Sunday 31 July 2011

Marie's Sunday Six

Can it be possible that this is the last Smile Makers post for July and indeed the last day of July! My goodness but the summer is just flashing by! It's hard to believe it is already half way over! I thought it would be fun to share six summer memories with you this morning . . . six summer memories from my childhood that make me smile!

We never had holidays as such when I was a child. We had days out, and precious few of them. Sometimes we went with my dad to various locales where he would be playing with the Armed Forces Station Band in parades and such. Who doesn 't love a parade??? We always did and I can remember always feeling very proud as we watched my father march past us! We lived near a beach though and so summer always meant a day or two out to the beach. The water was always cool and the sand always warm and there was a real holiday feeling in the air. If we were really lucky we got to go to Winnipeg Beach, which was somewhat of a seaside resort in a way. There were rides and rollerskating, candy apples and candy floss! Happy summer memory and smilemaker number one!

Being allowed to go barefoot and running through the grass. I loved the way it felt beneath my toes . . . all cold and refreshing. We were either barefooted or wearing flip flops the whole summer through! We hardly ever wore shoes, except to church or if we had to go in to town, which didn't happen very often. I was saying to Todd just the other day that when I was a child we never ate out in restaurants or anything like that. Today's children eat out a lot and I suppose it doesn't feel as much like a treat as it did to us way back then! I wonder do they still appreciate the feel of grass beneath their feet??
Smile maker number two.

Rainbow Ice Cream!!! Sometimes in the summertime my father would treat us to Rainbow Ice Cream Cones down by the warf in Gimli, Manitoba where we lived. I don't think anything ever tasted as good as those did! It was kind of minty and sweet and oh so cold! We never had anything like that at home, or only very rarely so a summer ice cream was a real treat! Our milk man used to carry popsicles in his milk truck and sometimes my mother would treat us to one. They broke into halves and we would each get a half. I don't think anything ever tasted as good as those popsicles did!
Smile maker number three

Running through the sprinkler. On really, hot, hot summer days my mother would let us put our swim suits on and run through the sprinkler. It was always so refreshing and so much fun! Oh how we loved it. We laughed and squealed with delight. The water always felt so cold and this was one of our absolute favourite things to do! Oh how I wish I could be a child again for a few minutes, so I could run through the sprinkler with abandon! Oh, I know I could do it today . . . but somehow it probably wouldn't have the same flavour and feeling as it did when I was a child!
Summer smile maker number four.

We mostly made our own fun in the summertime when I was growing up. All the children in the neighborhood of an age (not too young and not too old) would gather together most days or evenings and play games together, and there was no end to them either. We would play red rover, or red light green light . . . frozen tag, or monkey in the middle . . . we never got tired it seemed and we never got bored. We ran and played from sun up to sun down. We climbed trees, and went on hikes. We rode our bicycles en pack . . . we had picnics with peanut butter sandwiches to eat and flasks of coolaid to drink. We had fun full stop!
Summer Smilemaker number five.

For a few years when I was a child we were the proud owners of a tee pee! It didn't look quite like this one . . . ours was bright orange and had Indian symbols on it and a big black Red Indian painted on the side. It had a flap that opened and that you could tie shut and it smelled kind of wierd . . . a smell that's hard to describe . . . sort of like crayons, and petrol, but not quite. We'd sit in it for hours on hot summer days . . . I can still hear the hum of the insects in the air . . . and feel the grass under my legs . . . and that smell. This was our little kingdom and it was oh so precious to us. I don't think at my age now I would quite appreciate being able to sit in a smelly tee pee on the grass, but it sure felt special way back then!
Smile number six.

I could go on and on about these precious summertime memories I have . . . there are so many more than this . . . but alas I have to go and get ready for church now. I hope that perhaps these memories of mine may have triggered some happy summer memories of your own. I would dearly love to hear them if I may! Please feel free to share!! And have a wonderful Sunday!

Here's another precious summer memory, which is also a delicious one . . . Blueberry Cobbler!!

*Blueberry Cobbler*
Serves 8
Printable Recipe

Sweet blueberries baked beneath a buttery biscuit topping. Delicious! You'll want to serve this with some vanilla ice cream for a real taste treat!

For the filling:
5 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

for the biscuit topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla

For the topping:
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Have ready an 8 cup baking dish.

Mix the filling ingredients together in a bowl and then dump them into the baking dish.

