Monday 28 February 2011

Visitors . . .

The lands around my house are more beautiful
From the day when it is given me to see
Faces I have not seen for long.
All is more beautiful and life is thankfulness.
These guests of mine make my house grand.
~An Inuit blessing for Visitors

I don't think a person could find a more welcoming or hospitable people than the Inuit of the North West Territories. They just love to see a visitor, and if it is an old and familiar face so much the better!

I think we could all take a lesson from them. All too often I have been caught unawares, still in my jim jams, or dressed in my scruffies with no makeup on, and the house a bit untidy because I've been doing other things . . . and had a visitor ring my doorbell. It can be a bit embarassing to say the least!

It shouldn't be so if your visitors are familiar faces! Your home may be a humble place, no Buckingham Palace for sure . . . and you may not be a super model . . . but a friend stepping over the threshold has the capacity of making it a special place and of brightening up your day and countenance in an incredible way . . . if you choose to let them!

It's all in how you look at it . . . as a gift, or as a nuisance! I think I'd rather see it as a gift, wouldn't you??

I've been taking a marketing course over the past month, just a study at home one . . . so that I can better market my artwork, and get it out there. Right now at the moment I have a local printer doing me up some samples and I plan on selling it in groups of notecards, all professionally printed etc. All depending on how they look printed of course! If this works out I may try calendars etc. before the end of the year. We will just have to wait and see how the cards work out.

Thanks so much for all your congratulations reference Maryn's safe arrival in this beautiful world. I cannot wait to see her dear little face. I am sure she is beautiful! Now I have a really special little girl to make a doll for I'll be doing one soon for her, you can rest assured! I have a particular one in mind as well. Look for it soon!

Here's a delicious way to cook pork chops that is not only very quick to do but quite healthy as well! You only need to serve this with some rice and a green vegetable for a tasty and nutritious meal!

*Cranberry Pork Chops*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Flash fried pork chops in a deliciously tangy cranberry sauce! Quick, easy and divine!

4 boneless pork loin chops, each about 1/2 inch thick
1/8 tsp of salt
1/8 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
1.2 cup canned whole berry cranberry sauce
2 TBS frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed (Over here I use 4 TBS of regular orange juice
cooked and reduced to 2 TBS)
1 TBS runny honey
1/4 tsp of ground ginger
1/8 tsp of freshly ground nutmeg

Spray a large nonstick skillet with some non stick cooking spray. Heat over medium high heat. Season the chops with some salt and pepper and then quickly sear them in the heated skillet for about 4 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove from the skillet and keep warm.

Whisk together the cranberry sauce, orange juice, honey, ginger and nutmeg. Add to the same skillet. Cook for one to two minutes until thickened slightly. Pour over the pork and serve immediately. Delicious!

And if pork is not your thing, there are some delicious Chicken Scaloppine with Spring Greens over in The English Kitchen today!

Sunday 27 February 2011

Marie's Sunday Six

Welcome to my Sunday Six Smilemakers post for today, the last Sunday in February of 2011. What a crazy week it has been! Lots of ups and some downs and everything in between! Life is so hectic these days, I wonder how I ever coped with everything when I was working full time! I am always saying this to Todd. I can barely manage to get all the things done every day that I plan to get done . . . time seems to juse evaporate! Here are six things this week that brought extra special smiles to my face. It is always really hard to pick just six . . . but I'll try!

It's been really hard keeping my mouth shut, but now that the happy parents have announced it to the world I feel that I can tell my friends as well. My youngest daughter, Amanda, gave birth to a bouncing baby girl on Thursday, February 24th. Our first Grand-daughter Maryn Grace made her debut at 4:59 pm weighing in at 6 pounds 11 ounces. Mother and daughter doing well and home from hospital yesterday. I have not seen any pictures but have been told she has lots of dark hair and a dimple in her chin. (That would be the infamous Villeneuve "bum" chin. We all have it and it comes from my dad.) My daughter had lots of dark hair when she was born. She was a beautiful baby and I can well imagine that Maryn is as well. I can't wait to see some pictures, so have my fingers crossed that I will be able to soon. There is nothing like a healthy new Grandchild to put a smile on a Grandmother's face! I can't wait to do girlie stuff!

