Tuesday 31 December 2013

The Simple Woman's Daybook

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 FOR TODAY December 31st, 2013

Outside my window...
It's dark, windy and cold, wet too.  It's been a very windy couple of weeks.   One of our front windows is broken, so it lets in the wind.   Apparently the last tenant got locked out and pried it open to put a child through to unlock the door and it has never closed properly since.   Every time our landlord comes over from Ireland he says he is going to fix it, but . . . he never does.

I am thinking...

The life I touch for good or ill
will touch another life,
and that in turn another, until who knows
where the trembling stops
or in what far place my touch will be felt.
~ Frederick Buechner

It is hard to believe that this is my last Simple Woman post for the year.   Hasn't 2013 gone past very quickly.   It was a blink and miss it year I think.   So much happened in this year, mostly good.  

I am thankful...
I am thankful for all the many blessings in my life.  My cup truly does runneth over.   I am also very thankful for you, my faithful readers who have stuck with me through thick and thin.   I wish I could make a gift for each of you, but alas I can't.   You will have to suffice yourselves with the knowledge that I appreciate each of you more than you could possibly know.  You are my friends, and I value you as such.

In the kitchen... 

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A delicious Feta Dip

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Kofta Meatballs.

A few nibbles for New Years Eve if you are so inclined, today in The English Kitchen.  
I have never really gone out for New Years Eve.  When the children were growing up we could not afford a sitter and my husband worked most New Years Eve's anyways.  I didn't really care actually.  I am a homebody at heart.   The kids and I would have our own little New Years Eve party at home and it would always be a finger food buffet and movies.   They always really enjoyed it and so did I!

I am wearing...
Todd got me a new flannel nightie for Christmas and I am wearing it.  It's nice and soft and fluffy and warm.  I do so love flannel nighties, don't you?

I am creating...  
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I did this yesterday afternoon.  I quite like her.   I am back to my "me" style.  I've played with a few different styles of art over this past year, but this is what I am happiest with I think.  I am not sure how I am going to move forward.    I did not sell even one Christmas Card this year.   I can only assume that nobody liked them.    In fact I didn't sell much of anything.  Perhaps it is time to rethink this being an artist lark.   But I can't not paint and draw.   It is as integral to me as breathing is.   I need to do it, whether anyone else wants to see it or not.   It's just something I yearn to do.

I am going...
I have no plans to go much of anywhere this week cept home sweet home.  Grateful for my blessings of home, Todd, Mitzie, health, happiness, peace and love.

I am wondering...
What will 2014 bring? Probably some good things and some not so good things.   Life will unfold whatever may be.  Life is what life is, and it is good.

I am reading...

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The Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline
Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by pure luck.  This is the story of one of those children, intertwined with a modern day orphan whose path's cross in an interesting way.  It is a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.  Thoroughly enjoying the read!  I highly recommend!  It is very engaging.

I am hoping...
That you all have a very blessed and wonderful New Year.  A happy mix of good and not so good and everything in between, but mostly love.

Makes me Smile...

"Where you are today is no accident.  God is using the situation you are in right now to shape you and prepare you for the place He wants to bring you into tomorrow.  Trust Him with His plan even if you don't understand it." 

It cheers my heart to know this to be true.  Nothing ever happens without a reason.   Every obstacle is an opportunity for growth.  We are not here, now . . . by chance.  We are here with a beautiful purpose in mind.

I am learning...
Quite simply to be a better me.  It's an ongoing process. 

Around the House ...

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I love these pretty rose patterned and airy looking curtains.   I think something like this would look lovely on the window next to our dining table which overlooks the back garden.  Perhaps something like this on the bottom and a lace valance on top?  Or nothing on top?   Maybe some pieces of stain glass hanging down?   I don't know!  Help!

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I just adore this look.  It's feminine and airy and light.   I am longing for airy and light I think.

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The colour combinations on this throw are plucking the strings of my heart.   They're so beautiful.  I think I love flowers.  I could quite happily surround myself with them.  Tucked here and there into every corner.   That would make me very happy.