Blend together the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter, using your fingertips, until the butter is like large flakes of oatmeal. Add the water and the vanilla, stirring just until it forms a dough. Drop 8 mounds of the dough on top of the blueberry mixture.

Stir together the topping ingredients and sprinkle over top.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the biscuit topping is golden brown and cooked through, and the berries are bubbling below.

In The English Kitchen today, a day trip to Llangollen (Wales) and some good old fashioned Bread Pudding! (Including Video)

Saturday 30 July 2011

Poetry Saturday . . . O Cup of Life

O cup of Life that holds such precious brew,
The brightness of the morning cold as dew,
And sweet as honey in a golden comb,
The blessed comfort of a little home.

A field of purple clover out in bloom,
Filling the countryside with rich perfume,
Dipping away to the horizon's brim;
A meadow lark piping a morning hymn.

A little girl wearing a scarlet coat,
An old man hobbling out to cast his vote,
A new pram with a satin coverlet,
A little boy hugging his tiny pet.

A radio with a small golden face,
Whose probing finger seeks through worlds of space,
Across a continent and o'er a sea,
To bring a song into this room for me.

O cup of Life . . . give me of your rich wine,
That I may drink your vintage half divine,
and half of common earth where mortals eat,
The bread of heaven . . . made from common wheat.
~Edna Jaques, Fireside Poems, 1950

Oh, I do love this poem . . . it speaks of the simple pleasures in life that bring us so much joy and happiness . . . for it is in the small things that we find the most happiness . . . the things that money cannot buy nor plunder, but which lay free for the taking to each of us.

I did a couple of new paintings yesterday afternoon . . .

First there is a little watercolour of a fairy girl sitting on a garden bench holding a heart. I fell in love with the sentiment for this one. I thought it suited perfectly with the soft feel of the painting.

Next a baker girl with a very retro feel. I love the apron and the whimsical side to this. It would make a beautiful Birthday Card for a special friend I think.

As always they are available as prints or cards. Just send me a message and I'll let you know how! I had fun bringing them to life at any rate.

I just adore Tex Mex food. I used to love going to Taco Bell back home. I know there are some that would argue that Taco Bell's not really Tex Mex, and they are probably right, but I did enjoy regardless. Here, I try to do Tex Mex as best as I can. You can't always get the ingredients, but I make do with what I have. It always tastes good when it's done regardless of how authentic or in-authentic it is!

*Tex Mex Florentine Casserole*
Serves 9
Printable Recipe

This is sort of like a Tex Mex lasagna using biscuits instead of noodles. Delicious!

5 fresh poblano chiles (4 1/2 by 3 inches in size)
1 1/2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
1 cup of shredded Strong Cheddar Cheese
1/3 cup of ricotta cheese
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 (9 ounce) box of frozen spinach thawed, squeezed to drain
1 tin of refrigerated biscuits (holding 10), or your own
favourite biscuit recipe
1 (10 ounce) tin of mild enchilada sauce
2 plum tomatoes, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup prepared guacamole (optional)
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)

Set your oven control to broil. Place the chilies on a cookie sheet, and broil 2 inches from the heat for about 10 minutes, turning frequently with tongs, until all sides are blackened and blistered. Place them in paper bag. Seal the bag and let steam for about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/gas mark 4. Lightly spray an 8-inch square glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Mix the Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses together in a bowl. Reserve 3/4 cup for topping. In another bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, garlic, cumin and spinach. Stir in the Jack and Cheddar mix. Set aside.

Carefully peel the blackened skin from chiles. (I wear gloves.) Cut open and remove stems, seeds and membranes, discarding them. Cut each chile in half lengthwise into 2 pieces and pat dry.

Separate the biscuit dough into 10 biscuits. Separate each biscuit into 2 thin layers and flatten them slightly. (Alternately roll out your biscuit dough and cut it into 20 thin biscuits)

Pour half of the enchilada sauce over bottom of baking dish. Place 10 biscuit layers on sauce, cutting the biscuits if necessary to fit into dish. Top with 5 chile halves, then spread spinach mixture over chiles. Top with remaining 5 chiles halves and remaining 10 biscuit layers. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over over top.

Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray. Cover the baking dish with the foil, sprayed side down. Bake in the heated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until thoroughly heated and bubbly around edges

Sprinkle with the reserved 3/4 cup shredded cheeses. Bake uncovered, 5 to 8 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting into squares to serve. Top each serving with tomatoes, guacamole and sour cream, if desired.

