Wednesday 31 July 2013

Wednesday morning meanderings for the end of July . . .

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Hard to believe this is the last day of July, but it is.  The month has just flown by!  We've had a truly beautiful July really.  It has been a month filled with glorious dry and sunny weather.   Well worth the wait of six years I think.  Here's hoping we don't have to wait another six years to experience it again.

As the month of July slips off the calendar the farmer looks anxiously at his ripening corn and weighs the chance of a good harvest . . . July has been so good to it.  It grows tall and proud in the fields . . . now for the tell tale browning of it's silken hair to tell us it is ripe.  Signs . . . always signs . . .

Now the children are all on their school holidays, one hopes that at least we have a few more weeks of nice seaside weather as families flock to their sandy or rocky shores . . . depending on which one they are going to.  Crowds of holiday makers are on the roadways and byways now, their caravans mixed with the usual heavy traffic of lorries and cars.  Prices jump up accordingly . . . petrol, B&B's, air fares . . .

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The verges of each meadow and woodland are now embroidered with the lovely rosebay willowherb, and garlanded with traveller's joy.  The banks of the river are gay with meadow-rue and purple loosestrife . . .

In the garden the first of the chrysanthemums are keeping company with the waning delphinium in a crowded border filled with lemon and pink coloured spikes of gladiola, thrusting their way up between tangles masses of gaillardias, coreopsis, gypsophilia and golden marigolds . . .

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Our roses are beginning to look a bit weary now . . . and I notice that the birds are becoming strangely silent.   Every day now we shall move a little nearer to Summer's ending.  The days will slowly become noticeably sorter . . . ending quicker.  The mornings will begin to have a bit of a chill at their edges, likewise the evenings . . .

But all is not lost . . . there are still new things waiting around the corner, some new loveliness to be perceived . . . a new joy to be experienced.

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The musk mallow and hydrangea are coming into their own now, so as tired as some spots in the garden may begin to look . . . other spots are just beginning to come alive with colour.  And so it goes . . .

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As we were driving to our friends' place last evening the air along the motor way was filled with floating clouds of the fluffy seed of the  milkweed filling the verges which has now exploded.  It was quite magical really . . . |I just love nature, don't you?  There is always something quite wondrous happening, something to tantalize your imagination and fuel your thoughts.

We had a lovely evening with our friends and feasted on boiled bacon and potatoes, green beans, turnips . . . mixed berries with cream and meringues . . . cheese and homemade melba toasts.   I don't know why I never thought to make my own melba toasts before, but it makes sense.  I have a few crusty rolls left from the other night that I am going to do that with today.   Maybe even flavoured melba toasts.   Sounds like a plan.

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This is my latest offering based on the class I am taking on the art by Modigliani. I thought to myself why not do a portrait of the Queen, so I looked through all sorts of pictures of her and then decided to use one of her as a younger woman as my inspiration.  I was really pleased with how it turned out.   I even put a signature, a la artist on this one down in the right hand corner.  I think it does rather look like her a lot.   What do you think?? 

A thought to carry with you through today . . .

In the garden I tend to drop
my thoughts here and there.
To the flowers I whisper the secrets
I keep and the hopes I breathe.
I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels.

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There are Blueberry Fritters frying over in The English Kitchen today!

Have a wonderful Wednesday people!


Tuesday 30 July 2013

The Simple Woman's Daybook . . .

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 FOR TODAY July 30th, 2013

Outside my window...
It's dry this morning and cool.  We had our first wasp in the house yesterday.   A young and vigorous one.   I was not impressed.  Sigh . . . wasp season is upon us.  It's hard to believe we are on the cusp of August.   The summer has flown by.

I am thinking...

"Joy does not simply happen to us.
We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day."
~Henri Nouwen~  

I choose joy every day, but it's not always easy to do so.  Some days it's harder than others.  Prayer helps keep me in line, because I know that when I am feeling weak and unable to handle what's going on . . . I can hand it all over to Him.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Much easier to choose joy under those circumstances I think.

I am thankful...
I am thankful for the Lord's tender mercies.

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My mom is still with us and has lived to see her newest Great Grandson.   She has Seven Great Grandsons and one Great Granddaughter now.  My sister posted this photo on Facebook.  I am grateful for that.   It made me smile.   I was happy to see that my daughter had made the effort to bring Cameron to meet his Great Grandmother.   That brings me abundant joy.  My cup runneth over.

In the kitchen...

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In The English Kitchen today . . . Spaghetti and Meatballs.  Economical, easy and extremely delicious!

.I am wearing...
Nothing new here! Yep, in my jim jams! (I think after all this time you would die from shock if I said anything else!)