I am pondering...
I have been thinking a lot lately about the things I need to change.  More time with the scriptures, less time frittering.   Eating healthier,  More time in prayer and reflection.  I know I have a running conversation going with my Heavenly Father all the time, but I need to be more attuned to what He wants for me and to His promptings.

A favorite quote for today...  

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"Those who bring sunshine to the lives
of others cannot keep it from themselves."
~ James M. Barrie


I love this quote.   Its so very true . . . 

One of my favorite things... 

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Candles, especially smelly ones.   I just adore them.  If I had my way and it was safe we would live by candle light.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
N-O-T A H-E-C-K O-F A L-O-T!
Makes a nice change.

A peek into my day...

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I am sure some of this will be involved.  There are only two of us, but there is always laundry.   I remember when my children were growing up.  With five of them there was always clothes to watch, to dry, to iron, to fold, to put away.   There was always a bag of mismatched socks that I could not find partners for.   Laundry was never ending.   At least now with there just being two of us I manage to get it all done every once in a while!

 ⋱ ⋮ ⋰
   ⋯ ◯ ⋯ Take time to enjoy the small*´¯`.¸¸.☆
   ⋰ ⋮ ⋱ blessings in life.*´¯`.¸¸.☆
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Wherever you go and whatever you do I hope there's a wonderful day planned for you!

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I wish for each and every one of you a very Blessed and Happy New Year!!  May it be filled with a multitude of blessings and plenty of joy!  I love you!  Stay safe!

Monday 30 December 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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Having the time to get into my craft room and play with my paints once more.  I have not had a lot of time for that over the past few months.   I always lose myself in a little world of my own making when I go into that room and start creating.   It makes me happy.  That reminds me of the talk which President Uchtdorf gave a number of years back on being creative. 

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.
~Dieter F Uchtdorf   

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Sharing Christmas with my honey.   I am so blessed to have found this man I share my life with.  We are the best of friends and we have always pretty much spent all of our time together.   Up until I got my job at the manor we even worked in the same place, and even when I was working at the manor, he was often working by my side when it came to dinner parties, etc.  He always used to come over and help me polish all that copper.  (a two day job for two)  I love him with all of my heart and there is nobody I would rather spend my life or my time with.   I don't like to think of a day without him being by my side although I know eventually it will come and one of us will go forward first, having to leave the other behind for a short time.    I am grateful for eternal blessings which we share.

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Spending Boxing Day with the Elder Missionaries.   We enjoyed a delicious dinner and then we got to watch a film together.   They chose it.  Jack the Giant Killer.   It had to be a film that was suitable without any sex or swearing in it.  The two on the left are from Tahiti and the one on the right is from Chili.    The one on the very far left is Elder Pahero.   He is a 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, although he would never tell you that.  He was on Tahiti's gold medal winning Rowing team. He is a very humble and lovely young man.   His English is getting much, much better. It was so nice to have all of them in our home.  I made them popcorn to enjoy with their movie and they had soft drinks and chocolates.   It's always nice to have the missionaries over.  It is something which we love to do.

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The blessing of bounty.  I have never known hunger in my lifetime.   I have never known what it is like to not have a roof over my head, or clothes on my back, or clean water, clean air to breathe.  I have always been able to see, hear, taste, touch, feel, walk, run . . .   I know what love is, and I know what it is not.  I know what it feels like to be a mother and a wife.  I know what it is like to have a relationship with a loving Heaveny Father.   I am blessed with abundance and I am grateful that I have a heart that knows it.

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Puppy dog cuddles and kisses.   Oh what joy this little madame brings into our lives.  Her sweet personality and disposition and unconditional love embroider each of my/our days with joy.   Surely there would be a big hole in our hearts were she not here to share them with us.

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Turkey and Stuffing sandwiches after Christmas.   We love them.   We can't get enough of them.   We love them almost more than the initial dinner.

