Wednesday 30 September 2009

Finding light in the cracks . . .

"There's a crack, a crack in everything . . .

that's how the light gets in, that's how the light gets in."
~Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"

We do not lead perfect lives. We make mistakes, and we often stumble on the paths we have taken. Sometimes we make decisions that turn out to be the wrong ones, and so we must bear the consquences of having chosen badly. Sometimes we don't exactly put our full efforts into things that we are doing and, again, we bear the consequence of our having fallen short of our ideals.

Sometimes we suffer, through no action of our own, but as the consequence of someone else's wrong doing. It doesn't seem fair somehow, but it happens anyways . . . sometimes life can seem, quite . . . quite . . . hopeless.

I love the above line in this song by Leonard Cohen. It helps to remind me that no matter what my shortcomings . . . it is through them . . . the "cracks" in my life, that I am able to see the Light of Christ shine. It is through our flaws that He enters our lives, and then . . . it is our choice to let Him shine out again.

Just my thoughts on this early Thursday morning.

My, but we have had a lovely autumn so far this year. The days have been warm and sunny for the most part here in the South Eastern part of the UK. It's been lovely and I have noticed that there don't seem to be as many wasps so far this year. Could it be because it has been so dry? I don't know . . . but I'm not complaining. I really dislike the things!!

It seems hard to believe that we are already in the month of October! This past year has really flown by. Already I noticed that they have put out all the Christmas goodies in the grocery shops. The shelves are stocked with Christmas puddings and cakes, and mince pies of course! I'm not sure how I feel about that. It seems a bit early to me, but I expect that it is a good thing in a way as it allows you to purchase all your Christmas treats a few at a time so that it is not all a huge expense at the last minute. I expect it only seems strange to me because back in Canada, the shelves would be filled with Thanksgiving and Halloween goodies at this time . . . not Christmas, and it is only, after those holidays are done, that the Christmas stuff would come out.

I miss Thanksgiving. Oh sure, I know I could celebrate it anyways, but somehow it doesn't seem quite the same if everyone else is not celebrating it as well! It's the Canadian one on the 12th of October this year and the American one on the 26th of November. I think I prefer the American date. It seems to kick off the Christmas season in a good fashion!

Anyways, I have prattled on long enough this morning, I expect you are a bit tired of reading it. I'm not sure if I have posted this tasty cookie recipe for you before or not, but in any case this is what you are getting today! These are just gorgeous! Todd and I both love them!

*Yummy Filled Gingersnaps*
Makes 2 dozen
Printable Recipe

These lovely cookies are not a "Blow your head off" kind of ginger cookie. The ginger flavour, whilst there, is very subtle. Eaten on the day they are filled, they are crisp, but left longer they soften up. I like them crisp, I like them soft . . . that's not a problem for me, but if you do want to keep them crisp, then only fill them on the day you want to serve them.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 TBS ground ginger
1/4 cup maple syrup (not pancake syrup, but the real deal)
1 large egg, beaten
To Fill:
1 cup raspberry jam, or strawberry jam, or apricot jam, or plum jam
also can use chocolate ganache (white or milk), nutella or dulce de leche

Pre-heat the oven to 190*C/375*F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Cream butter, shortening and 1 cup of the sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the maple syrup and the egg. Sift together the flour, soda,salt, cinnamon and ginger. Blend this into the creamed mixture, mixing it in well.

Place the other cup of sugar into a bowl. Scoop out 2 tsp sized portions of the cookie dough and roll it into balls. Roll each ball in sugar, then place on the baking sheets, spacing them 3 inches apart.

Bake for 12 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and lift off onto wire racks to cool. Repeat until all the cookies are baked.

Once the cookies are all baked and cooled, sandwich pairs of them together with a bit of jam in the middle, or any one of the other suggestions. My favourite is seedless raspberry jam. Enjoy!!

