Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Last evening I laid in a small supply of candy treats, just in case we get some Trick or Treaters this year. Not a lot, just two bags of small sized candy bars . . . Mars and Milky Ways. We've never gotten Trick or Treaters really, not in all the time I have lived over here, but . . . I live in hope.
Todd doesn't understand Halloween. Of course, it is not something he has grown up with, and it is something which is only beginning to become popular over here, having always lingered in the shadow of Guy Fawkes night which is in a few days time. He thought I could just take chocolates out of the box of chocolate in the sideboard and give them to the kiddies. I looked aghast at him when he suggested that and told him that one does not give children candy that is unwrapped!
It reminded me of the year when my children were much, much younger that they came back with tins of peas and carrots in their trick or treat bags. We had moved into a neighborhood of elderly people and they must not have been used to seeing trick or treaters . . . they gave my children what they had to give. It was quite humorous really, although my children were not amused. Tins of peas and carrots cannot compete with packets of crisps and candy bars!
I miss the days when I had children around and all of the excitement which lead up to Halloween . . . the picking of costumes . . . the carving of the pumpkins into Jack-o-Lanterns. Such an exciting time. They are having an event at the chapel tonight for all the children. A Car Boot thingie, with prizes given to the best decorated Car Boot, and of course lots of candy will be handed out. I hope it stays dry for them. I suppose we could dress Todd up as a Scarecrow and plant him in the boot of our car . . . but I doubt he would go for that.
It is an anniversary for me today. It was twelve years ago today that I stepped off that plan in Manchester and took up residence in the UK for good. I was so very tired after having flown all night and my suitcases were super heavy, not to mention that 2 liter tin of Maple Syrup which I had carried the whole way over with me. It was a time of great excitement for me, as . . . in just a few short weeks, I would become Mrs Rayner . . . a bride for the third and final time in my life.
As I look over these past twelve years, and see all of the changes that my life has gone through during this time . . . I am astounded and amazed. It has been an incredible journey. Of course I stayed with a woman from our Church until Todd and I actually married, but when we did marry, I moved into a one bedroom ground floor maisonette flat. Todd had been living as a Bachelor for many years and didn't have a lot in the way of cooking materials, or anything else for that matter. I had only what I could carry with me. I had crammed as much as I could into my suitcases . . . and mailed myself a few boxes, but it really wasn't much.
Within a few weeks I had found a job, working at a nursing home across the street from our flat. I worked there for over a year. It wasn't the nicest job in the world. The other girls were very coarse and ignorant, and treated me very badly . . . because I was churchy and didn't drink or smoke, and a foreigner to boot! I left there to work at a Service Station with Todd and took courses part time to upgrade my skills, studying to become a Chef as well as a Medical Secretary, with the idea in mind that when he retired retired, we would seek employment for me in one of those fields.
As it turned out I was employed full time as a Personal Chef, and we ended up moving down South and spent 7 1/2 years down there, living and working in a beautiful environment. It was kind of like living in a dream actually, especially the first 5 or 6 years. I was paid very well. We got to live in a beautiful cottage, with beautiful gardens. I got to work in a home with historical value and filled with beautiful things . . . we were isolated in a sort of bubble actually. It was not like being in the real world. It was an interesting experience and I learned a lot during those years . . . a lot about life and about many other things . . . I am glad I did it.
I was sorry when it ended, and upset as you will probably all remember, but upon looking back at that time . . . I can now see that it was the best thing to happen for us . . . God's timing was perfect as it is in all things, and now we are here back where we started, those twelve years ago . . . having come full circle . . . and life is good, and I am glad. I have always loved Chester. We no longer live in a one bedroom flat . . . nor do we live in a beautiful Country cottage, but God has been good to us, and we have a very comfortable three bedroom home with a huge garden. We love each other very much, if not more than we did when we began our lives together, and I could not imagine being anywhere else on earth. Here is where I belong and exactly where I want to be.