We've had more than a few sunny days this past week and the daffodils are blooming in my back garden. Last autumn we planted them all along the base of the hedge towards the bottom of the garden and they're little yellow heads are now beginning to bob in the breeze! What a pretty sight! What a wonderful sign of spring!

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
when all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
~William Wordsworth

Daffodils make me smile.

I had a wonderful conversation with my eldest son on the telephone yesterday. Talking to my children always makes me smile. I love them all so very much, even if the feeling is not always mutual. It is nice to have gotten to the point in life where we are friends as well as mother and child. My eldest son and I have a special bond. He is my first born and we are the most alike out of all my children. I do not have favourites. That is not my way. I love all my children equally. I do have an extra special relationship with my oldest son though, and that is a two way thing. We both work at it. We both make the effort to know and love each other. It is not all one sided. He has not taken sides between his dad and myself. He loves us both and judges neither of us, at least not outwardly so. That is a good thing. We often text each other during the week. I can always count on him to give me good advice and to listen when I need someone to listen. I would wish to have the same relationship with my other children as well. Who knows. It may happen yet. In the meantime, the fact that I do have this special relationship with my eldest son makes me smile in a wonderful way.

Todd and Mitzie make me smile every day of my life. I am so blessed to have these two special beings in my life! A husband who loves and respects me in every single way, that is an honour I waited my whole lifetime to be given. It is an extra special blessing and I am very grateful for it. I know what it is like to not have this, and that makes it even more of a treasure to me. The Lord is good. When we lost Jess last year I never thought I would be able to love a dog again as much as I loved her. Mitzie has proved me wrong. I love Mitzie with all of my heart. She is not Jess, no dog ever could be. She is Mitzie and I adore everything she does and all the love that she shares back with me. Together . . . Todd, Mitzie and I . . . we are a family. That makes me smile.

Having a Doll House to play with makes me smile. Every day I move things around in it and Norah can be found to be doing something else. I think Todd is enjoying it as well, as he always checks to see what she is up to. Right now it is up in our bedroom on the dresser. He wants me to bring it down here and set it up on the table so everyone can see it. I am not sure about that yet. It is quite large and I feel a bit selfish about it. I don't want everyone touching and playing with it. I waited a long time for this doll house and I want to keep it just to myself for now . . . I know he thinks it is pretty wonderful, and it is . . . I am grateful that he is proud of my accomplishment with it . . . I guess I just don't want people disturbing what I do with it. Does that make sense?? Playing with it does make me smile a whole lot. That is a good thing, don't you think?

Being creative and having the luxury now of exploring my creativity every day now (if I wish) makes me smile. I just love drawing and colouring and painting and creating. I always have done. The act of creation is one of the most rewarding and wonderful ones to me. It is what brings me the most satisfaction in life. We all can create. It doesn't matter if it is something as simple as baking some cookies or making a cake . . . of tidying a room . . . we are all creative Heavenly Daughters of a wonderfully Creative Heavenly Father. Our birthright . . . and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth . . . is to experience joy and eternal happiness. (President Dieter F Uchtdorf) One of the most fulfilling ways we can experience this joy, this happiness is to create! Being creative makes me smile.

So there you have it, six things, six thoughts, six blessings that brought a special smile and warmth to my heart this week. I hope and pray that you each found occasion to smile and warm your hearts this week as well.

Here's a delicious way to cook chicken that is every bit as good as real fried chicken, but much, much better for you! Eating healthier makes me smile too!

*Oven Fried Chicken*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Adapted from a recipe found in Cooking Light, Healthy Everyday Food. Low in saturated fats and calories. Tender, juicy and yet crisp at the same time!

3/4 cup of low fat buttermilk
2 bone in chicken breast halves (skinless)
2 chicken drumsticks (skinless)
2 chicken thighs (skinless)
1/2 cup of plain flour
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika

Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl, turning the chicken to coat it well in the buttermilk. Marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour, giving it a turn every once in a while.

Preheat the oven to 220*C/450*F/ gas mark 7. Line a baking tray with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Mix together the flour and spices in a large zip lock plastic bag. Add the chicken pieces, discarding any marinade, one at a time and give them a good shake to coat. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly spray the chicken pieces with some more cooking spray.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, turning after about 20 minutes, Chicken is done when the juices run clear.