It's not turkey, but it's tasty . . . delicious Chicken Kiev over on The English Kitchen!
Super scrumptious and very easy to make from scratch!

Today is the best day of your life . . .

Once upon a time, not so far away, a primary teacher stopped to speak to one of his students who was standing all by himself in the playground during break time, looking very forlorn and dejected.

"Michael," he asked, "Why is today the best day of your life?"

Michael looked at him with a puzzled face. "I don't know sir," was his reply. "It doesn't feel like it."

His teacher smiled down at him. "But, I am right, Michael," he said. "Just think about it. You have never been taller than you are today. You have never been stronger than you are today. You have never been wiser than you are today. Today is the best day of your life. Congratulations!"

Michael looked up at him with a huge grin on his face, and then ran off to join his companions. He suddenly felt taller, stronger and wiser, which felt very . . . very . . . good!

Today is the best day of each of our lives, as is each day that passes. With each new day comes new opportunites and blessings . . . the opportunity to grow and to learn and a day filled with promise. Each day is yours to do with what you will. Will you make it worth the time . . . or will you squander it away . . . the choice is yours to make. It can be the worst day . . . or it can be the best day. It's all up to you!

I just love potatoes. For me, they are one of the ultimate comfort foods. I have never been able to do well on a low carb diet, because I adore them so much. They are my favourite vegetable and when you combine them with cheese, onion, cream . . . well, you'll see . . . this is peasant food from France, and oh so very delicious!

Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Mmm . . . potatoes, onions, mushrooms, creamy cheese and bacon. What more could you want?

7 ounces of proscuitto, in one piece
2 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise, and then cut into
1/2 inch wide half moons
1 cooking onion, peeled and chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
6 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces dry white wine
9 ounces creme fraiche
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
500g of Reblochon, rind removed
salt and black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 240*C/475*F. Cut the proscuitto into 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inch strips. Place into a large skillet and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or so, until the fat has melted away from the meat. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the potato and onion to the pan drippings. Increase the heat to medium high and cool for about 5 minutes or so, until the onions have softened. Add the thyme and the mushrooms. Cook, stirring until the mushrooms are wilted. Add the wine, increasing the heat to high and bring to the boil. Cook for a minute, then remove from the heat. Stir in the creme fraiche and garlic. Mix well. Add the proscuitto and season to taste with some salt and pepper. Pour into a buttered shallow casserole dish. Dice the cheese and scatter it over the top. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 190*C/375*F and cook for a further 30 minutes until the potato is tender. This goes wonderfully with a tossed green salad.

Note* If you can't find Reblochon, you can use Taleggio, Fontina, Vacherin or a firm Brie cheese.

And for even more comfort, looking from the sweet side of things . . . there's a mighty tasty rice pudding on show at The English Kitchen. mmm . . . mmm . . . good.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Look who's for sale . . .

Just listed in my Etsy Shop, the sweetest Bear Angel, just in time to grace your Christmas Tree, or standing on her own. Crafted from 100% Warm and Natural needled cotton quilt bat with a hand sculpted head and face, a pretty cotton dress in a holly print with red machine embroidery and silver ruffled lame trim, real feather wings, and adorned with a lovely gold and silver metallic ribbon heart. She is truly one of a kind

You can see her in her entirity HERE on my Art page, or check her out in my Etsy Shop!

A guy named Bill . . .

I'd like to share a little story with you today about a guy named Bill. Bill is a pretty ordinary guy . . . a college student, very casual, with wild hair. He favours holey t-shirts, tattered jeans and walks around in his bare feet most of the time. You might call him a kind of a natural guy, a down to earth soul.

He's brilliantly intelligent, and very very bright, not that you would be able to tell by looking at him, but when he opens his mouth . . . wow. He became a Christian when he first started college. Right across the street from his college campus there is a very conservative church, attended by a fairly well to do conservative bunch of people. They have been wanting to develop a student ministry for a while now, but haven't been really sure of how to go about it.