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A fresh year in the offing, a new page to turn, a chance for new beginnings.
We are blessed.

A thought to carry with you through today . . .

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"Remember, when you judge another,
you do not define them,
you define yourself as someone
who needs to judge.
The same applies to judgments
directed at you."
~Wayne Dyer

Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Cheesy Bacon, Cabbage and Potato Gratin.   Delicious!

Have a great Monday!

Sunday 29 December 2013

Recipe for a Happy New Year

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Take twelve fine, full-grown months; see that these are thoroughly free from old memories of bitterness, rancor and hate, cleanse them completely from every clinging spite; pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness;

In short, see that these months are freed from all the past—have them fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of Time.

Cut these months into thirty or thirty-one equal parts. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many persons spoil the entire lot this way) but prepare one day at a time.

Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work (some people omit this ingredient and so spoil the flavor of the rest), hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness, rest (leaving this out is like leaving the oil out of the salad dressing— don’t do it), prayer, meditation, and one well-selected resolution.

Put in about one teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humor.
~ Unknown  

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Now, as the year winds down to it's end. . . this is the time most people start to rethink things and make plans for the future.  I try never to make New Years resolutions per se . . . instead I do like to think that each New Year is a fresh page to write upon . . . and I like to think about ways in which I would like to do things that little bit more different.  

As I stumble through this life,
help me to create more laughter than tears.

Never let me become so indifferent,
that I will fail to see the wonder in the eyes of a

Never let me forget that my total effort is to cheer
make them forget, at least momentarily,
the unpleasantness in their lives.

and in my final moment, may I hear You whisper:
"When you made My people smile, you made Me


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I'd like to think that I've made a difference, even if only in some small way.   I want to make a difference.   I want the earth to know that I have been here and that I've made something positive out of my journey.  I want to make my dent . . . my own mark as it were.  

 There is a hymn which we sing at church from time to time.  It goes like this . . . 

Each life that touches ours for good
reflects thine own great mercy, Lord
Thou sendest blessings from above
through words and deeds of those who love.

When such a friend from us departs
we hold forever in our hearts
a sweet and hallowed memory
bringing us nearer, Lord, to thee.

What greater gift doest thou bestow,
What greater goodness can we know,
than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways,
strengthen our faith, enrich our days.

For worthy friends, whose lives proclaim,
devotion to the Saviours name,
who bless our days with peace and love,
we praise Thy goodness, Lord above.
~Karen L Davidson

I like to think of my hands as being the Saviour's hands here on earth.  I do what I can.  It's not always possible for me to do as much as I would like to do.   Time and finances constrain me somewhat, but I like to think that if I had more . . . I would do more, I could do more.

As I say that I am reminded of the man who was walking along the beach.  There were thousands of starfish which had washed up onto the shore.  A young girl was walking as well and every so often she bent down and picked up a starfish and threw it back into the water.   The man remarked to the young girl that there were so many starfish laying there on the beach that she could not possibly have made much of a difference . . . her response . . . "I made a difference to that one."  

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And sometimes that it all the best that we can do . . . is to make a difference to that one . . . that one person who needed to read or hear those words we speak, who were in need of a smile just when we gave one, who wanted a hug just when we gave one . . . etc., etc.  

This year I strive to make a difference, to  be the difference . . .  in thought, word and deed.

The book is called Opportunity
and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.
- Edith Lovejoy Pierce

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This is a picture that I did yesterday afternoon.   I do so love to lose myself in my paintings.   I go into a completely different world when I am busy with my pens and pencils and markers and paints.  I quite like where they take me . . .

A thought to carry with you through today . . .

Remember - the fear of 'what if' will always 
keep you from enjoying the present moment 
- and life's gift is the present. 
~ Jamie Sams  


Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . Cream Palmiers.  Scrumdiddlyumpitious!

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Saturday 28 December 2013

Saturday This and That . . .

