Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Toodle Doo for now!

Well, today we are off on our travels. We will be driving part of the way down to Gatwick this afternoon and then the rest of the way in the morning. And then it's off to Canada. I can't believe that the time for my trip is already here! It's come up really quickly!

I am really excited at the prospect of seeing my family, and am really hoping that I will be able to see all of my children. It's been three long years since I have seen any of them. The last time I was there I got to see four of the five of them, and one of my (then) two grandsons! I did not get to see my middle son or his wife and son. since then two more grandsons have been born and, God willing, I will see all four of them and all five of my children! Happy Days!! I know I will see the biggest change in my mother . . . she's not been really well these past couple of years. I hope to be able to do lots of things for her while I am there, and try to make up in some part for my absence in her life.

All my bags are packed. Instructions have been left with the caretaker of our little place here, for plant watering etc. The house is tidy and clean. (I hate coming home to a messy house, don't you?) The fridge has been emptied of anything perishable. Prayers have been said. There's not a lot left to do now, except begin the long journey.

I shall miss you all ever so much. No computer at my mom's house I'm afraid, so there will be no e-mailing or blogging . . . how ever will I cope without my daily catching up with each of your posts and the sharing???

Nevermind . . . I'll make up for lost time when I get back. Be prepared for lots of cheesy photos and what I did on my summer holidays posts!

Take care and try not to miss me too much!! The time will probably go far too quickly and I'll be back before any of us know it! Love and hugs to you all!

*Warm Potato Salad*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

Delicious and quick to make, this is a fab potato salad with a light dressing! It tastes best served warm or at least at room temperature.

1 pound new potatoes
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1 TBS grainy mustard
2 TBS rice wine vinegar
2 tsp sherry vinegar
2 spring onions, minced
4 tsp olive oil
2 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the potatoes into a saucepan and cover with some lightly salted water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium and then continue to cook until tender, some 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes. I never peel my potatoes by the way. I love the added flavour and texture that the skins give. Drain when tender and then let stand in the colander with a tea towel over top, just until they are cool enough to handle.

Cut each potato into halves or quarters and then place them into a warmed serving dish. Whisk together the mustards, vinegars and spring onions. Whisk the oil slowly in to make a thick dressing. Stir in the parsley and season to taste. Pour this dressing over top of the warm potatoes, mixing it in gently and then serve immediately. Delicious!

In The English Kitchen today, small Chocolate Amuse-Bouche. Two-bite-sized little chocolate indulgences. Fudgy, moist and covered with a moreish chocolate ganache. Fabulous.

PS - I have set up a few posts to come up while I am away, every couple of days or so. I had a bit of problem with some of them, so the pictures may be a bit wonky and the text also in some. Blogger was so not co-operating when I did them, so they won't be up to my usual standard, although I like to think that the content will be! There's even a surprise guest post, so do come back and visit every so often in my absence!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook . . .

FOR TODAY, June 29th, 2010...

Outside My Window...

The sun is up and shining gloriously. We've been having a heat wave here in the UK. It's nice to see after that cold winter we had. We did get some rain last night though, which is well needed as they say we are having a drought!

I am thinking...
In just two days I will be in Canada. It's pretty hard to believe. It seems like it was only a few weeks ago, instead of months ago, that we were buying our tickets to travel there, and now here it is almost time to leave! Can you tell I am pretty excited???

I am thankful for...
The Gospel in my life, a loving family, wonderful friends, my much cherished Todd . . . my life is full of wonderful blessings and treasures. I'm a pretty lucky gal!

From the kitchen...
There is not a heck of a lot as I am getting ready to GO AWAY FOR ALMOST A MONTH!!! Whew!! Sorry to shout about it, but I am just so darned excited! There'll be no cooking going on in my kitchen for the next few weeks!

I am wearing...
A long pink nightie with white polka dots on it. I love polka dots. If I had my way my house would be full of polka dots. Unfortunately that might be too much of a good thing and might drive my Todd . . . well . . . dottie! Or at least Potty, up the twist or around the bend!!

I am creating...
I have done several sketches, but nothing else. I will be taking my sketch book on holiday. I get a bit discouraged sometimes . . . I see others doing very well with their work and nobody seems to want mine. I need to repent of this covetous heart of mine. I am truly happy for them, but a big chunk of me is wishing it was me. I pray every day for healing, because it is not nice to feel this way.

I am going...
hmmm . . . duh . . . to CANADA!

I am reading...

The Girl With Glass Feet, by Ali Shaw

The perfect summertime read.
A novel to fall in love with - for anyone who loved the escapism of "The Time Traveller's Wife" and "The Memory Keeper's Daughter".

Strange things are happening on the remote and snowbound archipelago of St. Hauda’s Land. Unusual winged creatures flit around the icy bogland, albino animals hide themselves in the snow-glazed woods, and Ida Maclaird is slowly turning into glass. Ida is an outsider in these parts, a mainlander who has visited the islands only once before. Yet during that one fateful visit the glass transformation began to take hold, and now she has returned in search of a cure.

Midas Crook is a young loner who has lived on the islands his entire life. When he meets Ida, something about her sad, defiant spirit pierces his emotional defenses. As Midas helps Ida come to terms with her affliction, she gradually unpicks the knots of his heart. Love must be paid in precious hours and, as the glass encroaches, time is slipping away fast. Will they find a way to stave off the spread of the glass?

