Sunday 20 June 2010

Marie's Sunday Six

Here we are again at another Sunday and it is time to talk about my Smile Makers of the week! I had ever so much to smile about this week with guests being here and what not! To be honest though, there is much to smile about every week, if you only take the time to think about it. Even what seems like the worst of all weeks is bound to have at least a few smiles along the way!

Last Sunday I was called in to Primary. This is the children's Sunday School Organization. They have a Presidency, consisting of the President and two counselors, who over see it and make sure everything is going smoothly, and a whole lot of other stuff. I was called as first counselor. I have served as a counselor in Primary for many years during my time in the church, so I guess I have a lot of experience. Once a year the Primary puts on a special presentation during Sacrament Meeting after the Sacrament has been passed. I have been put in charge of organizing and planning the one for this year. A bit daunting, as I only have 3 months to do it in and I don't know most of the children and also haven't even been in the Ward for most of this year, but I shall do my best!! If any of you have any ideas or is facing the same challenge, any input or suggestions would be much appreciated! The Primary Children make me smile. These are the future leaders and members of our church and they are so special. Children were very precious to the Saviour, and so they should be to us!

Old stone walls and history make me smile. This beautiful country is so very rich with them. This is a picture I took of an ancient church ruin in Chester the other day, St John the Baptist. Made of sandstone, not much is left now, except these glorious arches and this is only one of them, there are quite a few. I like to walk amongst them and think of all the secret trysts and prayers that have been spoken underneath them . . . it dates back to Saxon times I believe and I just love it. It is also reputed to be haunted . . . but then again, isn't everything that's more than a few hundred years old?

I love the way life springs up in unsual places in this country. It, too, makes me smile. It is not at all unusual to see flowers and greenery, springing to live on old stone walls and cliffs, even old stone buildings. This is a plant that was growing atop of the base of one of the arches in the old church, and the church was covered with many different varieties of plant growth. Very beautiful and a reminder to me that beauty often comes from out of what seems like ruin and despair. Life emerges even from what seems like the most awkward positions and is so very beautiful . . . there is hope, there is always hope.

Happy times spent with loved ones and friends make me smile. We drove up into Wales yesterday and spent a few hours in Llangellon wandering about and drinking in all the beauty. We then drove up to the Horseshoe Pass and then down to the Coast to Prestatyn. It is so wonderful to be in the company of people you care about and to see things you have seen many, many times through new eyes and hearts! Beauty shared is beauty doubled!

Bumble Bees make me smile. They are so clumsy and endearing . . . so fat and . . . well . . . bumbling!! How can you not love something so sweet as that!

Mother Ducks with their baby ducklings make me smile. We spent a long time watching this mother and her babies yesterday. There are five ducklings in this picture. Can you spot them? I know it is hard! There were six altogether and they were so sweet, clambering over the rocks and swimming in the little riverlets in the River Dee in Llangellon yesterday . . . so very cute. Boy, they could really jet across that water though when they were in a hurry. We all laughed at their antics and were completely smitten. It is nice when you can share a great love of nature with good friends. That is something the four of us have in common! We had hoped to see possibly some kingfishers along the river banks, but alas . . . we didn't!

Impromptu picnics in waterside parks make me smile. Don't you just love this picture of Colin in his hat? I do! We were driving down towards Prestatyn and saw a lovely park beside the river with picnic tables and decided to stop there and have a picnic. Oh how wonderful it was, sharing and laughing together beneath some shady trees, which the water of the river trickled alongst side of us! Happy times, precious times . . . golden times. How very special these hours together have been!

Jo and Colin are such lovely people We truly treasure their friendship. In the seven years that we spent down in Kent, they were the only people we became friends with outside of the church, and we have spent many happy times together. We have so much in common. Colin has a wonderfully dry wit and makes me laugh . . . Jo is so very caring and kind, and has a heart as big as the world. She is also very common sensical and I can always trust her to give me wise and well thought out advice on any matter. We just love them to bits! It was so nice to have these few days with them, and the time went far too quickly. I know though, that there will be other happy times in their company to look forward to in the future . . . special texts and phone calls to share . . . visits . . . and just the pleasure of sharing a special bond of friendship, this is a real blessing to me, and this really makes me smile.

I hope that you had some special smiles in your life this past week. I would so love to hear about them!

As it is Father's Day I would love to take this opportunity to wish my father a very Happy Father's Day! I love my dad. He is very special to me and I am so lucky to still have his presence in my life. We do not get to see each other very often now because I live so far away, but he is always in my thoughts and is a very strong presence in my life. I truly treasure the relationship that we have. He calls me "The Apple of his Eye." I do not know if he says the same thing to my brother and sister, and it doesn't matter if he does . . . when he says it to me, I can feel his love and that is what counts. Dad, you are one of my life's most precious treasures!

Children do not realize
How deep is father's love, how wise . . .
They do not fully understand
The strength that's in his guiding hand,
And yet he's always held above
The childhood things that children love,
And as they grown the long year through,
That love for him keeps growing . . .
Until they learn the full extent
Of what a father's love has meant,
The worries he's concealed within,
How really wonderful he's been,
And here's to one beyond compare,
The Dearest Father Anywhere!

