Sunday 28 March 2010

Marie's Sunday Six

Welcome to my Sunday Six smile maker post. This will be the last one I ever write from Oak Cottage actually. It is hard to believe that my days here are rapidly coming to an end. We moved down here, from Chester, in September of 2003. The past six and some years have gone by rather quickly and I thought it would be fun to share with you this morning, some of the things that we came to love and embrace during our stay here . . . and some of the things we will really miss.

It has been a wonderful experience getting to work and to live in such a beautiful environment. Imagine being able to work in a beautiful, historic property, surrounded by beautiful gardens, stunning gardens . . . and imagine being able to live in just such a idyllic place. That has been my experience over these past years. Each day, each week, each month . . . each season and year has unfolded in front of our eyes with great beauty and splendour. The job itself, has given me invaluable experience. I am so grateful for that. I have grown as a cook in unimaginable ways and been able to stretch and develop my talents in amazing directions. I have a wonderful reference as well. Those two things are worth their weight in gold.

We have made so many wonderful friends down here, and been able to share some really special times with them . . . through monthly cooking evenings around my kitchen table with the relief society, garden parties with my friends from RecipeZaar, entertaining wonderful and much loved friends from church, activities for the young women, my young friend the piano playing Michael . . . not to mention countless missionaries that have come to our home that I have been able to mother and feed . . . I will miss them all. Oh, I know . . . I will undoubtedly make some new friends, and have new parties, feed new missionaries, etc. . . . and they will be just as dear to me, but I have made some really special eternal friends here. People whom I have become family to down here . . . people that have become so very dear and beloved to me. I shall miss being able to see them every week, but I do hope that they will take up our offer of visiting us in Chester.

I shall miss living in a rose covered cottage. From the one that is covered with beautiful pink blossoms that scratch against my kitchen window panes, the beautiful red and white hanging roses that sheltered our car against the bright sunshine and elements, to the pretty yellow climbing roses that we planted against the shed . . . these special bushes and flowers brought me so much pleasure and so many smiles . . . I know, I can grow more roses where we are moving, but these will always remain in a special corner of my heart.

The view from the windows upstairs in our library here . . . just a glimpse of the fairytale orchards that have surrounded us. How very beautifully they have taken us through the many seasons here at Oak Cottage. Each season of the year bringing us it's own and special beauty. They are just beginning to bud at the moment, and I know that within a few short weeks, they will be a sea of beautiful blossom and a hum of activity.

Oh how I have loved the special gifts that they have brought to us . . . the pretty blossoms in the springtime, the smell . . . the lovely and long walks throughout the whole year, the sight and smell of branches bowed down and filled with abundant fruit in the autumn . . . the sound of the apple pickers . . . the luxury of having bountiful windfalls to eat and cook with, of all different varieties. What an amazing and wonderful gift it has all been.

The pond in the nearby village that has brought us many hours of joy . . . from the daffodils in the springtime that line it's beautiful banks to the sight of many a lad and his dad fishing on sunny days.

The many Canadian Geese Goslings and the ducklings that live there each year with their parents, and that have brought us many, many hours of entertainment and joy . . . and the beautiful cherry trees across the road that we have found so stunningly beautiful each and every spring. Oh how much I will miss them . . .

My early morning walk to work . . . this too, has changed with the seasons and with the weather. It has been a peaceful time for me, these few minutes of my day . . . listening to the birds in the hedgerows . . . feeling the sun, or the wind, or the rain upon my face.

It is a simple and a short walk that has brought me much joy and blessings throughout the years, and tender thoughtful moments, no matter the weather or season. I shall miss the early morning quietness of a peaceable, thoughtful journey . . .

There has been so much beauty and joy here . . . it sprung from cracks in the pavement and oozed from every nook and cranny . . .a constant feast for all my senses. I am so thankful that I was aware and that I never took any of it for granted.

I have captured so much beauty and peace through the lens of my camera over these past years. I have enjoyed it all so very much and will enjoy the fruits of my labours for many years to come.

Looking back at some of these photos this morning, I scarce can take it all in. It's been amazing and lovely, and breathtakingly beautiful. I am such a nature lover and the experience of being able to live here has fed all of my senses on almost every level, and in so many ways. What blessing it has been . . .

The lavender that grew in abundance along the back wall of our house and edge of our patio . . .

The many bunnies that lived and loved amongs the grassy lawns . . . that ate everything we tried to grow, but gave us many hours of watchful thought . . .

The splendour and magic of winter . . .

The multi-coloured joys of autumn . . .

The many fledglings that visited our feeders in early summer . . .

