Wednesday 8 September 2010

Keeping it Real

Do not be anxious, said our Lord,

Have peace from day to day . . .
The lilies neither toil nor spin,
Yet none are clothed as they.
The meadowlark with sweetest song
Fears not for bread or nest
Because he trusts our Father's love
And God knows what is best.
~Helen Steiner Rice

I wanted to share with you some of the burdens of my heart today. It would be very remiss of me to allow you to all think that everything in my life is goodness and light, and that I never get down or sad.

Life is not like that for anyone . . . even those whom we see as having everything. Into each life some rain does and must fall from time to time . . . that is how we grow and how we learn.

As most of you know I lost my job about six months ago now. With it went our home and we found ourselves scrambling to find a new (affordable) place to live, which, in a country with such a huge population as England has, is not an easy thing to do. God is good though and we were able to find another place rather quickly . . . and then, just as we were getting ready to move, disaster struck again and we lost our beloved companion Jess. I was beginning to feel a bit like Job from the bible and wondering when the boils and sores were going to break out on my body!!

It was a pretty devastating time for us. We went from what we thought was absolute security into a very uncertain and scary future. Todd also lost his job. He had been the paid custodian of our chapel in Tunbridge Wells and having to move meant that job would also disappear. And then there were our friends. We faced leaving people that had come to mean a great deal to us over the seven years we had been living there . . . we both felt pretty broken and afraid . . . sometimes it is hard to have faith when everything seems to be spiraling down into the abyss.

So here I sit, six months on from all that loss . . . and, whilst things are not perfect, they are certainly not horribly wrong either. We love our new home and are very grateful for God's blessing in providing it for us. I have the odd day where I could just sit down and cry, but thankfully those are few and far between . . .

We have little Mitzie now, who is quickly carving a very big place in our hearts. I still cry over Jess from time to time and I miss her deeply, I probably always will . . . but Mitzie is bringing light into our world and that is a good thing . . .

I have not been able to find a job. We are going through some very hard times employment wise in this country at the moment. Jobs are very scarce and getting scarcer. Things are tough . . . and when you are a 55 year old woman . . . and a 72 year old man . . . they are even tougher. Young people are infinitely more employable it would seem. I had hoped that I would have been able to do better selling my artwork etc., but even that has not done as well as I had hoped. Some days I feel really down about it . . . and I start to doubt my talents . . . and then I kick myself in the arse and I think to myself . . . do you create as a means to an end, or as an end to a means? I create because it is as much a part of me as breathing is . . . and so I go on creating, even if most days it seems that nobody appreciates it half as much as I do myself! I dream and I hope . . . for what is life without dreams or hope????

Things are fairly bleak financially, but we have enough for our needs, and you can't ask for more than that. We are so blessed that we are not living back in the 1800's or we would be headed for debtor's prison I am sure . . . we are blessed to be living in a time and age where we will not starve and we will always have a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs. There are many in this world for whom those things that we so take for granted are only a dream . . . and so I count my blessings where I find them.

We are slowly finding our feet here . . . making new friends, building a new life for ourselves . . . creating a home that is comfortable and serene. We have each other, we have our health, and we have our faith. Anything else is just the icing on the cake. Lessons have been learned . . . we have both grown. Life is good. We begin to see light at the end of the tunnel . . .

I did another video of Mitzie yesterday as she played in the garden with Todd. Oh what a joy she is. She had been having such a fun time chasing the ball with Todd and I wanted to film it. Unfortunately I came in at about the end of her burst of energy. Puppies tire very quickly and so you don't get to see much of her boisterous energy but you can get some sense of just what a little treasure she is!

Now if I could only lose some weight! It's cert that I won't be if I don't stop making these delicious things to eat . . . perhaps I just need to find a healthier way to do them. Oh well, in the meantime here's a delicious Canadian treat!

Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Gravy, French Fries, and cheese curds! This is a once in a blue moon treat that is oh so good. You can make it a lot less fattening of course, by using low fat frozen oven fries and low fat cheese and gravy. I often do, but I am giving the full fat version here today! This is truly a Canadian treat!

1 quart of vegetable oil for frying
1 can of beef gravy (or homemade if you have it, it's so much better!)
5 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chips
2 cups cheese curds (If cheese curds are not available you can use a mixture of shredded mozzarella and strong cheddar cheeses)

Heat oil in a deep fryer or deep heavy skillet to 120*C/250*F. Put the gravy into a saucepan and heat to boiling hot. Set aside and keep warm while you make the chips.

The secret to perfect chips is to double fry them. This results in a chip with a soft moist centre and a lovely crunchy outer skin. A great potato for making chips over here is the Maris Piper or King Edward. You want a nice floury potato. One that is good for making mash or baked potatoes. New potatoes are not good at all. You want to use old potatoes. Peel and cut the potatoes into big chunky chips or fries as they are known in North America. Wash them to remove some of the starch and then dry them VERY well on kitchen paper towels.

