Tuesday 31 May 2011

The Simple Woman's Day book

FOR TODAY, May 31st, 2011...

Outside My Window...

It appears to be dry this morning. We did have a lot of rain yesterday, which was a good thing! The plants in the garden perked right up! It doesn't seem to be windy this morning either, which is good. The wind gets on my nerves sometimes. I think of the dust bowl on the Canadian prairies back in the 1930's, and wonder why that infernal wind didn't drive people over the edge. (PS - the sun just appeared in all it's glory. It is going to be a beautiful day!)

I am thinking...
It has been five years since my Aunt Freda passed away. I know this intellectually, but my heart still aches when I think of her not being around. I was very close to her. She was one of those people that you could say anything to and you knew it would stay with her, that she would not pass it on. She was always so understanding, and compassionate. Whenever I went home to Canada . . . she was one of the first people I wanted to see and to talk to. I wish I had known that the last time I saw her would be the last time . . .

I am thankful for...
Unanswered prayers. Is there such a thing? I don't know . . . perhaps they are only prayers that the best answer is no answer??

From the kitchen...
There are cookies. Naughty, addictively tasty homemade cookies. Bad cookies. I hope I can stay away.

I am wearing...
Pink and black jim jams. Built for comfort. Pink slippers too. Pink fluffy ones. The kind Mitzie likes to nip at. She has a thing for feet.

I am creating...

I have been working on a few new designs for the stamp company, Christmas ones and I have been working on my line of Christmas Cards for this year. So far I have done two. I want to have five new ones for this year's holiday. I was going to base them all on two characters, a little girl named Imogene and her cat, named Puff.

This is the first one. I rather like it. It's funny how the snow doesn't show up that well on here. White and grey never scan well.

This is the second one that I did yesterday. I hope that people like them. I would value your honestt opinion on them very much, so don't hold back.

My art is a funny thing. I can never truly see it as other's do. It is a few days before I can look at something I have done and see any merit in it at all. I wonder if everyone is like that? It used to be the same way when I sewed my own clothes. I was always sick of whatever I was sewing by the time I finished it. It would take a few weeks before I fell in love with it.

I am going...
Not a lot on this week. I have the special evening that I have planned for the sisters in our Reliefe Society on Thursday evening. I hope it goes over well. Then on Saturday there will be a Baptism at our church. Todd has been asked to Baptise the lady. He has never Baptised anyone before, so I expect he is a bit nervous about it. It is quite an honour to be asked.

I am reading...

The Work and the Glory, Pillar of Light, by Gerald N Lund

Still reading and enjoying:
PILLAR OF LIGHT begins the saga of the Benjamin Steed family, who, in the fall of 1826, move from Vermont to Palmyra Township in upstate New York in search of better farmland. Almost immediately they meet a young man named Joseph Smith and are thrown into the maelstrom of controversy that swirls around him. Is he deluded farm boy or prophet of God? Does he commune with angels or consort with devils? The answers to those questions - intensely personal, bitterly divisive - will profoundly affect the lives of the Steeds and many others. From the frontiers of early America to the complexities of the last half of the twentieth century, THE WORK AND THE GLORY series chronicles the triumphs and tragedies of one family caught up in the events of the Restoration

There are nine books in the series and this is the third time I am reading them. I always really enjoy them. Gerald N Lund is a brilliant writer. If you are interested in history, and in particular the history of the LDS church, you would really enjoy these books. They are wonderfully written. I highly recommend!

But . . . I am ALSO reading:

A Course In Weight Loss, by Mirianne Williamson

It's early days yet, but I saw the book on Oprah's Favourite Things show. What can I say . . . I like Oprah and she has good taste in books.

Nobody can say it better than the author herself.

I am hoping...
That this extra meeting goes well on Thursday evening. I want the Sisters to enjoy themselves and yet at the same time, to come away feeling fed . . . spiritually, emotionally, physically, etc. I want them to have gotten something worthwhile from having attended it and for them to feel like they have taken something valuable away from it.

I am hearing...
Early morning sounds . . . the house cracking and snapping as it comes alive. The birds are chirping loudly in the back garden. The tip tapping of the computer keys, and the hum of the computer. The clock ticking on the mantle. Mitzie gently snuffling here next to me on the sofa. Early morning traffic. I love the early morning. It is my favourite time of the day. I have never been a sleep in kind of person. My father would never let us sleep in. Once he was up, he wanted everyone up. Then, I suppose having all those children meant that I had to be up as well. So through the years I have just been conditioned to getting up early. It is a way of life for me, but in truth . . . the morning is when I am in top form. It is the best time of my day. It is when I am the sharpest and the most capable! I am so NOT a night person!