Over in The English Kitchen today you will find a delicious Cheesecake in a Cup with Rhubarb Syrup!

Saturday 26 February 2011

Poetry Saturday . . . A Child Needs a Grandma . . .

A child needs a grandma to spoil him a bit
Someone with time on their hands who will sit,
On an old fashioned rocker that shivers and squeaks,
And listen to words that a little boy speaks.

Someone who knows how a gingerbread man
All crumbly and fragrant and warm from the pan
Can comfort a fellow who feels a bit blue,
And nothing just right seems to happen to you.

A child needs a grandma to teach him the words,
That run like a hymn in the song of the birds,
Someone who knows where the orioles go,
When the garden is covered with inches of snow.

And only a grandma remembers to say
"Now be a good boy" as she tucks him away,
Under the covers and pats them down tight,
For little boys sometimes get scared in the night.

A child needs the comforting knowledge of love,
Steady and sure as the stars up above,
To carry him through sunshine and tears,
A light in the darkness . . . a stay through the years.

A child needs a grandma to nod in her chair,
And give him her blessing by just being there.

Hope you enjoyed this little poem today. It's one of my favourites! Have a wonderful Saturday my sweet friends!

Here's a tasty casserole that helps to use up leftovers in a most delicious way!

*Chicken Enchilada Pasta Bake*
Serves 8 to 10
Printable Recipe

If you like Mexican food, you will love this. I divide it into two casseroles and freeze one for a later date.

1 (12 ounce package) jumbo shell pasta
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 large yellow pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups choped red onion
1 fresh green chili pepper, seeded and chopped
2 TBS vegetable oil
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 (16 ounce) tin of refried beans
3 TBS of taco seasoning mix
1 (10-ounce) cans of enchilada sauce
8 ounces of shredded Mexican style four cheese blend
1 cup sliced spring onions
2 cups of crushed Nacho Cheese flavoured tortilla chips
Prepared Quacamole and Sour cream

Preheat your oven to oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a 3 quart rectangular baking dish. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain well, rinse, drain again and then set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Cook the sweet peppers, onion, jalapeƱo, and 1/4 tsp. salt for 5 minutes in the hot oil over medium heat until tender. Stir in chicken, beans, taco seasoning mix, and 1/2 cup enchilada sauce. Cook and stir 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup each of the cheese and spring onions.

Divide the chicken mixture among the cooked shells. Spread 1 cup of the remaining enchilada sauce in 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Arrange shells atop sauce. Drizzle with the rest of the enchilada sauce.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with chips and and the remaining green onions. Serve with Guacomole and sour cream. Delicious!

Over in The English Kitchen today I am hosting a little giveaway in appreciation for all my readers! Plus there's a wonderful Banana Toffee Cupcake recipe!

Plus there's been another entry over on The Doll's House, One Cold and Windy Night. I wonder what Norah's been up to now?

Friday 25 February 2011

Friday meanderings . . .

These bodies are perishable,

but the Dweller in these bodies is eternal.

If you look at most vegetables and fruit, it is fairly evident that the most delicious part is the insides. If you want to get to the sweetness and ripeness, you have to penetrate the skin . . . to peel it away. Often the skins are quite horrible looking . . . take the skin of a Kiwi for instance . . . and they also taste pretty horrible . . . like an orange peel, all bitter and sharp, but if you are willing to make a tiny bit of extra effort, you will get to the inside and be rewarded with something that is beautifully delicious.

So it is with us. Our most beautiful and tastiest parts dwell inside us . . . not on the surface. Hidden deep within the recesses of our outer hull . . . which may or may not be beautiful to the eye . . . our spirit begins to grow and develop . . . being moulded by our experiences here on earth, right from the time we are born.

Life can be a tough journey for some of us, and perhaps a bit easier for others . . . but I don't believe that anyone truly gets through it totally unscathed, no matter what outward appearances would tell us . . . everyone gets put through the fire . . .

The difference lies in wether we choose to take these "Ripening" experiences and allow them to help us develop and to grow sweeter inside, or if we choose to ignore them and stay as we are . . .

