Saturday, 31 August 2013

Saturday This and That . . .

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 So we had an absolutely fabulous day on the farm yesterday!!  As long as the day was and as exhausted as we were when we returned home last evening, we both had to agree it was a day well spent.  I haven't had time to download or go through any of  my photographs yet, but look for a post on our day at Yeo Valley really soon!   If you ever, EVER have the chance to go there and take the farm tour, be sure to take it.  It's fabulous!

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When we went to Gloucester Todd did not sleep the whole night before we left.  This time it was my turn.  Even though we did everything humanly possible to ensure our having had a good night's sleep. I did not sleep a wink.  I wonder why that is???  I often have problems sleeping if I have something special to do the next day, which is just when you don't want to have insomnia.   It was the same when I flew to Canada in April.  Up all night tossing and turning and looking at the clock.  Thankfully with the long journey on the train I had the opportunity to catch a few winks.   I didn't sleep actually . . . but was able to rest somewhat.  Does anyone else have this problem before they go/do something  or somewhere special?   What do you do to combat it???

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Mind, I am a bit of an insomniac anyways. I often have problems falling asleep and staying asleep.  My father is the same way.  I just can't seem to turn my brain off.  It just keeps ticking and ticking.   The other night I tried everything . . . praying, counting . . . having a glass of milk.

Nothing worked.  I guess some nights are just like that . . .

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As most of you know I have been taking an Art Class based on the art of Modigliani.  This was a piece I did the other day in Conte soft pastels on Murano Pastel Paper.  I used a piece of dark grey paper.  It had a nice tooth to it and captured the colour brilliantly.  I quite enjoyed doing it.   This piece took me about 15 minutes, which isn't very long at all.   I called it "In the Orchard."  I think I may frame this one and hang it in the house.  I may offer it as prints as well.  It all depends on interest shown.

I also have some good news re the children's book I have written.

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There has been interest shown, not only in the book, but in all of my artwork in general.  We shall see what happens there.  Early days yet, but very promising.   Please keep your fingers crossed for me.  I have been struggling since I lost my job at the manor to find another way of bringing in an income.  It's been very difficult.   Todd only has his basic state pension coming in and receives a small stipend because he is married, but each month which passes we struggle more and  more, and have had to make some very difficult choices.  Our food storage has taken a real beating . . . and with the cost of petrol, we have had to be a lot more choosy about where we go in the car.  With an MOT looming, we are faced with the possibility that we may even have to take our car completely off the road.  (If we have another experience with the MOT like we had last year especially!)  There is no way we can afford to have any work done on it at all.   Me being able to find some form of employment which I can actually do is really important to us, and as everyone knows the job market is very poor at the moment for even the fittest and most educated people, never mind an almost 60 year old woman with severe arthritis!  We have been praying and praying that something would come up and I have tried my darnedest over these past three and a half years to come up with something.  My biggest problem is I don't know how to market myself.

I stop sometimes and wonder if my stuff just isn't good enough . . . the self doubt creeps in, as it can with all of us I am sure.   But then I look at it, and then I look at what other people are doing and quite successfully and I think no . . . my stuff is just as good as anyone else's.  It's just a matter of getting the right break at the right time.  And so . . . I live in hope!

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I finished this book the other night when I wasn't able to sleep and was shocked at the end of it.  I didn't see that coming!  You MUST read it, you really MUST!

My sister and I always dreamt of writing a novel of sorts.  I think we should do it.  Together I think we would come up with a real cracking read!  Or maybe not.  ☺

I am just babbling now actually . . . I am still quite tired from not having slept on Thursday night and then all the walking, etc. yesterday.  (Which I am really proud of myself for being able to keep up with) so I will let you go now because you are probably getting really tired from reading my babble!

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I'll just leave you with a happy thought for the day . . .

☾ °☆  . * ¸.   ★ 
Laughter is timeless,
Imagination has no age,
And dreams are forever
☾ °☆  . * ¸.   ★ 

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I am sharing all of my tips on Cake Bakery today, over in The English Kitchen.

Happy a Fabulous Saturday!!  The sun is shining here!


Thursday, 29 August 2013

A very sister kind of a post . . .