The crazy squirrels that annoyed and pestered, but mostly entertained us . . .

Splendid walks . . .

and hollyhocks . . .

The beauty and magic of it all . . .

I shall miss you, I shall . . .

Goodbye . . . and farewell . . .

Don't worry by the way. I shall be back once we have settled in Chester and are back on line. Try not to miss me too much!! And do come back to check us out later on this week at the other end!!! (Fingers crossed!)

I was able to make us an incredibly delicious vegetable gratin for supper the other night. I had sweet potatoes, potatoes, butternut squash, leeks . . . all needing to be used up, not to mention some cream in the fridge. It came together in an amazingly wonderful dish that had us both smacking our lips!!!

What a tasty concoction!!

*Mixed Vegetable Gratin*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

This came about by having to use up all the vegetables left in the larder. It didn't quite use them all, but it did make a good dent in them! It was delicious to boot!

2 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into thin slices
2 medium regular potato, peeled and cut into thin slices
the neck of a medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into thin slices
1 leek, cleaned, trimmed and thinly sliced
salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups cream
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
a handful of whatever cheese you have to hand, shredded (Gruyere, cheddar, etc.)
( had a mixed package which contained shredded cheddar, jack, mozarella, chilies and olives)
softened butter to grease the casserole dish

Place the garlic into a saucepan with the cream. Bring just to the boil and then leave to set while you prepare the vegetables.

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F.

Butter a deep casserole dish really well. Layer in the vegetables, layering each the sweet potato, potato, leek, and butternut squash in that order, and repeating once. Lightly season between the layers. Strain the hot cream over top. Scatter the cheese over top of everything. Pop a lid on if you have it, or cover tightly with foil if you don't.

Bake in the heated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for an additonal 10 to 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the top of the casserole is bubbling and golden. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before spooning out to serve.

On The English Kitchen today . . . a scrumptious Gingered Apple Brown Betty!


  1. What a privelege to see such a beautiful place. I can see how difficult leaving will be.

  2. The beauty in your pictures.... :) You lived the dream, Marie!!

  3. oh Marie, this was wonderful...beautiful memories I am sure you will hold in your heart and the images from photo to keep so you will never forget. I just know you will make a new home wherever you go and it will be magical just as this experience. Keep us posted dear!!!Hugs and blessings this Lords Day!!! Mica

  4. Oh Marie, even my heart almost breaks at the thought of not being able to enjoy the beauty and peace of your lovely surroundings..However we have the memories and they can never leave us and all the lovely photographs that you can still share with us from time to time....intercepted with photo's of the new place in Chester..where no doubt we will all come to enjoy as well.
    as for the recipe sounds great. Must get some sweet potato next time we are in the supermarket...I made the potato bake last night it was delicious
    Love Sybil xx

  5. Oh Marir what lovely pictures /lovely memories too ,but knowing you and Todd you will soon be making new memories and Iam looking forward to hearing all about your new life ,in which I wish you both all the very best because it is what you both deserve Jan xx

  6. The place you are leaving is beautiful but beauty is found in every day and in every part of the world. There will be plenty more opportunities to capture those moments in the days ahead. Thankfully we have the eyes to see it all and the hearts to hold it. So many never take the time to appreciate what is around us every day. You will be in my thoughts and prayers in the days ahead.

  7. Oh, Marie...Thank you for this last look at this beautiful place you've called home for many years now. To be surrounded by so much natural beauty is a blessing. So many lovely memories of Kent you will have to take with you...Some tears in my own eyes as I look back on these magic moments with you. And how blessed hubby & I were to have see you & Todd there and have a little experience of Kent, The Garden of England, along with you. :o) We think of that day so often. I hope so much we will get to travel and see you in Chester! New memories await you in Chester now... I hope you & Todd have many long, happy years in Chester. Sending all good wishes that the move will go smoothly, and all well once you get to the other end. Safe travels...You are both in my thoughts & prayers in the days ahead. Hope we get to chat before you leave... LOVE YOU SO, dear friend! :o) OXOX ((BIG HUGS))

  8. such a beautiful place you have been able to call home! while I am sure you will find it sad to leave remember the words in your banner, 'It's mor than a place it's a state of mind.' and no doubt it will hold a permanent place in your heart. Have a safe and pleasant move, look forward to the new magic in your life :)

  9. Marie, your blog is one of my favorites. I don't often comment, but I stop by every day, for the beautiful photos, the great food! and your thoughtful writing. Blessings to you in your new home and safe travels on your move! Looking forward to seeing you in your new place.

