Friday, 31 August 2012

Time to gather in . . .

Tis the last day of August . . . summer is beginning to wane. How did that happen? We did not notice the days passing . . . and now they are spent. April's promise has come true, against skies of blue, thickly fruited boughs are spread with russet, greens, reds and golds . . . and orchard air hums with the sound of fruit pickers, their laughter and song carrying out across field and furrow . . .


Tis the quite time for the birds. Down in the wood where shadows lie darkly under the heavy foliage of late summer . . . the hedgerows lay silent. Where now is the whitethroat . . . the blackcap . . . the warbler??

The lark, too . . . holds his peace. The skies seem lonely without his song.

Old plum trees hang with fruit . . . cracked plums alive with the hum and buzz of greedy wasps as they cluster thickly over their surface, drinking in all that they can hold . . . nectar sweet.

Apples turn ruby cheeked faces to the sun, whilst pears hang down . . . ripe and juicy on over-burdened branches.

Apple Trees #WilliamsSonoma

The fields are ready, corn waits patiently for the threshers to come, cut and stacked it lays . . . soon to be not much more than stubble waiting for the heavy cut of the plough.

Irish heather in bloom.

Upon the commons, moors and heath, carpets of heather . . . now pink and plum . . . mauve and lavender . . . white . . . spread out in vistas of untold beauty, beneath the gilded sky.

The light is somehow different now . . . whilst in the garden roses bud for the second time, their blooms the last hurrah of summer, as petals wilt and wither beneath the waning sun, leaving behind scarlet globes . . . hips, ripe and flushed . . . ready for prodding and greedy beaks. All too soon, the feasting will be done.


Purple jewels hang upon thorny branches . . . ripe for the picking . . . waiting to be made into cobblers and pies . . . jams and jellies.

Tis that time of year . . . the hour of maturity . . . the season of fruit and fulfillment, of gathering and garnering . . .

Blackberry Bushes

Just around the corner now . . . beds are calling, singing plaintive wistful sounds, beckoning . . . tis almost time for the long cold sleep. Time to gather in . . . time to gather in . . .


I think autumn is one of my favourite seasons of the year. I love the smells, the sounds . . . that crisp feeling in the air, the sight of turning leaves.

I love being able to cook heartier fare . . . soups, stews, casseroles . . . apple pies . . .

Day three of the reno . . . doesn't look much different than day two, but lots has been done. More plastering . . . sanding of floors, some wiring. Floor boards lay beneath where the actual shower bit is going. Today, apparently, all will be made ready for the drain. A hole drilled through the wall, etc.

I got my lesson done yesterday. I thought where it was the first Sunday of the month, which is the Sunday we give over to fasting and testimony . . . and we have a few new members, perhaps a lesson on Testimony would not be amiss, and so that is what I am teaching. All is ready to go . . .

A quote for the day ahead . . .

“I believe we have all been created for greater things than we can comprehend. The times call for great things, but great things in the noblest and most redemptive sense are predicted upon tolerance, love, respect, understanding, dignity, prayer, God.”
~Jeffrey R Holland, Created For Greater Things

Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Crunchy Baked Cod with a HorseradishTartar Sauce!!

Wherever you go today, whatever you do, I hope that you enjoy this last day of August 2012.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Gratitude . . . or knowing when you're lucky

For the past several mornings we have had to do our morning and evening ablutions standing in front of the kitchen sink. Not unlike our forbears actually . . . it has been a very humbling experience and I expect that by the end of 2 1/2 weeks (and I dooooo so pray that it won't be quite that long) we will be most appreciative of our new bathroom, in a way that we have never been before.

I've been most spoiled in my lifetime. I've always had a bathroom and there have been times in my life when I have actually been blessed to have more than one bathroom! I have a fading memory of visiting my grandmother as a child and standing on a chair at the kitchen sink to be washed . . . and having to use an outdoor toilet, but that was long ago, and only briefly. Yes . . . I have been very blessed.

Todd, well . . . he was born just before the second world war . . . so he has not been quite as lucky as I have been, and there were many years for him when the only loo was out the back door, and the only bath hung on the wall of the garden shed, to be brought in once a week and filled . . . and you wanted to be the first one in, because if you were the last . . . well, you were washing in everyone else's filth . . . but it was wet and there were no other options.

Oh how much we take for granted in our modern lives. Things like refrigerators and dishwashers . . . washing machines and dryers. I have not had a clothes dryer since I moved over here to the UK, and I never thought I could live without one, once upon a time . . . but I've done it now for almost 12 years. Now it seems like a most unnecessary luxury . . . and one which we can't really afford. All that electricity . . . money which can be better spent elsewhere. We dry our clothes on the line or on an indoor drying rack (on wet days). We manage quite well.