One Sunday, Bill decided that he was going to attend a church service there. In he walks with no shoes, his tattered jeans, holey t-shirt and wild hair. He's a bit late getting there, so the service has already started, but that's no problem for Bill. He walks up the aisle towards the front looking for a place to sit. The church is completely packed and so he finally ends up plunking down on the carpet, right in front of the pulpit. You can hear a pin drop in the chapel. People are looking around them, seemingly quite uncomfortable with what's happened, but they keep quiet about it. You can cut the tension in the air with a knife.

All of a sudden an elderly man begins to make his way up the aisle from the back of the church. He's probably in his 80's or so. His hair is silver and thin, and he is wearing a lovely three piece suit . . . the chain from his gold pocket watch hanging "just so" out of his pocket. Elegant, very dignified, courtly . . . he walks with a cane and as he starts walking towards Bill, you can hear the people beginning to murmur to themselves. You can't really blame the elderly man for what he's going to do . . . they think . . . how can you expect a man of his age and background to understand some college kid on the floor.

It takes a long time for the man to reach the front of the church and the boy. Everything is suddenly very silent as the two come together, all eyes focused on the pair of them . . . breath held in anticipation of what is to come . . .

The man drops his cane and then, with great difficulty, he lowers himself to the floor and sits down next to Bill, having decided to worship with Bill so that he won't be alone. Everyone chokes up with emotion at having witnessed this beautiful exchange.

When the minister finally gains control he looks out at the congregation and says . . .

"What I'm about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget."

I like to think that the ground at the foot of the cross is even and smooth, allowing each one of us, irrespective of race, faith, wealth, intelligence . . . whatever . . . to stand level and next to each other there, all being equal and loved without reserve. It's a beautiful thing.

Just my thoughts this morning. I'll be in bed snoozing away when you read this. I'll be back tommorrow bright eyed and busy tailed! In the meantime here's a very tasty recipe for you to drool over.

*Buffalo Ribs*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

These are lip smacking, finger licking good!! This is the same sauce I use to make my baked buffalo wings, so I thought why not give it a go on some tasty pork ribs. Fantabulous!!!

4 to 5 pounds of rack ribs
(The ribs cut off from a pork loin)
4 TBS honey
4 TBS tomato ketchup
2 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
1 TBS hot pepper sauce (according to taste, more or less)
1 TBS Smoked Paprika with sweet red peppers and thyme
(I got mine at Marks and Sparks)

Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F. LIne a large baking tray with tinfoil. Lay the ribs on top of the foil and then place into the heated oven. Bake for 30 minutes.

While the ribs are baking mix the honey, ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce and Smoked Paprika spice together with a whisk. At the end of the half hour remove the ribs from the oven and brush with the mixture. Return the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes basting with the sauce mixture every five minutes, until they are nicely glazed. Remove from the oven and cut into 3 or 4 rib width portions to serve. Pass the napkins!

Pop on over to The English Kitchen if you fancy a taste of a delicious Apple, Cheese and Blackberry Jam Tart!

Monday 28 September 2009

The Simple Woman's Day Book . . .

FOR TODAY, September 28th, 2009 ...

Outside My Window...

It is actually midnight, the night before. I can't sleep, which is really annoying. I am going to have to work all night tonight (Monday) and I need my sleep tonight more than ever . . . I hate it when that happens. So . . . outside my window, it is dark. Very, very dark.

I am thinking...
I'm actually wondering why it is you can be falling asleep in front of the telly and then when you get into bed . . . you wake right up. It just doesn't make sense.

I am thankful for...
I am so very thankful that this doesn't happen every night.

From the kitchen...
Hmmm . . . there's the muffins left over from yesterday, some crusty bread and a pile of cookbooks just sitting there waiting for me to pick something out of them to make. I think it's the old thing where you can't see the forest for the trees. I had found a delish looking recipe the other day for these cookies using meringue and saltines, but do you think I can find it now?

