Wednesday 31 December 2014

Winding down the year . . .

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Here we are . . .  standing on the end of what was 2014  and on the precipace of what will be 2015.  I don't know about you, but I think this year just flew by!  It seems to have passed ever so quickly.   I think time is speeding up and everyone I speak to says the same thing.   Or maybe we are just all getting older!  I don't know which, but my days seem to pass by in a blur!  I thought it would be fun to do a little recap this morning of the year that just passed.  Hang onto your hats!

I thought it would be fun to look back on my year and see what all I got up to.  Hang on to your hats!!

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In January amidst frosted blooms I was thinking about seed catalogues and waxing poetic about winter things . . .  I was released from my calling in Relief Society.  I was quite disappointed about that as I had really loved that calling, but was eager to serve wherever it was that the Lord decided to call me next . . .

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In February our camelia bush bloomed early.  It was so pretty.   I lost a friend to lung cancer and so the blooms were a reminder to me of the eternal round of life and the transitions it brings.   I was reminded to dwell on the positives and the small joys we find in each day  because of the fragility of the here and the now . . . making the most of what we've been given.   My friend had been diagnosed the same time as my mother had been diagnosed.  My mother was still here and well again.  I was grateful for that.

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In March I shook the blues by taking imaginary tea . . .

I had a little tea party,
This afternoon at three.
'Twas very small,
Three guests in all.
'Twas I, myself and me.

Myself ate up the sandwiches;
While I drank up the tea,
'Twas I who also ate the pie
and passed the cake to me.
 ~Jessica Nelson North    

And I brought you along because I could.  I didn't hear anybody complaining. ☺

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We took a drive in April . . .  past fields filled with wishes, and promises . . .  in the season of blossom-tide . . .  petals fluttering down from spring bloom like big frosted flakes, but smelling much nicer.   We celebrated the advent of Spring.

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And enjoyed bluebell woods . . .

May, Oh May . . .

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May brought loss . . . my son and his wife lost their baby . . .  so there was a great deal of sadness . . .

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It is hard when you see your children hurting . . .  sometimes it is hard to understand such losses.   Maybe we never will.  Grateful for the peace the Gospel brings and for eternal families.

The Churchill Arms: classic London pub

I celebrated Britishness in June, along with our beautiful garden . . . June is when it is at it's best.  I love the month of June.  I think it is my favourite month.

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My craft CD was a sell out on the Shopping Channel.  It ended up being a bit of a disappointment financially as I did not make a fraction of what the sales were on it . . .  I had expected more, but it was also exciting at the same time.   People were buying what I had created and liking it.   So it was  a bit of a mixed bag of feelings.


My best friend turned 56 in July and my mother turned 82.  July has always been a month of celebration in our family with two birthdays and summer at it's nicest.    I explored the joys of the season and my bucket list of things to do.

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Ariana came into our lives in August and I turned 59.   The  month was a blur of getting her settled in and getting used to having someone else in the house and the adjustments that come with transitions like that.   It's all settled very nicely.   She's pleasant to have around and life is a bit more interesting.   It's nice to have another female voice on things . . .

The husband of one of my oldest friends died all of a sudden and unexpectedly, reminding me once again of the fragility of life.

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In September I began doing something I had never done before.   I began selling originals of my artwork.  Our printer broke down and I still have not been able to find a suitable art paper to print out on the new one . . .  so I am not really able to sell prints of my work anymore . . .  but people seem to like the originals.   I hate parting with them, but c'est la vie!  I signed contracts with an Art Licenser.  Autumn began to arrive . . .

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I celebrated everything autumn in October.  With all of the losses we have experience over this past year . . .  the here and the now has become even more important.  We enjoyed our Church's bi-annual conference.   We filled out papers for a Service Mission.

In November Todd and I celebrated fourteen years of wedded bliss and marveled at how quickly the time has passed.   We are so grateful to have found each other and spent our anniversary as we always do  . . .  in the Temple of the Lord.  Eternal marriage.  Not everyone's cup of tea, but our cup of tea.   Bliss.  In each other we have found the perfect companions.

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Much of December has been to do with Christmas.   Baking.   Trimming.   Enjoying the blessings of family and of love and friendship  . . .  and of course most of all . . .  the blessing of the Saviour's birth.   A screen test for a show on ITV towards the end of the month was a tad bit exciting and one more thing to cross off on my bucket list.

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It hasn't been a really exciting year.   There hasn't been any fancy holidays or totally exciting adventures.  Money has been extremely tight.  Some years are just like that.   A bit of loss . . . a bit of gain and . . .  a lot of love intermingled with it all.

You can't really ask for much more than that can you?

A thought to carry with you through today  . . .