I am creating...
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This is a piece of work by the Artist Modigliani called "Portrait of Anna."  I have been taking an art course based on his style of painting.    It's quite interesting.    Amedeo Clemente Modigliani was an Italian painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France. Primarily a figurative artist, he became known for paintings and sculptures in a modern style, characterized by mask-like faces and elongation of form.

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This is a sketch/water color I did for my first piece in the course.   I call it "Sisters."  They are from left to right . . . Clothilde, Bernice and Simone.   As you can see Clothilde is not very happy.  That is because Bernice gets all of the attention due to her raven locks and blue eyes.  She thinks it is hard to have dull brown hair and brown eyes.  Simone is long suffering . . . she tells Clothilde . . . "Do you not know you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?  Great beauty comes from within.  A cheerful countenance chases away the dark."

I am going...
I am going to the British Pageant on Thursday evening with Todd.  I can't wait.  If you are in the UK and it is within your power to go please don't miss it!  Do check out the site to find out more!  It promises to be the event of the summer!

I am wondering...
Apparently there is a huge fire raging in a small town near where I grew up.  Over 17 firetrucks are there at the moment.  A lot of the old buildings in the area are going up in flames.  It's sad to see.   I wonder how it started and I hope that they are soon able to bring it under control.

I am reading...
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Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine
This is my second reading of this book.   Jo Clifford, a successful journalist, is all set to disprove hypnosis and past-life regression, until she submits to a simple hypnotic session and finds herself reliving the experiences of Matilda, Lady of Hay, the wife of a baron at the time of King John.  I read Lady of Hay when it was first published in 1986. The quality of the writing is superb , and the depth of reader involvement in the story is something that has been maintained throughout every single Barbara Erskine book. Looking at the twenty fifth anniversary edition , it appears that this book has stood the test of time and deservedly so...  I thought it would be fun to revisit it now that I live very close to the places which are mentioned in the book.  I can now picture the reality of them in my mind as I am reading.   I highly recommend!

Nothing has changed. I am looking for a fabulously interesting book to read next.  I am a bit bored with what I have to hand.  Any suggestions???

I am hoping...
 I have to teach in Relief Society on Sunday morning and I still have no idea of what I am teaching.   I need help.  My mind is blank.

I am looking forward to...
The trip to Chorley on Thursday evening.  We are invited to some friends for supper this evening and I am looking foward to that immensely.  Time spent with good friends is always a gift and when you get to break bread with each other, it's even better!

I am learning...
I am learning patience.   I have never been good at patience.   I don't think I am alone in this.  

Around the house...
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I would like to do some of these granny square afghans for on our beds.   I think they're so pretty and old fashioned looking.  I love old fashioned.  A winter project perhaps.

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The electric fire in our lounge has stopped working.   Our landlord doesn't seem to be in any hurry to fix it.  It's been several months now.  I can see us having to purchase a smaller one to sit in front of it like this.  Kind of annoying.  I actually like this look here.   I am ready for change . . . same old gets boring after a time I think.

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Rome wasn't built in a day . . . change doesn't happen in a day either.   I will have to work on the Toddster.   He likes things as they are.  Most men do.   They don't like change because it means they have to be willing to move things around. lol

I am pondering...
The wonders of the Gospel and the miraculous way it came forward.  History begins to fall into place and you can see a plan . . . I am grateful for a seeking mind and a humble heart.

A favorite quote for today...  

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(¯`•.•´¯) (¯`•.•´¯)☆__ ☆
¤ ؛° ¤`•.¸.•´ ¤ ☆__☆***☆__☆..

Never give up,
for that is just the place and time
that the tide will turn.
~Harriet Beecher Stowe~

One of my favorite things...

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I love pot holders.  Especially vintage ones.  Most especially crochet ones.  

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Mitzie to the dog groomers this morning (and does she ever need it.)  Dinner with friends this evening.  British Pageant on Thursday evening, plus I have a lesson to get ready . . . there is no rest for the wicked!   A bit of this, a bit of that and everything in between.

A peek into my day...  

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I took this snap yesterday morning of the view from my back door as the sun was coming up.   The clouds were mysterious looking and the day was a mix of sun and shower. 

A thought to carry with you through today:

A Rich and Rewarding Life
comes to those who Live
with Heartfelt Appreciation
and Gratitude for their Blessings.
Every Breath is a Gift to be Loved,
Honored and Cherished.
Bless the Breath of Life
and Bless You.
~Micheal Teal~

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Monday 29 July 2013

Small and Wonderful Things

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"The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But who gets excited by a mere penny?...It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won't stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted with pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. what you see is what you get." ~Anne Dillard 

A few of the small and wonderful things which bring untold joy into my life.   It's the small things in life which truly mean the most.  Simple abundance . . . it's the best.

