Friday 30 December 2011

Thoughts to end a year on . . .

“It’s a valuable exercise to close your eyes every once in a while and think, “What is the most wonderful moment I have lived through during the past year?”

It might be part of a grand event or a very simple moment, perhaps a brief interaction with another person. The grand or the simple, it doesn’t matter. Just remembering will lift your spirits, and warm feelings will fill your soul.” ~Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Just a simple thing to do, and no more fitting time to do it than at the end of a year, with the promise of the new year to come sitting before us, full of wonderful experiences waiting to be held.

I have wracked my brains this morning to come up with one wonderful moment during the past year that stood out above the rest. I've had such a wonderful year, filled to overflowing with lots of blessings . . .

I was deeply saddened earlier this year when we lost our Angie, of course . . . that broke my heart . . . and then when Lura was in a near fatal car accident my heart was taken to the brink, yet again. Thankfully she was saved and, although it has been an excruciatingly painful year for her, she is well on the mend now and lives to bring us yet more joy, which is a great blessing to me. I don't think my heart could have borne the loss of another dear friend . . .

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

I suppose it has been a year of small and simple blessings and moments to treasure. Moments spent in the garden with Todd, growing our own veg and fruit. Managing to raise tadpoles into 4 full grown frogs! Our fish having babies. Moments spent playing with Mitzie and enjoying all of her puppyish enthusiasm and vigor. Times spent with good friends . . . those are always sweet. Seeing my stamp designs as actual rubber stamps! Being called onto the Relief Society Presidency . . . a calling that I absolutely love. The birth of my first Granddaughter. Teaching moments with the Missionaries . . . feeding the missionaries! Real time Video visits with my grandsons. My visit to Jimmy's Farm on a sleepover in July with Julie, and being able to spend some quality time with her, and us being able to meet Jimmy and tour his farm together. Getting to go to a fun Craft Workship with Sheilagh and Trish in August, and meeting some lovely talented ladies. Visiting Cumbria in September with Todd, Mitzie and Hurricane Katrina. Celebrating eleven years of wedded bliss together at the Temple in November. Finding out that I did not have cancer! That was a biggie. My dad surviving and having his pacemaker fitted and finding out he didn't have cancer as well, another huge blessing . . . and interspersed between all of these big moments that stand out was hundreds of smaller moments which were equally as special and as blessed.

There is nothing there that is spectacular . . . we didn't win the lottery or anything . . . or did we??? Our year was filled with an abundance of every day joy, the sweet lightly mixed with the bittersweet, with a bit of fear and anxiety thrown in for good measure. The truth is that every day joys are the best joys of all and the things which bring us the happiness and peace that lasts forever. They are the most valuable of all. True joy comes from finding happiness and contentment in simple things, every day things . . . the stuff that lives are built from.

"Contentment is a pearl of great value, and whoever procures it at the expense of ten thousand desires makes a wise and happy purchase."

I do believe that yesterday I painted the best picture that I have ever painted.

What do you think??? I love the expression on her wee face . . .

Sometimes I surprise even myself. Of course this is available as a card or a print. I think I will frame a print of this myself for in our living room. I am so grateful for the ability to create these little paintings and drawings . . . and I am so grateful for the joy which I feel in having the time and being able to do so. Had I still been working fulltime, I'd never have been able to explore my talents thusly so . . . another silver lining to that cloud. ☺

My mom always cooked us a ham at the New Year. It is hard to break with a tradition that goes back to your childhood, I find. We will have ham too! A butcher over here explained to me that a ham is only a ham once it's been cooked. Before that it's gammon. It doesn't really matter what you call it I think . . . just so long as it takes good and this tastes like a mightly delicious ham to me! No after cooking picture I'm afraid . . . the lighting was just too poor. You'll have to take my word for it when I tell you it was absolutely fabulous darlings!

*Festive Spiced Ham*
Serves 8 to 12 with leftovers
Printable Recipe

This is the perfect ham for your celebratory dinners. It smells incredible when it’s cooking. Once finished, it’s mouth wateringly delicious with it’s spicy crumbed coating being the perfect finishing touch!

6 to 8 pound smoked or unsmoked boned gammon
1 onion and 1 orange, halved and studded with 12 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
4 bay leaves
6 juniper berries, bruised coarsely
500ml can of sweet cider (2 cups) (I used apple juice quite successfully)
2 oranges quartered

6 TBS clear runny honey
Zest of 1 orange and 2 TBS fresh orange juice

2 ounces fresh white bread crumbs
A large knob of softened butter
A handful of parsley leaves, chopped finely

Put the gammon into a large pan along with the orange and onion halves, the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, juniper berries and the apple cider. Add water to cover and then bring slowly to the boil. Cover loosely and reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes per pound, plus 20 minutes. Keep it topped up with water so that it remains covered at all times.

Pre-heat the oven to 220*C/450*F. Remove the gammon from the cooking water and let cool slightly. (Reserve 4 TBS of the cooking liquid) Taking a sharp knife cut away all the skin, leaving a layer of fat. Put it into a large roasting pan along with the quartered oranges, arranging them around the ham. Drizzle the reserved cooking liquid around. Mix together the honey, orange zest and orange juice. Brush some over the ham and the oranges. Bake for 15 minutes. Brush with some more glaze. Bake for 15 minutes longer, basting two or three times until golden and starting to char in places. Remove from the oven and let sit while you make the topping.

Spread the bread crumbs on a baking sheet and put into the hot oven for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often until golden brown. Remove from the oven and mix together with the softened butter and the parsley. Brush the ham once more with the glaze and then sprinkle the warm crumbs over all, pressing them slightly so as to make them adhere. Serve garnished with the glazed orange wedges.

Over in The English Kitchen today there is a delicious Cranberry Swirl Breakfast Cake baking!

“You can't go through life on "Borrowed light.”
― Dieter F. Uchtdorf

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