Thursday, 31 December 2009

Marie's Happy New Year Smilemakers . . .

Here we are, standing on the cusp of the New Year. It is hard to believe that 2009 is already drawing to an end! Where has the year gone??? It has just flown by it seems. I thought it would be fun this morning to look back on some of the many blessings that I have received in the past year, wonderful joys that made me smile, blessings both large and small. It's never a bad thing to count your blessings . . . counting them enables them to keep blessing you again . . . and again! And that's a very good thing!

January brought us the special blessing of a new grandson. Little Joshua Caleb Alexander made his way into the world, and into our hearts and family, on January 9th, bringing the total of my grandchildren to 3 grandsons. What a little dear he is. The first redhead in our family, and so very delightful. I have yet to hold him, but that is a blessing I am looking forward to in the summer of 2010.

February brought me the special joy of being able to go to Idaho and watch my eldest daughter compete in the World Winter Special Olympic Games. This was an incredible blessing to me, and one that I had never thought would come about. I had been praying for a year to be able to do this, and right up to several weeks before, had thought it was just something I'd never be able to do. God does indeed work in mysterious ways, and through the miracle of prayer, and the love of a mysterious benefactor, I was given the opportunity to be able to go. It was the trip of a lifetime!!! Not only did I get to see my lovely daughter compete, and bring home not one but two gold medals and a bronze, but I also got to meet my dear friend Lura of Grammy's News, who drove all the way from California to accompany me. I also got to meet and spend time with her whole beautiful family. Jen of Tater Tot's and Jello, met me at the airport and I got to meet her and her lovely mom. I was also able to spend some time with our special friends Lenis and Dick whom we had met when they were missionaries over here in the UK. They so very graciously drove us up to Idaho and ferried us about Sun Valley and back again. What wonderful friends all these people have been to me and how very precious they are all to me. I was so very grateful for every moment. I also got to experience my lifelong dream of visiting Utah and all the wonderful church sights there, which included hearing and seeing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing live in the Tabernacle.

Yes, in February, God was VERY good to me! Here it is almost a whole year later and I am STILL pinching myself.

March brought hosts of daffodils, a sure sign that spring was on it's way. There was nothing as outrageously spectacular as trips to America and new Grandsons, but it was filled with lots of lovely blessings like sunny days, tea parties, painting and love . . . the ordinary miracles that make up everyday life and that make life so worth living.

April brought with it's showers, more days of discovery and growth, and countless other small blessings. Nothing out of the ordinary, but when was that ever a bad thing. Sometimes ordinary days are the best days of all. I cooked a lot, and baked a lot and painted a lot, and inbetween times I was loved a lot. Oh, it was a wonderful month to be sure.

May brought more of the same with lovely trips out to enjoy the beautiful spring weather. There was buttercups and seasides and the lovely Susan Boyle, potato salads, coleslaw and my first trip into London to see a West End musical, Les Miserables.

Oh, it was a lovely month, and best of all I got to experience it all with my Todd, who remains to this day my greatest blessing of all.

Along with Holly Hocks the month of June brought some special blessings, but also an accident. Our lovely friend Terri fell on the drive and broke her shoulder. Oh what a terrible thing that was, but thankfully she has recovered and whilst her life will never be the same again, it has brought us the extra blessing of being able to serve another in a special way, and I spose in a way it has allowed her the blessing of knowing that she is loved in a special way, by people that are not related to her.

There were more days out and lots of days in and the Seminary Graduation. My very first one and it was so lovely for me to be able to go to it and see the blessings of all the hard work that we had been putting in over the past year!

July brought us summer holidays and a lovely trip to Austria, a country that I had always wanted to visit. We had a lovely week and a half there and saw and experienced some really beautiful things and met some really lovely people. The best part of it was being able to do it together. Life is just so much better when you have someone special to share it with.

August was filled with warm summer days and outings and making hay whilst the sun shines. I also turned another year older. There were pool parties with the Young Women and long walks through the orchards, not to mention glorious sunny summer days in the garden enjoying all the goodness that surrounds me.

September brought shorter days and changing leaves and all the wonderful things that autumn is all about. There were apple pies and bowling nights and beautiful sunsets to enjoy.

Todd turned another year older and we celebrated in style. The orchards around us filled with apple pickers and the air rang with the sounds of them laughing and chatting back and forth while they picked, not to mention the happy sound of school children from the primary school down the hillside from us, voices at play. It was so good to hear them again. Walks through the orchards were filled with the smells of ripe apples and blackberries, and the crunch of falling acorns beneath our feet.