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The weather yesterday was absolutely horrible.   It was so windy and rainy.  I had been going to go into town with Todd to pay a bill (I hadn't been in at all since early December), but I decided I didn't want to go out in that!  Todd went in anyways, he's built of sturdier stuff than me!  It did clear as the day progressed, but . . . by then I had gotten myself busy doing something else so I just stayed put!

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This is what I was busy with.   Earlier this month one of the Young Women's leaders had asked me if I could do something for her to share with the young women in January to go along with a lesson she was teaching them.  Pink is the colour of Personal Progress, which is a goal setting and achievement program set out by the church for our young women.   The ribbons on her bouquet are the colours of the Young Women's values . . . purple (Integrity), yellow (good works), red (Individual Worth), white (Faith), green (Knowledge), blue (Divine Nature), orange (Choice and Accountability), gold (Virtue).  We have some really nice young men and young women in the church.  Anyways, I think so at any rate.  I was happy to be able to do this.  I am still playing with the writing, but I couldn't resist giving you a peek at it!

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We had a simple supper of reheated leftovers and then settled down to watch a film which Todd had taped earlier this week.   I have always loved the story of Pollyanna, and of course was very familiar with the one put out by Disney in my childhood starring Haley Mills.  This was a newer version put out in 2003 and starring Amanda Burton.  I have to admit I rather liked this newer version and it was probably truer to the novel than Disney's version was.  If you ever have the chance to watch it, grab it!  It's fabulous!  I really love period pieces.   We have taped Death Comes to Pemberly, which is Jane Austin and I'm looking forward to watching that as well.

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I was surprised at how many people have already taken down their Christmas Trees.   I always want to leave mine up as long as possible.  We wait for these few days all year long and then put so much effort into them, and then . . . we tear it down in just a few days.   That doesn't make sense to me . . .  I want to prolong this feeling of joy and love and peace for as long as I can.   Oh . . . I know, it's not the trappings of Christmas which give us these feelings . . . the tree, etc., but I love sitting here early in the morning and writing by fairy lights.   It cheers my heart.

One of the things I got for Christmas was a new journal to write in.   I am looking forward to opening it on the first of January and beginning to put my thoughts down on paper.   This year I am actually going to do it and try to stick with it.  I know I have been putting my thoughts here on the computer for years and years now, but how permanent is that . . . it seems to be writing into a journal by hand will be more permanent.  It may be the only legacy I can leave my children, next to my artwork.

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This is a picture that my sister took outside my mother's window yesterday.   The whole time I lived in Nova Scotia, I never saw a cardinal.   They are frequent visitors to the dried rosehips outside my mother's house.   So beautiful.   It looks like they have a lot of snow there as well.  I love what my brother said about the cardinals . . . he said that their brilliant red colour reminds him of the promise of Spring and the Saviours love.  I thought that was nice.

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This is going to be my mantra for 2014.  I want to follow up more on my promptings and not let fear of failure keep me from becoming the best that I can be.  I have a friend who, no matter what challenges she is given, she rises to them, and she does it cheerfully.   I want to be that person.   I want to rise to the challenge and do it with heart.  Let's face it . . . challenges are a lot easier to surmount if you work with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.  

The computer is really acting up this morning, so I will close this now and leave you with a thought for today . . .

The trick is to enjoy life, don't wish away 
your days waiting for better ones ahead. 
~ Marjorie Pay Hinckley  


Baking in The English Kitchen today . . . Peanut Butter and Jam Cookie Cups.   Delish, delish!

Have a fabulous Saturday!

Friday 27 December 2013

And so it goes . . .

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(artist lisi martin)

During Christmas Eve day, I heard the news that at a little bit before six pm on that evening, until a few minutes afterwards the International Space Station would be viewable as it passed over the UK.  All day long I said a silent prayer that the skies would be clear enough for us to see it.  It is not often we have clear skies during the evenings at this time of the year over here . . . more often than not it is raining.

