Saturday 2 January 2010

Poems and Pretties . . .

A New Year Brings A New Beginning

As the New Year starts and the old year ends,
There's no better time to make amends
For all the things we sincerely regret,
And wish in our hearts we could somehow forget . . .
We all make mistakes, for it's human to err,
but no one need ever give up in despair,
For God gives us all a brand new beginning,
A chance to start over and repent of our sinning . . .
And when God forgives us we, too, must forgive
And resolve to do better each day that we live
By constantly trying to be like Him more nearly
And to trust in His wisdom
And love HIm more dearly . . .
Assured that we're never out of His care
And we're always welcome to seek Him in prayer.
~Helen Steiner Rice

I just love the poems of Helen Steiner Rice, don't you? There is one to suit every occasion and they speak with feelings from the heart. Always thoughts and feelings that we ourselves have had at one time or another, but always put in a very beautiful and meaningful way.

I just have to tell you this morning about the lovely package that I received in the post the day before yesterday. A couple of weeks ago I had posted here about how much I love little red and white polka dotted toadstools and how my mother always hung some on our Christmas tree when I was a girl. I had made some for myself when I was married before, but my ex got rid of all of my handmade things when we separated. (After talking to my son over Christmas, I learned that he had burnt them all, which is tragic as I am sure my son would have loved to have them for his own tree, and in fact said so to me when we were talking. Nevermind . . . I shall just have to make him a bunch of new ones.) Anyways, one of my lovely readers from Germany wanted to send me some Toadstools as a gift and who was I to refuse!

Two days ago there was a knock on the door and Todd went to answer it. A few minutes later he came into the kitchen with a beautifully wrapped box! Todd said to me . . . "What have you ordered now???" "Nothing!" was my reply as he looked at me in disbelief. Oh, I thought what could this be and then I saw the German Postmark. I was so very excited. It was a very big box, but very light. I thought to myself, that is a very large box for a toadstool.

Inside I found the most beautiful letter from a lovely lady, Nichola, one of my dear readers, and a smaller box, all protected with tissue and such. Inside was several tissue wrapped bundles. Oh, how very excited I was!!!

First there was a beautiful Toadstool fairy, just like the one I had shown on my blog. Isn't she a dear? Don't you just love her? She's so very beautiful and delicate and I just adore her. She will hold a place of prominence on my tree next year for sure!

Then there was not one, but two!!! of these adorable little Toadstool people. Don't you just love their cheery little faces and polka dotted hats!!! I do, very, very much . . . and look!!!

On the top of each is one of my second most favourite things of all, a cute little lady bird!!! Oh, I do love ladybirds, toadstools and polka dots so very much! I just love these little joys, they surely bring a broad smile to my face and heart!!

In another bundle I discovered this beautiful tall Toadstool, ready with a clip to be clipped onto the branch of a Christmas Tree. Isn't is lovely! I can't wait til next year to clip it on!

But that is not all . . . no, that is not all . . .

I unwrapped another little bundle and beheld the most adorable little nutcracker! Isn't he beautiful! I just love him, I really do!!!

And finally there was this little treasure . . .

A sweet little wooden chef in her lovely chef's hat and gingerbready outfit. She is just adorable. I just love her and she is so very me, don't you think???

Most of all, in that box I discovered love, the love of a beautiful lady for me, and appreciation for what I try to do here on Oak Cottage. I was touched to the very core that someone thought this much of me . . . enough to want to do this very special thing for me . . . Nichola, I thank you from the very bottom of my heart !!!! You cannot know how much your thoughtfulness means to me, and how very much it brightened my day. You touched my heart in a truly meaningful way, and I will always think of you each year when I add these tiny little treasures to my tree. You have captured so much in this very special gift . . . memories of my mother's tree from when I was growing up . . . memories of my own tree when my own babies were gathered around my knees . . . and the love and kindness that is so representative of our Saviour and what He tried to do in his lifetime, and still does. I can never thank you enough . . . I truly cannot. ☺ You have both ended the old year and started my new year in a very special and magical way. (I have lost your e-mail address, so could you please e-mail me??? Thanks!)

We had a lovely evening last night with some dear friends of ours whom we had invited over for supper. I baked us a huge lasagna and we had garlic bread and this gorgeous salad to go along with it. I had also made two desserts, which I'll show you another day . . . but for today a salad . . . coz, we're all thinking about losing a few of those Christmas pounds aren't we??? Well . . . I am very lucky I didn't put any weight on this year, but . . . I still enjoy a good salad anyways! Tis quite refreshing after all that rich food of the holidays!

*The World's Best Greek Salad*
Serves 6 as a side salad, or 3 as a main
Printable Recipe

Delicious, refreshing and very, very tasty!! The onions are marinated several hours ahead in a portion of the dressing, so take note that you will need to start this a bit in advance.