With October and the early nights came the autumn dance of gold and amber leaves falling from the trees around us, comfort food cooking and trick or treats. I do love the autumn so . . . with all it's smells and sights . . . crunching dry leaves, and burnt pumpkin . . . warm sunny days and cooler nights. It's all good to me. There was the October Conference of our church, which I always love. It is good to be able to sit together, hand in hand and listen to what our leaders would have us hear, and to know that whatever they have to say, you have a partner in life that listens with a teachable and learning heart right along with you . . .

In November we were able to recognize all of our military boys in a special day of Remembrance, which was a tad bit more bittersweet this year, as my own baby boy started his basic training for the Canadian Military, carrying on a family tradition that goes back four generations. I am so proud of my son, and yet, this mother's heart fears the things that the future may hold, and in my next thought and breath I remember . . . it is because of the sacrifice of boys just like my son that we are able to enjoy the freedoms that we do today . . . and I am able to let go . . . let God. Todd and I also celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary. I am so very happy to have this wonderful man in my life and I thank my Heavenly Father every day for this special blessing.

Which brings us back to December and all the lovely things that this month has brought to my door. The blessings of friendship and family, of good health and joy, of love and of peace, and of white christmas's and not the least of all, the celebration of our Saviour's birth.

Yes, it has been a pretty wonderful year, with all it's ups and downs and inbetweens. Looking back on it, I can clearly see the Lord's hands working in my life and I am grateful for that and for eyes and a heart that are discerning enough and capable of seeing all that He has done for me. Who knows what the next year will bring . . . who knows what the next moment will bring. It's all something to look forward to and one day it will be something to look fondly back on as well. Life is just full of surprises . . . both the large and the small, and the happy and the sad. Life is life . . . and it's beautiful no matter which way we look at it.

Happy New Year everyone!

Todd and I got some time in yesterday afternoon to do a bit of hometeaching. It's usually the priesthood which does this, but Todd's partner has not been around much lately so I did a bit of it with him. I baked these tasty oatmeal cookies to take along. They were very well received!

*Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies*
Makes about 36
Printable Recipe

Oh my but these are delicious fresh out of the oven with a tall glass of cold milk. Each bite brings you the sweet crunch on the outside with the chewiness of the inside, and full oaty flavour. I think these are fast becoming my favourite.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 TBS molasses
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats, (Do NOT use instant)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup demerara sugar (to roll the cookies in)

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Set aside.

Cream the softened butter together with the sugar, until light and cream. Beat in the egg, molasses and vanilla. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir this into the creamed mixture, blending in well. Stir in the oats. Put the demerara sugar into a bowl.

Roll bits of the dough into walnut sized pieces and then roll each ball in the demerara sugar to coat. Place on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between. Bake, one tray at a time, placing them on the centre rack of the oven, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Repeat until all the dough has been used up. Store in an airtight container.

Over in The English Kitchen, we've been chowing down on a delicious Potato Pie!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Dwelling on the positive . . .

"If there be beauty in a world of ill,

A quiet valley where a church bell rings,
Where there is faith and love and little homes.,
Speak on these things."
~Edna Jaques

I noticed yesterday that during the day Todd has the news channel playing in the background most of the time . . . he may be reading, or ironing, or working on the computer . . . but the BBC news is always droning on in the background. I normally don't hear it, because I am at work, but I have a few days off right at the moment.

It was the same old drivel, over and over again, and most of it just horrible . . . . murders, and kilings, and nasty things happening here and happening there. There is value in knowing what's going on in the world to be sure . . . but just how many times do you need to hear it??? How soul destroying . . . I wasn't long in turning it off. I can understand totally the need for noise and company in an empty house, but surely there are better places to find it . . .

I started to think, what if someone started a news channel that had only good news on it . . . Wouldn't that be wonderful?? If all one had to listen to over and over again during the day, was all the nice little stories. Stories about heros and winners. Stories that praise good people and good deeds. Stories with hope. Uplifting news that lets you know that there is some good left in the world, and that not all is necessarily bad. A news channel about real people doing good things and living good and decent lives.

Oh undoubtedly, the news often has little pockets of just such stories, and when they do have one, the story is both uplifting and inspiring . . . but stories like that are few and far between. I cannot believe that, in this whole wide world, there are only a few and far between good things that happen each day that are newsworthy . . .