It's like picking up two plums in a shop. Both look pretty much the same on the outside and each have beautiful colour . . . but you bite into one and it is hard and bitter inside, never having truly ripened . . . whilst the other gently yields beneath your teeth and it is sweet and juicy and pleasant to the taste. I know which one I'd rather be, don't you?

I had a bit of a funny day yesterday. I was kind of blue all day. Sometimes I just let the circumstances in my family get to me . . . and I cry. I sit and try to figure out how I could have done things differently, and I feel very discouraged . . . at one point I had convinced myself that I would never go back to Canada ever again . . . that if anyone over there wanted to see me, they would have to come here. It hurts when you love people, and they have no desire to spend any time with you . . . when they never send a card, or ask how you are, ignore all your efforts to communicate. It hurts to be told that you have never done anything for your children, and have never been there for them . . . especially when you know that the truth is quite different than that lie. You get to the point where you don't want to do it anymore, to feel it anymore . . . where you just want to excise yourself from the experience all-together . . . eventually though, as always, I managed to shake it all off and move forward. I think the great deceiver knows this is my weakness and he trys to hammer me with it every once in a while, as he does know all our weaknesses. I won't let him win though, and neither should you.

They're having a talent show at our Ward tonight. I am really looking forward to it. There is also going to be a cake competition so I will be baking a cake today. I am not really bothered about the competition, it will just be fun to bake a cake, and to eat it too, along with everyone else's!

Here's a tasty dish that is great for supper, along with a lovely tossed salad, or for a brunch at the weekend. It may look complicated, but it's really very easy. I hope you enjoy!

*Croque Madame*
serves 4
Printable recipe

A traditional ham and cheese toastie, topped with bechemal sauce and a fried egg. Delicious!

5 TBSs butter
2 1/2 TBS flour
1 3/4 cup milk
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
pinch thyme
pinch of grated nutmeg
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 slices of sturdy white sandwich type bread
4 tsp Dijon mustard
4 ounces of Gruyere cheese, grated
12 ounces of leftover ham, sliced
1/2 ounce of Parmegiano-Reggiano, finely grated
4 large free range eggs, at room temperature

Melt 2 TBS of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk in the flour, whisking constantly until it begins to turn beige in colour. Slowly whisk in the milk, iin a slow and steady stream. Cook and whisk constantly until it is smooth and thickened and slightly bubbling. Whisk iin the brandy, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and set aside, whisking now and then to help prevent a skin from forming.

Position your broiler rack 4 inches from the heat and heat the broiler to high. Spread 4 slices of the bread on one side each with 1 tsp of Dijon mustard. Top with the slices ham and then the cheese. Place the remaining 4 slices of bread on top.

Melt 1 TBS of the butter in a 12 inch non stick skillet over medium heat. Cook 2 of the sandwiches until brown and crisp, turning once, halfway through the cooking to brown the remaining side. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and repeat with another TBS of the butter and the remaining 2 sandwiches.

Melt 2 Tbs. of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and continue whisking just until it turns beige, about 20 seconds. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream; continue whisking until smooth, thickened, and slightly bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the brandy, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Whisk for 30 seconds; then remove from the heat and set aside, whisking occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. Ladle the bechamel sauce over top of the sandwiches. (It will run down the sides, but that's ok.) Sprinkle with the Parmigiano Reggiano. Broil until bubbling and lightly browned.

Melt the remaining 1 TBS of butter in the skillet over medium heat. Crack in the eggs and fry them sunny side up until the whites are set, but the yolks are still runny.

Transfer the sandwiches to serving plates, placing a fried egg on top of each. Sprinkle with salt and a good grinding of black pepper and serve.

Cooking in The English Kitchen today, a delicious Scalloped Corn and Macaroni Bake.

Thursday 24 February 2011

Thursday thoughts . . .

"There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle . . . or to be the mirror that reflects it."
~Edith Wharton

I came across this quote the other day and it made me pause for thought. I found it perceptive and very encouraging . . . we may not all find it within ourselves to have the courage or the strength to be a light or source of wisdom or enlightenment, but we can certainly, each of us, be a mirror to those qualities, reflecting and spreading the light wherever we go!

I did another little painting yesterday afternoon. I really liked the way she turned out.