“Hope Smiles from the 
threshold of the year to come, 
Whispering 'it will be happier'...”
~Alfred Tennyson

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I am talking about my top ten recipes for 2014 in The English Kitchen today  . . . with a few surprises and a few not so surprising recipes.

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Whoever you are with, whatever you are doing, wherever you are, I wish for you each a very Happy New Year's celebrations tonight.  Be safe and be happy.   All the best in 2014!

I'll see you next year!

Tuesday 30 December 2014

The Simple Woman's Day Book

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 Outside my window ...
The ground is heavily covered with frost.  It was a really cold night, the third in a row.  Brrr... I reckon it's going to be pretty hard for Ariana to go out to work this morning.   It is certainly a lot colder than what she has been used to in Southern Spain!

I am thinking ...
This is my last Simple Woman's post for 2014.   Somehow this whole year has whipped by us and here we are staring into the abyss which is the end of the year.  I wonder what 2015 will bring to each of us???  Good things I hope!

I am thankful ...
For the many blessings I have experienced thus far in 2014. There are still two days to go counting today.   Praying they are uneventful!

In the kitchen ...

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Oven Baked Penne.  An oven baked pasta dish.  I cut the recipe in half and it amply fed the three of us and there was still a bit leftover.   It is a simple recipe.  You just stir everything together and bang it into the oven.  You don't even need to cook the pasta ahead of time.  It is really delicious too!  Even Todd ate all of his without complaining!

On my "To Cook" list ...

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White Bean Chicken Chili from She Wears Many Hats.  This looks absolutely delicious!   This is definitely chili weather!

I am creating ...

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I really love these decoupaged wooden hangers I found on Craft and Creativity.  They look really easy to make.

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I think this rose garland is really sweet.   I just love it.   Easy to do too.  Why didn't I think of this?
From Lauren Conrad.  Five things to try this month.

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These Fleece Flower Petal Pillows are really cute.   They would be great in the bedroom.   From Come Together Kids.   A complete pictorial tutorial.

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This is a really cool idea.  You print out your favourite font and then place a sheet of wax paper over top.  Trace using puff paint.  Let it dry and peel the letters off ready to use in whatever way you want to use them.   Brilliant!  From Virginia and Charlie.

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I think this is the most beautiful thank you letter ever.   A complete tutorial on how to cut and make your own.   From  Craft Stylish. A complete tutorial plus instructions on making an envelope to go with it.

I am going ...
I have no plans to go anywhere this week, or to do anything other than meet my friend Tatiana from Greece.   She is coming on New Years Day and we will finally meet in person after knowing each other for about 7 years or so!  I can't wait!

I am reading ...

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The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16-year-old teenager with thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs, attends a cancer patients' support group at her mother's behest. During a support meeting, Hazel meets a 17-year-old teenage boy named Augustus Waters, whose osteosarcoma caused him to lose his leg. Augustus is at the meeting to support his mutual friend, Isaac, who is losing his remaining eye to cancer. The two bond immediately after the meeting and Augustus invites Hazel to his house where the two strengthen their bond over a movie and their experiences with cancer. Before departing, the two agree to read each other's favorite novels. Augustus gives Hazel The Price of Dawn, and Hazel recommends An Imperial Affliction, a novel, written by Peter Van Houten, about a cancer-stricken girl named Anna that parallels Hazel's own experience. After Augustus finishes reading her book, he is frustrated upon learning that the novel ends abruptly without a conclusion. Hazel explains the novel's mysterious author had retreated following the novel's publication and has not been heard from since.

This is a book peopled with a group of characters that you really care about. At its core are the star-crossed lovers, Hazel (with terminal cancer) and Augustus (a cancer survivor). They meet at a cancer support group and become close, despite Hazel's desire to avoid becoming a "grenade" in anybody's life - by which she means someone who will unwittingly cause significant hurt through their passing. They are fantastically loveable characters, who flit between deep conversations about the meaning of life and finding refuge in video games and reality TV shows. I loved them both. Still do

I gave up on the last book I was reading because it started to become vulgar.  I think books should come with a warning that you are going to encounter bad language or explicit sexual material.   I would never have started reading it if I had known.  But then again, maybe that is why they don't tell you.  They should have ratings like movies in my opinion.

I am hoping ...
I am still hoping to get some Christmas pictures of the grandchildren.

Makes me smile ...

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Giraffe's in Sun Glasses.   Who thinks of these things?

I am learning ...
As much as you think you might know about anything?  There is always, always something more to learn.

Around the house ...

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Thirty Six Genius Kitchen Tips.   From Listotic.

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This really works.   From Debbie Doos.

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 From Apartment Therapy, how to clean your rugs with snow.

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How to melt Sidewalk Ice from Budget Savvy Diva.

I am pondering  ...
What were my best moments of 2014.   Stay tuned.

