Monday, 31 December 2012

Thoughts to end the year on . . .

In My Father's house there are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am . . . you will be also.

I have been daydreaming this past week . . . about what I would do if I ever had the money.  I've always done that.  When I was a child, I used to pour over the Sears and the Eatons Catalogues and dream about the clothes and things and toys that I would love to have from their pages . . . and as an adult, and young mum, I used to dream about the clothes I would buy my children, or the toys . . . and how I would furnish my house.   Those couple of hundred of pages brought me hours of day dreaming pleasure, and they never cost a dime.

Even now, in my later years . . . and too quickly approaching so called "Golden" years . . .  I still put myself to sleep nights, thinking about the type of house I would love to have and how I would furnish it, beginning on the front porch.  I never, ever make it as far as the kitchen!!  Never . . . I get to the living room and before I know it . . . I am zzzzzz . . .

Now, of course there is Pinterest.  You can find pretty much anything on Pinterest and I have been known to waste more than a few hours in it from time to time (almost every day truth be known).  It, too, costs nothing but time, and is a way of collecting "things" without cluttering up the house.  I think at last count I had something like 174 boards . . . filled with all sorts of things, from soup to nuts.   I have my favourites of course . . . and I have no secret boards.  What is the point of having a secret board?  I don't know!  I have no secrets.  I bare it all!!  What you see is definitely what you get with me, and I like it that way.  No surprises.

One of my favourite boards is my "Inspiration From the Word of God" board.  I just love scripture and I love to read scripture and take it into my heart.   This is a fun board for me, because I can pin to it some of my favourite ones . . . in unique and colourful ways.

One of my favourite scriptures is 1 Corinthians2:9, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

It is this thought which is uppermost in my mind as we stand here at the closing of the door on the old year which passes, and on the clear threshold of the new year to come.

We can not know the future which is in store for us.  We can dream and we can plan . . . but ultimately our hope is in the promises of God's word, which stands true for each of us.  When we put our hope and our faith in Jesus Christ . . . we seal our destinies and we need not fear anything that life has to throw at us.

Having our faith centered on Him, means that  we can rest in His promises and know that they are true.   The Scriptures tell us that we can spend eternity with him . . . that one day He will come and get us and bring us home to live with Him forever.

I love the fact that my Heavenly Father has a plan for me . . . for my future and for every tomorrow of my life on earth and beyond.  This is a blessed assurance to me . . . I know that I am loved and safe, no matter what.  Despite the slings and arrows which life can and will throw at me, my future is bright.  God knows my course and God knows me.  He loves me and He will provide for my ultimate tomorrow.

I can daydream . . . and I can plan, but at the end of the day, I trust in Him for all things.

Knowing these things to be true brings me a great Peace of heart, and gives me all the confidence I need to face tomorrow and the coming year . . . and whatever it may bring me.   I need not fear a blank page for the words which may be written on it . . . if I let Him guide my pen.

There is nothing as inspiring to me as a new and clean page.

I don't seem to be shaking this cold of mine at all.   I just think it is getting better and bang . . . it knocks me back again.   I am wondering if maybe I should see the Doctor.  If I don't see any improvement in the next couple of days, I think I will. 

We have no exciting plans for New Years Eve.  Yes . . . we are those boring people who go to bed early, and then winge at midnight when the fireworks wake us up!  hahaha   My parents always used to go out to a New Years Eve Dance at the mess on New Years Eve.   My ex and I never did.  For one thing hiring a baby sitter was far to much of an expense on top of everything else and for another he always used to work New Years Eve, having had Christmas off.  The married guys used to get Christmas off so they could be with their families and the single guys New Years so they could party with their friends.

I never minded.   I would always plan a little party with the children.  Some years we were able to stay awake until midnight, but mostly we weren't.  We'd have our finger food buffet and watch films and laugh and enjoy the evening together as a family.  I never ever felt that I was missing out on anything, and I still don't.  Well, except maybe for a hangover, and that's not something I think is to be desired in the least!

And so for this last day of 2012 I'd like to close in wishing each of you a very happy, blessed and fulfilling 2013.

“Fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.” 
~Thomas S. Monson


Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Cowboy Casserole.  Tasty and economical.


Sunday, 30 December 2012

Sunday meanderings . . .

Source: via William on Pinterest

I was reading something the other day and came across an article which was describing the culture of African Bushmen. I have always found other cultures fascinating and they were every bit as fascinating as any other I have read about. You can learn a lot about a people by reading about their ways. For instance, and I thought this was fabulous . . . when an African Bushman notices a brother or sister of his tribe coming out of the brush he greets them with the words, "I See You!" The response from the arrival would be. "I am here!"  