Around the house...
Not a lot really. Just general tidying up. With only two of us, there is never much of a mess. I think the dog makes the most mess! She brings in little bits of stuff from out in the garden. She is a hunter/gatherer I think! As well as a digger! There is always her hair to hoover up from the carpet and little bits here and there. Muddy paw prints, from where she has been digging. Oh, but she is well worth it. We just adore her.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...
A bit of work, a bit of play and everything in between! I like weeks like that. I am hoping to get in a bit more exercise as well!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Whenever we go out, we put Mitie's bed in the kitchen and put the baby gate across the doorway. Yesterday we were out for a bit in the afternoon and when we came back, there she was sitting up like a little person in the corner of her bed. We always give her a little treat when we come in. Nothing big, just a little tidbit. She is such a little dear. I think pets add such a wonderful dimension to our lives. I know they are a big responsability, and having one means you are tied down a bit, but they are worth all of it and more. I would never be without one.

And just as a closing thought for today . . .

I never see any home cooking. All I get is fancy stuff.
~Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh

I guess Elizabeth never learned to make cheese on toast! I cannot fathom never being able to do something so simple as making yourself a simple bowl of soup and a grilled cheese . . . there always being someone at your beck and call to cook something up for you . . . and the snobbery that must exist in thinking that they must always cook something fancy for you. If I cooked for them, I'd treat them to a simple dinner every once in a while, something like Beans, Spaghetti or Scrambled Eggs on Toast! I would, I really would!

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!

When we have company there is nothing easier to whip up than a delicious dip. Most people love them and they get people up and mingling with each other. This is one of my favourites, and it's so easy to make and quick too! Plus I always have all the ingredients on hand, so it's something I can always put together at the last minute.

*Layered Black Bean Dip*
Serves 32, (2 TBS each serving)
Printable Recipe

I love layered dips. They are quick and easy to prepare and always quite delicious!

1 (8-ounce) package of Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup of canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10-ounce) tin of Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, drained
(can use an equivalent amount of tomato salsa if you would rather)
1/2 cup of grated Monterrey Jack cheese
1/2 cup of grated strong cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of grated spicy Mexican cheese
Tortilla chips for serving

Spread the cream cheese in the bottom of a shallow dish, or pie plate. Top with the drained black beans. Top these with the tomatoes or salsa and then finally sprinkle the top with the cheeses. Cover and chill until you are ready to serve. Serve with some Tortilla chips for dipping. Delicious!

There are some delicious Spicy Ginger Crackles baking in The English Kitchen today!

Monday 30 May 2011

Monday ponderings . . .

Blossomtide in England,

Cherry, plum and pear.
Flowering apple orchards . . .
What could be more fair?
Yet the bloom must wither
and the beauty go.
The blossoms must be scattered
that the fruit might grow.
Nature's ways are perfect.
She must work her will.
Springtime gives the promise
Summer days fulfil.
~Patience Strong

When we were down in Kent, we were completely surrounded with orchards . . . apple, pear, plum . . . so beautiful in the springtime. Last year when we moved back to Chester we planted an apple, a plum and a pear tree in the back garden, self proprogating ones. We got some plums from the plum tree last year, but nothing else. This year though there are lots of apples on the apple tree and even a few pears on the pear tree, so we can look forward to getting a lot more fruit at the end of the summer.

Our early potatoes are ready for harvest now, but the garden is not doing all that well really . . . we've not had the rain that we need, and although Todd is watering it each day, it still is not enough to get way down into the soil, it is so dry I fear. We had bought some lupins for the front garden and the leaves are all curled up, despite the watering Todd has done. It's kind of sad really.

Wierd, that in some places they are getting far more rain than they need and yet in others we are not getting enough. The weather patterns are definitely changing! My heart and prayers go out to all the people who have thus far this year been adversly affected by earthquakes, tornadoes and the like. I know we have been truly blessed here in the UK not to have anything like that to deal with.

I have started work on my Christmas Card designs for this year and completed this one yesterday. I have a few more up my sleeve as well. It seems rather odd to be thinking about Christmas in May, but that is what you have to do really if you want to be on time and ready for people to buy.