Over the twelve years I have seen four of my five children get married, and six grandchildren born. My baby boy has grown into a man with a good career in the Canadian Air Force, and I would be lying if I said I did not miss living closer to them, and to my parents. I miss them incredibly, but thanks to the wonder of Modern Technology the world is a much smaller place now, and instant communication is at our fingertips, with Face Time on the i-pad and other things.
As I ponder over the past twelve years I can see how very wonderful they have been and how very far I have come. I could never have conceived when I stepped off that plane the great adventure I would take and all the wonderful people I would meet, and the things which I would experience in the ensuing years . . . my life has been truly amazing and so very, very good. I am so glad I took the chance and lost sight of the shore.
"You can never cross the ocean, unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore."
As the month of October draws to a close . . . the air begins to smell of frosted windfalls. Leaves drift down leaving most of the branches bare and we begin to see more sky. The nights draw in earlier and cold seeps in through the cracks beneath the doors and catches out bones . . . tis the time for candlelit nights and fires to warm your toes by, mugs of hot chocolate and lap blankets . . . canoodling by the fire.
I miss the long summer twilights . . . when the day seems to linger indefinitely, but mornings now hold a certain sparkle, and I love to see the shadows of our home fall across the garden, gilded with silver frost after the sun has melted the rest of the crystals on the grass . . . our lives caught up in a crystal palace as it were. If only for a short moment in time, we can be Kings and Queens . . .
"Voices calling and laughing were carried on the wind like Fall Leaves."
Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . a very autumnal bake of Butternut Squash Baked with Tomatoes and Cheese.
Please keep the people affected by Hurricane Sandy in your hearts and prayers.
Tuesday, 30 October 2012
FOR TODAY, October 30th, 2012...
Outside My Window...
The day is waking up and it is cold. I can see the sun rising in the window right in front of me. I love watching the sun rise each morning. It's my favourite time of the day.
I am thinking...
"All the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today."
Everything we do in life has consequences.When we make right choices we reap the rewards and they are good. When we make wrong choices we reap the rewards and they are not so good. An acquaintance of mine joined the church a few years ago and from that point on everything seemed to go wrong. She blamed her joining the church for it all . . . when in reality, everything that was happening was because of poor choices she had made well before joining the church. Being a member of the church only meant that she now had support she needed to help her get through the consequences of her poor choices. Sadly she did not see it that way and I have not been able to speak to her for a while now . . . she chooses to no longer be my friend. I would be her friend whether she was a member of the church or not . . . but alas . . . she is not as broad minded as I am.
I am thankful for...
My family. I may not be able to speak to them very often and there are still rifts that need healing, but I am confident that with the power of prayer and action, these relationships will one day be whole again.
From the kitchen...
This is Fennel and Feta Linguine. I watched Nigel Slater make it the other day on Dish of the Day. I want to make this. I have everything I need in the fridge to do it. Watch this space! You know I love Nigel Slater recipes. He's the best. Todd sadly will not like it, but c'est la vie!
If he's a really good boy, maybe I will make him one of these.
I am wearing...
A PINK M&S nightie, with long sleeves, made from brushed fleece. Warm. My slippers. Bundling up for the cooler months. I need to buy a few more long sleeved nighties. I only have the two.
I am creating...
Working on the finishing touches for my Christmas Cook-booklet. I have had ever so much fun doing this one, and if I don't get it finished soon . . . it will be too late. I need a kick up the backside!! (I really do!!) I WILL FINISH IT TODAY and not allow myself to get distracted by anything else!
Anyone wanting Christmas Cards, needs to order them now. As I do each one individually by hand they do take some time to put together. Leave a comment or e-mail me if you are wanting any! I have all the ones available from years gone past, plus new ones for this year.
If you want some and wait too much longer, it will be too late. I won't have time to make them and get them out to you.
I am loving these. I think they would make really nice favors for the women at our RS Christmas Extra Meeting at the beginning of December.
Here is a little peek at the character development I am doing for the children's book I am working on. It's just an initial sketch, and not concrete at this point, but I like where it is going.
I am going...