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Baking on Saturday mornings.   Todd usually takes himself off into town and I putter about in the kitchen.   I like cooking full stop, but I love baking.   This week it was a pie . . . other times it may be cookies, or muffins or cakes . . . oh my.  There is something to very soul enriching about getting stuck into baking something sweet and lovely to share with your family, even if you family is only two.  Mitzie is always hovering around.  She knows something tasty is happening and that if she is lucky she may even get to lick a beater . . . I know, she's spoiled . . .

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Bees in the Lavender.   I love watching them.  They are so busy at work and about their business.   They don't mind my camera poking in here and there.  You can learn a lot from the bees.  It distresses me that their numbers are down . . . we need the bees.  They are so important to our planet . . . so very important.

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Daydreaming  . . . my head is often in the clouds somewhere.  It goes off on tangents and into places.  I have some of my best thoughts on some of those trips.  It has ever been so . . .

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Memories of catching fireflies.   We stayed overnight at some friends of my parents on the banks of the St John River in New Brunswick one summer eons ago.  I was about 13 or so.   We chased and caught fireflies.  It was magical.   I had never seen fireflies in person before.   There was a wicked thunderstorm later in the evening.  I remember hearing the crashes and watching the lightening flicker across the sky and it's reflection in the water of the river . . . years later as an adult and with children of my own, we lived in the same area and . . . we spent many evenings chasing fireflies in our garden.  Some things never change . . .

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Homemade granola . . . it is so much better than any you could buy in the shops.  I love making my own.  I stogg it full of nuts and seeds . . . and dried cranberries, to be enjoyed later on with huge dollops of Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey . . . best dessert ever.  Like a creamy crumble.

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The sight of the sun as it appears through the cloud streaked sky on a morning after rain.  So filled with promise.  It is a joyous thing to behold and lifts the spirits unbelievably . . .

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The nooks and crannies in my craft room.   Filled with colour and little surprises.  It makes me happy.  I am so grateful that I have a space to call my own like that.   I know I am lucky . . .

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This wonderfully whimsical and beautiful life I am living.   For years I didn't know that that is what it was.   Now that I am older I can appreciate it for what it has been and what it is.  I am grateful for the inner child in me which has never disappeared . . . and for the adult which helps to keep it in check. 

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Fried potatoes like my mother used to make.  Today in The English Kitchen.  Grateful for the memories . . . and the gift that they are.  My mom will never fry potatoes again I don't think . . . not in this lifetime anyways.  I feel her slipping away and it makes me sad at times, but it also makes me appreciate what is left even more . . .

A thought to carry with you through today . . .

 “I've got nothing to do today but smile.”
― Paul Simon

Have a great Monday!

Saturday 27 July 2013

Saturday stories . . .

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Once upon a time there was an old and very wise man.  Being old, his days were long and his own. He often spent them sitting outside the town service station, sitting in a rocking chair the town's people had put there  for this exact purpose.   Small towns are like that. Each day he would sit there and greet the motorists as they passed through his small town.  He was a bit of a local fixture.   One day his granddaughter sat down at the foot of his chair and kept him company, slowly passing the time and greeting the motorists with him . . .

They sat and watched the people come and go . . . and come and go.   One man, a tall man who was quite obviously a tourist, stopped and began looking around as if he were checking out the area for a place to live.  He walked up to the old man and asked, "So what kind of town is this that we are in?"   The older man thought for a minute, and then he replied, "Well, what kind of town are you from?"  The tourist replied, "In the town that I am from, most people are very critical of each other.   All the neighbors gossip about each other and it's a really negative place to live.  I'm sure glad that I'll be leaving it.  It's not a very cheerful place to live at all."   The man in the chair looked up at the stranger and said, "You know . . . that's just how this town is!"

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A little while later a family, which were also passing through, stopped for gas.   The car slowly turned into the station, rolling to a stop just in front of where the old man and his granddaughter sat.  The mother jumped out with two young children and asked them where the rest rooms were.   The old man pointed to a small, bent and rusted sign that was nailed to the side of the door.   The father stepped out of the car and while he was pumping gas into his car he struck up a conversation with the old man.  "Is this a pretty good place to live?" He asked.    The man in the chair thought and then he replied, "What about the town you are from.  How is that?"  The father looked at him and said, "Well, the town that I am from is filled with people that are very close to each other and always willing to lend each other a helping hand.  There's always  a hello and a thank-you,  wherever you go.  I really hate to leave.  It's feels as if we are leaving family."  The old man smiled and said to the young father with a warm smile.  "You know, that's a lot like this town."  The mom returned to the car with the  children, they all said their thank-you's and then the family waved goodbye and were on their way.