We have been watching our Larkrise to Candleford videos on Sunday Evenings. We are on series two now. I can't believe that the BBC has cancelled that show and will not be making any more. It is such a lovely series and much beloved throughout the world. It's sad really. There is so much garbage on the telly these days and yet something which is good and wholesome and entertaining just gets thrown away . . . but then that is a sign of the times.

I was so pleased to talk to Lura on the telephone yesterday afternoon. She seems to be doing a lot better in some ways, but at the same time is somewhat low, so please do continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers. I think the painkillers are making her a bit ambivalent about things. Her get up and go is getting lost somewhere in the shuffle. She has been through so very much, and John is still not right. They both could use some uplifting!

Today is Whitsun bank holiday over here. At least that is what Todd called it. I think it is the day that was generally accepted as the day of the ascension of Christ. I can remember as a child thinking that the clouds hung extra low in the sky on that day. I don't know if they do or not, but it is interesting to me that I had thoughts like that. I must have been a peculiar child. I also used to think that the rays of sunshine that broke through clouds were God's fingers touching the earth and that when it rained, He was crying. I guess I was always somewhat spiritual. I am glad that has not changed!

We've decided that we really cannot afford to go on any holidays this year so we will just have days out and go as and where we can afford the petrol to take us. Perhaps a few picnics with Mitzie, and jaunts to the seaside. I think a lot of people are in the same boat. When I think back we never went on holidays when I was a child. There were never trips to exotic places or the such like. Only ever days out here and there. When did exotic holidays become the norm? When my own children were growing up we never did holidays either. We only ever travelled to visit our parents and spend a week with mine or his, alternately. I suppose it was a bit of a break, but it was not the Algarve, nor Abizza! We never seemed to mind though . . . and I don't think we will now. You can have a holiday anywhere can't you? A holiday is mostly a state of mind and you can have a holiday state of mind right in your back garden if you choose to!

Our rhubarb is not doing all that great this year, I am not sure why. Todd dug a lot of horse manure into it last autumn. I think it is the lack of rain. By now it should be booming, but the stalks are all spindly and spongy for the most part. I did manage to gather enough yesterday to make these lovely bars. What I was lacking for in rhubarb, I made up with in strawberries and the result was most delicious! I love it when that happens! Have a wonderful Monday everyone . . . Whitsun, Memorial Day or whatever type of day it is wherever you are! God bless you all!

*Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble Bars*
Makes 16
Printable Recipe

Delicious moist bars, topped with strawberries, streusel and a scrummy streusel!

For the streusel:
6 TBS butter, melted, plus softened butter for buttering the pan
1 cup of plain flour, plus more for the pan
1/2 cup soft light brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp salt

For the cake:
1/4 pound of rhubarb, cut into half inch pieces
1/4 pound of strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room tempterature
1 cup icing sugar
2 large free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter an 8 inch square dish. Line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang for lifting out. Butter the parchment paper and dust with flour. Set aside.

Whisk together the butter, brown sugar and salt for the streusel. Stir in the flour with a fork until large crumbs form. Place in the fridge to chill.

Combine the rhubarb, strawberries and 1/4 cup of the flour for the cake in a bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt iin a medium bowl. In a large bowl cream together the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is thoroughly amalgamated before proceeding. Beat in the vanilla and then the flour. Spread this batter into the prepared pan. Cover with the fruit mixture and then finally crumble the streusel mixture over top.

Bake in the heated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until golden brown and risen and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with moist crumbs. Allow to cool completely in the pan before lifting out and then cutting into squares to serve. Delicious!

I'm serving breakfast over in The English Kitchen today, delicious Morello Cherry, Oat and Buttermilk Muffins!

Sunday 29 May 2011

Happy Birthday to my son!

Thirty Six years ago today . . . my life changed forever. I became a mom for the very first time. The one thing I had always wanted to be. My dream since I had been a little girl, finally came true. All my experience with children up to that point, had only ever been through babysitting for neighbours, and those children had always, for the most part, been in bed and sleeping when I arrived! So I guess you could say my experience had been slim to none!

I was very un-prepared for the birth. Nobody had told me anything about what would happen. When I had asked if it would hurt, I had been told that any pain would be like strong menstrual pains and I remember thinking to myself, I can do that! Back in those days father's had not yet been allowed into the delivery rooms, and so the labour and delivery was done all on my own. I was young and afraid, and in so much pain. This was not mild menstrual cramps! This was nothing like it!

