Thursday 31 July 2014

Five Things About Me

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This is a photograph that Todd took of me almost 14 years ago now, when I had come over from Canada to meet him in person.  This was down by the old Roman Bridge in Chester.   I had a lovely three weeks here, so much so that we decided to make it permanent.  It will be 14 years on the 31st of October that I arrived in the UK to take up residence here and our 14th wedding anniversary on the 11th of November.  No regrets!  I love it here and know I am where I am supposed to be!

Another five things about me . . .

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This is a pencil drawing I did when I was 19.   I found it the other day when I was going through my artwork so that I could scan it all.   Black and White don't scan very well on my computer.  Todd had no idea at all that I could draw or colour until about 8 years or so  after we were married.  That was the year I was able to bring the rest of my things over from Canada and I began to paint again.  Good paints, pencils, art supplies are expensive and all of my art stuff was in my belongings.  I hadn't realised just how much I missed being creative until I was able to pick up a brush again.

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I have a fondness for anything that is heart shaped, and get very excited when I see hearts occurring naturally in nature . . . without a person  manipulating them.  Heart shaped stones, heart shaped sea glass, heart shaped potato chips . . .  they all make my heart skip a beat!  Small reminders to me . . .  whenever and wherever I find them . . . that I am truly loved.

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I cannot remember a time when I did not love the Saviour.  My parents taught me about Him and to love Him from the time I was old enough to understand, which means He has always been a great example and influence in my life.  I may not have always known or understood how very important I was to Him . . .  but He has always been important to me.  I am grateful for that and am also grateful that I now know that I have always been important to Him and that He has always loved me the same way I have loved Him.  This is truly life changing knowledge and I wish that everyone had it.  What a very different world we would live in!

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Although I love to eat and cook, I do not love to eat and cook everything.  I have always been a bit squeamish about certain things and have things that I don't want to eat, could never eat, would rather die than eat.  They include things like snails, snake, frogs legs, insects of any kind, eels, shark, any bird other than a turkey or a chicken, reptiles of any kind really, goat, prairie oysters, eye balls, squid and calamari, oysters, clams, mussels,etc.   I basically only like mild fish, such as cod, or haddock.  I will eat salmon, but only once in a while.  I have only ever eaten tinned tuna and am not sure if I would like tuna steaks or not.  I only eat really good minced beef, extra lean because I don't like finding gristle or anything yucky in my ground beef.  It makes me gag.  I have a texture thing with eating.   There are certain textures that I cannot stand, and absolutely abhor together. 

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I believe in miracles, visions, fairies and happily forever after.  I have experienced many miracles in my life and have had visions which have been life changing.  I have never seen a fairy, but that doesn't mean that they aren't there.  It took me three tries to find my happily forever after, but I always believed that I would find it one day.  I thought I had it twice before, but knew very quickly that I did not.  What makes this time different?  When you know, you just know . . . I can't explain it, but I know that I am living it.  Happily forever after is just  . . . happily  forever after.    Miracles surround us and the seeking heart knows where to find them . . . and recognizes them when they find them.  I . . . "Dwell in Possibility."  I'm a half full and overfloweth kind of a gal!

And that's it for this week!

A thought to carry with you through today . . .


If there were a secret garden,
What would it comprise? Fragrant flowers,
a babbling brook, butterflies?
Dragonflies, birds, and bees,
there would be all of these.
But most of all, within ‘that place’,
Tranquil peace and serenity await;
Ever there for me and you to relax and renew.
So every morning before you start,
Visit the ‘secret garden’ of your heart.
~Linda Wall Hall 

* ჱܓ ** ჱܓ ** ჱܓ ** ჱܓ ** ჱܓ *  

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Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . .Creamy Potato Gnocchi Salad.   Deliciously different! 

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Have a wonderful Thursday, no matter where no matter what!!

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Summer on the wing . . .

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The month of July is starting now to slip off the calendar . . . it hangs tenuously only by a thread, which at the end of the morrow will be severed and no more, as the farmer looks upon his ripening corn with concern and weighs out his chances of a good harvest.  I think this year he is in luck as we have had a warm and dry month, and all looks well . . .  but I am not a farmer methinks and so I do not see as a farmer does . . .

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The school holidays began last week, which seems overly late to me . . .  with summer halfway done and July having been so beautiful, I do so hope that there is still some lovely seaside weather left for the holiday makers and their families who flock to our shores wanting to enjoy sand in their shoes and sea breezes on their faces . . .