A favourite Quote for Today ...
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Whosoever wishes to know about the world 
must learn about it in its particular details. 
Knowledge is not intelligence. 
In searching for the truth be ready for the unexpected. 
Change alone is unchanging. 
The same road goes both up and down. 
The beginning of a circle is also its end. 
Not I, but the world says it: all is one. 
And yet everything comes in season. 
~ Heraklietos of Ephesos 

One of my favourite things  ...

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(Oh How Civilized)

   Tea Parties!  Even if the only guests are me, myself and I!

A peek into my day  ...
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Scripture study. I do it every day.  It helps.  And I always pick up on something new that I haven't noticed before.

 And that's my day book for this week!
⋱ ⋮ ⋰
   ⋯ ◯ ⋯ Take time to enjoy the small*´¯`.¸¸.☆
   ⋰ ⋮ ⋱ blessings in life.*´¯`.¸¸.☆
   ✿¸.•*¨`*•..¸✿ ✿¸.•*¨`*•..¸✿
   ░░░░░░░░░░░░░ ░░░░░░░░░░░░░  

Wherever you go and whatever you do I hope there's a wonderful day planned for you! 

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Monday 29 December 2014

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. 

It did not arrive on Christmas Day but I guess we had a White Christmas of sorts.  It arrived late on Boxing Day.  Snow is not dealt with very easily in this country.  Life comes to a standstill.   No gritters were out to clear the motorways, etc.   We had to drive into Wales as the storm was just beginning and had no idea of what we were driving in to.   Suffice it to say  I was very grateful to get back home safe and sound!  Our friend that we had on boxing day lives in Wales and we had to take her and her wee little Bobby home.  (Bobby is a King Charles Cavelier Spaniel)    We had no idea that it was snowing in Wales until we were on our way and then there was no way to turn around until we had actually got to where we wanted to be.     No snow tires . . .  no ploughed or gritted roads . . .  hills and twisting narrow roads.  Suffice it to say I was grateful to get home at the end of that harrowing drive!  An answer to prayer.

The miracles of modern technology and two sons who care enough to want their boys to know me.   Because of this I was able to read a story to three grandsons on Christmas Eve and to watch two grandsons open their gifts on Christmas morning.   This was the greatest gift I could ever have been given and I was so grateful for their thoughtfulness.   I also got a card from my youngest son and his partner which was nice.  My eldest daughter is saving her money to come over and visit Todd and I here in the UK, so that is nice too, and she messaged me on Facebook.  I did not get to see my other two grandchildren, Cameron and Maryn, but I am hoping that my youngest daughter puts some pictures up soon of them.     I have my fingers crossed.

I am grateful that I have never been forced to live without my basic needs being met, and that I have never truly been ill with a life threatening illness.    If I am fed and dry and clothed and loved and relatively healthy and safe, then I am doing much better than a lot of people in this world.  May I never take these great blessings in my life for granted.

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I have a family.   It may be small but it is also wonderful.  I am not alone or bereft.  I have my faith as well, which is a great companion in life, but it is also nice to have someone to hold hands with and to speak to and to care for and who cares for me.  The unconditional love of a furry family member is priceless also.   I am blessed.

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I learned a new word.   "AMAZEBALLS"  I think it means awesome, amazing, incredible, fabulous, fantastic!  I had never heard it until Ariana said it a few days ago and then I actually heard it on the telly recently.   It's always a good thing to learn a new word, even if it's not really a word.  That's just amazeballs!

Free Valentines Fonts from   I love them.   I love  Perfect for projects.

And that's it for this week.   What were some of your small and wonderfuls?

A thought to carry with you through today  . . .

The journey between what you once were 
and who you are now becoming 
is where the dance of life really takes place. 
~ Barbara DeAngelis

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Baking in the English Kitchen today  . . .  an amazing Cinnamon Crumble Breakfast Cake.  This was  . . .  dare I say it?  I cannot resist!   AMAZEBALLS! lol

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Have a fabulous Monday everyone.  May your week be filled to overflowing with small and wonderful things.


Sunday 28 December 2014

The joys of the season . . .

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I thought it would be fun this morning to share all the things I love about the Holiday season, things I never indulge in or enjoy the rest of the year through.   I save these things for December.  Of course it goes without saying that the thing I enjoy most about this time of year is the birth of the Savior.  That is the most precious of all to me.   These things are the other stuff that Christmas is made of!

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Italian Panettone.   I never eat it any other time of the year but at Christmas time I indulge in this lovely fruited bread.   Its so delicious.  I had never tasted it before coming over here to the UK.  I just love it.  It reminds me of the lovely fruit breads my Aunt Thelma used to bake.   She always iced hers and put red and green cherries on top.   We adored them.  They were not as soft and spongy of Panettone, but they were very good.

