becoming one within the earth of our experience . . . and clinging to that which sustains us, that which will make us whole again . . . allowing us to become new, once more.

Forgiveness is the key to real healing . . . without that . . . we can never truly be whole again.

"Forgiveness is the scent of the violet which clings fast to the heel that crushes it."
~Mark Twain

God is good, truly good, and anything that we might suffer . . . when shared with Him . . . can become good as well. He truly can help us carry our burdens.

Well, it ended up being gloriously sunny yesterday! What a fabulous day it was. We ended up doing a lot of work in the garden. I now understand the meaning of the phrase to "make hay while the sun shines," as if you don't do these things when the sun is shining, they will never get done. We pulled out all of the pansies which were spent . . . and replaced them with sunny marigolds and dahlias, both yellow and pink. I did some weeding in the front garden and then I finished off some of the jar gifts which I am readying for our RS Activity next Thursday. So all in all, we got a lot accomplished and I was able to strike more than a few things from off of my list of things to get done!

That always feels good.

It's looking very dull out there this morning, but perhaps . . . like yesterday . . . the dullness will burn off and be replaced with a magically sunny day! One must always be optomistic, and if it doesn't??? Well . . . we can enjoy doing things that need to be done indoors. I think that's called making the best out of the hand you are dealt!

“When you are confronted with challenges that are difficult to conquer or you have questions arise, the answers to which you do not know, hold fast to the things you do know. Hang on to your firmest foundation, however limited that may be, and from that position of strength face the unknown.”
~Jeffrey R Holland, Created for Greater Things

Over in The English Kitchen this morning . . . A surprise in the post!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

As I prattle on and on . . . a day in my life

Well, it's not quite as sunny out there this morning as it was yesterday, but at least it is dry . . . so far at any rate! One can but hope that it stays dry . . .

We took Mitzie yesterday morning for her grooming and she is looking all normal again. She was really looking quite shaggy. I'm not sure if she really likes these grooming sessions actually . . . I think she does in some ways . . . but not in others. She hates being brushed. I try to brush her every day, but she rarely sits still long enough for me to get much done. I start with her ears, so at least they always get done . . . the rest is hit and miss! I love it just after she's been truly groomed . . . she smells nice and her coat is so shiny . . . she looks like a completely different dog!

We always take ourselves off to the Gordale Nurseries, whilst we are waiting for Mitzie to be done. It's much to far to come all the way back home again, and a colossal waste of petrol . . . and so we while away a few hours at the nursery. Todd usually brings a good book with him and sits in the cafe with a drink, while I have a good boo around the shop. There are always lots of interesting, new and pretty things to look at! Gift items galore . . . china and all sorts. Books, cards . . . teddy bears and toys. Scrummy baking bits and kitchen ware . . . and of course plants and seeds, and anything anyone could ever want to enjoy their garden, explore their green thumbs . . . and just enjoy being outside!

I always have a good old boo through the book section and never walk away without at least one. They are always very reasonably priced and I just cannot resist a good bargain "book-wise," especially when there are cookbooks involved!

I know . . . I'm completely incorrigible. Yesterday I got a rather tasty looking one, entitled Grandma's Best Recipes . . .

I took it to bed with me last night . . . and it promises to be quite, quite good! I've earmarked a few delectable delights that I hope to soon get stuck in to!

We always enjoy a sandwich together in their cafe while we are waiting as well. They're always quite tasty and not all that expensive. We usually just share one between us and have a drink. Yesterday I splurged and got us a piece of Carrot Cake to share as well . . . not quite as good as mine, but any port in a storm and all that! We enjoyed just being together and sharing. There was a peacock just outside the window we were sitting next too as well, which was quite entertaining to watch as he pruned himself.

We also picked up a few herbs to replace the ones in my herb garden that have been totally decimated by the slugs . . . Lemon Verbena, Flat Leaf parsley and Tarragon. Here's hoping that they pick back up again . . .

We've been putting out the bowls with beer in them each night and each morning we have quite a few slugs that have been caught! Result!!

After Mitzie was done, we popped back into the car with her and took a drive up the Wirrel to West Kirby to have a walk along the beach front there. It was really busy yesterday, lots of holiday-ers out enjoying some sun and sand. Lots of sail boats in the marina too . . . and lots of people sitting on the benches enjoying ice creams and sandwiches. Mitzie quite enjoyed her walk and so did we.

We returned home after that so we could enjoy some of the day in our garden before the sun was gone. We planted the herbs and Todd worked on the pond some. We decided to take down the netting around it now as Mitzie is older and we don't have to worry about her drowning in it. She's never been all that interested in going into it, so that isn't a concern anymore either. We cut down and trimmed all the grass next to it and removed a few lily pads. It's looking quite spiffy now! We were ever so pleased to see that we have at least six frogs in it this year, from very, very tiny ones on up to very large ones. In fact a tiny one sat on a lily pad watching Todd as he trimmed the grass, not afraid of him in the least.

Even baby frogs are cute, don't you think?

I am really enjoying the garden right now. It's at it's very best with the roses blooming and the lavendar and hydrangea . . .

They all put on a spectacular show this time of year . . .

"Each time you look up in the sky
Or watch the fluffy clouds drift by
Or touch a leaf or see a tree,
It's all God whispering, "This is Me.'"
~Helen Steiner Rice

"The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims His handiwork." ~Psalm 19:1

This is another variety of hydrangea we have, which I find particularly beautiful. I should pick some an bring them into the house . . . but they do look so very lovely outdoors, so I leave them be . . .

Our sweet peas are looking particularly lovely at the moment as well . . . I do so love sweet peas and we have some really beautiful ones . . . I will have to take some more pictures to show you some more of the garden if the sun shines today . . . it's really looking quite beautiful!

I particularly love the lavendar . . . not only does it look wonderful, but it smells spectacular as well . . .

some roses for you to enjoy . . .

I'm not sure what these ones are . . . they are kind of blush coloured and very pretty . . .

We have roses in quite a few colours . . . blush, yellow, pink, red . . .

"Like roses in a garden,
Kindness fills the air
With a certain bit of sweetness
As it touches everywhere."
~Helen Steiner Rice

"A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit." ~Proverbs 15:4

Not quite as elegant as the rose arbour from the Manor where I worked down south . . . but sometimes simplicity can be even more beautiful . . .

And then of course . . . there are the Hollyhocks, looking particularly beautiful as well . . . the dahlias are not blooming yet, but are looking very promising indeed!

My invite to the British Turkey Awards arrived in the post yesterday. I am really quite excited about it!!!! Can you tell???

There will be a champagne reception, a dinner and a ball . . . all Black Tie, of course . . . and entertainment as well as the awards ceremony! Todd does have a tux that he can wear . . . but I will have to get something to wear as well . . . I don't know where to begin. Perhaps I will find something that I can shorten afterwards and use to wear to church. I'll have to start looking now. We were planning on going to London in September anyways to visit Todd's brother, so it fits in perfectly with our plans!

This is the recipe that has been shortlisted for the award . . . Parmesan Crusted Turkey Steaks with a Tomato and Peppadew Relish.

I know . . . life is surely amazing isn't it?

"With nothing but sameness
how dull life would be,
For only life's challenge
can set the soul free,
And it takes a mix of
both bitter and sweet
To season our lives and
make them complete."
~Helen Steiner Rice

"Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons." ~Daniel 2:20-21

And that's all for today . . . I do go on don't I? But you love me anyways . . . just as I do you.

Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Fiery Chicken Tenders with a Blue Cheese Dip!