The verges of the woods and meadows are laced and embroidered now with lovely rosebay willowherb . . . as is our back garden where it prances midst the clover and buttercups in our wildflower bed . . .

 Kerria Japonica . . .  or Travellers Joy garland the hedges . . .  such pretty little dancers with their golden hues and heads . . . bouncing in the sunlight . . .

The banks of stream and river are alive with purple wands of loosestrife and meadow rue . . . so pretty and dainty in their summer's best . . .

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 In the garden the first of the Chrysanthemums jostle for our attention with the last of the Delphiniums in the crowded borders where lemon and cherry blushed spikes of the gladiola and thrusting themselves up between the tangles masses of gaillardias, coreopsis, gypsophila, clarkia and . . .  the humble marigold . . .

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The roses begin to look a bit weary now . . . and our days are filled with dead heading . . .  coaxing them back to life despite the sweltering heat of the past few weeks . . .  oh there are a few which still put on a show, but for the most part the rest appear to be taking a well earned rest and respite . . .  

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The days are becoming noticeably shorter now as we begin to go to bed in the dusk instead of full sunlight and I know with the coming days we will move closer and closer to the summer's ending.  I am not ready to give it all up just yet however, for each day still brings  something new to the table  . . .  some fresh loveliness to be admired and some new joy to be experienced.

"If it were always summertime
how weary we should grow . . . 
of the changeless weather
and the sun's unfading glow!
If there were always roses
blooming down the garden ways . . . 
they would not call forth from the heart
such words of joy and praise.
It is the expectation
of the sunshine and the flowers . . . 
that makes us welcome with delight
the summer's golden hours . . . 
The waiting in the winter
and the hoping in the Spring,
it's twice as sweet because we know
that time is on the wing . . . "
~Patience Strong  

I was thrilled beyond measure yesterday to learn that I was the winner of the Tuscany Now competition, prize being a weekend get-away in the beautiful city of Florence, in their beautiful 15th century farmhouse Il Monte.  All I have to do now is come up with the airfare to Florence!  I couldn't have done it without everyone's help however and so I am remaining positive that I will find a way to get there.  I know no further details about dates, transport etc, but I do know I will also receive a complimentary cooking class from the Chef Anna Bini!  That should be exciting.  I promise to take lots and lots of photographs!  Dreams are coming true!

I spent all, and I do mean ALL of yesterday scanning artwork and uploading it to the server for the Licensing Company who have taken me on, only to find out that for some reason my scanner isn't scanning it at 300dpi.  It's a really expensive printer/scanner and I, for the life of me cannot figure out how to do it the way they want it.   It's becoming a bit frustrating, especially when I spent so much time yesterday and am still only half done.   I have an Epson 7525 printer.  I need help!

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In the spirit of all things Italian and much to Todd's chagrin, I cooked a tasty pasta dish yesterday, to celebrate my win you know.   Baked Spaghetti.   This version is slightly different than any others I have seen.  I thought it was quite, quite good . . .  and the alfredo sauce on the spaghetti was to die for all on it's own.  (If I keep this up I may need a crane and hoist to get me to Tuscany, lol

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Have a fabulous Wednesday!  We are off to the theatre tonight with friends!  I am really looking forward to it, although for the life of me, I cannot remember what it is we are seeing!

Happy Day!


Tuesday 29 July 2014

The Simple Woman's Day Book

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FOR TODAY, July 29th, 2014

Outside my window ...
The heat wave has broken, and whilst it is still warm, the mornings and evenings are nice and pleasant and just cool enough to enjoy!  My kind of weather! 

I am thinking ...
"And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."  D&C 84:88

 Thiswas a revelation given to Joseph Smith when the Saints were living in Kirtland, Ohio, in September of 1832.  I love the wording of this.  I love the thought that God has me covered and his angels round about me.  In a world that is ever increasingly going crazy, it helps me to feel safe and loved.

I am thankful ...
For the scriptures which I read and study . . .  and which help to bolster my courage, and inspire my days and ways.

In the kitchen ...

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In the kitchen today Summer Blueberry Tarts!   Tasty and pretty too!  Also very simple to make.  I am also giving away a set of these . . .

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Clong from Dreamfarm!  They sent me a pair to try out and a pair to give away.  I will send them anywhere, but you have to comment in order to be in for a chance to win them, so go on over and have a gander and tell me that you've been.   It could be YOU who wins!  You never know!

On my "To Cook" list ...

 These Cream Puff Doughnuts from Spoon Fork Bacon look pretty amazing!

I am creating ...