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 “Sister. She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she's the reason you wish you were an only child.” 
~Barbara Alpert   

This is a photograph of my sister and I.  I am on the left, she on the right.  I think I was about six years old in this and she about three.  I love her ringlets.  My mother must have had to work really hard to get those into her hair.   Her hair has always been poker straight and could never hold a curl very easily.  I see love in this picture.  Pure and simple . . . and true.

My sister has always been my best friend.  I know . . . when my mother first brought her home from the hospital I told her to take her back, I didn't want her . . . but it didn't take very long for that to change.  I reckon out of all the gifts I have been given in this world . . . my sister has been one of the greatest of them all.

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This is a picture of me pushing my sister around in my doll carriage.  She had fallen asleep in it.  I'm not sure how, as it does look very cramped, but . . . she did anyways, and I have books piled on top of her too. I did try to make her comfy with a pillow though.  (In my defense.)  This shows you the relationship we had with each other even as young children.   My sister would do anything for me then . . . and she would do anything for me now.  And all through the intervening years she has been there for me always . . .

Through my early teenage years when I was going through a rough time  at school and being bullied and teased.   Through my older teenage years when I could quite easily gone off the rails.   Through my raising of five children, two divorces, a bazillion moves, and everything that life entails and throws at you . . .  she's been there.

With a measure of  love and acceptance, no matter how or what . . . or when.

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I admire her.   She is one of the most courageous people I know.  She always has been.  I am not sure she knows that about herself, but it's true.  She's always been brave and not afraid to stand up for herself or what is right, or the underdog . . . she always had my back.   Even when she may have thought what I was doing was wrong, or a mistake . . . she always had my back, and I could count on her strength and courage in all situations.

Even now I admire her courage.  It wasn't easy for her to quit her job, and just up stakes and leave everything that was familiar, including her children . . . to go to a place she hadn't lived in for Thirty Eight years just to take care of our mom.  That takes immeasurable courage and sacrifice untold.

She didn't do it for her.  She did it for us.  For all of us . . . and I, for one, am truly grateful.

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She's much more than a sister to me.  She's a friend through thick and thin and the best of it and the worst of it.  She would never give me a bum steer . . . or bad advice or counsel.   She has always been my voice of reason when it comes to the really important stuff.   She helps me to see things in a different light . . . never judging me . . . gently cajoling me with a spirit of love and wisdom . . . and respect.

“There were once two sisters who were not afriad of the dark because the dark was full of the other's voice across the room, because even when the night was thick and starless they walked home together from the river seeing who could last the longest without turning on her flashlight, not afraid because sometimes in the pitch of night they'd lie on their backs in the middle of the path and look up until the stars came back and when they did, they'd reach their arms up to touch them and did.” 
~Jandy Nelson

We understand each other in a special and unique way, and share something that we can never and will never be able to share with anyone else.  Through all of my growing up years I lay in bed each night listening to her deep and even breathing in our shared room, like a comfortable and warming blanket.  We did not ever really need words between us . . . we know how the other feels and thinks without words . . .

We know each other's heart and soul.

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There is a thread that joins us.  It is a thread which has the strength of a thousand warriors and the light of a million moons.   A thread which has stood the test of time and never weakened, only gotten stronger and more tangible.  Thousands of miles may separate us  in body . . . but we are never more than a millisecond away in heart, bound together we are . . . bound together, inseparable

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And I wanted her to know how very much I love her, and admire her, and . . . yes, cherish her.  Other friends may come and go.  Life may change drastically from one day to the next.  We may have a more than few hundred tomorrows to come, or we may have only a very few.  Nobody knows for sure.  It's a roll of the dice on the shifting sands of time.  I just wanted to pause today and let her know I care, and I admire, and I appreciate . . . and I love.

A thought to carry with you through the day . . .

We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us
so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid,
or we can let them soften us, and make us kinder.
We always have the choice.
~Dalai Lama
(¸♫´ (¸.♫´´¯`•.¸¸.Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ  

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Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . a tasty Corn and Pasta Bake.

Have a wonderful Thursday people!!  I won't be here tomorrow.  We will be leaving for the train about 5:30 am, and won't be back until gone 8pm, so I'll see you all on Saturday!


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Small and Wonderful Things . . .

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"The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But who gets excited by a mere penny?...It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won't stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted with pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. what you see is what you get." ~Anne Dillard 

A few of the small and wonderful things which bring untold joy into my life.   It's the small things in life which truly mean the most.  Simple abundance . . . it's the best.