That week was also Apple Blossom Week back home in the Valley. My Doctor was the mayor of our town, and our town happened to be hosting the festival that year . . . so he was in a big hurry to get out of there, and not the most patient fellow. I think that giving birth to my son was probably the single most scariest thing I had ever had to go through, but when it was all over and he was placed in my arms . . . it was love at first sight.

He was my guinea pig. I learned all that I had to learn about being a mother with him. Not too long after he was born, I also became a single mom, so it got even harder, but I did my best. We lived with my mom and my dad until he was about 18 months old, which made things a bit easier. He was just like a little man, with all those grown ups around to keep an eye on him and teach him things. He walked at 10 months and was quite conversant at an early age as well. He never lacked for attention, and he was always a bit of a ham. I remember one of my great Aunts coming for a visit from America and he worse himself out, and made himself ill showing off to her. He was always a very charming little boy, eager to please, and wanting to help and share with everyone. He was curious and smart and happy. He was my all.

It is hard to believe that he is 36 years old today. We got through the terrible twos, and the terrible teens . . . and he is now a husband and father himself, to two wonderful little boys. I am so proud of him. He's a good man. A solid man. A dependable man. Hard working, faithful, loyal and reliable. He has a wicked sense of humour and he's a great cook! He's had to put up with a mom that's been divorced two times, and married three times . . . and through it all, he's remained loyal and true to me. He may not always have agreed with my choices, but he's always loved and respected me through it all, despite any of my shortcomings, and regardless of anything people might have said about me. I know that I can share anything with him, and that he will always give me the best advice. He is wise and he is steadfast. He is loyal and he is true. He loves me no matter what, no matter how . . .

Because that is what love is. I like to think he learned that from me.

On this day, I want to wish him a very Happy Birthday, and to tell him that I love him, and that he is the Apple of my eye. I want to thank him for his loyalty and love for me, and to tell him that I am proud of him and all that he is. Husband, father, brother . . . son.

Happy Birthday Anthony!

I know he lives too far from me for me to be able to bake him a cake for his birthday, but if I could I would bake him one of these. I just know that he would love it!

*Chocolate Turtle Cake*

Serves 16
Printable Recipe

A fudgy delicious cake made with very little effort. Impressive!

1 8-ounce tub of frozen whipped Topping, unthawed
1 package(2-layer size)of a devil's food cake mix
1 package (4 serving size)of chocolate instant Pudding
38 soft caramels
1-1/2 TBS water
6 ounces (3/4 of 8-ounce package) Cream Cheese, softened
16 vanilla Wafers
16 toasted pecan halves
5 squares of semi-sweet Chocolate, divided (5 ounces)

Spoon half of the frozen whipped topping into bowl. Place in the refrigerator to thaw. Return the remaining frozen topping to the freezer. Prepare the cake batter and bake as directed on the package for 2 (9-inch) round layers, adding the dry pudding mix to the cake mix before mixing with the liquid ingredients. Cool cakes in the pans for 10 minuntes, then invert the pans onto wire racks. Remove the pans, and cool the cakes completely before proceeding.

Microwave the caramels and water in microwaveable bowl on high for 1 1/2 minutes, or until smooth, stirring every 45 seconds. Allow to cool slightly.

Beat the cream cheese in large bowl with an electric whisk until creamy. Add the caramel sauce, mixing it in well. Blend in the thawed whipped topping. Place 1 cake layer on a plate. Spread with half of the cream cheese mixture. Cover with the second cake layer, and then frost the top with remaining cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Microwave the frozen whipped topping and 3 chocolate squares in a microwaveable bowl for 3 minutes, or until well blended, stirring after each minute. Cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the remaining chocolate squares as directed on the package. Dip half of each wafer in chocolate and place on a waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Top with the nuts. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Spread the chocolate whipped topping mixture onto the top of the cake. Garnish with the chocolate coated and nut garnished wafers. Cut into slices to serve. Refrigerate any leftovers, covered.

I'm dishing all the dirt on Baked Potatoes over in The English Kitchen today!

Saturday 28 May 2011

Poetry Saturday . . . Are All The Children In?

I think of times as the night draws nigh
Of an old house on a hill,
Of a yard all wide and blossom-starred
Where the children play at will.