I started to do a search on the internet to see if there were any blogs out there that were purveyors of good news. I didn't find a lot, but I did find this one: Only Positive News It is chock full of positive news updates and inspiring stories from around the world. They claim their vision is to "Empower People for a Better World." They are dedicated to finding, celebrating and promoting people from all walks of life who are making a positive contribution and making this world a better place, the heros and heroines of every day life.

Then there's Ma, who I have been following for a long time now. Ma has a blog entitled, On The Bright Side. It's filled to the brim with lovely little quotes, stories and thoughts. A real smile starter for the day. In her own words: In a world that very often publishes only the dark side of things I felt that others would be encouraged to hear about 'the bright side'. I have found Ma to be a great source of daily inspiration in these past months. Thanks Ma!!

Indeed, you only have to go through my sidebar to find loads of links to people that I find inspirational and uplifting. No, it's not all bad news, there is plenty of good news left in the world, and it is right at your fingertips. Perhaps if we tuned out and turned off a little bit more, and started to dwell more on and seek out more the good . . . instead of the bad, life would be filled with just that much more joy.

And then I thought of the 13th article of faith of my church:

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

That can't be bad. That would be a wonderful New Years Resolution wouldn't it? Would that everyone would choose to make it! Oh what a different world we would live in then . . .

I made a simple chili for us last night for out tea. I put both my knees out coming down the stairs later in the afternoon, and it didn't half hurt! I was not in the mood for anything too challenging or difficult after that!! This is a pretty basic chili recipe. You can up the heat by adding more chili powder or cayenne, or even a tin of chopped green chilies, or by using rotel tomates instead of the regular ones. Use this recipe as a canvas to paint your own picture!

*Chili Con Carne*
Serves 8
Printable Recipe

My mom used to make chili con carne for my dad most Saturday nights when we got a bit older. She had discovered the recipe on the back of a tomato soup tin and it was pretty basic. But for my dad who had always insisted she use only salt and pepper to spice things, it was pretty bold! I have taken it a bit further and added my own delicious twist to my mother's basic recipe. Serve this hot in bowls over steamed rice and garnished with grated cheese. This also freezes very well.

2 TBS vegetable oil
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
1 red pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 cup mild chili powder
1 TBS ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp freeze dried oregano
2 beef bouillion cubes, crumbled
2 pounds extra lean ground beef
2 (15.5 ounce) tins of dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tin of condensed tomato soup (10 3/4 ounces)
2 soup tin of water
1 28-ounce tin of chopped tomatoes
1 28 ounce tin of tomato puree (passata)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onions, red pepper, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, oregano and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook stirring, until the vegetagles have softened. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute longer. Crumble in the ground beef and cook, stirring over medium high heat, until the beef is broken up and starting to brown. No pink should remain. Add the beans, soup, water, tomatoes, tomato puree and beef boullion cubes. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered for about 45 minutes. Uncover and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally for another 45 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.

Suggested Garnishes - Diced avocado, sliced spring onions, chopped red onion, chopped coriander, sour cream, shredded cheese, sliced black olives.

A nice bowl of chili calls for a robust and delicious bread to mop it all up with. That's exactly what you'll find today over on The English Kitchen. Cheddar Cheese Bread.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Tuesday thoughts . . .

I recently came across these words attributed to that brilliant comedienne Gilda Radner. To me, they seem to sum up perfectly what I like to think of as the delicious ambiguity of life.

"I wanted a perfect ending . . . Now I've learned the hard way that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment, and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next."

I thought those words perfectly described how I feel about life. Life is an adventure. Sometimes you have ups, and sometimes you have downs. The trick is in being able to find joy in the journey and finding peace in the moment. I have found that my faith greatly helps me to be able do that. No, things do not always turn out the way I had planned and sometimes crap happens, but . . . through it all I have been able to trust in a higher power who has a plan for me, and I continue to trust in Him who created me in love. Knowing I have a purpose in being here brings a deeper meaning into my life and into each nook and cranny I experience. To be able to look back and count it all joy, and to look forward with intrigue and great anticipation, is a gift that I have been blessed with, but it is one that I have had to learn to cultivate every step of the way.

In another few days we will be closing the book on the year 2009, and opening the cover on 2010. I cannot wait to see what I will be writing on those fresh new pages! It may be good . . . it may be bad, but whatever it is . . . it will be life, my life . . . and that truly is a blessing from above . . . no matter where the journey should take me.