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Being able to and loving reading. I'm grateful for a father who taught me to love reading the written word from a very young age.  Being able to read opens up a world of beautiful possibililties for the one who can read.   I have been able to see and experience many things just by reading books.  Reading has given me a much larger world and broadened my experience.  It has taught me many things I would otherwise have never known.  Throughout my life books have been my friends, my inspiration, my teacher . . . some books I have read feel like family.  I like to revisit them from time to time, and each time I read them I am inspired by their pages all over again.  I have a kindle which makes reading in bed much easier for me . . . but I doubt these electronic readers will ever fully compensate for the joy to be found in holding an actually book in your hands and the feeling you get when you rifle through it's pages . . . the smell of the paper, the feel of them beneath your hands.  Books and the written word . . . they are like magic carpets can which take you to faraway lands and places.

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Downton Abbey.  I just adore this show.   We are watching all of seasons 1, 2 and 3 again whilst we await the return of it and season 4.  This is "Can't Get Enough of It" television.   I was trying to think of reasons why I love it so very much yesterday.  The characters are very human and realistically portrayed.   You even find yourself loving the dowager Countess of Grantham, Lady Violet Crawley, who is an impeccable snob.  This is a program which gives us a glimpse into a life that only snatches of exist today.  It makes you laugh.  It makes you cry.   Sometimes it makes you angry.  It always, always entertains.  I love the costumes.  I love the characters.  I love the realism of it.

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Having worked for the very wealthy, I think it is pretty much spot on.  They truly do live in a different world than we do.  I can't wait for Season 4, although I was broken hearted and a bit annoyed when Matthew Crawley died at the end of the last Christmas special.  What is next for Lady Mary?   We shall have to tune in to find out what comes next.

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Cookies and milk.  Milk and cookies.  It never gets old.  It is a love I have enjoyed since I was a child.  I only ever very rarely will sit down and have a glass of milk.  When I do . . . I have a cookie too.  Don't judge me.  ☺  The two just go together like peas and carrots and I appreciate them and am grateful that I do.

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The comfort of our bed at the end of the day.  It always feels to wonderful to slip back between the sheets and be at rest.  I love being able to reach out during the night and feel my husband next to me . . . and yet . . .

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I still have my own space.  The value of twin beds can never be underestimated.   I am so glad we went with that idea.

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The hydrangea in the garden at the moment.  They amaze me.  We have several different kinds in a variety of colours, but mostly pink and white.   They are just brilliant.  Each year I tell myself I am going to cut some and dry them so that we can enjoy their blooms all year round, but I don't and then wish I did.  Will this be the year??   One never knows . . .

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I never know what is the opportune moment to pick them for this purpose.   I know there must be a perfect time to do it in.  Can anyone enlighten me?

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Each day that follows the day before.  Each morning when I open my eyes I am grateful for a new day beginning.   I think each day that we are given is a precious commodity.  Worth more than all the gold and silver and jewels in the world and beyond.  Each day is a gift and will never come again.   I am grateful for a heart and mind which recognize this truth and for the ability to make the most and the best of each day I am given, for as long as I am given them.

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Beautiful sunrises.  I am a morning person.  I love being up early and watching the sun rise up on the horizon.  Sunrises are like opening a gift and there is a new one each day to open.  May I ever feel this way . . .

A thought to carry with you through today . . .

 As each day comes to us refreshed and anew,
so does my gratitude renew itself daily.
The breaking of the sun over the horizon
is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world.
~Terri Guillemets  

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A simple side dish in The English Kitchen today . . . Browned Onion Mash.  Deliciously simple and filled with fabulous flavours!

Have a fabulous Wednesday! 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Simple Woman's Day Book

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 FOR TODAY August 27th, 2013

Outside my window...
It'slooking like it's going to be  a nice day.  We have had the most beautiful summer this year.  It's more than made up for all of the rotten ones we've had over the past few years!

I am thinking...

It's a great thing when you realize
you still have the ability to surprise yourself.
Makes you wonder what else you can do
that you've forgotten about.
~Alan Ball

I love surprising myself.  When I was a girl my father used to say to me that there was nothing to fear but fear itself.  (I think I must get my love of quotes from him.)  The older I become the more I see the wisdom in his words.  There is no such thing as I can't . . . only I'll at least try!

I am thankful...
I am thankful for this life filled with blessings I am living.   Oh sure . . . there are things that I wish were different.  Nobody lives a perfect life, but mine is pretty dang close!