She's all packed up and ready to go on a journey of some sort. I love her hat and dress and of course her luggage. Trips can be so very exciting can't they! Life is a journey. Sometimes we may think that we just can't go any further . . . that we have been given too much to bear . . . but I promise you, if you will only keep moving forward, just one step at a time . . . you will get there in the end, and you'll be able to look back and to see that it was all worth while!

Picture this in your minds . . . a small bird perched on a very slender branch, overhanging a roaring waterfall . . .

The bird has no cause to be afraid, because it has put perfect trust in the fact that it's been blessed with wings and can fly on out of there any time it wants to.

We, too . . . can have this perfect peace . . . if we will put our trust in the one Lord who protects, guides, leads and loves us with a perfect love, both enduring and unfailing. No matter how scary things might seem to us at the moment, or how uncertain . . . no matter how strong the storms seem that rage around us. We can have that perfect . . . stabilizing . . . inner peace. If we have worries we can share them with Him, and we will know we are not alone.

"On Christ, the solid rock I stand, all other ground is shifting sand." ~unknown

Just my mix of thoughts on this February morning as the earth comes awake and the birds begin to sing . . .

I was supposed to go to a Pot Luck luncheon yesterday, but I ended up without a drive there so Todd and I had the casserole I had made instead. It was rather a lot and we'll have the leftovers today. Very tasty though! Pineapple, beans and bacon are such a tasty combination, don't you think???

(Picture from Taste of Home)

*Baked Beans with Pineapple*
Serves 10 to 12
Printable Recipe

Sweet and sour and delicious!

6 slices of bacon, cut into bits (I use my kitchen scissors)
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 (14 ounce) tins of baked beans
1 (8 ounce) tin of crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 cup of tomato ketchup
1/4 cup of dark soft brown sugar
splash of Worcestershire Sauce
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. You will need a medium sized casserole with a lid.

Heat a large non stick skillet. Add the bacon bits and cook stirring until they begin to brown. Toss in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion softens. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil, stirring. Pour this mixture into the casserole dish and cover with the lid.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until all the flavours have well amalgamated and the sauce has thickened somewhat. Serve hot with some homemade biscuits or crusty bread for mopping up all those delicious juices!

Cooking in The English Kitchen today, a delicious Beef Bourgignon!

PSSSTT!! My friend Tatiana is having a lovely little giveaway on her blog, That's the Way It Crumbles Cookiewise. Hop on over and have a look. She is soooo talented!

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Wednesday prattle . . .

If you have a garden
there is always work to do,
Beds to hoe and grass to mow
and things to plan anew,
Shrubs and bushes to be pruned,
dead wood to cut away,
Fresh young shoots to tie and train
and apple trees to spray.

Plots to dig
and leaves to sweep
and compost heap to make,
Tubs and benches to be painted,
leaning trees to stake.
Edges of the lawn to trim,
a broken fence to mend,
The shed to put in order and
the rockery to tend.

Ragged heges to be clipped.
The kitchen path
to weed,
Pots and boxes to be sorted,
read for the seed.
Borders to be planted out
with next year's show in view,
In a garden you can always
find a job to do!
~Patience Strong

We had a fairly mild day here yesterday, so we spent some time in the garden doing some digging and odds and sodds . . . I say "we" rather loosely, coz it was Todd did all the work . . . I just supervised!

We dug out some more of the vegetable patch, getting things ready for planting and put some of our potatoes out to "chit". Todd says that means letting them sprout and stuff. He has them on the window sill. My regular potatoes seem to just "chit" in the cupboard, without even trying!

I am really excited about the garden this year. We arrived here a bit late in the year last year to really do much with it. I have purchased all sorts of seeds . . . beetroot, chantanay carrots, little gems . . . courgettes, beans, peas . . . butternut squash, jerusalem artichokes . . . and then of course we have the potatoes . . . no less than three varieties (pink fir, an early variety and a late). My job will be planning on where to put everything and then . . . supervising of course! The missionaries are going to come one day and help Todd square everything off and I'll feed them lunch! There's something really spiritual about planning and planting a garden I think . . . I love the smell of the damp earth and all that fresh air!