I am taking my stuff into the gallery on Wednesday (tomorrow) and then on Thursday we have one set of the missionaries coming over for supper. Other than that I think my calendar is free, which is a good thing because I have much to be doing here at home. My talk went very well on Sunday by the way. I had a lot of people come up to me and say they enjoyed it. Of course they would say that anyways, and so would Todd. I felt I could have done better, but then you always think of about a hundred different things you could have said after the fact!
Borrowed Light, by Carla Kelly
Julia Darling never expected to cook for some cowboys in Wyoming, but when she breaks off her engagement in Salt Lake City, it's the perfect opportunity for her to escape. Determined to stick the job out, Julia faces her biggest challenge yet - letting go of borrowed light to find her own testimony. Set in the early 1900s.
I am really enjoying this book! It is a historical romance, but without the smut, and very entertaining. The characters are very real and the main character is a cook! Absolutely loving this. It's refreshing and funny and interesting! The characters are sweet, loveable and believable. The perfect escape.
Jesus, a novel, by Walter Wangerin Jr
With eloquence and beauty, the award-winning author of Book of the Dun Cow, The Book of God, and Paul: A Novel turns his pen to history’s most compelling figure: Jesus of Nazareth. In vibrant language, Walter Wangerin Jr. sweeps away centuries of tradition and reveals a man of flesh-and-heart immediacy. Passionate, intelligent, and irresistibly real, this is a Jesus pulsing with life who will captivate you as thoroughly as he did the men and women who walked with him across Galilee’s golden countryside.
Days of centuries past become today, lit with bright colors of the imagination. Wangerin shows you Jesus through the eyes of the two people who were with him at very the foot of the cross, the two who knew and loved him best: John the apostle, and Jesus’ beloved mother, Mary. . . .
I am reading this one on my Kindle. I've read it before, but wanted to read it again. It's a fab book. He is a brilliant writer. I've also read his "Book of God." Another fab read! He brings the scriptures to live in a wonderful way.
I am hoping and praying that anyone in the direct path of Hurricane Sandy will not take chances and be safe. I really have them all in my prayers and thoughts. I also pray for those who have already been negatively affected by it. This is one wicked storm. They need all the prayers they can get.
I am hoping...
I am hearing...
Nothing new really. I can hear the boiler running. Clocks ticking. Mitzie snoring. Computer keys ticking. The usual.
Around the house...
I really want to line all of my dresser drawers with paper like this. What a sweet surprise that would be each time I opened them up. We have Ikea furniture in our bedroom and it is pretty. The drawers are lined with yellow and white striped papers, but I want flowers, coz I am a flowery kind of a gal.
I would really, really, REALLY love to have a good old fashioned rocking chair. I have always wanted one. My ex and I put a deposit down on one . . . it must have been a good 26 or 27 years ago now, and sadly we never did finish paying for it or get it. If I had a wooden rocker, I would sit in it in the evenings and do my needlework. I bet it would be a lot better for my back.
One of my favourite things . . .
I love pillow cases. Especially white pillow cases which have been embroidered or rick racked or lace trimmed. I am not sure why that is. I think it is because they hearken back to simpler times. I know that in "MY" heaven it will be just like it was in the 1950's because that is the time period I love, and because I will be skinny, I will be able to dress like this:
What do you think???
Something new about me ...
I hate spiders. I am terrified of spiders. I don't know why. It's quite irrational. I have never had a spider hurt me. They just give me the creeps and if I know one is in my bedroom I cannot sleep until it is gone.
One of my guilty pleasures ...
Gold Fish crackers. I could eat them until they are coming out my ears. These are homemade ones and on my list of things to make soon! I am thinking homemade ones will be infinitely tastier than store bought ones!
The way that people never go beyond what is expected of them today. They do what they are paid for and nothing more, and in fact if they can get away with less than what they are paid for, they will do that. There doesn't seem to be much pride in a job well done these days. For instance, the bin men were around yesterday. We are in this new heavy duty recycling scheme now. Todd mistakenly got a few bits of plastic in the cardboard box. Even though they were collecting ALL the recyclables, including the plastics and we had more plastics in the right box . . . they left the few bits that were in the wrong box and did not empty them. The place for them was right there on their truck! It was only a few bits! Come on! What could it have hurt to just make a little bit of an extra effort and put them in the right slot. Probably about as much effort as it did for them to pick them out and leave them behind. *Grumble* *Grumble*
Here is picture thought I am sharing...