 I love,LOVE this grocery bag with the drawstring top from Studio Clip.  It's in japanese, but there are diagrams which looks pretty easy to follow.

I love this gadget holder from Buzz Feed.  It's made from an old hand lotion bottle.  I would never have thought of something like this!  I just love how very inventive people are!

 I adore pin cushions and I just love this easy to make no sew cupcake pin cushion I found on Creative Paper Trail.

 Tin Can Stilts from Lolly Jane!  I can remember making these when I was a girl.  So much fun!

I am going ...
We are going to the theatre with some friends on Wednesday which should be good.   Then the Missionary Elders are coming for their tea on Friday.   I am having both sets early in August as we have the student arriving on the 11th and I want her well settled in and a routine in place before we start having company.

I am wondering ...  

August 2014 marks the centenary of the start of the First World War – a turning point in world history.

In collaboration with 14-18 NOW, Liverpool will host one of the UK's landmark commemorative events - a poignant and spectacular piece of street theatre which will once again see giant visitors embark on an emotional journey around the city.   It all happened last weekend.   How amazing it must have been to see these huge giants walking around the city!!  I love Liverpool anyways.  When I was a child I was afraid of Giants.   I am not sure how I would have felt in amongst them, even knowing they were mechanical.  It would have been a bit eerie I think, but amazing.  I am wondering at the technology that was used to do this.  You can read more about it here.  Those people in the red suits are called the Lilliputians.   They help to work the giants.  Pretty amazing stuff!

I am reading ...

Tapestry of Fortunes, by Elizabeth Berg
In this book four very different women delve into their pasts in order to share their futures, fates and fortunes.

Cecilia Ross is a motivational speaker who encourages others to change their lives for the better. Why can’t she take her own advice? Still reeling from the death of her best friend, and freshly aware of the need to live more fully now, Cece realizes that she has to make a move—all the portentous signs seem to point in that direction. She downsizes her life, sells her suburban Minnesota home and lets go of many of her possessions. She moves into a beautiful old house in Saint Paul, complete with a garden, chef’s kitchen, and three housemates: Lise, the home’s owner and a divorced mother at odds with her twenty-year-old daughter; Joni, a top-notch sous chef at a first-rate restaurant with a grade A jerk of a boss; and Renie, the youngest and most mercurial of the group, who is trying to rectify a teenage mistake. These women embark on a journey together in an attempt to connect with parts of themselves long denied. For Cece, that means finding Dennis Halsinger. Despite being “the one who got away,” Dennis has never been far from Cece’s thoughts.

I have only just started it, but you all know how much I love the writing of Elizabeth Berg.

I am hoping ...
I see great improvement in my thumb after two weeks.  I am hoping that it continues.  It is only clicking a little bit now, and although it still has a way to go I am able to use it again in small degrees!  Call me happy with that!

Makes me smile ...

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This is a picture I took last week of Sister Brimley and Sister Wagner!  Sister Brimley has been with us for quite a while now.   I think we were her first area on her mission.  She is leaving us today to go to Kendal in the Lake District.   These young ladies are such choice girls.  They always make me smile.  It is hard to see any one of them move on to a new area.  I always hate it when the missionaries move on.  You come to love each and every one of them.   But I know it's for their own good that they serve in a lot of different places and for the good of the Gospel, which also makes me smile.

I am learning ...
I am trying to teach myself to know the difference between being hungry, being bored or being just plain glutonous.  It's a hard lesson to learn when you love food.

Around the house ...

 Repurpose with a purpose.  50 surprisingly new ways to make something new out of something old.  I love the idea of repurposing.   We have become such a throwaway society.  We need to stop that if we can.

I love the colourful site of this sofa table made with old pallets.   Found on I'm Making it Myself.   I love the brightness of it and the inventiveness as well!

I love the rustic look of this kitchen island.  You need a big kitchen for that however.  Doesn't stop me from liking it though!

What a novel way to use baskets!  I just may do something like this.   From BHG, of course!

 I am pondering ...
All of the conflict in the world at the moment makes my heart ache.   I really feel for Israel. It is difficult to be surrounded by enemies who want you dead and will not compromise on that.  I also feel for the innocents of Gaza who are being slaughtered.   They are being used as human shields by Hamas in my opinion. Why else put missile launchers in hospitals and schools?  They do it on purpose because they hope that Israel will not respond in bombing them, and if Israel does it will turn the tide of world opinion against them.   The real enemy here is Hamas, not the Palestinians or the Israeli's.  There are no winners here.