Yesterday I bagged up the rest of the turkey, and most of the ham and popped it into the freezer to enjoy at a later date. With the ham I kept out I made this most delicious casserole for our supper. We quite simply had the leftover vegetables from Christmas dinner reheated and served up on the side, but a lovely tossed salad would go most deliciously with it. This is fabulous, and quite unconventional!!!

*Scalloped Potatoes with Ham*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

The addition of sweet potatoes and nutty flavoured Gruyere cheese give an old favourite an unusual twist. We just love this, and it's a great way to use up some
of that holiday ham!

1 medium onion, chopped
1 TBS vegetable oil
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 cups chopped cooked ham
8 ounces (2 cups)shredded Gruyere cheese, divided
1 3/4 cups whipping cream
2 TBS butter, cut into bits

Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F. Lightly butter a 13 by 9 inch shallow baking dish. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a small skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring over medium heat until softened. Add the garlic and cook for about half a minute longer, until quite fragrant. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Place the sliced potatos, both sweet and baking, into a large bowl. Toss together with the flour, salt and pepper, to coat. Arrange half of the potatoes in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the cooked onion mixture over top. Top with the ham and finally with 1 cup of the cheese. (Save the other 1 cup for a bit later on.) Cover the cheese with the remainder of the potato mixture. Pour the cream evenly over top of all and then dot with the butter. Cover tightly with a sheet of aluminium foil, then place into the heated oven and bake for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove and discard the foil. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over top and return to the oven to bake for a further 20 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender and the cheese is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Delicious!!!

If you'd like to discover what's lurking beneath that snowy mountain of stilton and cream, hop on over to The English Kitchen. It's Holiday Chopped Salad! Perfect for that New Years Eve Buffet.

Monday, 28 December 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook . . .

FOR TODAY, December 28th, 2009 ...

Outside My Window...

It is dark and very, very still, which is nice. It's also very cold. They are calling for more snow later this week. The only light in here is the Christmas Fairy lights in the windows. Oh what a magical feel they give to this country kitchen. I just love them. It will be sad to have to take them down in a few days. I'd love to keep them up all the time, but alas . . . down they must come. Keeping them up all year round would take away from their specialness and they'd become every day humdrum . . .

I am thinking...
About how wonderful this Christmas has been. I know, I say that every year. I guess I have just been blessed to the hilt every year eh? I am a very lucky person. And what makes that fact even more special is . . . I know it! Some people are very luckily blessed and they have no idea whatsoever. How sad hearts that cannot feel and see are . . .

I am thankful for...
All the love that surrounds me each and every day. The love of family and friends, acquaintances and most especially, the love of my Heavenly Father and His Son. I am thankful for a soft heart that is able to feel and see these things and for a humble heart that would never take them for granted.

From the kitchen...
Well, there's leftover Christmas Cake and Christmas pudding . . . some mince pies that are just begging to be eaten, a small piece of eggnog cake looking so forlorn I shall have to eat it soon and some delicious scones, one of which I am going to snuffle down for my breakfast shortly!

I am wearing...
What else but a beautiful red and white flannel nightie with the word "Grammy" embroidered on it's lapel!!! Oh, I love my new nightie so very much. Thanks so much to Anne, Anthony and Gabriel! This has been the best Christmas present of all time, and mostly because it was wrapped with their love and thoughtfulness!!!

I am creating...

I do just love this newest piece of mine. It is my very favourite thus far. When I look back at the first ones that I started doing a few years ago, I am amazed at how much better they have gotten, really. I am a bit embarassed by the first ones, but then again . . . they are all a part of my journey. I have worked hard and developed more technique and I think I have finally found my niche. That is what it is like with a craft. You work and work at it, and eventually you get to a point where you have perfectly honed it. I think I've managed to do that . . . but then again, there's always room for improvement and a challenge to meet! That is what I love about life! It's always a challenge!! How boring it would be were it not!

I am going...
I have a few well deserved days off this week, and I am going to enjoy them thoroughly! We are having the missionaries over for their supper on Thursday evening. The moves are coming soon, and both are due to move to a new area so this will probably be our last chance to feed this pair. I will be sad to see them go. They're just lovely. Then on Friday we are having a few much loved friends over to dinner. I just love having friends over. We don't do it near often enough! But then again, I spose that is what makes it such a special occasion when we do. I think we may try to go see a film at the cinema as well. We haven't done that in a long time. Any suggestions??