"Books. People have no idea how beautiful books are. How they taste on your fingers. How bright everything is when you light it with words."
~Rachel Kadish, Tolstoy Lied
I love books. I have always loved books. Old books, new books . . . any books. I love the way they smell and how they feel in your hands. I love the feeling of anticipation when you open a new book for the first time. I think it would be a very sad world where there were not any more real books. I hope that we never get to that place . . . where a book would be obsolete. Books are beautiful. Books are important. Books are necessary.
As a closing thought I would like to leave you with this:
"Things which sound like platitudes become vital, living and powerful when you have to learn them in dark tunnels."
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!)
There are some really scrummy Bakewell Sausage Tarts on offer over in The English Kitchen today . . . along with a whole bunch of other goodies!
Sunday, 28 October 2012
I think it's probably more difficult to be a woman today than it has ever been. A lot of us bought into that feminist myth in the 60's and 70's which told us you could have it all . . . and have discovered in the ensuing years that you just can't. The glass in both kingdoms will only ever be half full . . . you can have one or the other and do them well . . . but you can't do both and do both well, not without something really suffering . . . you just can't burn a candle at both ends without something burning out . . .
Then there is the whole beauty/thinness thing. We are surrounded on all sides by a beauty/thinness myth, which many of us struggle to uphold. We are shown pictures of young girls made up to look like women, pictures of young women, with every freckle or flaw airbrushed out . . . a bevvy of celebrities who starve themselves (and models) to look a certain way . . . and models and stars in magazines whose photos have been so airbrushed and contorted that they don't even recognize themselves . . . and we are told this is how we need to look. This leaves a lot of women wanting, or feeling flawed, or feeling inadequate, ugly, fat . . . unable to ever live up to the standard which has been set for us by a media and industry ever hungry for more of that hard earned money we've make from burning the candle at both ends.
I watched my ex boss struggle with an aging body and face for years. She had botox shots regularly, and spent a fortune on face creams, make ups, clothes, shoes, etc. I never saw her eat a decent meal the whole time I worked for her . . . she exercised relentlessly and was always starving. She took so many vitamins in the morning it's a wonder she didn't rattle when she walked. She spend hours preening and making herself up every day . . . but very little time building her substance from the inside, not that any of us could see at any rate . . .
In reality there is no beauty to be found in makeup. Neither do beautiful clothes create a beautiful woman. The secret lies in being alive, awake . . . a woman with something to offer the world. True beauty is less about your face and body and more about your smile. Less about the length of your legs or lack of it . . . and more about the bounce in your step. Less about the shape of your eyebrows and the length of your eyelashes . . . and more about the twinkle in your eye. Real beauty comes from being a workable, decisive woman of substance, able to participate in life with a warm smile, generous heart and gentle, teachable and giving spirit.
If you have these qualities you are a beautiful woman . . . and living the life you have been given will bring out even more beauty in your because it is helping to uncover the woman that you are. With each year that passes, each experience, each sorrow and each joy . . . more and more of the authentic you shows, and more of your beauty glows.
Life is a living and breathing, magical work of art, and you are the one painting this masterpiece with the help of the Master's hands as you go along. Be the masterpiece you were created to become. Drink in life, laugh out loud, be generous and kind to those around you . . . speak with a gentle tongue.
Create beauty around you and you will discover the beauty within. Plant a garden and get your hands dirty. Take in beauty where you find it . . . autumn leaves, winter's frost, springtime blossom. When you appreciate the beauty in another's charm, or another sunset, the smudged painting of your child's hand print presented to you with joy and love, or a beautiful piece of music, or poetry . . . you are saying yes to beauty . . . you are saying yes to God.