Here's a delicious salad, that is so easy to make and yet, at the same time very different than most salads. I could eat a plate of this and nothing else at all. It's just wonderful!

*Gazpacho Salad*
Serves 2, but is easily multiplied
Printable Recipe

This salad is full of wonderful flavours that compliment each other in a most delicious way. Each mouthful brings you the fresh and tasty flavours of ripe tomatoes, onions, cucumber, roasted peppers, lovely black olives, crisp celery and savoury herbs. Perfect for lunch on it's own, or used to accompnay some grilled fish or chicken for supper!

1/2 ciabatta loaf
a drizzle of olive oil
1/4 of an English cucumber
4 to 6 really ripe tomatoes, quartered and deseeded (or use a punned of cherry tomatoes, halved)
(I used a mixture of red and yellow santini plum tomatoes and some green stripe heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved)
1 roasted red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 stick of celery, trimmed and sliced
1/2 of a small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
10 to 12 stoned black olives (I use the dry cured)
a good handful of fresh basil leaves
a good handful of fresh flat leaf parsley

For the dressing:
2 tsp sherry vinegar
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 drop of tabasco sauce

Preheat the oven to 160*C/350*F/Gas mark 4. Cut the ciabatta into 1/2 inch cubes. Scatter them onto the baking tray. Drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and toss. Bake them for about five minutes, just until they are beginning to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Make the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients in a small glass jar with a lid. Secure the lid and shake them together really well. Peel the cucumber and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon or cut them out with a sharp knife. Cut it into chunks and place them into a bowl along with the tomatoes, roasted pepper, celery, onions, olives, basil and parsley.

Toss in the ciabatta croutons and add the dressing. Toss everything together and serve. If you are not serving it right away, refrain from adding the ciabatta and the dressing until just before you are ready to eat. The croutons become really soggy if left too long, but if you are like me, you won't mind soggy bread at all, especially if it is combined with so many other delicious flavours.

Note - to roast a red pepper, place the pepper under a grill for 10 to 15 minutes, turning it every few minutes, until it is charred and blackened all over. Remove from the grill and place it into a plastic bag. Seal the bag and let it sit until it is cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes or so. Remove from the bag. It should then be easy to peel the skin off and remove the seeds.

Over on The English Kitchen this morning, Light Brownies!! Yes, light, only 130 calories per brownie. Unbelievable? Check them out and see!


  1. Hello dear. Your Sunday smiles always make me smile too. I am glad that you have had such a nice visit with Jo and Colin. I am envious. How I wish that I could be there with you and Todd to visit, enjoy nature and most of all spend time visiting.

    It is very late and I need to get up early to make father's day breakfast special. It is not easy to do since we have to be at church by 9:00....oh well... I'm not complaining.
    I just wrote you a book in an email so I will not carry on here any longer.
    I send love, Lura

  2. Awwwww what a lovely time you had Marie.Your smile makers as Lura says make me smile too.I love all the pictures of your friends and Todd.What a pity you couldn't have got one taken by someone around,of the four of you together.I love the picture of your Father and you and bruv and sis (which I have seen before)you are just like him it's terrific."Happy Fathers" day to everyones Father today.Unfortunatly I have lost mine but I shall be going along tt the local cemetary with some flowers,he was a very keen gardener,and I have tended the grave now of my Mother and Father for 34yrs.Make the most of your Father Marie whilst you still have him, even though you are miles apart.I miss mine so much.He called me his "Little Lamb".Thankyou for this wonderful post.Have a Blessed Sunday.Take Care God Bless Kath xx

  3. This week went by very fast and it's hard to believe it's Sunday already. I, like you, had visitors. The dog in my pictures was that of my friends. He was delightful company too. I do hope your day is a wonderful one!

  4. Hello Marie

    How lovely to visit with you and leave again with all those wonerful smiles on my face too.
    I ams so happy to read that you had a great time making memories with your friends. It looked as though you were blessed with sunshine too.
    Have a happy Sunday and good luck with your Sunday school ideas.
    Jeanie xx
    p.s. Thank you for your lovely comments about my poem. x

  5. Love your smile makers, Marie! I LOVE old buildings, too...such beautiful photos you took of those old, crumbling walls...beautiful!

    So glad you had a lovely time with your dear friends!

    And that salad--yummy! Looks just perfect!

    Thanks for visiting me and always leaving me such sweet always make me happy! Many warm hugs and thoughts sent your way...hope you're having a most beautiful Sabbath, as well!


  6. congrats and good luck with your new calling. being the counselor in charge of the program must be a daunting task. i've never had to do it(yet!) so i don't have any great ideas, but i know you'll do super!

    also, i loved seeing the pic of you and your dad and siblings. so sweet and what a nice tribute you gave to him. have a great sunday marie!

  7. Love this post.

    Thank you for taking us on your adventures about the countryside. I would love to visit that old church. Can you imagine something that old? Wonderful. Is there another newer church built on that spot? It was probably a Catholic church if it is as old as Saxon times. Wonder if it was torn apart during later religious conflicts..What do you think?



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