And when deep night at last came down,
Hushing the merry din,
Mother would look all around and ask,
"Are all of the children in?"

Tis many and many a year since then,
And the old house on the hill
No longer echoes childish feet
And the yard is still, so still.

But I see it all as the shadows creep,
And tho' many the years have been
Since then, I can hear my mother ask,
"Are all the children in?"

I wonder if, when those shadows fall
On the last short earthly day,
when we say good-bye to the world outside,
All tired of our childish play,

When we meet the Lover of boys and girls,
Who died to save them from sin,
Will we hear Him ask as Mother did,
"Are all the children in?"
~author unknown

I just love this poem, it reminds me of warm summer evenings when I was a child, as the sun lay low in the sky, being called in from play by my mother, and not wanting the day to end.

I hope that when I get that final call from my Heavenly Home that I hear it and know the way.

I think this is a long weekend both here in the UK and over in the US. It's called Victoria Day here, (I think) and in America, Memorial day. Traditionally over here the May bank holiday is the weekend for gardening work and barbeques. I think it is in the US as well. Here's a gorgeously tasty dessert for that barbeque, that is easy, quick and oh so scrummy!

*Strawberry Banana Smores*
Serves 9
Printable Recipe

These are the scrummiest smores ever!

9 graham crackers broken in half (18 squares), divided
(Or 18 digestive biscuits here in the UK)
2 milk chocolate bars (1.55 oz. each), coarsely chopped or broken into squares
(I like Green & Blacks milk chocolate)
9 Marshmallows, cut in half
5 large fresh strawberries, sliced
1 banana, sliced
1/4 cup strawberry jam

Preheat your grill to medium-low heat. Place 9 graham squares on bottom of 9-inch square disposable foil pan, and then top with chocolate, marshmallows, berries and bananas. Spread the remaining graham squares with jam and place them, jam-sides down, over the grahams in pan to make 9 s'mores.

Grill for 4 to 6 minutes, or until marshmallows are puffed and chocolate is melted. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Delicious!

Baking over in The English Kitchen today, some delicious Chocolate Chip and Cream Cookie Brownies! Decadently over the top for sure!

Friday 27 May 2011

The shore of His love . . .

There was once a little boy who was sailing his toy boat on a pond in a park. He was having a lovely time watching it float along. He had a long stick that he was using to guide it along . . . after a time however, the boat drifted further away and he was unable to catch it with his stick. He began to cry.

Before too long a man came along and saw his predicament and he picked up some stones, which he began to throw in the water on the far side of the boat.

"What are you doing?" cried out the little boy, but as he did so, something amazing began to happen.

As the stones hit the water at the far side of the boat, they created ripples which began to push the boat back towards the little boy. Even though the stones had disturbed the smooth surface of the water, they had achieved the desired result.

I think that is how it is with God sometimes . . . although we can't always see it happening at the time. When we begin to drift away from Him, as we all can from time to time . . . He throws some disturbing stones out into our water, just beyond us . . . in order to push us back to the shore of His love. And so it goes . . .

I thought I hadn't shown you a picture of little Mitzie lately, so here she is in all her glory, snuggled up to one of her favourite people! Todd got a bit annoyed with her the other day. He had just put some new plants in his pond and she fished them all out and chewed them all up when he wasn't looking. They were special floating plants that were supposed to help aerate the water. I expect she had a good time when she was doing it, but then . . . she is only a puppy and they do get up to mischief! Lesson learnt and the pond now has netting around it so that she can't get near! I have to show you this picture of her as well.

This is how she sometimes sits, upright, like a human. I think it's so funny, but I worry that she will hurt her back, so I make her lay down. Yesterday I took a quick picture first though. She was being quite co-operative yesterday when I took her pictures and was almost posing for them. She just may be ready for a family portrait, do you think?

I am off to my one-step program this morning. I don't feel as if I have lost any weight this week, and am worried I may even have gained some, so I am not looking forward to it. My knees have been very poorly and I haven't been able to do a lot of exercise, not that that is any excuse!

I have to do some baking this afternoon for a church do tomorrow as well. I promised brownies and cupcakes for 50! I think I have my work cut out for me, don't you?

Here's a tasty burger recipe I found on the Kraft site. I think kids would love these. I know mine would have. They loved taco anything, and were quite disappointed when our local Taco Bell shut down back home!!