Serving up in The English Kitchen today, a delicious Double Crusted Plum Crisp!

Friday 29 July 2011

All about friends . . .

I love you
not only for what you are,
but for what I am
when I’m with you;
I love you not only for what you
have made of yourself
but what you are making of me;
You have done it without a touch,
without a word,
without a sigh;
You have done it by being yourself.
Perhaps that is what
being a friend means
after all.

I cannot remember my mother having very many friends when I was growing up. I expect that she was too busy taking care of the home, my father, and us children . . . until she went back to work again, and then it was her job that took up most of her time. She does have lots of friends now and they are good friends, people she can rely upon when she needs help. People who can laugh with her when the times are good and cry with her when they aren't so good. People that know when to listen and when to speak. Good friends . . . and I am so very grateful that she does, for everyone needs friends.

I have always surrounded myself with friends. I am a woman who enjoys the company and companionship of other women. I’ve had many good friends through the years . . . some younger . . . some older . . . all dearly beloved and cherished by myself. When I make a good friend, I make them for life, and I truly admire each one of them for what they are, and who they are. I like to think that friends are family you get to pick for yourself. As Todd is always saying, "You can't pick your family, but you can always pick your friends." (I'm sure he stole that saying from someone else, but I have no idea who!)

I have often heard it said that in order to have a friend, one must first be a friend, and that is so very true. There is nothing less satisfying than having a relationship with someone who only takes, without ever giving anything back. There is something very special about the easy camaraderie of two people, who know each other well, and can give and take with the ease of knowing the other’s faults and yet loving the other anyways, despite their shortcomings. I expect people to take me as I am, and so . . . I accept them for who they are in return.

I look upon other women as fellow sisters . . . and companions in this great adventure we call life. We are not in this to compete with each other, but instead to uphold, cherish and love each other. When we see one of us beginning to falter and fall back along the way, we have a duty as a beloved sister to grab hold and help the other to come forward and to support and uphold her in every way possible.

“We are all in this together. We need each other. Oh, how we need each other. Those of us who are old need you who are young. And, hopefully, you who are young need some of us who are old. It is a sociological fact that women need women. We need deep and satisfying and loyal friendships with each other. These friendships are a necessary source of sustenance.” ~Marjorie Pay Hinckley

It may sound silly, or even sad . . . but . . . a great deal of my friends are what I call my "Invisible Friends." When I was a small girl, I had invisible friends, but they weren't real. Now, I have invisible friends and though they may live thousands or hundreds of miles away, they are every bit as real to me as my "real life" friends, and every bit as precious . . . perhaps even more so. Oddly enough, it always seems a lot easier to share your heart with someone who lives further away, than it is to share it with someone you have to face in person. But then again . . . I have always been much better with the written word, rather than the spoken word. I am really a very shy person.

I have shared my heart with each of you on here each day and told you things that I perhaps would never have told a person in real life . . . and you have listened and never judged, and upheld and supported me in beautiful ways, and I am grateful for that. I consider you all to be my friends and much treasured by me. What a wonderful medium this must be for someone who is a shut in and can't get out. Somewhat of a double edged sword perhaps, because just as you must choose your friends in real life very carefully . . . so must you do so on here . . . perhaps I've just been very lucky. I know I've been very blessed.

My first friend, and the best friend that I have ever had . . . is my own sister. We share a history together, and a lifetime with each other. She has always been there for me, and I hope that I have always been there for her. I have tried to be. I love my brother too . . . but he is not a sister. A sister is a very special person . . . and mine surely is the most special of all!

At the end of the day, I could probably live without the companionship of a man, but . . . I would dreadfully miss the companionship, understanding and friendship of other women. We’re really are all in this together! We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give!

We're eating alot of potato salads this summer, probably because we planted a whole wack of potatoes! Probably much more than we two humans could possibly get through, but they serve a double purpose really as they put a lot of good into the soil they are grown in! I love creating different kinds of potato salads, using different ingredients and making them unique and quite tasty, or at least they are to me! They're never boring at any rate!

*Potato Salad with Runner Beans and Pesto*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

I love the flavours of summer . . . new potatoes, runner beans . . . always a delicious combination,especially when paired a lovely Pesto sauce.