I cannot imagine being without a refrigerator or a telephone, or even a television . . . but Todd says that his parents, and his mum, right up to their deaths in the early 1960's never had any of those things. I expect that one had to shop every day . . . for the perishables at any rate. I am old enough though to remember not having a telephone in our home when I was a child and no television. My mother would send me on my bicycle to find my father if we needed him and he was not at work on the base, or we would use the pay telephone . . . they were a lot more common in those days. You would not have had to go very far to find one. I saw my first television when I was almost five years old. It was my grandparent's, and it had the small round screen. How miraculous it seemed!! And they had a telephone too . . . it was an old crank one that hung on the wall, and everyone on the street had a different ring. And then there were party lines . . . you had to be very careful about what you spoke about on the telephone, because their was always at least one neighbor who was quite nosy and you never knew who would be listening in on your conversation.

I remember having school clothes and play clothes . . . and Sunday "go-to-meeting" clothes. You changed out of your school clothes as soon as you got home from school, and the Sunday clothes were only worn on Sunday's or special occasions like Birthday parties and the like. And it was only one special dress, and perhaps a hat . . . there wasn't a choice. For school I might have had two outfits that I swapped out, wearing one while the other was being washed and vice versa. Play clothes . . . probably only a few pairs of trousers and several tops.

And everyone wore a dressing gown over their pajamas . . . and slippers in the house.

We may have had a bathroom for pretty much the whole of my childhood . . . but we only had baths about once a week for the longest time, and that on Saturday nights. We also only washed our hair once a week, again on Saturday nights. When I got to be a teenager I washed my hair much more frequently, but it was done down in the basement at the washtub sink. I can still remember that damp smell . . .

Desserts, candy and potato chips were for celebrations, not every day occasions. It was a celebration if my mom baked a pie, or a cake . . . or even cookies. We snacked on apples, and weren't even allowed them very often. Eating in between meals was not very common and frowned upon. My, how things have changed!

I never ate in a restaurant as a child, or only very infrequently at best. I can remember on one occasion going with my father into town and he stopped at a restaurant and had a cup of coffee and I was served a Shirley Temple . . . and I found it to be quite exotic, especially the maraschino cherry in the bottom. The only time we ever got to eat in a restaurant was when my father was posted and we were moving house. Eating out was truly an occasion and an event!! There was no McDonalds in my childhood, or Burger King or any other fast food joint. Fast food was having to gobble down your dinner because you had someplace you needed to go and you were running late!

Saturday afternoon movies were a real treat. It cost 10 cents to get in and with my 25 cent allowance I was able to buy myself a drink and a popcorn as well . . . and still have change that I saved in my piggy bank . . . for a rainy day. People saved for rainy days back then, and never ever bought on credit if they could help it. The movies on Saturday afternoon always came with at least half an hour of cartoons at the outset, then previews, a serial and finally the main feature. The main feature was more often than not an old Three Stooges film, or Roy Rogers . . . the good movies were kept for Friday and Saturday nights I suppose, and not wasted on a theatre filled with children on a Saturday afternoon. We didn't mind. It was all entertainment.

There was the rare occasion as I got older that I went to a Birthday Party and was taken "en-group" to a special movie. That was how I got to see The Sound Of Music, Mary Poppins, The Junglebook and Follow Me Boys. So rare you see . . . that I can remember exactly which films I saw!

Oh yes, we are very spoiled today, with blessings too numerable to mention! We take ever so much for granted. I think it's good every so often to stop and take note of the many blessings we do have in our lives . . . like running water and warm fires in the winter, beds to sleep in and baths to wash in, hot and cold water on tap, refrigerators, washing machines and the like . . . more than one pair of shoes and dress up clothes to wear, televisions to watch, telephones to communicate with and . . . the greatest wonder of all, computers! Whatever would we do without them now!

Today upon a bus, I saw a lovely maid with golden hair;
I envied her . . . she seemed so gay . . . and I wished I were as fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle;
She had one foot and wore a crutch, but as she passed, a smile;
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine; I have two feet . . . the world is mine.

And then I stopped to buy some sweets.
I talked with him . . . he said to me:
"It's nice to talk with folks like you."
"You see," he said, "I'm blind."
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine; I have two eyes . . . the world is mine.