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Once their car was in the distance, the granddaughter turned to her grandfather with a puzzled look and asked him . . . "Grandpa, how come when  the first man came into town and asked what the town was like you told him it was a terrible place to live and then when the family asked you, you told them it was a wonderful place to live?"   She seemed totally mystified by what had happened.

The Grandfather looked down at the little girl's wondering eyes and replied.  "It matters not where you move or live, you bring your attitude with you and that is what makes it terrible or wonderful."

Food for thought today . . . life, people, places, things . . . they are all what you make of them.

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We had a lovely evening last night with our friends.   We had Raclette for supper.   Raclette Dinners are always a lot of fun.   You have a raclette grill and everybody cooks their own supper.  It's very interactive and conversational . . . an event of sorts!   You grill vegetables and charcuterie meat (I had cubes of pancetta and an Italian raw ham)  in your own little pan on top of the grill and then you throw on some cheese, normally a flavourful French or Swiss cheese and pop it under the grill so that it melts.   You dump this out onto boiled baby potatoes and eat it.   Along with that it's traditional to serve pickled gherkins and onions, etc.  You can grill vegetables and all sorts on the grill.  It's very interactive and sociable.   Kind of like the fondue parties of the 70's and 80's were!

For dessert we had a big bowl of fresh berries with sugar and cream.  Simple and good.   The best part was sharing it with our friends.   We just had a great time, full stop.

Not much planned for today.  The sun is shining so who knows where the day will take us.

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A thought to carry with you through the day . . .

In the garden I tend to drop
my thoughts here and there.
To the flowers I whisper the secrets
I keep and the hopes I breathe.
I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels.

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Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . Jaffa Cake Muffins.    Orange flavoured muffins stogged full of milk chocolate chips.   Scrummy Yummy!

Have a wonderful Saturday!

Thursday 25 July 2013

Treasures of the Heart . . .

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If we have each other,
nothing matters, come what may.
Life to us will bring
new hope
with every passing day . . . 
Alone I halt and falter,
but together we go far.
Love shall be our guide,
our sunset lamp,
our morning star.
~Patience Strong

 When I think of the things in life that are most important to me they boil down to three things and only three things . . . Faith, Family and Friends . . . of course there are a myriad of sub entries under those three things, but it's interesting that all three start with the letter "F."   I never thought of that until I looked at the words I had just written . . . obviously "F" is an important letter . . . at least to me!

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My faith enables me to get out of bed every morning and face the day, no matter what it brings.   It gives me hope in a wonderful day and a better tomorrow.  It helps me to put to rest the past I cannot change and to know I can do better.  It enables me to put my trust in a higher power, trusting that ultimately all will be for my own good, should I make righteous choices and decisions.  It helps me to see the face of the Savior in every one I meet . . . with faith I can forgive all things, believe all things, cling to the good and throw off the bad, live a virtuous life with no regret, see the good in all men . . . and endure all things.  If I have no faith . . . well, I cannot imagine a life without faith . . . my faith underpins everything . . .

Family.  We all have one.  They are the best of things.  They are the worst of things.   Sometimes we adore them and others we can't stand to be around them . . . and yet beneath it all there is that single solitary truth, we love them with all of our heart.   I am very blessed in my family.

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I have a husband whom I love and adore with every breath of my being, even if sometimes I want to tip his sock drawer over his head.  He is more often than not, a great source of joy to me.

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Then Mitzie . . . she may be a dog, but she's family.  We could not have any children . . . she is our baby.  Our pets always are.  Unconditional love.  That is what they bring to the equation.  Who else would wag their tail and greet you with such enthusiasm each time you enter the room.   Whether you have been away for five minutes or five days . . . they are happy to see you with boundless joy.   What a treasure.

My parents and brother and sister.  I share something special with them that I share with nobody else on earth.  My parents have known me all of my life and I have known my brother and sister all of each of theirs.   We share a history unlike any other.   There are places we have been and we have experienced that nobody else will ever understand.   We have our own language and our own feelings and our own ways, again . . . unconditional love.  Family is where you can be yourself, and they love you anyways.

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My children  . . . here is where it gets a bit complicated.   There is nothing any of my children could do that I wouldn't forgive.  They may disappoint from time to time, they may break my heart from time to time, but always, always I love them.   They are flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone . . . I gave them life, and nurtured them and helped them to grow as best I knew how.  When they hurt, I hurt.  When they cry, I cry.  When they laugh, I laugh . . . when they succeed my chest swells with pride, and when they are happy, my heart is so full that I feel it could burst.