2 pounds of yellow fleshed potatoes (Yukon gold or charlotte)
1 pound runner beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup Pesto sauce (I like to make my own, but if you have to
buy it don’t use the jarred kind, try to buy the fresh one,
available in the refrigerator section of the store)
¼ cup finely chopped spring onions
4 TBS white balsamic vinegar
2 TBS toasted Pine nuts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the potatoes into a pot of lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes or so. Add the runner beans and cook for about 4 minutes longer. Drain well.

Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl, cutting the potatoes into smaller chunks if large, and allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Mix in the pesto and the spring onions, tossing to coat. Set aside to cool completely.

Just before serving, mix in the vinegar, pine nuts and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Note: I have a very good Pesto recipe here.

Baking in The English Kitchen today, Everything But the Kitchen Sink Cookies!

Thursday 28 July 2011

Giving flight to our dreams and learning how to soar . . .

"Birds learn how to fly, never knowing where their wings will take them."

You can learn a lot from studying the ways of birds. I especially love to watch the fledglings in the garden as they test out the waters in the grown up world . . . practicing the ways of a grown up bird, but still clinging to some of their baby bird ways. It is so cute to watch them at the feeders as they crouch down, fluttering their wings as the mother bird continues to feed them in the way that she always has. This only last a few days and before too long they are flying back and forth from the feeder with all the confidence of an adult bird . . . the tentativeness of their youth all but gone . . . They lift, they pump, they glide . . . they land. They fly, as if the act of flight as always been their only destination.

As humans, we all too often confuse our lives here on earth with the obsession of just where we are going. It is not enough that we can fly . . . we have to have a purpose for doing so and a destination in mind. We tame and hush our needs to love and learn and seek out the truth . . . until we can be sure of the why's, where's and how's . . . never truly letting our hearts really unfold completely, or experiencing the joy of the journey.

We cripple ourselves with worry about the "What if's" and the "Why's" . . . and the "Yes-Buts" . . .

"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself." ~Matthew 6:34

I fear in doing so . . . we never really learn to fly in the way that we should . . . and we never take the journey that we were truly meant to take. We, like the birds, were meant to soar . . . and all of our plans and schemes and doubts are like the makings of a nest that . . . once outgrown . . . we must leave.

Give flight to your dreams today . . . give them permission to soar . . . live the life you were meant to live.

Just my thoughts today.

Here's an oldie from my archives. I had some leftover brioche that wanted using up and then I remembered this tried, tasty and true! From the Big Blue Binder . . .

*Jammy Breakfast Sandwiches*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Quick, delicious and different! A hot eggy bread sandwich filled with lovely meltingly rich cream cheese and sweet jam, all brown and butterly crunchy on the outside and dusted with caster sugar. Quite simply, lovely . . .

3 large eggs
1 TBS of caster sugar
2 TBS whole milk
A few drops of pure vanilla essence
8 slices of brioche
4 heaping TBS of your favourite flavour of jam
4 heaping TBS of cream cheese
A large knob of butter for cooking
More caster sugar for sprinkling

Lightly beat together the eggs, caster sugar, milk and vanilla in a shallow dish large enough to fit the bread slices into.

Open the slices of bread and spread the cream cheese on half of them and the jam on the other half. Put them together cheese sides to jam sides in the middle, pressing firmly so that they stick firmly together.

Melt the butter over medium low heat in a large skillet until it is foaming. Soak each sandwich in the beaten egg mixture until all the egg has been absorbed, allowing them to soak on both sides. Place the soaked sandwiches into the foaming butter and fry for one to two minutes on each side until golden brown and crusty all over, adding more butter as necessary.

Remove to warm plates and slice into fingers. Dust lightly with caster sugar to serve and enjoy!

Cooking in The English Kitchen today a delicious Courgette and Dolcelatte Picnic Tortilla!

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Summer Days . . .

These things endure whate'er may pass:

The Summer tang of new-mown grass,
The gentle skies, the rising dawn,
And friendship's hand to those forlorn.
Smooth, dappled sunshine after rain,
The quietude of country lane.
A kindly words to those in need,
To build up hope, as flowers seed,
And in the daily round, to find
God's precious gift . . . contented mind.
~Elizabeth Gozney

We have sure been enjoying a lovely week here weatherwise. We've dug up our second batch of potatoes, finished picking the peas and are now picking carrots and beans. The apples on our apple tree are getting larger and redder and there is an abundance of them so we have lots of sweet crunchiness to look forward to! There are two pears on our pear tree and we are eagerly watching them grow larger and looking forward to the "Great Pear Fest" we will have with them when they are ripe and ready to eat. Likewise the two plums on our plum tree! Here's hoping that we get a few more than that next year!