We settled in shortly after supper to watch Charlie Brown's Christmas.   I have watched Charlie Brown's Christmas every year for the past 48 years and I wasn't going to miss a year.   It takes me back to an innocent time . . .  and I love it so very much.   Todd has come to enjoy it as well.    Whenever I read the words of Luke 2 I always hear them in my head in Linus's voice . . .

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As soon as it was over we dashed into the hall and bundled up (it was a cold and windy evening) and  flew out the door.  The sky was as clear as a bell.  The night was crisp and even and like good King Wenceslas we trundled ourselves down to the end of the street where our views would not be spoiled by any rooftops.   We stood their together, heads turned up to the sky whilst frost nipped at our noses and cheeks, turning them quite red I am sure . . .

All was dark and silent . . . that midnight blue expanse  above us was dotted with twinkling stars and I began to pick out constellations, my eyes straining in the cold to see anything that might be a tiny bit different . . . the wind buffeting our bodies . . .

I was just about ready to give up hope that I might see it at all, when all of a sudden there it was . . . gliding silently through the night sky to the South of us . . . it was quite far away and not as large as I would have supposed, but we knew that up here in the North West it wouldn't be as close . . . and for a few minutes I was a child again, spying Santa's sleigh gliding through the sky on Christmas Eve . . .
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Todd said how did I know that's what it was . . . that it might just be an airplane with it's landing lights flashing . . . and I said it didn't matter what it really was, it only mattered that I thought it was . . . and forever in my heart I would believe that I saw the International Space Station gliding through the skies over Blacon on Christmas Eve in 2013 . . . as I stood at the end of our street with my beloved's hand in mine.

Even he had to agree that was a pretty awesome thought . . .

We had a fabulous day yesterday with the missionaries.   We have three missionary elders here at the moment, two from Tahiti and one from Chili.  The one from Chili has very good English and the two Tahitians are trying hard.   Actually Elder Pahero has been out for a while and his English is greatly improved, the other Tahitian doesn't have a lot of English yet, but we managed to communicate anyways!  They each had two helpings of their dinner and dessert and then because it was boxing day they were allowed to watch a film and so they went through all our DVD's and picked an appropriate film to watch.  I popped them popcorn and passed the choccies and we had a lovely afternoon together.   All too soon it was time for them to leave, and Todd was driving them back to the chapel.

My sister's partner Dan bought her a web cam and a microphone for her computer for Christmas and so I got to enjoy a skype video visit with my sister and mother last evening.  It was so much fun!  I think we talked for at least an hour if not longer!  Mom looked so good and so happy.  It really did my heart good to see her like that, and I am looking forward to more video chats in the future!  I told Dan it wasn't just a gift he gave to Cindy, but a gift he gave the whole family! 

Not much on today.  There is an Amber wind warning in effect for our area of the country and I can tell you it is really blowing out there.   I would not be at all surprised if we lose our power today.  It's been a horrible Christmas weatherwise for many, many people this year . . . with ice storms, and flooding etc.  I don't think Todd will be going into town today to pay the rent, and with that I will leave you with a thought to carry with you through today . . .

"Most of us have had moments in childhood 
when we touched the divine presence.
We did not think it extraordinary because it wasn't;
it was just a beautiful moment filled with love.
In those simple moments our hearts were alive,
and we saw the poignant beauty of life
vividly with wonder and appreciation."
~The Intelligent Heart  


There are Parsnip Patties in The English Kitchen today and some pretty tasty brownies.

Have a great day.  Stay safe and stay warm!

Thursday 26 December 2013

Christmas 2013

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I found this old time Christmas Postcard and it was of the Rows in Chester so thought I would open with it today.   Merry Christmas from Chester!  Oh, but we had a lovely day yesterday.  It was a quiet day in a lot of respects, as there was just the two of us here all day, but it was a really nice day.  We called Todd's brother and spoke to them for a bit first thing in the day and have made plans to go down and visit them in Essex in the new year at some point.   We've not been to see them since we moved back here to Chester in 2009.

Even though there was only the two of us here for dinner yesterday I still did the table up to the nines.   A special occasion is a special occasion after all!  It looked very festive.