Then walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play; it seemed he knew not waht to do.
I stopped for a moment, then I said: "Why don't you join the others dear?"
He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew . . . he could not hear.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine; I have two ears . . . the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I'd go,
With eyes to see the sunset's glow,
With ears to hear what I would know,
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I'm blessed indeed; the world is mine.
~author unknown

Day two of the transformation. Bare floor boards, and the wall has been plastered. He says that today will be quite loud as he will be putting in the floor. Very exciting stuff!!

I've decided what I am going to teach about in RS on Sunday as well. Testimony. Everyone has one or else we wouldn't be there. It should be interesting. (Or at least I hope it will be!!)

I got Todd an early Birthday gift this past week, a 25th anniversary DVD of Les Miserables, one of his favourite musicals. It is of a special concert which was held in the O2 arena to commemorate the anniversary. We have watched it over two evenings and it is fantastic. So very moving and touching. My friend Bonnie would love it because at the end Michael Ball sings, and she loves Michael Ball.

Source: via Ryan on Pinterest

It brought back some special memories of the afternoon we spent in London going to see it at the Queen's Theatre in the East End and what a fabulous time we had together.

I have twaddled on long enough so will leave you now with a special thought . . .

"In prayer it is better to have a heart without words . . .
than words without a heart."
~John Bunyan

Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . something for the kiddos . . . Baked Chicken Nugget Spaghetti.

Happy Day all!! May your Thursdays be truly blessed.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Wednesday morning prattle . . .

Twas the night before school started,
When all through the town,
The parents were cheering.
It was a riotous sound!
By eight, kids were washed
And tucked into bed . . .
When memories of homework . . .
filled them with dread!

New pencils, new folders,
new notebooks, too!
New teachers, new friends . . .
their anxiety grew!
The parents just giggled
when they learned of this fright
And shouted upstairs . . .
~author unknown

Next week all of the children over here will be going back to school. I was thinking about that as I lay in bed last night waiting to go to sleep . . . remembering all the feelings that I had way back when . . . As a child who absolutely adored school it was a very exciting time for me!

New scribblers, binders and foolscap would have been purchased. Is there anything on earth that smells a lovely as a brand new scribbler?? How exciting . . . all of those clean pages just waiting to be written upon . . . like a mystery waiting to be solved. What would the new school year hold?? Sometimes you know which teacher you would be getting, but then . . . when you got into the older grades, it was a complete mystery. There would be thoughts about which teacher you hoped you would get for different subjects . . . and then a bit of fear and dread just in case you got one that you didn't want . . .

There were some teachers that everyone loved . . . and others that nobody wanted. It was all in the luck of the draw! I don't think there were really any teachers that I totally dreaded . . . and oftimes their reputations were just very undeserved. They weren't half as bad as you'd been told they were. Whew!! Relief!!

New clothes had been purchased, and on a good year . . . new shoes. I can remember very carefully picking out my outfit to wear on the first day of school. That was such an important decision to make. First impressions were lasting ones and if you messed up on the very first day . . . well . . . your whole year could be ruined! Maybe even your life!!!

There was something really special about new shoes . . . the smell of new leather, that pinch of shoes which hadn't been properly stretched . . . they sometimes squeaked abit, and they were so shiny and unscuffed . . . but you know that within a few days they would be properly stretched out and feeling quite comfy, and even be a bit scuffed. It was only on this first day that they would be new . . .

And if there were new gym shoes, well . . . that was a bonus!

Source: via Shonz on Pinterest

My pencil case would be all filled with new pencils and crayons . . . the pencils all freshly sharpened, that smell of graphite so strong. Rulers, erasers . . . pencil sharpeners . . . all would have been purchased and just laying in wait for whatever magic was about to happen with them. All full of promise . . .

I remember one year saving my money all summer to buy myself a pencil box. It was so pretty . . . made of bamboo . . . with a lid that worked like magic and slide up when you pushed on it . . . seemingly to disappear. The lid was composed of bamboo strips, which folded up on themselves, and was painted with flowers and leaves. I was so proud of it.

That first day would be a happy mix of joy at being back and seeing all of your friends that you hadn't seen all summer, meeting new friends who had just moved in to the area, nervousness at what the day and new year might hold . . . it was exciting to me, always.

I loved getting the new textbooks and that first night was always spent covering them up with booksleeves made from the brown paper Grocery sacks that my mother would have saved all summer for just that purpose.

Some children had coloured book covers . . . but I never minded that mine were made of plain brown paper. There was a special sense of comfort that came from the sameness of that process which was repeated in our home every year . . . and the plain brown covers testified to me of the love I had for my home and my family . . . and family tradition that was as solid and immovable as the North Star . . .