Place the chips in the heated oil and cook for approximately 10 minutes. Remove them from the oil and let them sit for about 15 minutes or so in the basket, draining. This first cooking process, or blanching as it is called, draws the starches to the outside of the chip and seals in the moisture - essential for that soft moist centre. (In this par cooked state you can actually store them for up to a day ahead of time if you wish.)

Increase the temperature of the oil to 175* - 185* C/ about 350*F - 375*F. Cook the chips again. (This is the secret to getting hot crispy chips with a nice brown surface and tender insides.) Place the chips (fries) into the hot oil and cook until light brown, about 5 minutes longer. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Place the hot fries on a heated serving platter and sprinkle the cheese, or drop the curds over top. Ladle on the hot gravy, covering the fries and cheese. Serve immediately!

To celebrate Todd's Birthday yesterday I baked him a Buttermilk Spice Cake. You can check it out over in The English Kitchen!

Just as a note of interest as well, I am being featured as Wednesday's Woman over on Not Quite June Cleaver. I'm honored that she is doing this, as I have been a long time fan of her page for several years now. Not sure I deserve all the accolade, but I'm very grateful for it. Hop on over and check it out!


  1. Belated birthday greetings to Todd. Hope the job situation resolves itself.
    Love all your different artistic endeavors. Keep it up.

  2. Thank you for such a an honest and deeply personal post..I shall go to work with a new attitude this morning...I don't want to be nosy but how the heck are you managing wihout any income? I guess Todd would be getting his pension but even so!! I shall keep you in mind if I win the Lotto ..:-) have you gained any weight back? I must check your other the puppy! xx

  3. You do have many blessings in your life so for that you can be thankful. Things don't always go the way we plan and I like to think that God must have a better plan. There are many people here that have lost their jobs. Like you our economy isn't very good. I'll keep you and Todd in my prayers that something good will come your way.

  4. You are always so honest and open Marie, I had wondered how you managed financially after losing your home and job in on fell swoop. You are blessed in you marriage and your faith and your gorgeous little Mitzi. I pray your situation will get easier. Someone with a soul such as yours will receive what is derserved.

    Big Hugs


  5. Yum...this cake looks great and just what i am in the mood for! Well, life can and does throw us some curve balls doesn't it?! You guys are in a good place now though and that new pup is such a bundle of joy. I do know that our prayers are heard and answered...I think all will be well for you. :D

  6. Oh, Marie -

    I really understand. My husband, Mark and I, are going through much of the same situation as you and we know how troubling and scary it can be. Mark is 60 and I am 53. It is very difficult to find a good job. I haven't been working because I still have childen here (I'm an old mother). I know so many people who are struggling terribly right now, including some who have lost their homes, too. We are renters trying desperately to stay where we are.

    I would be willing to fast with you, if you ever feel you need it. Anytime, any place. We could pray for each other.

    Come over and visit yesterday's post. Hopefully, you will find the subject uplifting.

    God bless,

  7. Thanks for the reality check. Every time I want to complain about my job, I just step back and remind myself how lucky I am to have a good job in these tough economic times. I hope this wait means that the perfect job is still out there and you are one day closer to finding it.

  8. Marie, I am so glad that you are getting so much more comfort in your life than you had six months ago. It looks like you are really enjoying your new home and life and you truly do have all the important things. We are so blessed to live in this time where a way can be provided for the things we need. I hope you can find work but I know you are enjoying your time at home with Todd and Mitzie!

    I think employers are wise that hire mature workers. They are much more dependable and loyal! It is a crazy world we live in. I am glad we re grounded in the Gospel and know what is important.

  9. Marie, Please don't ever think that people don't like or appreciate your art work or crafts. Your work is charming , whimsical and full of joy. I think we are all in the same boat, just feeling the pinch of the present economy, also in the same situation where we have lost jobs that we thought were secure, and worse realizing that we have reached an age that is less desireable because we are in our 50's... too old to hire yet too young to retire! although we have a great work ethic,not afraid to work hard, experience, we have just become undesireable because we are in our 50's . The catch is though that we still need to work as we are far too young to retire! My husband always says that freedon 55 has become freedon 75!(Hopefully) Your blog over the years has kept me from going into a depression. You have given me inspiration both for my soul and my kitchen. Don't change, God never gives us more than we can handle. God Bless Rita

  10. I was reading in 1 Peter today Marie and it made me think of you. Here on earth we sometimes suffer but that only makes us closer to Him - in more ways that we even realize I'm sure. In your suffering with job loss, financial difficulties, and uneasy thoughts you have drawn still closer to our Father and He is always there with a listening ear and loving arms. How blessed we are to have Him in those times. blessings, marlene


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