Mitzie was all agog to get into the garden and run about, but it was far too wet and we didn't want too muddy a doggie so she stayed on the other side of the fence with me and supervised. She is so sweet. I think we really lucked in with her. I just adore her. She quite happily goes into her bed when we are both going out, either to church, or shopping, or even to bed! Oddly though when only one of is away . . . she frets a bit until we are both back together. She doesn't cry or anything, but spends most of the time sitting or laying near the door with her eyes planted on it. She is such a little dear . . .

I baked a marble cake yesterday afternoon, from a cake mix . . . sometimes you just get a craving for a good old fashioned cake mix cake! Then we had leftover meatloaf for supper and a new macaroni dish that I was trying out. It turned out rather well. Todd seemed to happily eat both . . . but then afterwards he made a joke by saying . . . I know what you were thinking this afternoon . . . what shall I feed the old bugger for supper? I know . . . Pasta and Chocolate! (he hates both!) Then we both had a good laugh!

Nevermind, this isn't pasta, nor is it chocolate, but it is similar to something else Todd doesn't really like . . . pizza! It's totally delicious though and very easy to make and kids just love it! You can get the refrigerated biscuits over here at ASDA, but I do confess that I often just make up my own biscuit dough and use that instead. It works just as well, and is probably a lot better for you!!

*Tear and Share Pizza Ring*
Serves 20
Printable Recipe

A pull apart snack ring filled with cheese and pepperoni, served along side pizza sauce for dipping! Makes a brilliant appetizer or snack for the kids on sleepover nights!

6-8 TBS butter, melted
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 cans of refrigerated flaky biscuits, each containing 10
about 3 ounces of small slices of pepperoni
(40 slices)
8 ounces of mozzarella cheese, cut into 20 pieces
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 1/4 cups of Pizza sauce, heated

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Grease a 12 cup fluted tube pan really well. Set aside.

Mix the melted butter, Italian seasoning and garlic powder together in a small bowl. Separate one can of the dough into 10 biscuits, rolling or pressing each one into a 3 inch round. Place 2 slices of pepperoni in the centre of each. Top with a piece of mozzarella cheese. Bring the dough up around the filling, pressing the edges and shaping to seal. Shape each into a ball and then roll in the butter mixture. Place 10 balls in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese. Repeat with the remaining can of biscuits, placing the balls over top of the first layer. Pour the remaining butter mixture over top.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before gently loosening the bread from the sides of the pan. Carefully turn out onto a large heatproof plate. Serve warm with pizza sauce for dipping. Delicious!

Over in The English Kitchen today, delicious Pear and Hazelnut Frangipane Cakelettes!

Have a scrummy day!

Tuesday 22 February 2011

The Simple Woman's Day book

FOR TODAY, February 22nd, 2011...

Outside My Window...

It's cold and damp. It's been raining during the night, although it isn't raining now. Will be glad to see spring. I just know it won't be long now. Our pear tree and the hydrangea all have buds on them.

I am thinking...
I had a lovely long conversation with Lura on the telephone yesterday. We hadn't spoken in a few weeks. It was so nice to catch up on all of our goings on. The hour went far too quickly, but then again, it's always like that when you are talking with a good friend. The time just races by!

I am thankful for...
My dear husband Todd. Because I am in Primary I never get to go into the other lessons at church on Sundays. This past Sunday was our Ward Conference and so they had a joint Priesthood and Relief Society lesson, and he took notes and shared all that he had learned and his thought on it with me last night at our Family Home Evening. I thought it was so sweet of him and so very thoughtful too!

From the kitchen...
I have candied orange peels up the kazoo! But they are not fattening and quite yummy too! Today I am getting a free grazing box from a company called Graze. My friend Holly send me a code last week to get a free one. It will be filled with yummy snacks. I just have to remember to cancel so that I don't get another one next week and pay for it!

I am wearing...
A nightie, some jim jam bottoms, my robe. Layering to keep warm.

I am creating...
Still working on new designs. Not long now until the first ones will be out and I can show you them. They are talking about another set in May/June as well, so it's all go! I also decided that I will dedicate at least one day a week to do doing some paintings, and I managed to do two yesterday! (Which was cool!)

I redid this one, but instead of using water colours, I used my normal method and I love the way she turned out. I also added a different quote to it. I will be listing her soon in my Etsy shop.

Then I also did this one. She's a butterfly girl, but I think she's just enjoying walking through the flowers with them, more than catching them! I'll be listing her for sale soon as well!