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They are a half of me and carry a piece of my heart with them wherever they go. They are my legacy to the world.   Nothing on earth is more rewarding than knowing you have raised a happy, well adjusted, decent, honest, hard working child to adulthood . . . and nothing brings more joy than when you see them doing the same and you have Grandchildren . . . who knew such joy could begin with two people and grow in such a special way.

Two begat five who have now begotten 7 and they are not finished yet . . .

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Friends.  I love my friends and I don't just mean the visible ones.  I love the invisible ones too.   They add a measure of joy and love into my life that words cannot explain.   God gave us families and then we picked for ourselves other bits of family, which we call . . . friends.  Sometimes family can be friends . . . and sometimes friends can be family . . . for some people friends are the only family they have . . . they are special people, chosen people.

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 People who are in your sphere, not by accident of birth, but by choice.  You can laugh with them and cry with them, and everything in between.   A good friend is always there for you no matter what, but you have to be a friend . . . to have a friend.  A help in times of trouble, a listening ear when you need to talk.  Someone to cheer you on when the race gets tough and to clap you on the back when you come in first . . . or second, or third, or . . . even last.   Often long suffering, hopefully honest in all ways . . . always supportive.   Ready to boost us up when we need some extra ooomph . . . and ready to reach out and pull us up when we have fallen down.  That is a friend . . .

All treasures of the heart . . . these three "F's" of mine.   I cannot imagine a life without a measure of each in it.

Happiness is not a matter of events,
it depends upon the tides of the mind.
-Alice Meynell


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Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Clear Out The Fridge Vegetable Gratin.   Quite, quite scrummy indeed.


Wednesday 24 July 2013

Wednesday thoughts . . .

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A wee bit of heaven
drifted down from above . . .
A handful of happiness,
a heart full of love.
The mystery of life
so sacred and sweet,
The giver of joy
so deep and complete.
Precious and priceless,
so lovable, too . . .
The world's sweetest miracle,
baby . . . is you.
~Helen Steiner Rice  

I was so very thrilled to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave the hospital yesterday with their beautiful little Prince!  I could not help but be reminded of that moment all those years ago when Diana and Charles left that same hospital with their own little Prince.  Different time for sure . . . but no less joyous at that time!

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This is such a gracious couple.   I love them and I wish them all the best with their new son.   My heart was so very touched, and moved to tears even at the sight.   Some may think that crazy . . . but, that's me!

I thought about what I would say to them, had I the chance . . .

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There's something so very special about any baby, but the first one . . . there's only one first . . .
The pressure must be enormous . . . they are raising a future King of the realm . . . in front of the eyes of the World.  I hope they give them plenty of space to do a good job.

I think one bit of advice I would give them is this . . .

"The greatest Gift a Father can give his children is . . . to love their Mother."
~Howard W Hunter  

I would say also the same in reverse.   Two parents who love and honor each other with deep love and respect . . . such a beautiful gift to their children.  From them they will learn how to be good husbands and wives . . . and good parents.

Spare the rod and spoil the child.   Teach him accountability and right from wrong.  Feed them with equal doses of love and discipline, but always discipline with love . . . take your responsibilities as parents seriously, practice them as if everything in your child's life counts on them, because . . . everything  does . . .

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Keep faith with one another . . . strengthen one another . . . uphold, respect and admire the virtues of each other, dwell on the good and not the bad . . . speak graciously of one another, both in public and in private.

Love, honor and respect each other . . . and your children, always.   Be there for each other and for your sons and daughters, forever and always . . . no matter what.

“Show love to your children. You know you love them, but make certain they know it as well. They are so precious. Let them know. Call upon our Heavenly Father for help as you care for their needs each day and as you deal with the challenges which inevitably come with parenthood. You need more than your own wisdom in rearing them.” 
~Thomas S Monson  

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They are such a sweet, young family . . . I wish them well.   I pray for them a life filled with happiness and joy . . . and above all . . . love.  I just know Diana would have been so proud of her son.   He is a brilliant young man.  He loves his wife, and he loves his son, just as he, himself was loved.

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My heart melts . . .

Ten little fingers, 
Ten tiny toes, 
The sweetest of smiles 
And a cute little nose. 
All these add up 
To a very special thing . . . 
 The greatest of gifts 
That life can bring 
~author unknown 


Baking in The English Kitchen today . . .  Raspberry Celebration Cake.   Just because . . .