There is a special excitement present at this time of year that isn't there at any other time. The air is crisp with the scent of autumn, which we all know looms just around the corner . . . there is that feeling of nature slowing down . . . getting ready for the winter sleep which lays just a few short months ahead . . . the light takes on a special hue and colour . . . pale and golden . . . getting ready for that last hurrah . . . and yet at the same time, the air is alive with something that is precious and new and yet undiscovered. The new school year.

Day one is done of the great bathroom renovation. What a lot of noise and goings on yesterday . . .

Mitzie spent most of her day looking like this . . .

Alternating with this . . .

She knew that there was "someone" that she didn't know and hadn't been allowed to smell on the other side of the door . . . she also knew that there was something happening that was being kept a mystery from her, and it was driving her crazy!!! She is such a personable dog and just wants to be "in" on everything.

This is our bathroom after day one of the reno . . . not a lot there is there, and it's really hard to believe that this is where over the next couple of weeks some real magic is going to be happening. I plan on updating you with a new picture each day so that you can see the ongoing process!

And with that, I'll leave you for the day. (The reno guy is here and work is about to begin again.!)

"The cure for anything is salt water . . . sweat, tears, the sea . . . "
Isak Dinesen

Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Pear, Stilton & Walnut Crumpet Pizzas, with a sage honey drizzle

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Simple Woman's Day book . . .

FOR TODAY, August 28th, 2012...

Outside My Window...

The sky is overcast . . . looks like it may clear though. Hoping we have a nice day weather wise. It wasn't so great yesterday and there is a definite autumnal chill in the air!

I am thinking...
"At every moment of our lives,
we all have one foot in a fairy tale
and the other in the abyss."
~paulo coelho

I suppose there is a lot of truth to that statment. If it wasn't for the fairy tale part . . . however would many of us be able to move forward???

I am thankful for...
I lay in bed last night and marvelled at the different paths my life has taken. I know . . . you are supposed to sleep in bed, but I often do a lot of thinking in bed. As I thought back I was so very grateful for all of the twists and turns, the good and the bad . . . the joy and sorrow. It is all of those things that have shaped who I am. I would not be "me" without them and I rather like me, pretty much just the way that I am. Oh, for sure . . . I would love to be thin, but I am working on that. I know I'll never be a Twiggy, but at least I can be sizewize, somewhere in between a Twiggy and a me!

From the kitchen...
I baked a Banana Snack Cake last night after supper. It's been cooling all night and today I will ice it with a caramel icing. Sound indulgent?


Definitely. I'll have to lock this one up so I can't get at it I think!!
(photo from Taste of Home. Recipe to follow. I changed out a few things in it.)

I am wearing...

A lavendar nightie . . . bare feet. I'll soon have to start wearing my slippers again. The nights are definitely getting a LOT cooler.

I am creating...

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

I have the tins all collected, (M&S Strong Mint tins, should smell nice) and I picked up some fabric the other day that has adhesive on the back, AND it's got a sewing theme on it too, which was a lucky find, so I am ready to begin making up some of these as Christmas Gifts.

I am thinking that this might be my next afghan project. I am very close to finishing the one I've been working on. I expect that it will be done over the next week or so. (Finger's Crossed!) I'll take a photo when it is finished to show you all!

I have a bunch of stocking tops made and am going to finish them up for the grandchildren, a cat doll in the works, and of course I am still working on my Christmas Cookbooklet!

I am going...
We are going to be pretty much housebound except for the evenings and weekends for the next couple of weeks, while they work on our bath. (Construction begins today.) I am hoping that it won't take the 2 1/2 weeks that they have estimated. (Finger's crosse!) In any case it will be nice when it's done.
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.

The Last Concubine, by Lesley Downer

The Last Concubine tells the story of Sachi, who grows up as the adopted daughter of an innkeeper in a rural Japanese village, knowing nothing about her true origins. Her world changes forever when an imperial princess, on her way to marry the shogun, passes through the village and takes Sachi into her entourage. In the secluded, formal, traditional world of the women’s palace in Edo, Sachi eventually becomes the last concubine of the last shogun — but that’s just a prelude to the turbulent events she’s about to be caught up in as Japan erupts into civil war and the world Sachi has grown up in, a world that seemed immutable for hundreds, even thousands of years, changes almost overnight.