*Taco Burgers*
Serves 4
Printable recipe

I wish I'd had this recipe when my kids were growing up. They would have loved them. All their favourite flavours in a burger!

1 lb of ground steak
1 package of Taco Seasoning Mix
1/4 cup of Thick 'N Chunky Salsa
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
4 hamburger buns, split and toasted
1/2 cup grated strong Cheddar Cheese
4 lettuce leaves
4 tomato slices

Heat your gas grill to medium heat.

Mix your ground meat and the seasoning mix together in a bowl, making sure they are well combined. Shape into 4 flat patties, with a little dip in the middle. (The dip in the middle helps them to stay flat and not buldge up in the middle.) Grill for 8 to 10 minutes, until no longer pink in the middle, turning after 4 minutes.

Stir together the salsa and light mayonnaise. Top the bottom halves of each toasted bun with a grilled burger and a portion of the salsa mayonnaise. Sprinkle with the cheese and top with a lettuce leaf and slice of tomato. Place the top bun on half and serve immediately!

Alternatively, you can cook the meat patties in a grill pan or ordinary skillet.

Cooking over in The English Kitchen today, a delicious Honeyed Tomato Soup with Cheddar and Onion Marmalade Panini!

Thursday 26 May 2011

Friends of the heart . . .

My mother has a beautiful quilt hanging over a quilt rail in her bedroom that was created by my father's mother. It is a beautiful mixture of bright colours and textures and I just love it . . . the pieces probably having been gleaned from old garments and scraps of material, long slivers of fabric painstakingly sew with dozens of meticulous stitches.

Some snippets of the fabric are dull and plain, and I can just hear some tired mother saying to her daughter, "But dear, it's a very nice and serviceable fabric. It will last a long time . . ." as her daughter rolls her eyes at the new plain coloured school dress.

Other snippets are bright and cheery, and I picture Birthday parties, summer vacations, holidays and other happy occasions.

Still others are a bit fancier, satiny and embroidered . . . they whisper to me of weddings, dances, first kisses and other special occurances . . .

The quilt is a happy combination of a variety of colours and textures, each slice of life bordered and decorated with my grandmother's embroidery stiches, marking one from another . . . if you were to close your eyes and run your fingers across it, a story would still be told.

Looking at it I am reminded of the many friends I have had throughout my life and the many people who have touched my heart. Some started off a bit scratchy and rough . . . like a sturdy piece of wool, but in time they softened, or I became used to them. Others were soft and deliciate like a piece of silk, and needed to be handled with care. Then there are the special ones, all soft and cosy like flannel, knowing always how to make me feel comforted and better.

Some have only been around for a season . . . circumstances and chance having forced us to leave each other behind. And yet . . . I know in my heart that if we were to meet again tomorrow, we would hug and laugh and talk nonstop just as if we had never been apart. I know, despite the distance that separates us, that they are friends for life. That is because God has sewn them into my heart, and friends of the heart are the very best kind of all . . .

Just my thoughts this morning . . . .

Most of the time I bake from scratch, but it's nice to have a few recipes up your sleeve that you can throw together using convenience foods at the last minute. This is one of my favourites and uses a lemon cake mix and lemon flavoured gelatin, the end result being a deliciously moist cake that packs a double lemon whammy that is quite, quite tasty!

*Double Lemon Poppyseed Cake*
Serves 16
Printable Recipe

A deliciously moist cake with a double blast of lemon flavour!

1 pkg(2-layer size) lemon cake mix
1 pkg(3 oz.)Lemon Flavor Gelatin
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup oil
4 large free range eggs
1/4 cup poppy seed
1/2 cup Cream Cheese Spread
2 TBS butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
2 TBS shredded zest and 1 TBS juice from 1 lemon, divided

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/gas mark 4. Butter a 12 cup fluted tube pan of 10 inch tube pan very well. Dust lightly with flour. Set aside.

Place the cake mix, gelatin, oil, water and eggs into a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until well blended. Stir in poppy seed. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with knife. Invert cake onto wire rack and gently remove the pan. Cool cake completely before proceeding.

Beat the cream cheese spread and butter with a mixer, using clean beaters, on low speed until well blended. Gradually beat in the sugar and lemon juice. Spread this mixture over top of the cake. Garnish withthe lemon peel. Cut into slices to serve.

There's a delicious Oven Baked Chicken and Tenderstem Broccoli Risotto cooking over in The English Kitchen today!