I am reading...

Talk Before Sleep, by Elizabeth Berg

"Until that moment, I hadn't realized how much I'd been needing to meet someone I might be able to say everything to."

They met at a party. It was hate at first sight. Ruth was far too beautiful, too flamboyant. Not at all Ann's kind of person. Until a chance encounter in the bathroom led to an alliance of souls. Soon they were sharing hankies during the late showing of "Sophie's Choice," wolfing down sundaes sodden with whipped cream, telling truths of marriage, mortality, and love, secure in a kind of intimacy no man could ever know. Only best friends understand devil's food cake for breakfast when nothing else will do. After years of shared secrets, guilty pleasures, family life and divorce, they face a crisis that redefines the meaning of friendship and unconditional love. I am thoroughly enjoying this novel. It's what female friendship is all about. I highly recommend!

I am hoping...
I am hoping that when we get this next batch of snow, this country is better prepared! It is amazing how un-prepared we are each time. A few inches and the country comes to a literal standstill. Trains stop working, planes stop flying, cars stay at home . . . the flyways and byways of this beautiful country become virtually impassable. I suppose I am used to Canada, where at the merest hint of snow, the sanders and gritters and snow plows are out, charged and ready. Mind you snow is sometimes a daily occurance in the winter over there and they are well geared up for it. Perhaps some of the charm of a good snow over here, is the fact that it always takes us by surprise and we are always un-prepared. Do ya think? Absolutely!!

I am hearing...
I am hearing nothing but the ticking of the clock, the humming of the refrigerator, the clicking of my keys and Jess's gentle snores from over in the corner. It's very, very quiet and still. I think I'll put some carols on . . . I do love them so and we only really listen to them this time of year.

Around the house...
Right now all is tidy and neat because of Christmas. I am going to see how long I can keep it that way before I start cluttering things up again! Todd would love it if I could keep it this way all the time. He is such a neatnic! Me, I like to know I'm alive and I'm here! To me a bit of clutter is perfection! I love a home to look lived in and to give anyone who enters a sense that it is well loved. That's not clutter . . . that's heaven on earth!

One of my favorite things...
Is reading through my Christmas Cards as each one arrives and thinking about the people who have sent it. It's like a little visit with a lovely friend, each time. I save them each year and often take them out during the year to have a little peek and visit. One day I am going to use them for something special. I know I say that every year, but one day I'll actually surprise Todd and do it!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...
A bit of this and a bit of that and a whole lot of nothing!! Sounds good to me!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

I haven't had a chance to use all my Christmas pictures this year and I just had to get this one in. I just love these retro Christmas pictures that I have in my collection, and this is one of my favourites! Don't you just love this snowman's style and that mischevious look on his face!!! I know, I do!!!

And there you have it, my Simple Woman's Day Book for today. Don't forget to hop on over to the Simple Woman to check out the other day book entries! (Or better yet, do a simple day book entry yourself! It's not that hard and I am betting you would enjoy it!)

I baked us some lovely scones last night to enjoy while we were relaxing and enjoying the telly. OH, but these are some delicious, but then you probably already know that. I would never share anything that wasn't totally scrumdiddlyumptious with you!!

*Cranberry Macadamia and White Chocolate Chunk Scones*
Makes 8
Printable Recipe

Every buttery delicious mouthful tastes of the tartness of the cranberries, the sweetness of the white chocolate and the salty crunch of the macadamia nuts, my favourites! These are incredibly moreish!

1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup white sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 TBS sweet butter, chilled
1/4 cups white chocolate chunks
(chop them up a bit if they are large)
3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 large egg
1/4 cup half and half
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Glaze:
1/2 cup sifted icing sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla
2 - 2 1/2 tsp hot water

Pre-heat the oven to 190*C/375*F. Lightly butter a baking pan. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Slice the cold butter into the bowl and then rub it into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture has sandy appearance, resembling fine crumbs. Stir in the cranberries, chocolate chunks and nuts.

Beat the egg and half and half together. Stir in the vanilla. Stir this into the flour mixture, stirring it in with a fork and then with your hands to form a soft dough, just until blended. Roll on a lightly floured surface to a 12 inch log. Flatten the log by patting with your hands to a 3 by 12 inch rectangle, about 3/4 of an inch thick. Cut the rectangle into 4 even sized squares and then cut each square in half diagonally to make 8 triangular scones. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until firm and the bottoms are lightly browned. Coat with the glaze if desired.