The beauty is in the detail . . . and the details are in small and simple things, little pockets of joy which seek us out each day. There is a way to have it all . . . and a way to be beautiful. It's just not found in a pot, nor is it found by working ourselves to the death . . . you have to stop and smell the roses along the way, and appreciate the simple pleasures in life with gratitude and with praise . . . you have to work on being beautiful from the inside out.
Just my thoughts this morning . . .
“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.”
~Dieter F Uchtdorf
I'm off to read over my talk for church this morning, one last time. I hope that I will be able to convey what the Lord wants me to say, and I hope that someone within the sound of my voice is able to take something from my words that will be to their benefit . . . I wish for each of you a special sabbath day filled to overflowing with beauty and with blessings.
Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . scrummy Lemon and Jam Slices!
Saturday, 27 October 2012
I plucked pink blossoms from mine apple-tree
And wore them all that evening in my hair;
Then in due season when I went to see
I found no apples there.
With dangling basket all along the grass
As I had come I went the self-same track;
My neighbors mocked me while they saw me pass
So empty- handed back.
Lilian and Lilias smiled in trudging by,
Their heaped-up basket teazed me like a jeer;
Sweet-voiced they sang beneath the sunset sky,
Their mother's home was near.
Plump Gertrude passed me with her basket full,
A stronger hand than hers helped it along;
A voice talked her through the shadows cool
More sweet to me than song.
Ah Willie, Willie, was my love less worth
Than apples with their green leaves piled above?
I counted rosiest apples on the earth
Of far less worth than love.
So once it was with me you stooped to talk
Laughing and listening in this very lane;
To think that by this way we used to walk
We shall not walk again!
I let my neighbours pass me, ones and twos
And groups; the latest said the night grew chill,
And hastened; but I loitered; while the dews
Fell fast, I loitered still.
Christina Rossetti (1830 - 1894) is widely regarded as the most considerable woman poet in England before the twentieth century. No reading of nineteenth century poetry can be complete without attention to this prolific and popular poet. Rossetti's inner life dominates her poetry, exploring loss and unattainable hope. Her divine poems have a freshness and toughness of thoughts, while many of her love poems are erotic, and as often express love for women as for men.
Her work ranged from simple-seeming love lyrics and carols like "In the bleak mid-winter! through dramatic fantasy poems like "Goblin Market" to devotional and mystical meditations on the human and divine. Her work displays a teasing sense of humor and a Gothic imagination as well as a strong moral sense. Born into a largely Italian family in London, she was sister to two members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and posed for some of their early paintings. In her own right she worked at the London Penitentiary for Fallen Women, retraining young prostitutes for a respectable way of life. She published four volumes of poetry, two books for children and a collection of sparkling stories.
Brrr . .. it's very cold out there this morning and a heavy frost has fallen. We saw the gritters were out last night, so bad weather must be expected, and snow in some of the Nothern areas and on higher ground.
My check up at Docs went well yesterday and I am considered to be in very good health, other than the arthritis. My blood pressure and cholesterol are in good form, probably due to the medications I take for them, which is good and on the little test they do for health, it was unlikely that I will have a heart attack in the next ten years. So that is good news, as I worry about that with my mother and father both having heart problems. She did ask if I had a sweet tooth, and so I was told to cut back on the goodies. I do have rather a sweet tooth I confess . . . liking my chocolate and boiled sweets. I shall have to contain myself I fear . . .
I got my talk all written yesterday. It took me four hours, but looks good. I read it out to Todd and he says it's good and my timings are down right. I was glad to get that done so now I can concentrate on other things! (Like finishing the craft room says Todd!)
A bit of inspiration to carry you through Saturday . . .
Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.
Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . Ginger, White Chocolate Chunk and Macadamia Nut Blondies!
Don't forget to put your clocks back tonight!
Friday, 26 October 2012
I was recently reading an article about hobbies which gave me pause for thought, and I wondered if I was not just all hobbies?? A little bit disconcerting to say the least. I have so many things that I like to do . . . collect salt and pepper shakers and cream and sugar sets . . . milk jugs . . . buttons, um and let's not forget cookbooks. That is just the collecting side . . .