Lesley Downer has created a wonderful character through whose eyes we are able to view the upheavals in Japanese society in the 1860s: because of her complicated background, Sachi is able to move and interact with people at a variety of different social levels. She’s uncomfortable, as any Japanese woman of that era would be, with stepping outside rigidly prescribed social roles, yet recognizes that because of the unique situation she finds herself in, she often has to do so. She also falls in love, in a society which doesn’t talk about or celebrate the concept of romantic love (or even have a word for it!) in the way we do in the West, and she has to struggle to fit her emotions in with her concepts of duty and social order. She also gets to see the beginning of the rapid Westernization and industrialization of Japan following the civil war — a fascinating story in and of itself.

I have only just started this book. As you know I am very intrigued by Oriental culture. I am enjoying this very much thus far.

Still on these books, but have added another one . . .

Breaking Night, by Liz Murray
It's an autobiography written by a survivor against all odds. Murray is the daughter of drug addicts who died of Aids. They neglected her, scandalously, but loved her in their own hopelessly dysfunctional way. By the age of six she was accustomed to watching her parents shoot up (her mother was almost blind, so her father had to help her do it). She left home at 15, carrying with her a crumpled snapshot of her mother, taken at a similar age – a girl with a storm cloud of hair and an unnervingly absent stare. It is the only picture reproduced in the book – her talisman. No wonder Murray preferred the photo to the reality. I have only just begun this one.

All are on my Kindle.
It's so much easier to manage in bed than a book, and a lot easier on my wrists. (Nothing has changed. Still working on the same books!)

I am hoping...

I am teaching the lesson in Relief Society on Sunday this week. Nothing is coming to me. As the first lesson of the month it is the RS Presidency's choice and I am just not having anything come to mind. Help!!! I better think of something SOON!

I am hearing...
Nothing new really.
Mitzie is snoring on the couch. The clock is ticking . . . my fingers are clicking on the keyboard. Yesterday afternoon though the Red Arrows were flying over doing some sort of pratice in the skies over our house. Very loud but also very exciting! They were so close, almost as if you could touch them. I thought only the Queen had these guys flying over her house???? Perhaps I am a princess after all!!

Around the house...

Is this not adorable??? It's a rolling pin, converted into a tea towel holder! Fabulous! My old rolling pin actually disappeared a couple of weeks ago. I don't know where it is! A friend had asked to borrow it overnight, so I had put it into a bag for her to pick up, and then she changed her mind. Where did it go??? I don't know, because I haven't seen it since! But I am thinking Todd may know something about it . . . he may have thought it was garbage and gotten rid. I'm afraid to ask!

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

I just adore this bed, always have done. One can but dream . . . no pun intended.

I am just absolutely adoring this. A bench made from two chairs. Now, to find two chairs. Shouldn't be hard I don't think!! I just have to figure out how to join them together so that it's stable.

One of my favourite things . . .

Lee Ingleby is a British film, television, and stage actor. He is perhaps best known for his roles as Detective Sergeant John Bacchus in the BBC drama Inspector George Gently and as Stan Shunpike in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I just adore this character he plays in George Gently . . . I get all goosebumpy when I see him . . .

Yes . . . I am old enough to be his mother, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate a nice piece of eye candy when I see it. He might not be to everyone's taste . . . but he does it for me!

Todd at around the same age or a bit younger. Can you see the resemblance???? I can! Wowsa!! Wowsa!! I am a very lucky woman!

Something new about me ...

I have a great love for old glass door knobs . . . if I had my way (and the money)my house would be filled with them . . . there wouldn't be a door knob in the house that wasn't glass. I just think they're so pretty. I like pretty things.

One of my guilty pleasures ...

I have a weakness for Jo Malone perfume. This one here is their new Wild Bluebell fragrance . . . so pretty. My favourite is Blue Agava . . . which has the smell of blue chocolate. I can't explain it. But it smells like the colour Blue and chocolate at the same time. I also have a penchant for their Pomegranate Noir . . . which smells red and spicy.

Pet Peeves...
People who do reviews of things, like cookbooks . . . without actually using them. How can you give an honest opinion of something if you haven't actually used it, or tasted it, etc. It doesn't make sense . . .

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

The power of finding beauty in the humblest of things makes home happy and life lovely.
~Louisa May Alcott

I think this is the key to true happiness. We must learn to be content with what we have, who we are, where we are, who we're with. There is not a spot of joy to be found in a life that spends itself always longing for something else, someone else, someplace else . . .

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

Don't postpone joy until you have learned all of your lens.
Joy is the lesson.
~Alan Cohen

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 . . . a delicious Courgette Loaf (Zucchini bread.)

Happy Day to you!