To make the glaze, whisk the ingredients together until smooth. Drizzle over top of the warm scones.

We're slurping soup over in The English Kitchen today. A tasty Celeriac, Stilton and Apple soup!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Marie's Sunday Six

Welcome to my Sunday Six post, that one day of the week where I get to dwell on the many blessings of my past week and talk about six of them! One of my favourite days of all! There's been so many good things to talk about and think about this past week. It will be very hard to pin it down to just six, but I'll try!!

Celebrating the Birth of the Saviour. This really made me smile. I just love the Christmas story. I know intellectually that it didn't really happen at this time of year and the sequence of events were spread out over a much longer period of time, but I don't mind that it has been condensed and that we celebrate it now. It only matters that we celebrate it and really . . . I celebrate it every day, in my heart and my actions anyways. It's deep abiding message of love is one that I truly try to live by. It brings my life joy each and every day.

The love and warmth of family and friends and the togetherness of Christmas Day made me smile and, like a mother hen gathers her chicks, I gathered as much of the people that I love around me on Christmas day. Sure most of them were gathered around due to the wonders of modern technology and not really here with me, but I carried them in my heart throughout the whole day, as I do every day. It was lovely to have the missionaries and Terri here to help us celebrate on the day and it was lovely to have been able to speak with all my other lovelies from afar. It was the perfect day!

Mince Pies make me smile and I have eaten copious amounts of them over the past week. I always do. They are one of my favourite things about Christmas! I love everything about them. I love them cold. I love them warm. I love them dusted with sugar, or not. I love them with ice cream, or pouring cream or custard. I JUST LOVE MINCE PIES! Time to cut back now though, before I regret it! I think what makes them so special is that they are a once a year kind of thing . . . and by once here, I mean seasonal . . . coz I could never only eat one . . . once a year!

Cranford!! I loved the Cranford Chronicles when it was on the BBC, and this past week I simply adored the Return To Cranford that was on last Sunday evening and am really looking foward to the second part which will be on tonight! I love period pieces and this particular series really makes me smile. Each character is so well rounded and loveable, even the bad guys. It makes me smile from beginning to end. I just adore it! The things that the BBC does well, they really do well and this is one of them!

My daughter in law Anne, makes me smile. She is just like a daughter to me and I love her dearly. I know that she is the one who thought to get me this flannel nightie for Christmas, because that is the type of thoughtful thing that she would do. My son is sentimental too . . . but I recognize a woman's touch when I see one. I know she reads my blog from time to time and so that she must have read several weeks ago that I was looking for one and not able to find one . . . magically she was able to and it is the loveliest Christmas present I have ever gotten. Not because it is a flannel nightie, but because I love the thought and sentiment that was behind it all. She's a good wife and a good mom and a great daughter in law. In short, she blesses my life in countless ways and I am very grateful to have her in it.

I finally had some time to create and paint yesterday and this really made me smile. I think this latest one is my best one ever! If you want to see the whole thing you will have to go HERE. I just adore this one. I know I say that each time, but for some reason this one seems pretty special to me. What do you think? Does it make you smile? It makes ME smile!

And there you have it, my Sunday Six for this week! If your weeks were only half as blessed as mine was, then you were very blessed indeed!

Here's something else that makes me smile. One of my favourite kinds of cookies! OH but they are some delicious, all buttery and oatey and filled with butterscotch chips. If you don't have them you can use either white or milk chocolate chips and they are equally as good! You just can't beat a good old fashioned homemade oatmeal cookie can you!! Bring on the milk!

*Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies*
Makes 3 dozen approx.
Printable Recipe

There is something about the combined flavours of toasted oats and butterscotch that brings out the child in each of us. Chewy, sweet and delicious . . . these cookies just have to be good for you, coz, afterall, Oats are good for the heart, right?

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup soft light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 3/4 cups of one of either butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips or milk chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/375*F. Cream together the butter and sugars, until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Whisk together the flour, soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir this mixture into the creamed mixture, mixing it in well. Fold in the oats and butterscotch chips.

Drop by TBS onto a lightly greased baking sheet, leaving a two inch space around each one. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove to wire rack to cool completely and store in an airtight container when cooled. Bet you can't eat just one!

If you're not all together tired of mincmeat yet, I have a delicious Mincemeat pud posted over on The English Kitchen today! This is very, very good, if I don't say so myself . . . Baked Holiday Custard!