Our tomatoes are showing fruit as well . . . lovely red and yellow cherry plum tomatoes and regular red tomatoes as well. Oddly enough the monster of the garden, Zucchini . . . only produced one viable plant this year!! We do have a few zucchini on it now though as well. We had planted butternut squashes but they didn't come up at all. Our beetroot is doing fine, but the lovely leaves are being enjoyed by something as well, which is a shame as I do love beet greens cooked up and served with butter, vinegar and salt and pepper.

Our roses are filled to overflowing with plenty of blooms . . . so very pretty to look at, and the hydrangea are covered abundantly with pretty flowers! They scarcely bloomed at all last year, but then . . . someone had cut them back right down to the ground . . . so we left them alone in the autumn and this year they have rewarded us gloriously!

There is a small park across the road that we like to take Mitzie to for walks. There we can take her off lead and she can run to her hearts content. There is a small pond as well as benches for you to sit on and there are often lots of other dog walkers there so Mitzie gets to play with some other dogs as well. She is a bit shy of dogs larger than herself and is not fond of overly aggressive dogs, but one can scarcely blame her! Todd had her over there yesterday evening, and came back quite angry, as there has been a lot of damage done to the trees there of late. It is probably teens, who are already bored with their summer holidays . . . tearing off large branches from the trees and throwing them into the pond, even a bicycle thrown into the pond . . . another tree had been debarked half way up it's trunk . . . and all sorts of damage. One has to wonder what is going through their heads that they can do such damage to such a lovely little park. It is so senseless and shows a complete and utter disrespect for their community and others . . . very sad really, and quite disheartening. We used to get up to the odd bit of mischief when I was a girl too . . . but we never did things like that!

It's another beautiful sunny day today and for sure we will be enjoying it in whatever way that we can. I have always said you just cannot beat the beauty of England on a warm sunny summer's day! It is the most beautiful place on the earth I think. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing today, I hope that the sun is shining on you too and that you are enjoying all the beauty and wonder that a summer's day can bring to you! And if it happens to be raining . . . well, I hope that you can dance in the rain!

A very Happy Day to each of you!

Here's a scrummy snack to help keep the heat out of your summer kitchen! I just adore cereal snacks. They are so easy to make, require very little work and taste pretty nummy when done!

*Fruit and Nut Cereal Bars*
Makes 36
Printable Recipe

A great way to beat the heat and still have a tasty snack during the hot summer months.

4 cups "o shaped" oat cereal
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup sultana raisins
1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup salted peanuts
1/2 cup flaked coconut

For the syrup:
3/4 cup soft light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla

Butter a 12 by 9 inch pan. Set aside.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup and peanut butter in a saucepan. Heat, stirring until the peanut butter and sugar are melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to mix together well.
Pack into the prepared pan, pressing down firmly to compact. Allow to cool for about half an hour before cutting into squares.

Store in an airtight container.

There is a delicious Chicken Curry with Rice cooking over in The English Kitchen today!

Tuesday 26 July 2011

The Simple Woman's Day book . . .

FOR TODAY, July26th, 2011...

Outside My Window...

It hasn't decided yet what it is going to do today. It's dry thus far, but the sky is very overcast looking. Oftimes though that greyness burns off and we are left with a gorgous day, so here's hoping! (The birds are gaily singing at any rate!)

I am thinking...
I'm not long since up. It seems night after night these days I dream of babies. In specific my youngest son as a baby. As he no longer has anything to do with me, I am sure it is related to that breach in our relationship. When he was a baby I was his world and he mine. Perhaps my heart is longing for that. I don't know.

I am thankful for...
The tender mercies of the Lord and blessings from above. I find them every day.

From the kitchen...
There are some very, very naughty cookies, but I am not ready to talk about them just quite yet, although I may be having one for breakfast shortly, coz I'm feeling very, very naughty myself!

I am wearing...
A blue nightie with pink roses sprigged all over it, and my slippers. Comfy, comfy, comfy . . .

I am creating...
I have stacks and stacks of finished cards sitting in my craft room, all glued and glittered, and bagged and stickered up. I have to list them for sale on Etsy and then I am taking a few into town to show them to a shop there that sells handmade cards. I used up my first order of 50 stickers (for on the backs) and so I have had to order more. Mayhap I am being optomistic. I don't know!