I am wearing...
Turquoise PJ's, with polka dot pants! Very comfy

I am creating...

I did something really cute earlier today. It's a Teddy Bear Angel. I will be listing her later on today in my Etsy Shop. She's just perfect for on the tree top, or even just standing still on your sideboard. I just adore her. What do you think of her?

I am going...
Well, all I have planned this week is Seminary on Thursday night. We have our Autumn General Conference this coming weekend. Because of the time difference we watch it either on a Satellite Broadcast at our Stake Centre, or as Todd and I do most often, on the computer in the comfort of our own home. I can't wait to see what our church leaders have to say to us.

I am reading...

I am reading The Last Concubine by Lesley Downer, and I am really enjoying it very much. It combines three of my loves . . . oriental history, mystery and romance. The Last Concubine is the story of a shogun, a princess and the three thousand women of the women’s palace - all of whom really existed - and of the civil war that brought their way of life to an end. Growing up deep in the mountains of rural Japan, Sachi has always felt different, her pale skin and fine features setting her apart from her friends and family. When at the age of eleven she is swept off to the women’s palace in the great city of Edo, her life changes forever, and when she is chosen as the young shogun’s concubine, it changes even more. But Black Ships have come from the west, bringing foreigners, and as civil war erupts, Sachi has to flee for her life. Rescued by a rebel warrior, she finds unknown feelings stirring within her, but before she dare dream of a life with him, she must unravel the mystery of her own origins - a mystery that encompasses a wrong so terrible it threatens to destroy her. I am only about 1/3 of the way through, so not much progress since last week really.

I am hoping...
That when I am finished here I will be able to go to bed and fall asleep. Do you think I might get lucky? I think it's all in my head. I started worrying that I wouldn't be able to sleep last week, when I found out I was going to have to pull an all nighter on Monday night . . .

I am hearing...
It's all very quiet . . . the clock is ticking. Jess is snoring. My keys are tapping . . .

Around the house...
Not too much going on really. Some weeks are just like that. I think it's a good thing to have a lazy week once in a while.

One of my favorite things...
is collecting cream and sugar dishes. I have a number of them. I've mostly picked them up at yard sales through the years. I doubt they are worth much, except to me. I just adore them. Kind of useless really though since I don't drink tea and coffee. They do make a nice decoration though . . .

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...
Work, painting and cooking, Seminary and Conference. Todd and I thought as well if it was fine on Saturday we might drive down to Eastbourne and go for a long walk along the seafront, and maybe a treat of fish and chips!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Something yellow from the garden. It's mostly filled with dead heads and dry seed pods now. The Autumn is in full swing, but there are odd bits of colour here and there!!

And there you have it, my Simple Woman's Day Book for today. 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!)

Here's a tasty recipe your family will enjoy! Big and small kids alike!

*Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Pie*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

All the kids, both big and small will love this tasty dish which includes all the flavours of their favourite cheeseburger.

Meat Crust:
1 1/2 pound extra lean ground beef
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup tomato catsup
2 tsp yellow mustard
1/2 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 TBS grated onion
1 cup of grated strong cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
a bit of warm milk
a knob of butter
To Garnish:
1/2 cup grated strong cheddar cheese
3 slices of streaky bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
2 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
1 medium tomato chopped
Sliced dill pickles (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 190*C/375*F. Mix all the ingredients for the meat crust in a medium sized bowl, mixing well with your hands. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of an un-greased 9 inch glass pie plate.

Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and drain off any drippings.

While the crust is baking place the potatoes into a pan of lightly salted water. Bring to the boil and cook until tender. Drain well. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Stir in the cheese, grated onion, butter, salt, pepper and warm milk, until the cheese is completely melted. Spoon this mixture evenly into the meat crust. Rough up the top a little. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the meat is thoroughly cooked and the potatoes are warm through and slightly browned. Top with the cheese and crumbled bacon. Bake for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and top with the chopped tomatoes and spring onions. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into slices to serve.