I had done mos of my vegetable prep on Christmas Eve, so basically all I had to do was roast the turkey and then heat things up and then do just a few last minute things that you really can't do the night before . . .

Dinner was really good.  Before we sat down to eat anything, I did up a couple of plates and Todd drove dinner over to Doreen and Billy.  Doreen is a bit unsteady on her pins these days and it's too much to ask her to get out and about on Christmas Day so these past two years we have taken dinner to her.

It was nice having our dinner together, just the two of us.  I do so love my husband.

Today things will be a bit busier as we have the three Missionary Elders coming.  Todd will be going to pick them up at 1 PM.  There are two from Tahiti and one from Chili.   One of them from Tahiti doesn't speak very much English yet, so it should be interesting!

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So what do you think of my little sock monkey?  Is he not the cutest little sock monkey you have ever seen???   A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E  That's how you spell Cameron, lol.   It was so nice of my daughter to take this picture of him wearing the sock monkey hat I made for him.   He looks so sweet in it.

I got to do Facetime with my oldest son and his family, watching the boys open up some of their gifts in their matching pajamas, which was nice.   This is the second year he has done that for me and I loved every second of it.   Then my second oldest son facetimed us and I got to see all of his boys as well!  This was a lovely suprise for me and I loved every second of that also!  So I got to see all of my grandsons on Christmas day.   I didn't get to see Maryn though . . . but I saw a nice photo of her on Christmas Eve!

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That's her and Cameron in their matching pajamas.   I think they are so cute.

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I can't forget Baxter!  It was his first Christmas as well.   So cute.

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This is my brother and their dog Betty!  My brother and his family facetimed us as well, which was really nice.  We got the tour of their house (it's huge), and it was so nice to see the girls and speak to them and see all the snow!  Apparently Betty got a new pair of boots this year, balloon boots.   She is not fond of them I hear.   It was lovely to have a nice chat face to face with my dear brother.  We need to do it more often!  I love him very much.  I don't know what I would have done without him there with me last Spring in Nova Scotia when my mother had her cancer operation.  It was the worst of times in a lot of respects, but it was also the best of times in others.  We shared something very special and I will always cherish the closeness and feeling of togetherness we shared.

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This is Pumpkin my mother's cat enjoying Christmas!  She had a great time this year with her other cat buddies (my sister's two cats Link and Gary).  My mom called yesterday as well and it was so nice to talk to her and Cindy.   Dan usually keeps a pretty low profile.  Mom sounded so happy and that was lovely.   She has had far too many Christmas's on her own and the best gift of all to me was in knowing she was not alone any more and I could hear the joy in her voice.  Her life has an added purpose now.  Having Cindy and Dan more there to be with her has added a beautiful dimension to her life and I know it has added years as well, which is a really special gift.    God willing Dad will be there in the Spring and his life will be fuller also.  I do wish I could do more to help with that.   My sister got a webcam and microphone for Christmas for her computer so I am looking foward to some Skype visitis in future with her and mom!

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Christmas feet.   I think Bruce's are the ones in the middle with the very masculine looking dogs on the jim jams.  I did not get to speak to him yesterday but he left me Merry Christmas greetings on facebook. He and Sara went to NB to her family for Christmas and it looks and sounds as if they are having a fab time!

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Love of family is at the heart of Christmas, and I felt very blessed this year to have touched in some way each one of ours in whichever way that we could.  To me, that was the greatest gift of all and last night as Todd, Mitzie and I snuggled on the couch watching the Call the Midwives Christmas special program I was very, very content.  Life may not always turn out the way we expect it to.  It is full of twists and turns and ups and downs . . . and love and blessings in abundance if we have the eyes and hearts to see them.

Life is good . . . very, very good.  

“Christmas, my child, is love in action.
Every time we love, every time we give,
it's Christmas.” 

~ Dale Evans Rogers

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Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Cranberry and Corn Toaster Cakes.  Delish!

Happy Boxing day!