I also have a couple of dolls cut out and some sock monkeys in the works.

I am going...
I am going visit teaching this afternoon, but other than that I have no other plans this week. We are having the missionaries over for tea on Thursday evening, which I always enjoy. I shall keep busy this week with the usual things, a bit of work a bit of play and everything in between!

I am reading...

The White Queen, by Philippa Gregory

Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this fictionalized historical account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.

The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills. I am really enjoying this book thus far, but then Philippa Gregory is a favourite of mine. This is the first book in a series of three, so watch this space!

Yep, still on this one. It's a THICK book!

I am hoping...
That my cards do well in the shop in town and that I am able to sell more on Etsy this year. I still have a stack of the ones I had specially made in Moo Cards a few years back left. I will not sell those. Guess what all our friends are getting as Christmas Cards this year. Yep! I keep waiting for that lucky break to occur. I am convinced now that, that is what needs to happen. A lucky break. There are millions of talented people out there that never get discovered. It only takes the right person to discover them at the right time. I am hoping for that right person to discover me. In the meantime I just keep painting because I can't not paint.

I am hearing...
Early morning sounds . . . the clock on the mantle humming as the wheels inside it turn. The odd car as it goes by. Mitzie snuffling here curled up behind me on the sofa. The tap tapping of the computer keys as I write. Birds singing in the garden. All is right with the world.

Around the house...
Ironing, hoovering, dusting and I want to clean out the fridge. I am thinking of eating more vegetarian . . . but I would miss a good steak once in a while and chicken . . . I do love a good roast chicken.

One of my favourite things...
Sitting down here each morning and sharing my thoughts with you. Not many read them these days, and hardly anyone comments, but that is ok. I probably get more out of this exercise than any of you do. Writing is good therapy.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

This is one of my Ancestors, Ida McNayr Smith, wife of John Smith . . . daughter of Diadama Whitman and Arod McNayr, who was the son of Boyd McNayr and Rachel Beals. She is my Great Great Grandmother. We don't have a lot of pictures of my ancestors. This one is a rarity. I have another picture of her as well . . .

This one is not so clear. When I look at these pictures I can clearly see that there is a similarity in the eyes to a lot of my relatives today. You can see the resemblance and it is amazing to me. I wonder what her thoughts were . . . how she felt about things and what kind of woman she was. Some people are really blessed to have really clear stories and ideas about their ancestors because they kept really good written records . . . that is why journaling and keeping diaries is very important. You may not feel you have anything important to say . . . but generations from now will cling to your words of today and treasure them. They will be very important to them.

And just as a closing thought for today . . .

How will you ever know if you can paint that picture, run that business, sell that vacuum cleaner, earn that degree, hold that office, make that speech, win that game, marry that girl, write that book, bake that soufflee, build that house . . . unless you try it! -richard m de vos

It's that same old story. Never give up before you get started. Don't let the what if's keep you from realizing your full potential!

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!

I have not made these cupcakes yet, but am thinking of making them this morning to take to the sisters that I visit teach this afternoon. I got the recipe from the King Arthur baking book. (That's a great baking book by the way!)

(photo by King Arthur Flour)

*Lemon and Lime Cupcakes*
Makes 12
Printable Recipe

Tangy lemon flavoured cupcakes. Moreishly delish.

6 TBS vegetable oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 TBS of lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS lime zest
the juice of 1/2 lime (1 TBS)
2 large free range eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk, room temperature

For the Glaze:
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 to 3 teaspoons water
grated lemon or lime zest to garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5. Place cupcake liners in the 12 cups of a muffin pan. Set aside. Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven.

Beat together the oil, sugar, lemon zest and juice, salt, and lime zest and juice until light in color, about 2 minutes at medium-high speed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the mixture lightens in color, about 2 minutes at medium-high speed.

Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. At low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter in three additions, alternating with two additions of the milk. Mix until blended, about 30 seconds.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 16 to 20 minutes. They will not brown much and remain quite pale in colour. Remove from the oven, and after 5 minutes transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Whisk together all of the glaze ingredients to make a smooth glaze about the consistency of molasses, adding additional liquid or confectioners' sugar as needed. Dip cooled cupcakes into the glaze. Sprinkle with zest, if using. The glaze sets up rather quickly, so do be sure to sprinkle with zest right after dipping.

Store in an airtight container.

Cooking in The English Kitchen today some delicious Pork, Bacon and Sage Escalopes!