Monday 30 September 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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This is my baby Bruce and his baby Baxter.  I know he doesn't like being called the baby (Bruce), but he'll always be my baby.   On Friday he completed in an  Adventure Challenge with a team from work.  They ran 5K, biked some 46-50k., jogged/walked through the woods for I don't know how long, canoed across a lake, rappelled down a rock face, did some target shooting, and I don't know what all else.  The whole thing took his team about six hours to complete.   Not sure how quick or long that was in comparison to the other teams, but they did it and I am proud of him!  His father was always very athletic and I'm glad to see that he is too.   Rather he be that than a couch potato like me.  

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He's also the kiddo's favourite Uncle.   I love seeing him with his nieces and nephews.  He is going to be a super dad some day.    He's already a super dad to Baxter.  

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Just look at this cheeky little girl!  Yep, that's Maryn!   Does she ever look like her mom in this picture.  Amanda has that same cheeky smile!  I love it.  Pictures like this make my heart sing.  

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Cute little dolls all finished.  There was a lot of handsewing involved with this project.

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Actually the whole thing is hand sewn, from top to toe, and all the outfits too.   I was going to give it to Maryn for Christmas this year, but . . . 

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I think she is a little bit difficult to remove and replace the clothes on . . . so will save this for a later date.  In the meantime I am making her a rabbit, with a coat, hat and carrot in it's pocket.  I think this will be a lot easier for little three year old hands to handle.  

I like a bit of handsewing in the evening.  It helps me to feel productive.  

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Church leaders that care enough about the women of my church to dedicate a whole evening to them each year during the annual Relief Society General Conference.  

“Wherever we are in life, there are times when all of us have challenges and struggles. Although they are different for each, they are common to all.”

President Monson told us that there will be times we will walk a path strewn with thorns and marked by struggle.

 “There may be times when you feel detached — even isolated —from the Giver of every good gift. You worry that you walk alone. Fear replaces faith.

“When you find yourself in such circumstances, I plead with you to remember prayer.”
God’s children were not placed on this earth to walk alone, said President Monson. “What an amazing source of power, of strength and of comfort is available to each of us. He who knows us better than we know ourselves, he who sees the larger picture and who knows the end from the beginning, has assured us that he will be there for us to provide help if we but ask."

President Monson lost his wife of more than 64 years in May of this last year.

"Men take care not to make women weep, for God counts their tears."
~President Thomas S Monson  

I am grateful for the guidance and inspiration of this wonderful man and the other men who lead us by his side.

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Sunny autumn days and walks along the river with the man I love.  Who could ask for anything more . . .

My days are abundantly strewn with small blessings and blessings large.  It is a priviledge to wake up each morning and greet the day, and to be able to appreciate and embrace whatever each day brings to my life's table.  Good or bad.  Happy or sad.  It is what it is and I am indeed grateful for each experience.  

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A thought to carry with you through today . . .

.✿´´¯`•.¸¸. ི♥ྀ.
The best kind of friend
is the one you could sit on a porch with,
never saying a word,
and walk away feeling like
that was the best conversation you've had.
¸.✿´´¯`•.¸¸. ི♥ྀ.  

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Cooking in The English Kitchen today Braised Beef Brisket with Carrots.   Delish! 

May you have a day strewn with small and wonderful pebbles.

Sunday 29 September 2013

Sunday morning this and that . . .

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I had one of those dreams again last night . . . I have been having them for years. It's the night before a holiday which is important to my children . . . Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, Halloween, etc.  In the dream I haven't been able to do the preparation that I need to do for the holiday, ie. pick up presents, candy, etc. whatever is needed . . . and it's too late.   Last night in my dream it was Easter and I hadn't been able to get to the shops to buy their Easter bunnies or other goodies and I was terrifically upset., as any mother would be.

I'm not sure what the meaning of any reoccuring dream might be . . . or why I always dream the same thing, even if the occasion changes.  Is it my fear of disappointing my children causing this??  I will probably never know, but I do know I always wake up feeling distressed.