For a simple, yet tasty way to cook pork chops, check out The English Kitchen today! These are sooooo scrummy!!!

Sunday 27 September 2009

Marie's Sunday Six . . .

My goodness, but the weeks don't half roll around quickly! Here it is Sunday again and time for me to reflect on all the goodness in my life! Actually, I do that every day . . . but Sunday's are an extra special time, when I get to choose a few of the more special things to share along with you all.

This first one is something I have known for a few weeks now, but only now am able to pass on. As you know my eldest son and his wife are expecting a new wee one in February, but now I am able to tell you it is a boy! Yes, another grandson is going to be added to our family tree. For some reason they didn't want me to tell anyone what it was but now I've been given the go-ahead so I can shout it from the roof tops. IT'S A BOY! Yes, a wee brother for little Gabriel. As Lura has said to me . . . time to make another sock monkey!

Sunny autumn days. We've had a really lovely autumn thus far. I know it is early days yet, but this past week has been lovely and warm and sunny. When I compare that to the first year I spent over here, it's been just gorgeous! My first year here in the UK was miserable, weatherwise. It literally rained every day. I was beginning to think that I was going to be developing webbed feet! Warm and sunny days mean that I have been able to go for lots of long walks and I don't know . . . the world just seems nicer when the sun shines, don't you think?

I've been working and developing some new patterns for dolls to make from my characters that I paint. It's been fun and I can't wait to get started sewing. I used to sew an awful lot before I moved over here to the UK. My sister and I used to both sell our creations at Craft Fairs. What a fun time that was. I loved getting to spend a whole day with her like that from time to time. It didn't really matter how much we sold . . . the best part was being together. I can remember one day when we spent the whole day making Amish dolls together. That was fun as well. The clothes were really complicated as they were authentic, with the right amount of folds in the aprons, dresses, etc. I still have mine. They hang on my Amish Peg Hook in our entry way. Every time I look at them, I think of my sister and the times we spent together.

This week I have had to prepare my last lesson to teach in the Young Women's Class this morning. I am being released, which is kind of sad, but also means that I will be able to devote myself more fully to my calling as a Seminary Teacher. As I prepared it, I reflected on the many lessons that I have taught to our girls over the past 3 years, and the happy times we have spent together. I will miss them to be sure. It is kind of a happy/sad time I suppose. There is no other way to describe it. I know I have felt really stretched to the edge over the past year with having to fulfill two callings in the church so it will be very good now to be able to devote myself to just the one . . . but I will still miss the girls.

This week I found several of my old prayer journals from when I was married before. As I read through some of the pages I felt a bit sad, as they were filled with tender longings of a woman who wanted nothing more than to be loved by her husband and to be able to share her faith with him. Why did that make me smile? Well . . . that was a prayer that was answered, although not in the way I expected it to be. I asked for a husband to share my faith with and a husband to love me, and well . . . I got my Todd. It is sad that the old marriage had to end in order for my prayers to be answered, but I am glad that they were answered all the same. It makes me so happy to be able to share my life with a man who understands and shares my innermost thoughts. It feels so good to be able to kneel together in family prayer and take our concerns and our joy to the Lord as one. It's funny how life works out sometimes. We just never know what is around the corner. Family Prayer makes me smile.

This is my youngest son Bruce. He was about 6 years old in this picture. It was taken at school. Many years have passed since then as he will be 21 this December. This past week, he finally got his date for when he is going to be going to St Jean, Quebec to begin his Military Training. He will start on November 1st. I know he is really happy about this, even though it does strike fear into this Mother's heart. I am proud of him and the decisions he has made in his life. He has grown up to be a good man and I know he will do well. Funny how joy often comes tempered with sadness. I am very happy for my son and proud of him, and yet at the same time I am afraid for him and what the future might hold. Once again I guess that's where prayer comes in . . . and faith. It is a very good thing that he wants to serve his country in this way. That does make me smile. I am trusting in the Lord for the rest!