A favourite quote for the day ...  
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Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. Money will come if we seek first the Kingdom of God - the rest will be given. 
~Mother Teresa

All we need is love.

One of my favourite things ...  

Sam Elliot.  Any age.  Any way.  Any role.  He seems like a really nice man and a good husband.  He and Katherine Ross have been married forever.  A rareity in Hollywood.  Rustic looks, loyalty and steadfastness appeal to me.  The voice doesn't hurt either! Hubba Hubba!

A peek into my day ...

I often go out and gaze at the pond.  There is always something new happening in it.   You can see a reflection on it now from the netting that Todd was forced to put around it to keep out the cats.   You can also see Goldie peering out from beneath some of the greenery.   That is our only pure gold fish and the oldest one we have remaining.   I love the lily pads and flowers.   I think we need to clear a few of them away though.  Although in this heat we have been having it does help to give the fish some much needed shade and respite! 

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 28 July 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.    

Telephone engineers!  I am so grateful for the nice fella who came on Saturday and got everything working again.  We had a fella come on Wednesday and he was obnoxious and rude and told me there was nothing wrong with our line.  I sure hope we don't get charged £50 for that call out because there definitely was something wrong!  Wrong enough for the guy on Saturday to spend all morning fixing it! In any case I was very grateful that he finally got it all up and running again.  It will take me a while to catch up on everything, but I'm working on it!

I am so very grateful for my castle and the King I share it with!  When Todd and I first got married, we lived in a one bedroom maisonette, thankfully on the ground floor.   A one bedroom maisonette is what they would call a one bedroom apartment back home.  (One bedroom, living room, tiny kitchen and bathroom.)  We had a woman living right above us who I think was a prostitute.   Different men all hours of the day every day of the week.   She didn't appear to have a job, but took a taxi whenever she went anywhere.   We were lucky enough to have a small garden out back.  Todd loves to sit in the garden and read.   He could never do that because of the noise which would be coming from upstairs, which was embarrassing to say the least. ('Nuff said!)  People would come to see her and they would stand in front of the window in our lounge and shout up to her.   She and her guests were always pitching the almost smoked cigarettes off the balcony out back and her lounge window out front, which would fall into our garden, on our heads, etc.  She often went out and didn't get back until 2 am and would wake us up walking over our heads in her high heels, and then the noise would start.  (Again 'nuff said!  She was very vocal!)  In any case we now live in what is a castle to us, with nobody over top and nice neighbors.  We are blessed, and we love each other. ☺  We be two very happy campers.

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My Kitchen Sink Pasta Recipe which is kicking butt over on the Tuscany Now Blog.  I am still in the lead and have my fingers crossed.  It would be so lovely to be able to realize my dream of one day visiting Tuscany!  If you haven't voted, I would really appreciate it if you did.  But of course, only because you like my recipe and not just because you like me.  ☺

I had a lovely day at church yesterday.  The lesson in Relief Society was just beautiful as to be expected.  The Sister who was teaching yesterday is my favorite teacher and she never disappoints.  Her lesson was just wonderful.   Then Todd and I went into the Gospel Principles Class and another great lesson was taught.   Well fed spiritually again.   Then Sacrament meeting meant the confirmation of two lovely ladies who had been Baptized on Saturday evening, and the talks were fabulous.  The missionary sisters sang and it was beautiful.   Good feelings all around, but that is not what was the most special of all that happened . . .  as I was listening to the last talk, I was watching a young mum in front of me and her two daughters, and she was sitting next to her own mum.   There was so much love between the four of them, and I began to feel quite bereft.   Tears came to my eyes.  I so long to have that kind of loving relationship with my girls and my grandchildren . . .  and my heart really aches at times because I do not.   Anyways,  as we were leaving church to go out to our car, about halfway through the parking lot I looked down . . . and there on the ground was a heart shaped piece of white paper, about the size of a small hand . . .  and written on the middle of it were two words . . . in pink . . .  "Be Happy!"  Only a loving Heavenly Father could leave such a message in such a place for such a tender heart as mine which was aching and needed His touch.  I love these little "God-incidences" which only help to reaffirm to me that God is real and that He does care.   God is in all of the details of the embroidery of your life, both large and small.   He may sometimes feel very far away, but He is always there.  I am so grateful for that sweet sweet knowledge which helps to carry me always.