 When I read that I thought to myself . . . how very wonderful!  How absolutely profound!  In a world that increasingly becomes crazier and crazier, where one can quite quickly lose their identity, and become as nothing . . . how very affirming such a greeting seems.  For with this simple and direct affirmation, it is possible to secure one's own presence . . . in effect to say . . . I AM HERE.

I AM HERE . . . I AM HERE . . . I AM HERE . . .

And I matter.

There are of course people in all of our lives who validate our presence by seeing us regularly . . . they are people who have helped to shape the foundations of our self worth . . . Grandparents, Parents . . . siblings, extended family if you are lucky enough to have some . . . close friends.  When I think back on my life, other than my mother and father, the one person who first rejoiced at my presence would have been my maternal Grandmother.   I was a difficult baby, crying a lot . . . and so I was taken to stay with her for a time as my mother just couldn't cope with me.  From her I received unconditional love and feelings about myself that have helped to shape the bedrock of my self worth . . . and so it has gone all through the years of my life, with different people at different times all taking the time to acknowledge and appreciate my presence . . . affirming that I am here and that I matter.

That's all anyone really wants I think . . . to be seen and to matter . . . to be loved for just who, what and where they are in their lives.  To have their presence rejoiced, and maybe even celebrated in small and simple ways.   I don't mean in the "paparazzi stalking" way . . . but simply in the "YOU count" way . . .

In a culture which erases it's humanity and celebrates celebrity, beauty, money and success . . . which plays down and ignores anything else . . .  proclaiming them as being trivial and un-important . . . we so very much need to be seen and to be quite simply acknowledged, to have our presence noted . . . to know that someone cares.   WE are not invisible.  WE count.  WE are loved.  WE matter.  And by that I mean . . . everyone.

“When we treat people merely as they are, they will remain as they are. When we treat them as if they were what they should be, they will become what they should be. ” 
~Thomas S Monson

I am still carrying with me the vestiges of this awful cold.  Still blowing my nose . . . still carrying a tightness in my chest that no amount of coughing seems to erase.   I am praying that it soon goes off because I won't be able to travel until it does . . . it also very energy sapping, although I did get another illustration done yesterday for the Children's book I am working on.

I want to have them all done before I go away.  Can you see . . . the cat has placed his boots by the fire to dry and they are both having a nap . . . spectacles in hand . . .

It's so much fun.  I am loving it.  Each time I put my brush to the paper though I am afraid I will mess it up.  I just keep my fingers crossed the whole time.  Perhaps if I had gone to art school I wouldn't be so afraid . . . I'd probably actually know what I was doing, but I'm pretty much flying by the seat of my pants here, which is a tiny bit scary.

We were going to go with friends to see The Hobbit last night, but Todd came over all tremblingly and so we didn't.   I hope he is feeling better this morning, and not coming down with something.   We tucked ourselves into bed quite early and hopefully he got a good night's rest and it back to scratch this morning.

Shall I leave you with a thought to carry through your day?    I think so . . .

“The happy life is not ushered in at any age to the sounds of drums and trumpets. It grows upon us year by year, little by little, until at last we recognize that we have it. It is achieved … by a body of work done so well that we can lift our heads with assurance and look the world in the eye.” 
~Thomas S. Monson

Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . Chocolate Orange Chip Cookies.    Dangerously delicious.

Enjoy your Sunday!


Saturday, 29 December 2012

Poetry Saturday . . . Symbols

Source: via Tammy on Pinterest

I watched a rosebud very long
Brought on by dew and sun and shower,
Waiting to see the perfect flower;
Then, when I thought it should be strong,
It opened at the matin hour
And fell at evensong.

I watched a nest from day to day.
A green nest full of pleasant shade,
Wherein three speckled eggs were laid;
But when they should have hatched in May,
The two old birds had grown afraid
Or tired and flew away.

Then in my wrath, I broke the bough
That I had tended so with care,
Hoping its scent should fill the air;
I crushed the eggs, not heeding how
Their ancient promise had been fair;
I would have vengeance now.

But the dead branch spoke from the sod,
And the eggs answered me again;
Because we failed dost thou complain?
Is thy wrath just?  And what if God,
Who waiteth for thy fruits in vain,
Should also take the rod?
~Christina Rossetti, Everyman's Poetry

I think this poem is about our impatience and the capacity we have to take matters into our own hands because we tire of waiting for others to do the right thing  Or we judge others harshly, thinking to ourselves . . . they should have done this . . . or they should have done that.  But who are we to judge?  To take matters into our own hands??  Should we not leave all of that to a much higher power than ourselves?  There is a scripture which tells us that the same stick which we used to measure others will be used to measure us.