In the kitchen...
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Check it out in The English Kitchen today . . . one very delicious Goats Cheese,Tomato and Olive Tart.   This is a simple recipe and very tasty!

.I am wearing...
Nothing new here! Yep, in my nightie!

I am creating...

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I am loving these free printables from Hello Bee.   Aren't they just the sweetest thing?  What a sweet way to remind someone of how much you care and how very much you appreciate all that they do!

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I found these cute clothes pins here.   What a fabulous idea!  Its one of those things you see and you hit yourself on the forehead and say DOH!   Why didn't I think of that!

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Love these Painted Stones.  (They're on Etsy.)  I used to paint a lot on stones and rocks, because they were free canvases.   One year I could not afford to buy Christmas presents for my parents or my Mother In Law and so I painted rocks for them.  We sent them to them via bus.  My mother still has hers, I'm not sure about my Mother in Law . . . but my father never ever did get his . . . I often wonder where it ended up.

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I always loved embroidering samplers.  This one is by Butternut Road and you can get it at   I don't know about in America.   I still have all of my embroidery threads . . . perhaps I should pick them up again.  Seeing this here this morning has created a longing in my heart to do some embroidery.

I am going...
I may go into town today with Todd to pay the rent, or I may not.  On Friday we are going down to Yeo Valley Farm in North Sommerset for the day.  It will be a very long day as we will be leaving here at about 5 am and won't get back until after 8 in the evening.  Our good friend Peter is going to come and let Mitzie out a few times, which is very good of him.  Other than that we have no firm plans to do anything.

I am wondering...
Do blackberry vines travel underground and then spring up elsewhere?  The reason I ask this is because our Tayberry bush has suddenly started growing Blackberries???  Not that I am complaining.  We like berries of all kinds.

I am reading...
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The Colour of Milk, by Nell Leyshon
The year is eighteen hundred and thirty one when fifteen-year-old Mary begins the difficult task of telling her story. A scrap of a thing with a sharp tongue and hair the colour of milk, Mary leads a harsh life working on her father's farm alongside her three sisters. In the summer she is sent to work for the local vicar's invalid wife, where the reasons why she must record the truth of what happens to her - and the need to record it so urgently - are gradually revealed.

This is can't put it down.   Written in the first person as if Mary herself is writing it down, it is compelling and haunting and beautifully crafted.  I have to tear myself away.  I highly recommend.  It's not a very big book or a long book to read, but it's beautifully written and well worth the read.

I am hoping...
Todd wasn't very well yesterday.  I am hoping he feels much better today.

I am looking forward to...
The changing of the leaves.   I love the Autumn colours, sights, smells, sounds  . . . even it it means Winter is not far behind them arriving.

I am learning...
I need to work on just letting go . . .

Around the house...
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If money was no object and we owned this house, I would replace the picture window next to the dining area here in the lounge with French Doors to the outside, so we could bring the garden in on sunny days.  I'd also push the back wall out from the kitchen and extend it out by about 8 feet or so and get rid of the existing wall between the kitchen and the dining area.  That would make for a much larger kitchen space and open up the dining space at the same time.  Dreams, dreams . . .

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An outdoor bread oven would be nice too . . . I'm really dreaming here.

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While I'm at it . . . a tire swing wouldn't go amiss.  Mind . . . you'd have to have a tree large enough to host it, but this is a dream . . .

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And whilst I am still dreaming . . . why not?   I would love to have some chickens, laying hens.  We have the perfect sized yard for them.   I wonder what Mitzie would do?

I am pondering...
I am wondering when I will get my painting mojo back.  It's been in a funk since I was sick.  Please, please . . . bring it back soon!

A favorite quote for today...  

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In the garden I tend to drop
my thoughts here and there.
To the flowers I whisper the secrets
I keep and the hopes I breathe.
I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels.

One of my favorite things... 

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I am partial to red and white anything.  It is one of my favourite colour combinations.  I have always loved red and white together and fall in love when I see it.  I also like blue and white.  Oh and . . . white white.  Maybe I am just patriotic?

A few plans for the rest of the week:
I am looking forward to our Friday adventure!  I also have a newsletter to get out for my church, and an activity to plan for the ladies.