6 TBS olive oil (Divided)
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 1/2 TBS fresh lemon juice
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp dried oregano (I like to use Bart's freeze dried)
For the Salad:
1 head of Romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into
bite sized pieces
1 punnet of baby plum tomatoes, quartered
(or 3 large plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped)
1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced into thin rings
1 small pepper, seeded and chopped (Green or yellow)
3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Between two to four hours before you want to serve the salad place 2 TBS of the olive oil, the red wine vinegar, the lemon juice, garlic and the oregano in a zip lock baggie. Add the onions and shake to combine. Place into a bowl and allow to sit and marinate until you are ready to complete the salad. (This process takes away from the sharpness of the onion and adds an incredible depth of flavour to the dressing.)

When ready to serve, place all the salad ingredients into a large bowl, except for the cheese. Remove the onions from the marinade and place them in the bowl with the other salad ingredients. Pour the marinade into a measuring cup and then whisk in the remaining 4 TBS of oil. (If you find the mixture too tart, you may add a tsp of sugar here if desired) Pour the resulting dressing over the salad and toss all together. Sprinkle with the feta cheese and serve.

Over on The English Kitchen today, you'll find the perfect recipe for a Classic Lemon Tart.


  1. What a wonderful present Marie. every one looks nicer than the one before...Such a wonderful gift and so kind. The Germans do do the loveliest tree decorations...
    Still icy cold here this morning but looks though it might be a lovely sunny day.
    Love Sybil xx

  2. Oh Marie those ornaments are just so very special. I am waiting for my Bethany to come home from Switzerland because she has bought ornaments there.

    I always bought my children ornaments every year. Now I have both girls and he has all their things. But we can build again.

    Happy new year and enjoy your precious gifts.

  3. I love Helen Steiner Rice, her poetry is really nice :) Oh you got such lovely gifts, how thoughtful of that lady. Hope you really enjoy them next Christmas.

    All things nice...

  4. Your gift was just totally awesome. How sweet your friend was to send that your way! Surprises like that would make anyone's day for sure. What a great start you are having in the New Year!

  5. They are absolutely lovely :) My mum is German, and they do know how to "do" Christmas. My dad is British, so we had two sets of beautiful Christmas traditions growing up.

    I made the Potato Pie, and it was delicious, our company loved it!

    Happy New Year, Marie!

  6. Your surprise Christmas ornaments from Germany are so lovely and precious too. What a thoughtful lady! My husband's grandparents were from Germany ... we have a couple of vases from there that were handed down in the family.

    I made the very same salad for a family dinner this week...except I didn't marinate the onions in the dressing. I surely will the next time! Thanks for the tip.

    Helen Steiner Rice's poems are like a guide of how to them!

    May 2010 continue to bring blessings to you and yours!


  7. You can always rely on Germany to produce just what you're looking for at Christmas. That must have been a lovely surprise; even getting a parcel you were not expecting is super but then to find in it such treasure.

    And SHAME on Todd for doubting you even for a second. Why, the man deserves to eat pasta............only joking tee-hee!

    love to both of you, xxxx

  8. Happy New Year Marie! Although I don't comment much, I do enjoy reading your blog and wanted to thank you for your posts this past year. Wishing you and your family a healthy and lovely new year! - mary the food librarian

  9. What a fabulous gift, Marie! Lucky you--well-deserved, though, I must say! What a sweet gift to have given...I love the looks of this salad--just the thing after all the heavy foods we've enjoyed the last couple of weeks!

    Sounds like your New Year is off to a wonderful start! Hope it continues on in fun, friends, good food and good health! Much love to you, dear friend!

  10. Oooh Marie what a gorgeous surprise! The little toadstool people are too cute and I love the chef too. What a lovely community the blogosphere is!


  12. how thoughtful!! what a great blog friend! they are such cute ornaments-love them!

  13. The ornaments are adorable! and that little chef is so YOU!

    Greek salads are one of my favorites! (gee, I have alot of favorites, don't I? hee.....) I love to have some gyro meat on the side as well....mmm....

  14. The thoughtfulness of people everywhere amazes me. If everyone knew how it touches one's heart to receive a gift like that we'd all do it more often! blessings, marlene


  16. Happy New Years to you! Thanks for being my friend!

  17. Loved getting caught up. I love the ornaments as well. I have several of the same type of glass ornaments the Polanaise kind. One of my daughters started a collection for me and they are so precious and very delicate. Found memories of years past are good to reflect upon. Take care sweet friend and here's hoping that this new year will be a great one and that life will be treating you kindly.

  18. Marie, those ornaments are beautiful, what a lovely surprise for you! I agree, the little chef one is definately YOU! An ex-colleague of mine brought me a Christmas ornament from Salzburg, it had Mozart's 'Eine Kleine Nacht Muzic'on it, I loved it but unfortunately after having it for two years I knocked it against another as I was packing away and it was such thin glass that it smashed completely. I think of that lovely gift every Christmas and if I ever get to go to Salzburg I shall buy not one, but two! Love, Pat x


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