 My lovely slow cooker which meant that when we got back home after church and were positively starving we had a lovely meal which greeted us.   I had thrown in two small lamb steaks, some sliced new potatoes and carrots, a couple of shallots, some chopped cabbage, chicken stock, herbs and seasoning just before we left for church and it tasted sooooo good!  It smelled like heaven when we got in the door and we were not long in changing our clothes and spooning it out to feast on it.  I love my slow cooker.   It's the best.  I need to use it more often!

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Each one of you, my lovely readers, my invisible friends.   I am so very grateful for your many kindnesses, and your friends, and your loyalty and love.  You are all so very important to me and you, too, embroider my life with joy and goodness.  You are like my special angels, and I want you to know that I love and appreciate each and every one of you.

I made something for you. It's a bookmark that you can print out and use.   I hope you like it.  Just a small token to show my love and esteem for each of you.

A thought to carry with you through today . . .    

✻ღϠ₡ღ✻ (¯`✻´¯)
"Courage is not the absence of fear,
but rather the judgement that something is 
more important than fear.
The brave may not live forever, but . . . 
the cautious do not live at all."
~The Princess Diaries II✫¸¸.·´¯`✫ ✫¸¸.·´¯`✫   

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Cooking in The English Kitchen today  . . .  Lemon Chicken Stir Fry.  Delicious and quick!

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Have a fabulous Monday.  I hope it is filled to overflowing with small and wonderful things!


Sunday 27 July 2014

The past couple of days . . .

 What a frustrating couple of days we have had here on our Little Island upon the Big Island!  Our telephone hadn't been working properly for weeks, even though an engineer came out and told me there was absolutely nothing wrong with the phone line!  It got so that we could not call out or call in.

And then there was the internet.  It started first with us not being able to stay on line any more than maybe a half hour or so before we would get kicked off, but very quickly went to us only being able to stay online for 60 second bursts which very quickly escalated to us not being able to get online at all!

Finally yesterday an engineer came out and the fault was with a line out back leading into the house.  The long and short of it is . . .  we are FINALLY back on line and I have a telephone once more!  I am sorry if anyone worried about me!  The worst thing was not being able to let anyone know something was wrong!

The best thing was I accomplished a lot of work!  (Despite the fact that it's also been miserably hot and humid!)

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This is a closeup of the art comission  I was able to finish.  It's not the whole thing.  It was really difficult to scan the whole thing as  it's quite large, but you get the idea.  It's on a box wrapped canvas, so ready to hang.   It's for a young couple who is getting married next month.  They don't read my blog so I am pretty safe in showing it to you.  (I hope!)  At any rate the person I did it for is quite happy with it and so I am happy that they are happy!

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I was also able to finishe my latest cookbooklet, which I will be putting up on my cooking blog for sale soon.   Entitled "Just Desserts," it is just desserts!  Who doesn't love dessert!  I have noticed that on my recipe facebook page it is the desserts that get the most attention. It's also the same with the blog.  SO I thought a cookbooklet centred completely on those would be quite welcomed.  Only time will tell!

 On Friday we went to the Stretton Watermill, which is about 10 miles outside of Chester.  We had been there once, about 12 or 13 years ago, so it was nice to revisit it.  We went with our friends Audrey and Peter.  The Stretton Watermill is one of the countries best preserved working corn mill.  There is a record of a mill being on this location since the mid 1300's, but current mill exists on foundations which only date back to the mid 1600's.

This time we actually took the tour, which enabled us to have a guide talk us through the history of the mill, how it works, etc.  I found it quite fascinating.   We even got to watch some corn (wheat) being ground and I think I understand completely now how it is that mill stones work, as well as water wheels! 

The workings of the mill work on water which runs the wheel from this pond.  The pond itself is filled with life.   There were moor hens and baby moor hens living on it.   We also saw lots of damsel flies and a resident dragon fly.  It's also home to many other wild birds, including the rarely seen grey wagtail . . .

It was hot and it was sticky but it was fun and really quite interesting.   I haven't been on an outing like that in a long time, and I was left feeling that we really need to do it more often!

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I also got to do a lot of gardening and some cooking and I'm happy to say I'm all caught up on Coronation Street!

And that was how my week ended.   How was yours?   Oh, I did so miss writing to you.  I really did.

A thought to carry with you through today . . .

"The purpose of our lives 
is to give birth to the best which is within us"
~Marianne Williamson 

 photo rockyroadicecream_zpsc418d4bb.jpg 

There is a trio of tasty ice creams cooking in The English Kitchen today, beginning with this delicious Rocky Road Ice Cream!  This is how we kept our cool over these past few days which have been seriously hot and sticky!

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May your Sunday be truly blessed!