And for an extra smile . . .

My good friend Lura, who has not been feeling all that well these past few weeks due to some horrible kidney stones, is starting to feel better. That really makes me smile. I just love Lura so very much, and I hated to know that she was in so much pain and feeling so ill. It's been hard being so far away and not able to do much for her, except to pray (which I know is a big thing, but still . . . I am sure you know what I mean!) I am very happy that she is beginning to feel better. Lura always makes me smile. She makes lots of people smile. She is just a wonderful, generous and loving person who brings a lot of joy to others. I am so blessed to have her in my life, and to count her as a good friend, and I am so grateful that she is beginning to mend and feel better. I love you Lura!

And there you have it . . . my sometimes quirky, always wordy, Sunday Smile Makers for this past week!!

I love Autumn Cooking. I know . . . I love cooking any time of the year, but after a summer of salads and such, it is nice to be getting back to cooking some of the more rustic dishes, like this delicious Beef and Barley Soup. Rib sticking and nourishing and good, good, GOOD!!

*Beef and Barley Soup*
Serves 6 to 8
Printable Recipe

Nourishing, tasty and easy to make. Perfect for these cooler days we've been having.

2 TBS oil
1 1/2 pounds stewing beef
3 salks celery, chopped
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup pearl barley
4 cups water
2 tins of beef broth ( 14 1/2 ounces each)
2 tins of diced tomatoes in their own juice ( 14 1/2 ounces each)
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cups frozen green beans
1 1/2 to 2 tsp hot pepper sauce
salt and black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the meat and cook, until dark brown. You may need to do this in batches. It should take 8 to 10 minutes. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the celery, onions and barley to the pan. Saute until the onion is golden. Add the water, broth, tomatoes, carrots, green beans, bay leaf and garlic. Return the beef to the pot. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat is very tender and the barley is thoroughly cooked. Add the hot pepper sauce and simmer for an additional half hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove the bay leaf and serve in heated bowls. This freezes very well.

*Note - you can add other vegetables as you wish. Corn is very good as are peas and okra. Dried mushrooms are also an excellent addition. Soak for half an hour in some boiling water and add, along with the broth. Delicious!

How about some tasty Ploughman's Muffins to go along with that delicious bowl of soup??? Hop on over to The English Kitchen and see how I turned a tasty English Lunch tradition into a muffin you can hold in one hand! Scrumptious!

Saturday 26 September 2009

Feasting on the words . . .

"Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith."

D & C 88:118

You can tell a lot about a person by the books they choose to read. When I was really young, I loved the classics . . . stories such as Little Women, and The Five Little Peppers. Those were two of my favourites along with Nancy Drew . . .

As I got a bit older I started to enjoy horror and suspence, especially the novels of Stephen King. He is the master of horror and there's been many a night that the very heart of me has been struck with fear by reading his words . . .

As a teen I also loved Romance novels, usually the Harlequin type and then as I got even older I fell in love with Historical Romance . . . usually involving Scottish Lairds, or Vikings . . . those were the ones I loved the most . . . until they started to get really smutty . . . then I lost my taste for them. It's so not necessary and I really don't enjoy that kind of stuff . . . but it is very hard to find books today that don't contain smutt . . . much like the telly and movies . . .

One type of reading material that has never changed is the scriptures. They have always been sacred to me, and I have always loved to read them. I got my very first Bible, a gift from my father, at Easter when I was 4 1/2 years old. Small in size, with a white leather cover, I carried them with me my whole lifetime, and indeed, when I got married the first time, in lieu of a bouquet, I carried them down the aisle with me. I couldn't think of anything that I wanted with me more on the most important day of my life . . . than the scriptures. Well . . . that marriage didn't last, but the scriptures did.