  10. Thank you for sharing Oak Cottage with your readers. Obviously, it has been an incredible journey so far. May God continue to bless you on your way.

  11. Good morning from Utah, Marie! Had a chance this morning to sneak in a little blog time--and you are my first visit!

    So wonderful to go and pick up my daughter from her apartment & have my three daughters back together under one roof--such a joyful blessing!

    I loved this post today--such a bittersweet and loving tribute to this home you've come to love. I've enjoyed it, too--through your eyes and words--thank-you for sharing it with all of us.

    So looking forward to falling in love (again!) with Chester and all of it's beauties! I was there for only a day an a night--I remember we stayed in an inn that was across from a place with a witch's cauldron on it's sign--I took a photo of it, which is why I remember...what a beautiful place..and so close to Wales, which I know you love--there will be many wonderful days for you and Todd to explore!

    Your au gratin recipe looks divine! Making me just a bit hungry!

    Will attend a couple of sessions of Conference next week--can't wait!

    Much love sent to you from Utah this morning--hope this week of transition goes perfectly and smoothly--my thoughts and prayers are with you, as always, my friend...

  12. Marie,
    Thank you for sharing your photos! What a wonderful place you were able stay for all these years. What an amazing experience. I am looking forward to following you on your next journey!:)

  13. Oh Marie,
    What a beautiful place you have been able to enjoy for those past years. I loved looking at those pictures -- so amazing!

    Good luck with your move. I will be thinking of you. This new phase is going to be even better. Sending you a big, giant hug from Utah!


  14. My dear Marie,
    What a beautiful heartfelt post; memories are so precious to keep. And sharing them with us makes it all so much nicer.
    Thank you and God bless.
    Wishing you only good things coming your way.
    Rita from Canada.

  15. I hope you haven't QUITE gone offline yet!

    Everything I would have said has been amply covered by everyone else. It's an adventure isn't it. One you would rather not be embarking upon but nevertheless...... an adventure and, you being you, you'll find the good in it.

    Keith and I send love and hugs to you both and the greatest good wishes possible.

    Just one thing - don't look back.

    love as always, Angie, xx

  16. Hi..I am still not feeling very well at all but I had to stop in and send my love. Yes, go forward..only looking back occasionally...good things await you and Todd, God always knows what he is doing with his children...good things are in store. I'll try to put a post out this evening or mon. or tues. Still trying to catch my breath and am so tired. xxx's

  17. oh marie, this post made me so sad:( you are so strong and i admire you so much! i know you will do well in your new place, but its always hard to say goodbye. you captured so many beautiful pictures throughout the years to cherish forever. not many people can experience what you have experienced that past few years at oak cottage. you will always have those memories to treasure forever. sending lots of love across the ocean and hoping for wonderful things for you and todd in chester!

  18. Oh my dear Friend, what a beautiful place Oak cottage is. I am sorry that you have to leave it. I wish that I could have visited you there and seen it in person. However, as beautiful as it is there, work has not been easy for you. You home and grounds will not be as splendid in Chester, but your life will be. I am sad to think of you saying goodbye to Oak Cottage.... but I am excited for you to start your new life in Chester. God is with you and guiding your path.

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures with us.
    My love and prayers will be with you this week. Hugs, Lura

  19. Marie,

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing the beauty and joys of Oak Cottage. Although, I've never had the pleasure to visit "in real life", I will miss it.

    I am now looking forward to watching your new life I know it will bloom beautifully ~ because you are a beautiful woman, a beautiful will have a beautiful new life.

    I Love You my Friend. Be safe on your journey to Chester and my thoughts and heart are with you and Todd.

    Gerushia's New World

  20. What a beautiful farewell you gave us of your lovely home and surroundings Marie.
    I know you will take your positive attitude, to all that life offers daily, with you to Chester.
    You can change homes but not the warm and loving person inside.
    You will do well wherever you go.
    God bless you and Todd. Travel with hope in your heart of new exciting beginnings.
    Much love
    Jeanie xx

  21. Marie, this post is marvelous! It makes me cry and smile at the same time. It's just a piece of heaven on earth! I know you will be strong and courageous on your journey forward! I'm excited for you:) I've been reading your blog for the last year or so and I will be waiting for your next post!
    God Bless! ~ Margie

  22. I'd love to know what that pink and purple flower is called! It's so beautiful! Thank you for this blog and for The English Kitchen. I have tried a couple of recipes (and I'm new to kitchen exploration), and much to my delight...they have come out remarkable! Thank you so much for the offerings you gift out to us faithful readers.


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