A peek into my day...  
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I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I spend a great deal of my time in prayer and reflection, even if I am doing other things at the same time.  I don't know where I would be without it.  Prayer is the backbone of my day.

A thought to carry with you through today:


"Allow yourself to feel the wonder, to drink in the beauty and 
to experience the special time and place where you are. 
Life is always special, so live it accordingly."
 ~ Ralph Marston

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I wish for you a beautiful day filled with wonder!!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Monday thoughts . . .

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I would have to say that the one thing I am most proud of in my life is bringing up five beautiful, happy and well adjusted children.   I love them with all of my heart, just as any mother does.  I tried to do my best for them when they were growing up, and I know that I fell short of the mark from time to time.   Who doesn't.  We are none of us perfect after all . . .

Sitting in church yesterday listening to the talks and watching all the young familys sitting around us my heart was pricked, and I was touched with thoughts on what I would have my children know.  Bits of wisdom as it were . . . someday I hope they read these words and that they will take them into their hearts.

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First I want them to know that in life there are no "Do Overs."  Words and deeds, once out there . . . cannot be taken back.   You can never recapture time wasted or opportunities missed.  There will be other times and other opportunities . . . but not like the first ones.  Play with your children while you can.  Hug them.  Love them.  You can do "Do betters," but you can't regain easily what has already been lost.

Time passes, and it passes far too quickly.  One minute you are changing nappies and getting up during the night and the next you are standing at the door with tears running down your cheeks, watching your baby drive off to college and a life without you . . . and the years inbetween those moments will seem to have passed in the twinkle of an eye.  Time waits for no man, and this day will never come again.

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Never give up.  The only failure in life is the one who hasn't tried.  If you fall  off the horse while trying, get back on.  Keep trying. Keep believing.  Keep moving forward.  Standing still is not an option.

Believe in yourself.  If you can't believe in yourself . . . however could you expect anyone else to believe in you.  Know that you are special, that you are loved, that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.   Be positive about your life, your job, your family, your friends . . . yourself.

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Always put your best foot forward.  Nobody can ask any more of you than that. If you always try your hardest to do your best, then sink or swim . . . you will always know that you gave it your best go.  I would rather give my best and fail . . . than not try at all and always wonder about what might have been.

It's never too late to change.  Never.  The great deceiver would have us believe that it is, but he is lying.  God promises us that it is NEVER too late and we must trust in that promise, and even if we don't see the blessings from change happen right away, we must know that they will come in His timing and in His way.  Trust.   Believe.   Have faith.

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Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. It is not good to hang on to grudges or ill feelings towards another or yourself.  The person you harbor them against seldom even knows how you feel, much less cares.   Hating them, wishing them ill,  bearing a grievance against them only hides your light.  Let.  It.  Go.

Fill your life with good people and good things.  Take joy in simplicity, for you will find at the end of your days that it was the simple things which mattered most of all . . . the tender moments, the sweet smiles, kind words, loving gestures . . . time spent with family and friends.  Relationships are everything.

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A life spent pursuing nothing but selfish endeavors is a life wasted.  There is joy immeasurable to be found in the treasure of having given of yourself . . . your time . . . your emotions . . . your talents . . . your wealth, etc.   My mother was given an orange one year for Christmas.  She tucked it away in the back of a dresser drawer, wanting to save it's preciousness for a later time.  It rotted and was no good to anyone.  An orange tucked away will one day go off  . . . but sliced into bits and shared brings joy to all who taste of it's sweetness.

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You are special.  The son or daughter of a King.  You have immeasurable worth and value in His eyes.  Know who you are and live it.  Don't let a world lost in chaos define who you are.  Don't ever measure yourself by it's values.  Know what is right and what is true . . . and then live your life according to those values.  Truth never changes.

but most important of all I would want them to know this . . .

You are loved . . . forever and always.  No matter what.

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Family . . . it's everything.

A thought to carry with you through today . . .

"When we have sampled much and have wandered far and have seen how fleeting and sometimes superficial a lot of the world is, our gratitude grows for the privilege of being part of something we can count on—home and family and the loyalty of loved ones. We come to know what it means to be bound together by duty, by respect, by belonging. We learn that nothing can fully take the place of the blessed relationship of family life." 
~Thomas S Monson

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There's a delicious BLT Sandwich on offer in The English Kitchen today.   Fabulous.  If this isn't the world's best . . . I'll eat my hat!

Have a fabulous Monday people!!