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I don't think that any mother wants to disappoint or upset her children, or any father for that matter.  It happens though.  We are imperfect beings.  It is inevitable that sooner or later we will not meet another's expectations that they have for us.  What happens then?

I don't suppose there is anything you can do to change the past.  All you can do is apologize if you are able to, and try to do better in the future.  The rest is up to the person you have disappointed.   Their inability to forgive or forget or move forward is not your sin, especially if you have tried your best to make amends.

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The sun is rising above the rooftops that I can see across the street from our house.  I do so love to watch the sun rising in the morning.  I have always felt that the early morning is the best part of the day and I hate it when I miss it.  Streaks of cloud with rose coloured hue line the horizon.  It's like opening a special gift, just for you.   What will be inside?   What blessings or small joys will you find?   In what way (s) will you grow? I think that the choice is ours . . . to make the best out of whatever it is we are given . . .

Today will never come again.   Best to make the most and the best of it that we can.

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When I was reading my scriptures yesterday morning, this one touched me  That's the beautiful thing about scripture don't you think?  You can read the same one over and over again, multiple times and they are just words . . . then you read them again and seemingly all of a sudden the words will speak to your heart in a special way!  I love it when that happens.  Anyways, I did this little picture to illustrate it.    You can NOT hide from God's love and His strength and guidance are always there to draw upon.  I saw this quote one time, which said . . . if God seems far away, ask yourself who moved.

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Last night was the Worldwide Broadcast of the 2013 General Relief Society  Meeting.   I hope to be able to watch it later on today on the church web site.   It is always on too late for us here in the UK to watch live.  It's always fabulous though and I am really looking forward to hearing what our leaders have to say to us.  Their messages are usually very powerful and meaningful.

I must dash as I need to go and get ready for church.  I know I've not said a lot about anything of any real importance this morning.  Some days are just like that.  I'll leave you with a special thought to carry with you through today  . . .


“It's not about finding ways to avoid God's judgment and feeling like a failure if you don't do everything perfectly. It's about fully experiencing God's love and letting it perfect you. It's not about being somebody you are not. It's about becoming who you really are.” 
~Stormie Omartian  

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Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . Sticky Ginger Loaf.   Autumn comfort food.   What is it about autumn that begs for the warm baking spices . . . ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg . . . ????  I don't know, I only know that when August turns to September, October . . . I long to crack them open and I do!

Have a great Sabbath day!

Saturday 28 September 2013

A Walk through The Groves of Chester . . .

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It was such a gorgeous day here in Chester yesterday that we put Mitzie into the car and the three of us went off into town. We parked down by the River Dee, in an area which is called The Groves.

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Chester's riverside promenade is a beautiful  magnet for residents and visitors alike. It was laid out in two stages  by Alderman Charles Brown in 1880.  There are refreshment kiosks, pubs, a pretty Edwardian bandstand and landing stages from where pleasure boats depart for cruises up the Dee and from where rowing and motorboats may be hired. Concerts and regattas are held in the summer months and local artists display their work along the base of the wall.

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It's an area that we love to visit.  This is a photograph of me that Todd took back in 2000 when I had come over to meet up in person.  That was prior to us getting married, but as you can see from the ring on my finger, we had gotten engaged by the time this photo was taken.

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This is a photo taken from that same point yesterdau.  It is the old roman bridge which takes you from Chester proper into an area known as Handbridge.   This is the bridge that King Charles ran over to escape from the roundheads during Britain's Civil War, way back when.  It didn't work.  He still got caught and beheaded.  Sigh . . .

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Not only is the river a magnet for residents and visitors, but also for a wide variety of birds.   This was a cormorant yesterday.  It looks like a bat doesn't it.  I am not sure what it is doing, but there were several others in the river on the wier doing the same thing.  Todd thinks they were drying their wings . . .