I often speak these words to myself . . . there, but for the Grace of God . . . go I.  I am not perfect, not by a long stretch.  I have my own weaknesses and failings that I will have to account for at the end of the day . . . never mind adding to them by being judgmental and harsh with my fellow man.  Oh, I do fail at times . . . but am quickly brought up short when I realize what I am doing and then repent.  Oh, thank God for repentance and His perfect love for us . . . for forgiveness.

I love to read poetry and ponder on it's meanings.   I don't know if the things I get from it are what the writer intended . . . I only know how the words make me feel.  Oh to be blessed with such a talent to move hearts and minds . . . and to give pause to thought with only a few words.  Simply amazing.

Patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can - working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!
~Dieter F Uchtdorf


In The English Kitchen today . . . A Simple Ice Cream Cake.

Have a fab Saturday!


Friday, 28 December 2012

Friday, Friday . . .

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

I have always enjoyed these few quiet days which lay between Christmas and New Year . . . this quiet interval between excitements.   This is a time to catch our breath and ponder the new beginning which lays ahead, in just a few days time.

I think it's a good thing that we don't have to face this New Year immediately after all of the excitement of Christmas, but have instead . . . a few days for reflection.  A few days upon which to make a quiet approach to the new year which sits in the doorway.   A few days to remember past mercies and marshall the rabble of our good intentions.

Cynics would poo poo and espouse the futility of making resolutions , , , and indeed in truth, most resolutions made in the new year, quickly falling by the wayside . . . but that doesn't make it a bad thing to make resolutions.

I think it very good and very proper to take stock at the end of an old year and ponder on things you might like to change in the new year.   This is the perfect opportunity to make a fresh start, to stiffen up the will . . . and who doesn't need a bit of starch put into their flabby spines??

And we needn't feel like failures either if these resolutions quickly fall by the wayside . . . we need only feel human, for it is a very human thing, this ability to not stick with things . . . to be a little weak.  Resolutions are soon routed by the devil unless subjected to extreme discipline . . . and isn't it fun to try irregardless of whether we will succeed or not?  I think so.

The person who never makes a New Year's resolution must be either very self-satisfied or very lazy.     Oh . . . they may never be spoken out loud, these resolutions . . . but we make them all the same.  I never begin a New Year without at the very least wanting to become a better person in the months to come.

And do I succeed???   I do believe so. I do.  I may never stick to that diet . . . but I always improve myself in some way, however big or small.  And that's what counts.

One thing I love about British Television are the special shows that they put on at Christmas.  You can always rely on at least a few of them, and indeed sometimes we are spoilt for choice!  This year was no different.   I really enjoyed the "Call the Midwife" Christmas special.   It was wonderfully inspiring and very cheering.   Coronation Street and Downtown Abby left me quite saddened however . . . with ends that I had not expected.  I am glad that I did not watch them on the day . . . why can't people be happy at Christmas?  Why does there need to be this tragedy all the time?  I know it makes for good ratings . . . but a bit of cheer would be much better I think!


I don't want to say more for fear of spoiling the viewing pleasure of our North American friends who have not yet seen Season three of Downton Abby and this years Christmas Special.  What a cracking show it is!

Which got me to wondering why someone doesn't create a television series surrounding Jane Austin times, or Dick Turpin times.   Is there nothing interesting with that time in history?   I think that a series based in that time era would be fabulously entertaining.  It seems that all the historical series are late Victorian or Edwardian.  We've been watching "North and South" again . . . with Patrick Swayze.  It just never gets old.

Source: via Leanne on Pinterest

Yes, I do believe we are somewhat boring people.  ☺   That's just the way we roll . . . and with that, a thought for today . . .

“You could ask yourself, 'How did God Bless me today?' If you do that long enough and with faith, you will find yourself remembering blessings. And sometimes you will have gifts brought to your mind which you failed to notice during the day, but which you will then know were a touch of God's hand in your life.” 
~Henry B. Eyring


Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Crispy Chicken Breasts with a Honey Garlic Sauce.

Very tasty!


Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Seven Wonders . . .

Have you ever thought about the Seven Wonders of the World?  I always thought that I knew what they were, but this morning . . . . upon researching . . . . I have discovered that I do not, and  that there are several lists of what the Seven Wonders of the World are, or what the powers to be consider them to be.

First there is the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, which included . . . The Great Pyramid of Giza, The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, The Statue of Zeus at Olympia, The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Mausoleum at Hallicarnasus, Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria.  The only one which still exists is the Great Pyramid . . . and I don't think, although I would never entirely rule it out . . . I don't think I will ever be seeing that one.