I find as I get older, I gain more and more comfort and understanding from reading and studying the scriptures. I wish I could say that I remember seeing my parents sit and read the scriptures, but I cannot . . . I think it was something that they did in private. I have always been really open about my scripture study and my love of their pages. It is a love that I have tried to share with my family through the years . . .

I try to read my scriptures every day. It's not always easy to find the time, but it's always worth it. I can tell when I have skipped a few days . . . because . . . then I start to feel overwhelmed with worldly problems and cares. When I read my scriptures regularly . . . this just doesn't happen. I fell empowered and capable of accomplishing and overcoming anything that might present itself to me. I feel inspired and nourished. I feel the power of the spirit leading me . . .

If you were to look at my Scriptures, you would see that their pages are covered with coloured scribbles and notations, and filled with little scraps of paper. These are the notes that I have made to myself through the years, reminding me of the things that I learn so that I won't forget them, and so that my Heavenly Father will know that I value what He tries to teach me through His word. Amongst their pages, I have slipped photos of people and places that mean the most to me . . . a tattered picture of all my children together, a snowy scene of my mother's back garden in Canada, my grandsons . . .

Also amongst their pages are little cards and notes that hold special meaning to me . . . an e-mail from one of my sons sent to me not too long after I moved over here . . . the obituary of a much beloved Aunt . . . little cards given out at special Relief Society gatherings . . . readings handed out during Sunday School Lessons, and an old grocery store receipt . . . a reminder of a special meeting I was at when I heard Sherri Dew speak in person and where I finally learned and accepted that my sins could be and were forgiven . . . toally. It has notes and scripture links scribbled all over it . . . it being the only piece of paper I could find at the time to write on.

Reading the scriptures and feasting on their words is a bit like seasoning your life with something that is nourishing and wholesome and good. Just like inserting a bit of spice into your favourite cookies or casserole to help to make them taste better, a little bit of scripture reading and study inserted into your day can help to make your whole day taste better and more pleasant. Our Heavenly Father knows that we are busy and that we don't have hours and hours to spend each day . . . it's not the amount that matters . . . it's only that we make an effort. I firmly believe that He will magnify our efforts and teach us and fill us with His power no matter how great or how little time we have to spend studying and pondering His words . . . if only we will spend some time each day with Him, every day.

I am a real sucker for a Tuna Melt. I think it's one of my favourite types of Sandwich, next to a grilled cheese, something else that I am totally fond of. Yesterday I decided to use the flavours of a Tuna Melt and create a tasty casserole. This was so quick easy and soooo tasty! During the week when I have to work long hours, quick and easy is a good thing, and when it's combined with tasty, well . . . what more could you want??

*Tuna Melt Bake*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

This is so quick and easy! It combines all the flavours of a Tuna Melt, minus the bread. It uses things that most people have in their store cupboards and is a real family pleaser.

4 medium baking potatoes
3 TBS oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp mixed herbs
2 7-ounce tins of tuna in spring water, drained
(I use albacore)
4 TBS low fat mayonnaise
1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
4 TBS chopped chives
1 tsp italian seasoning
2 ounces strong cheddar cheese, grated
2 ounces Red Leicester cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 220*C/425*F. Cut the potatoes into wedges and toss with the oil, garlic powder, paprika, salt, black pepper and herbs. Spread onto a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and place in a shallow ovenproof dish.

Drain the tuna thorougly and place in a bowl. Mix together with the onion, mayonnaise, Italian Seasoning, 3 TBS of the chives, 1 1/2 ounces of the cheddar and 1 1/2 ounces of the Red Leicester. Season to taste with some salt and pepper. Spoon this mixture over the potatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese evenly over top. Place back in the oven for a further 10 to 15 minutes, until the tuna has heated through and melted down into the potatoes and the cheese is golden. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining chives. Divide between four serving plates and serve hot with a green salad on the side.

Got a craving for something moreish and scrummy??? Look no further. The English Kitchen has exactly what you need to fill that gap!