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Gingerbread men.  I Love Gingerbread men.  I baked some this year like I do every year.  I haven't posted the recipe yet.   Even Mitzie loves these.   I stamped these with the words "Eat Me".  It doesn't quite show up in the photos.   Nothing tastes nicer during the holidays than a crisp gingerbread man enjoyed with a glass of cold milk or cup of hot herbal tea.  One year when my children were small I baked and decorated gingerbread men for our christmas tree.  That was the only decoration on the tree, popcorn cranberry garlands and gingerbread men.  It was not the right kind of gingerbread however as our Christmas celebrations were punctuated by the sounds of the strings slipping through the gingerbread men and the plopping of them as they softened and hit the floor.  Nevermind  . . .  it did look pretty on the first couple of days, and the birds loved the popcorn and cranberries afterwards!

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Christmas Cards.   I love sending them and I love getting them.  It is a way of staying in touch with people you never hear from most of the year through and I love catching up with their goings on.  I do so love the Christmas newsletters where people share with us all their news of the year.  I was shocked this year to learn that one of my friend's husbands had passed away earlier this year.  I had not known and even though I had visited her blog several times I had not picked up on that fact.   It made me feel like a very bad and insensitive friend.  Lesson learned.   Visit friends more often.  I must make more time for that in 2015.

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Christmas Crackers!  We never had anything like this when I was growing up.  I never had anything like this  (although I had read about them) until I moved over here to the UK and it is a tradition I have embraced totally!  The snap when we pull them. The wearing of the silly hat as we sit around the dinner table.  The sharing of the corny jokes with each other.   The cheap tatty toy inside.   It's all a part of what makes Christmas dinner so special!

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The Christmas Pantomime!  It is a brilliant British tradition that I really enjoy.  Once again I had never seen anything like it before coming over here to the UK.  They're exciting and noisy and very colorful"

"Pantomime (informally panto), is a type of musical comedy stage production, designed for family entertainment. It was developed in England and is generally performed during the Christmas and New Year season. Modern pantomime includes songs, slapstick comedy and dancing, employs gender-crossing actors, and combines topical humour with a story loosely based on a well-known fairy tale. It is a participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is expected to sing along with certain parts of the music and shout out phrases to the performers."

The most popular ones are Cinderella, Aladdin, Snow White, etc.   They are just brilliant.  Our Ward did one a couple of years ago and it was just fabulous!

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Christmas Cookies . . .  shortbreads, butter cookies, santa's whiskers . . .  Speculaas . . . I love all of them.  Christmas is the perfect time to indulge in all of these.  We can make up for it in January right?

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A tin or tub of Quality Street chocolates.  It wouldn't be Christmas without one.  My brother used to send us one each year when the kids were growing up.  We could never afford one as they were really pricey in Canada.  Over here you can usually get a huge tub for a fiver or less at Christmas time.   The Purple one is my favourite.  I also like the green triangle.

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I love Terry's Chocolate Oranges.   I know you can buy them in the shops pretty much all year round, but I only ever indulge in one at Christmas.   I love the way you can wack it on the counter top and this happens . . . the pieces fall apart like a real orange . . .  and that chocolate orange smell wafts up to your nose.

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Mr Kreugers Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, The Bishops Wife, White Christmas, Holiday Inn, The Santa Claus,  The Family Man, Home Alone, A Christmas Story, The Homecoming . . . reruns of Morecombe and Wise, Only Fools, Stars in their Eyes, etc.   I love all of the Christmas programming on the telly.

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Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men.  People just seem to be a bit nicer this time of year.  Oh sure . . . you will find the odd Grinch or Scrooge, but for the most part everyone is just nicer.   There is no other word for it.  I looked out my window late Christmas day and saw a man struggling down the street with a trifle bowl in his arms and kiddies trailing behind him.  I knew he was on his way to a family celebration.  It filled my heart with warmth and my eyes with tears.   Likewise the sight of this old guy who walks his little yorkie past our house each day wearing a set of antlers.  Looking at the tower block flats and seeing balconies decked out in Christmas lights.  Sitting here writing to you by light of tree and nothing else, whilst Christmas carols play gently along with the tap tapping of the keys.  It's all good.

I hate to see it all end, but I know it must.   The fact that it only happens once a year for a few weeks makes it all these days all  more special.  I have a good friend visiting me from Greece on New Years Day.  It will be the first meeting in person between us although we have been corresponding for quite a few years now.  I will be keeping my decorations up until after that.  I hate taking them down each year  . . .  but the house always seems tidy and organized afterwards oddly enough!  Less cluttered. 

A thought to carry with you through today  . . .

"Put yourself into life 
and never lose your openness, 
your childish enthusiasm throughout 
the journey that is life, 
and things will come your way." 
~Federico Fellini~


Cooking in The English Kitchen today  . . .  a simple Blackberry and Apple Charlotte.

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Have a blessed and joyous Sabbath day!