Then there are The Wonders of the Middle Ages . . . Stonehenge, Colosseum, Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa. The Great Wall of China, Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, Hagia Sophia, Leaning Tower of Piza . . . it is certainly within my reach to see Stonehenge . . . but the others?   A bit harder to accomplish . . . although I do admit to a certain fascination with The Great Wall and the Leaning Tower.

Then there are the Engineering Wonders of the World . . . much more doable I think.  They include The CN Tower (seen it), Channel Tunnel (been through it several times), Empire State Building, Golden Gate Bridge, Itaipu Dam, Delta Works/Zeiderzee Works, and  the Panama Canal.   I have seen and experienced two of those things in person . . . and two others via television, which probably doesn't count.

And there are other lists . . . which include a variety of things such as the Taj Mahal, The Christ the Redeemer Monument in Brazil, Maccu Picchu (Peru), The Grand Canyon, The Polar Ice Caps, The Great Barrier Reef, Victoria Falls, Mount Everest, etc., etc.

All very amazing things to be sure.  Our world is full of many wonders, both natural and man made . . . and the wonders change as our world expands and our technological abilities grow.  I think it is almost becoming quite impossible to keep the list down to just seven wonderful things . . . we live in a most amazing and wonderful world . . .

I have another list of Seven Wonders though . . . one which I think is even more amazing . . . and I am sure you are quite gagging to read what it is, so I will put you out of your misery!

My seven wonders are . . . to touch, to taste, to see, to hear, to feel, to laugh and to love.

Now that was easy wasn't it.  And I won't stop there . . . I also want to add to cry, because tears are an amazing elixer, both cleansing and healing.  I cannot imagine not being able to cry.

If you really think about it it would be quite, quite impossible to enjoy all of those other esteemed wonders of the World without my personal seven wonders of the world . . . seven (eight if you count the tears) things which are God given and natural to each of us . . . things which we all can and have experienced . . . and things which can bring each one of us wonder.

And yet . . . we take them quite, quite for granted.  We really shouldn't.

Now that's some food for thought for today, don't you think?

"Love is the very essence of life. It is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Yet it is not found only at the end of the rainbow. Love is at the beginning also, and from it springs the beauty that arches across the sky on a stormy day. Love is the security for which children weep, the yearning of youth, the adhesive that binds marriage, and the lubricant that prevents devastating friction in the home; it is the peace of old age, the sunlight of hope shining through death. How rich are those who enjoy it in their associations with family, friends, and neighbors! Love, like faith, is a gift of God. It is also the most enduring and most powerful virtue."  
~Gordon B Hinckley


Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . Gingerbread Baby Bundt Cakes with a Cinnamon Glaze.

Happy Day all!  It is my wish and prayer for you that you can capture the "Wonder" that waits for you in your today.


Wednesday, 26 December 2012

And it came to pass . . .

Source: via Angela on Pinterest

Christmas Day is short . . . and over all too soon.   We spend weeks preparing and then in a few hours it is past . . . thankfully the memories live long.   The gifts, the food . . . the candles and the tree . . . they are not all by any means.  As I turn off the tree before bedding down at the end of day . . . I hear a glass ball fall to the floor . . . plop, it explodes softly.  The day has gone like the glass ball . . . the smiles and excitement over for this year . . . but as I sweep it up into my dustpan I catch a glimpse of myself in the shards and I am touched by the shining moment that this Christmas was for me, despite my horrible cold and stuffed up nose . . .

The brilliant sight of two grandsons, a son and a daughter in law . . . in the matching jim jams opening up their presents together  via the i pad, a fabulous piece of technology which allows me to watch my two angels Gabriel and Luke come down the stairs together . . . catching perfectly the excitement in their faces and voices as they glimpse the tree for the first time.  Santa has been and I am watching it with wonder and joy and a teensie little tug on my heart strings because I cannot be there . . . but it is short lived, because I am filled at the same time with gratitude that I am able to be there even in this smallest of ways.   And we can see them and they can see us and the love . . . it's there too.  And I am grateful for a son who is sentimental and loving and . . . so very kind and thoughtful.

A Christmas Dinner that I couldn't really taste . . . it was a bit cardboardy because of my cold, but Todd said it was delicious and he enjoyed it very much . . . the usual turkey, sprouts, stuffing, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, bacon wrapped chipolatas,  gravy and cranberry sauce.  It did look pretty on the plate.  We sent plates over to our guests in their home because I daren't risk infecting them with my germs . . . they appreciated.    I did the cooking.  Todd did the clean up, and Mitzie enjoyed a little plate of her own, minus any potatoes, onions and the like . . . traditions.