I am going...
I have a Primary Presidency Meeting tomorrow night and then a Pampered Chef Party to go to on Thursday evening, plus I have a Temple Recommend Interview at the chapel that night as well. Then on Friday evening we have a talent night at our chapel. There is going to be a cake competition for the ladies as well. It should be fun!

I am reading...

The Personal History of Rachel Dupree, by Ann Weisgarber
A stunning read, with more than a nod at Steinbeck, yet enough distance to place the writer in her own territory. The two settings, Chicago and South Dakota, convinced me of their authenticity immediately. The family grabbed my sympathy from the opening scene and every character is clear and well rounded. Unsurprising, then, that this novel took seven years to write. Wild as it was, the American west was also a peculiarly democratic place, as a black man - or even a woman - was entitled to stake a claim. Still, there are few black ranchers in the Badlands of Dakota in 1917 where Rachel DuPree and her husband Isaac farm 320 acres of tumbleweed.

"I hated the Badlands," Rachel laments, "the bigness of it, the never endingness of it, the lonesomeness of it, the weight of my hate bore down on me."

Her story, shortlisted for the Orange new writers award, is a catalogue of drought, dirt, expiring cattle and still-born children that makes life in a Steinbeck novel seem rosy. A thoroughly engrossing read thus far. I highly recommend. I finished this last night and I have to say I really enjoyed this book. It really gave one a good feeling about how much of a struggle times were in the Dakota Badlands back in the early 1900's.

I am hoping...
That everything goes well with the birth of my youngest daughter's baby. Her due date is tomorrow. There is no sign of him/her making an appearance yet that I know of. I also hope that I don't have to find out about it on facebook and that someone at least lends me the courtesy of letting me know in person. That would be nice.

I am hearing...
Early morning sounds . . . the house cracking and snapping as it comes alive. Clocks ticking. Walls creaking . . . cars passing by the front of the house . . . the honk of the taxi's horn. The world is coming alive. The birds are singing more and more in the mornings . . . a sure sign that spring is just around the corner, and I am thinking we are all needing a litte bit of that!!

Around the house...
Not a lot to do really. A load of laundry just finished in the washer so I will have that to hang up soon. Lots of ironing to do. Just the usual stuff, which is good!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...
I plan on playing with my doll's house at some point, and working on my designs and then just the ordinary stuff that life is made from. A bit of this and a bit of that. Life is good.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

I just love this new video by Sir Bob Geldof, Silly Pretty Thing. It just brings a smile to my face when I hear this song. It's so upbeat and happy. I think the video is pretty sweet too! It is hard to believe he is 58! I could not jump and do flips on a trampoline and sing at the same time! I'd have a hard enough time controling my bladder let alone anything else! It just makes me feel happy. It's a rare thing in a music video today!

And just as a closing thought for today . . .

"The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
~Mark Twain

A reminder to us that most of the joy in life comes from serving others!

And there you have it . . . my day book for this week. 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 is a delicious entree that is not only quick and easy to make, but lower in fat than the usual version. Adapted from a recipe I found in a Martha Stewart cookbook. Her recipes are usually very good I have to say!

*General Tso's Chicken*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

I have never actually had the real thing in a Chinese Restaurant, so I can't comment on how authentic it is, but I can tell you this is delicious!

1/4 cup cornstarch
16 ounces snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
2 tsp freshly grated ginger root
3 TBS soft light brown sugar, packed
2 TBS soy sauce
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 large egg whites
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1 inch pieces)
2 TBS safflower oil to cook
Steamed Basamati rice to serve

Stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water in a large bowl until smooth. Add snow peas, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and red-pepper flakes; toss to combine, and set aside.

Whisk together the egg whites, remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in another bowl. Add the chicken, and toss to coat thoroughly.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Lift half the chicken from egg-white mixture, shaking off any excess. Add to the heated oil in the skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set aside with the rest, continuing to keep it warm.

Add the snow-pea mixture to skillet. Cover. Cook until snow peas are tender and sauce has thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet, along with any accumulated juices, tossing to coat. Serve immediately spooned over steamed Basamati Rice.

Cooking in The English Kitchen today, delicious Mini Meat Loaves!