Then there is my love of good music, which I frequently indulge, and the needle arts, my love of poetry and quotations. I have a book for quotations and every time I find one I like, I write it into this book. I love to write . . . and can often be found jotting down an idea for a story or a special thought that I would love to expound upon . . . special thoughts, another thing I collect . . . and then there is my artwork, and then the combining of the two. Hobbies . . .
I went to Dictionary.com to see just what a hobby was . . .
Hobby - any of certain birds of prey of the genus Falco (primarily F. subbuteo) that are intermediate in size and strength between the merlin and the peregrine. F. subbuteo is about 33 cm (13 inches) long and is dark bluish brown above and white below, with dark streaking and reddish leg feathering. It breeds in Europe, northwestern Africa, the Middle East except Arabia, and all of sub-Arctic and temperate Asia. It inhabits open country near woodlands, where it captures small birds and large insects. Similar species are the African hobby (F. cuvierii), the sooty falcon (F. concolor) of eastern Africa, and the Oriental hobby (F. severus) of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific
I don't think so . . . although I once watched a gentleman training his hawk in the fields behind our old house. Fascinating to say the least!
Reading a bit further on I found that it is also known to be a small or medium sized horse . . . I did always want a hobby horse when I was a child . . . I wanted a pony and a monkey too . . . or maybe I just wanted to be Pipi Longstocking . . . hmm . . . still not what I was looking for.
Finally . . . a favorite occupation, topic, etc., pursued for amusement, pursued in the spare time for pleasure or relaxation. Bingo! (But then you astute people already knew that.)
Out of all my hobbies I would have to say that I love the writing and the artwork most of all, and they are often intermingled. When it comes to writing I do a fair amount of it . . . from the writing of my quotes into my notebook to little stories, letters, e-mails, poems . . . and these daily writings I pen for you here at Oak Cottage, and then The English Kitchen.
Then there are the endless notes I write to myself, reminders of things I have to do, menus and grocery lists, observations of things I have seen such as descriptions of the fat wood pigeon which visits our garden every morning . . . or the sparrow hawk that swooped down over our hedge one day . . . or the little heads of the sparrows which I see peeking up towards the sun over the top of the hedge as the sun rises . . . and then the sillouette of the Song Thrush that I used to observe in the dusky twilight evenings, perched on the chimney of the cottage next door down south . . . these observations and thoughts almost always make it into my writings on here . . .
And it does bring me great pleasure . . . but amusement??? Is that why I do it? When I sit at my desk with pencil in hand, or paint brush and bring these little pictures in my mind to life, am I doing it to amuse myself? I'd rather say that I cannot "not" do these things. They are as much a part of me as breathing . . . and as much pleasure as I derive from these two things, the writing and the artwork, there are days when they just don't come, or just don't end up the way I had envisioned . . . and those are the times when they are more hard work than anything else. It's sometimes even downright painful when all these lovely images that I compose in my mind and thoughts just won't translate themselves properly to pen and paper, or to paint and brush.
And yet . . . they are things I love, and which bring me far more joy than pain. But from the definition of hobby . . . they are not strictly hobbies. Passions yes . . . hobbies no.
A hobby, one feels should be a light thing, a sometimes occupation, and when I think about it that way I can see I only have one . . .
Dieting. Of all the things I pursue . . . this is my sometimes occupation and the thing I take most lightly in my life, and depending on how you look at it . . . I am either very, very good at it . . . or an abysmal failure.I much prefer the latter! ☺ I'm a bit like the little girl who had a little curl with that . . . when I'm good . . . well, I'm very, very good . . . but when I'm bad . . . I'm also very, very good at being diet naughty.
Cest la vie, as they say in France!
Happy thought for the day . . .
"Are you racing down life's highway?
Slow down a gear or two!
For you'll miss a world of wonders
If your dust obscures the view."
There's a simple Quiche Lorraine baking in The English Kitchen today!
Smile! It might never happen! Happy Friday all!