The Queen's Christmas message at 3 pm and knowing that halfway around the world my son was listening to it via the radio.   Traditions kept, even if you are thousands of miles apart.  Makes my heart smile.  This was the first year it had been shown in 3D.  Amazing stuff.  We don't have a 3D telly, and I'm not sure what difference that would make . . . but it was nice all the same.

Family voices on the telephone from afar . . . mom, dad . . . Eileen and Tim.  Remembering a phone call on Christmas Eve from my dear Lura and her grandchildren singing "We wish you a Merry Christmas" to us . . .  they all delight my heart and make it smile.

Family, friends . . . love.  That is Christmas.

Christmas pudding later in the day because we are neither one of us very hungry or have enough room for it right after dinner . . . Todd does love his Christmas Pudding.  He looks forward to it every year, doused with custard of course.  He thinks he looks grumpy in this photo . . . but I think I just caught him by surprise and he's enjoying his pudding.  Nothing else matters . . .


Watching Mama Mia on the telly together . . . adoring the music and the fun.  Julie Walters, what a joy she is in this.  We've watched it a million times . . . and the message of promiscuity is not the best message in the world . . . but we do so love the music and the bounciness of it all.   We sing along, and it's good.   I croaked.  Todd sung . . .

A sweet pup who doesn't quite get it . . . but she loves the turkey and she loves us . . . and we are happy, so she is happy.

Such is joy.

And so as I sweep up the shards of glass my heart is full of the joy that was my Christmas 2012, and I send up a special prayer for those I love and know so well, and those I love and know not so well.  I hope their day was  also blessed in small and special ways just like mine.

God bless us . . . everyone.

Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . .  Curried Cranberry and Pistachio Rice.

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ”
― Roy L. Smith 

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas morning thoughts of 2012 . . .

The Christmas mornings of all of my childhood were colored in the same way throughout my growing up years . . . whispered hushing as tiny feet tiptoe into the living room  . . . a room all aglow with nothing but the lights from the Christmas tree.  The sun is not up yet.  Carols are playing.   The magic has arrived.  What was once bare floor just the night before,  is now awash with a seeming multitude of gaily wrapped shapes and lumps beneath the tree.  The magic has begun.

The excitement is so tangible you can almost cut it with a knife . . . tempered with grownup yawns from parents who didn't quite get as much sleep as they would have liked, and having had to awaken far much earlier than they had hoped.  But the feeling is catchy and they are soon just as buoyant as we are . . .
They have now had their energy boosted with mugs of steaming hot coffee, the elixir of the gods . . .

The next little while is filled with oohs and aahs and sounds of glee . . . and ripping paper, thank yous and wows.  In the kitchen mom begins to make some noise as she starts to fry our eggs for breakfast . . . but little brother already has a barley candy toy hanging out of his mouth . . . he will have no appetite for eggs, or toast or anything else.

Always there is a colouring book for each and a new box of crayons, and a bowl holding a tangerine, some hard candy, soft creams, ribbon candy and perhaps a chocolate and a nut or two.   The other gifts vary from year to year and age to age, but they always please, even if they are not always the things you had on your list.  We are filled with gratitude regardless . . . and happy with what we have.

We spend the day wearing our best clothes whilst we colour and play . . . father snoozes in his chair . . . and mother busies herself in the kitchen pulling together the Christmas Feast.  The lights still twinkle . . . the music still plays . . . father snores . . .

It is not long before the air is punctuated with the smell of Roasting Turkey and stuffing . . .  and little tummies begin to grumble in anticipation of what is to come.

Tender turkey . . . awash with mom's special gravy . . . mounds of fluffy mashed potatoes, carrots . . . peas . . . stuffing that we all love and can't get enough of.  As many times as I try to duplicate it now as an adult . . . it somehow never, ever tastes as good as the memory of hers does . . . we eat and we eat  . . . mincemeat pie and fruit cake, Christmas cookies.

We eat until we feel like we will never want to eat again . . . but a few hours later, we are at it again . . . after an afternoon spent in play and fuss . . . we dine on turkey sandwiches and potato chips and possibly a date or feather square . . . a moist slice of fruit cake, and then we settle in to watch something on the telly together.  The Queen's message is long gone, having been devoured much earlier in the day, tonight is the time for Andy Williams, Red Skelton . . . Bing and Frank . . . and Danny Kaye.

It is a simple time, filled with simple pleasures and joys . . . family and a deep abiding gratitude for the greatest gift of all.  Our hearts are tinged with it . . . our minds are bathed in it . . . can you feel it?

It's love.  And it's ours.  And it's true.

Merry Christmas one and all.