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This is the view going back up the river in the other direction, which is where we are going to walk.  As you can see it's a very pleasant avenue, lined with beautiful beech trees, benches and pleasure boats . . .

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It really was a gorgeously beautiful day yesterday.  We thought we would be quite on our own, but there were lots of people there who had the same idea as us!

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My two loves enjoying the sunshine.   Todd is quite photogenic I think.  He doesn't think so, but then, he is a humble man.  Mitzie was mostly interested in sniffing everything, which drives Todd batty.  Yesterday she was zig zagging back and forth, which really annoyed him, but that is a dog for you . . . especially cockers.  They are always on the scent!

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I kept worrying that she would fall in the water, but she didn't.   This is a bit further down.   There are several information and ice cream kiosks along the banks.   There are also river boats which you can take river tours on for a fee.  One goes all the way to Iron Bridge in Staffordshire.

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This is a Moorhen, sunning itself.  I had never seen Moorhen's until I moved over here to the UK. Moorhens, sometimes called marsh hens or river chickens, are medium-sized water birds. They are close relatives of coots, and because of their apparently nervous behavior (frequently twitching tail, neck and grinding their backs) are sometimes called "skitty coots."

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I often wonder if they would make good eating.   Would they taste like chicken do you think?  
Moorhens can walk very well on strong legs, and have long toes that are well adapted to soft uneven surfaces.  The species here in the UK are known as the Common Moorhen.  Moorhens are also incredibly resourceful . . . scientists once recorded an incident where during heavy rain a bird incubating eggs was seen to cover itself with a sheet of polythene like a cape, then remove it once the rain stopped.

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This is the bandstand.  Oftimes during the summer months there will be concerts put on here.  There is usually a Brass Band Concert on most Bank Holidays.  Behind that you can see Chester's Suspension bridge which provides pedestrian access to Handbridge and Queen's Park.   I can remember when I first moved over here you would often see lads diving off it in the summer months, but that is a practice I think the city has put a stop to.  And quite rightly so.

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This is one of the benched areas quite near to where you can hop onto the Suspension Bridge.  In back there is one of the Ice Cream Kiosks I mentioned earlier.  It is looking quite autumnal at the moment with dry leaves skittering across the pavement and dancing through the air.  I quite enjoyed sitting on one of these benches yesterday and watching them entertain us.

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Swans and Ducks came to visit us.  We have quite a few resident swans now.  This is a mother with a couple of her Cygnets.   They are attracted to people because people are always feeding them bread crumbs, etc. . . .

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But they are somewhat fickle creatures, for if you haven't got anything to give them, they quickly move on their way and are gone . . .

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We did not mind, there was ever so much more to enjoy and to see . . . I love days like that.  Sunny and warm, with nothing pressing to do, no chores calling . . .

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There are big beautiful homes on the other side of the suspension bridge  I think that's where some of our wealthier residents live.  On this side across from them, are the private moorings and the Chester Racing Club.

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There are a number of private residences on this side of the river as well . . . and a few cafe's and pubs as you would expect.   Walking is thirsty business and it's easy to work up an appetite.

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We enjoyed some Eccles Cakes as we sat there watching the boats go by.  It was so pleasant and a real treat.  I love Eccles Cakes.   This was my first one this year.

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Mitzie just enjoyed sitting next to us.  I gave her some water to drink and we shared a few crumbs with her.

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I love this picture of her.  We had to get her a new bed yesterday.   You know they tell you that you can wash those fabric dog beds that you can buy.  You're supposed to just be able to zip off the covers and throw then into the wash . . . doesn't work. Those covers come off easy enough . . . but just try getting one back on.  That exercise is a huge exercise in frustration and in the end, you give up.  Most annoying.

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While we were sitting there a fella came out with his rowing boat, for some exercise I presume.   The boat was long and skinny, with just room enough for one person.  I found it quite interesting to watch him getting everything in place to go . . . I didn't see how he was ever going to make it into that boat without falling into the river . . .

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But he did . . . and before too long was rowing up the river . . .

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This is one of the cruise boats returning . . .

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I think it's odd that they call it the Mark Twain Showboat.   There is no show . . . and Mark Twain hasn't been here in a long time, if ever . . .  The other one is the Lady Diana.  Now that makes more sense don't you think?  She was the Countess of Chester.

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After our Eccles Cakes we made our way back up the river and sat on a bench in front of the bandstand.  I love how I was able to capture the sun's rays in this photograph . . .

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I was really trying to capture the pigeons dancing on the rooftop.
But that was our walk.  Not too long afterwards we hopped back into the car and came home.  Todd spent the rest of the day sunning himself in the back garden, puttering, reading, etc.

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I did have time for one last artsy photo . . . I like artsy photo's . . . and with that I shall leave you with a thought for today . . .

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

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Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . Pumpkin Muffins.  Beautifully moist and spicy.  We love these!

Have a fabulous Saturday.  I hope you enjoyed the walk with me!


Friday 27 September 2013

Friday Ramblings . . .

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 Daisies of Mochaelmas 
giant-headed sunflowers 
mist in the morning    
and dew in the night
mauve of the heather
and red of the creeper
tell of the waning of
Summer's delight.
~Patience Strong

This is the season of fruitfulness . . . sigh . . . golden September, the prelude to Autumn, the opening act in a gilded play where the woods are clothed in a garment of glory.  Orchards fill with ladders and there are ploughs on the stubble in the fields.  We forget to mourne the bright splendor of Summer, as it is replaced swiftly and seemingly overnight with new views and vistas . . .

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The corn has now been safely gathered in and now, in every lane . . . the hedges gift us with their bounty, their harvest-tide, bringing forth nuts and fruits in rich abundance on the tangled sprays, swelling in the yellow sunlight of Autumn's mellow days . . .

Each year I tell myself that I am going to make some hedgerow jelly, but then . . . I don't.

Bramble thickly matted with it's red and purple load beckon.  Scarlet hips and purple haws are strung along the roadways, dangling from the boughs like fairy lamps.  Mauve and red and rosy globes are born on leafless branches, berries on the spingle bush, haws upon the thorn.  Oh what a glorious bounty and riot of colour we are given to enjoy.  It may not be bloom and petal, but it is nonetheless just as beautiful . . .

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I had such a lazy day yesterday . . . I can't believe it.  I didn't do much of anything at all.   I didn't even cook.  We just had whatever we could rustle up and we were happy for that.  I think everyone needs a lazy day once in a while, don't you?    I must apologize to all my friends for not visiting however . . . I haven't been doing any blog reading this week, and I really must play catch up today.  I have missed you all so . . . 

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I did this little painting yesterday afternoon.   There is something very relaxing in sitting in my room, with music playing and seeing what comes out from the ends of my fingertips..  I had found this quote by Helen Keller and wanted to do a photo to illustrate it, and this is what happened.
I quite like it.  It's funny how that goes.  I sit down with a quote perhaps, or a thought and the next thing you know . . . art happens.   It is really quite magical, and I adore getting lost in that world.

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I wanted to thank you all for your kind thoughts, your happy thoughts, your prayers and concern.  They are all so very much appreciated.  You make my heart smile in a very big way.

I had promised you that on Monday Todd would pick a name out of a hat as to the winner of the print.   That hasn't happened yet, but it will soon.  I promise you that!  Life just got in the way of all the fun stuff this week.  Some weeks are like that.  It couldn't be helped.

Shall I leave you with a thought for today???   I think so . . .

If we have no peace,
it is because we have forgotten
that we belong to each other.
~Mother Teresa  

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I'm hosting a Macmillan Coffee Morning for Cancer over in The English Kitchen today!
I can't think of a better cause to support!

Have a great Friday!  How can the week have flown by the way it has???  I don't know, but it has!