The Girl with Glass Feet is a dazzlingly imaginative and magical first novel, a love story to treasure.

I am hoping...
That we have a safe trip to the airport tomorrow and a safe flight to Canada on Thursday. I always find the trip itself very stressful. Once we are at the airport and checked in I will be able to relax a bit, the worst part of it will be over. Wish me luck!

I am hearing...
A ticking clock, the tapping of my fingertips on the computer keys, birds singing in the garden . . . the fridge humming in the kitchen. The lamp timer buzzing away in the corner. Time marching on . . .

Around the house...
I have a basket of ironing to work my way through. (The ironing is always there isn't it!! Just like the laundry!) That will take me a good couple of hours today for sure! I will also be packing today in readiness for tomorrow. It's all very exciting!!

One of my favorite things...
Is watching old television shows and films. That was one thing my ex mother-in-law and I had in common. I miss having her for a friend. That is one of the most horrible things about divorce isn't it . . . these people that you have loved as a part of your family, for years and years . . . all of a sudden are gone too . . . I really miss them sometimes. My mother-in-law was the sweetest lady. How she ever put up with my father-in-law is something I will never understand. He was mean and a bully, and never treated her very kindly. Small wonder that the son turned out to be the same . . .

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...
Packing and hmmm . . . yes FLYING TO CANADA! Tee hee. I'm not excited no!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

This looks a charming place to live doesn't it . . . a sweet little cottage, built just for two . . . What if I told you it was a doll's house? It is the most charming doll's house that I found over on the page Liberty Biberty several weeks back. I totally fell in love with the page.

It is like the doorway into a secret magical lilliuptan world . . . where everything it tiny and full of wonder. Seriously this gal is a very talented miniaturist and you should go and have a look at what she does. You'll truly be amazed, enthralled . . . and unfortunately addicted!! Don't say I didn't warn you!!

And just as a closing thought for today . . .

"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
~Isaiah 40:31

And there you have it . . . my day book for the first week in June. 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!)

Here's a delicious salad to make on those days that the mercury in the thermometer is rising, rising, rising. A most tasty way to keep your cool in the kitchen! Todd always says he doesn't like salad . . . most men don't, but he does love this! He reckons I make salad much more interesting than. . . well . . . salad!

*Buffalo Chicken Salad*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

This fantastic salad takes advantage of the wonderfully spicy taste of Buffalo Chicken Wings and mixes it with a healthy mix of salad greens and vegetables. Topped off with crumbled blue cheese and a tangy blue cheese dressing there are plenty of wonderful flavours to enjoy in this delicious dish!

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp salt

Salad Ingredients:
1 cup sliced zucchini, washed but not peeled
1 cup cherry tomato halves
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced into manageable slices
6 cups mixed salad greens
1/2 cup sliced celery
2 spring onions, shredded

Chicken Ingredients:
2 TBS butter
2 TBS firmly packed soft light brown sugar
1 TBS hot pepper sauce
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices diagonally

To Garnish:
2 ounces blue cheese crumbled

Mix all of the ingredients for the dressing together in a small bowl, whisking together well. Cover and chil until ready to serve.

Toss all the vegetables and salad ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.

Melt the butter for the chicken in a large skillet. Stir in the brown sugar and the chicken strips. Cook over high heat, stirring, until the chicken is no longer pink inside, some 3 to 5 minutes, taking care that it doesn't burn. Add the hot pepper sauce and continue to cook, until the sauce is reduced and begins to coat the chicken pieces. Take care not to over cook or burn. This should only take 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Divide and arrange the salad mixture onto 4 chilled plates. Top with the warm chicken mixture and drizzle with the salad dressing. Crumble blue cheese over top of each and serve immediately. Delicious!

Over on The English Kitchen today, delicious Sponge Drops. The perfect teatime treat!

Monday, 28 June 2010

thoughts . . .

Take my pen, Lord,

Help me to write the words within my heart,
Guide my hand across the empty page,
Take my thoughts and harness them with love,
Let the lines be comforting and warm,
And so reach out and touch a seed of hope.
Take my pen, Lord,
Let the words illuminate the dark,
And like a little candle, light the night.
~Author unknown

I never know what I am going to write when I sit down at the computer in the mornings . . . I sit and ponder and then I just write what lays on my heart . . .

Perhaps my words will come from the inspiration of a poem I have just read, or maybe something that I have seen, or heard from a friend . . . or then again . . . it could be my thoughts . . . I am a deep thinker.

Always, I hope that I will be able to touch someone else's heart in a special way . . . that somehow my words will be uplifting to another . . . or a little ray of sunshine in someone else's stream of darkness . . .

Sometimes my words are few . . . sometimes they are plenty. . . perhaps even too much . . . always they are mine, and I can't help but share.

I sit here, each morning, before the computer screen and the sounds and life around me inspire my thoughts . . . right now I look and upon the wall just beyond the screen lay the dappled reflections of light from the early morning sun as it shines through the blind at our front window . . . it gently flickers across the wall paper and makes my heart swell with gratitude . . .

I do not know why that is so . . . but I am overwhelmed with feeling. I guess I have a grateful heart . . . a tender heart . . . and . . . I am thankful for that . . . and for this opportunity I have to share with you each morning. It is a blessing to me. It helps me to begin my day in a thoughtful way . . . much nicer than having to jump into the deep end of the day with both feet all at once . . . this is a much gentler, softer slipping in to my day.

I have come to realize in these recent months, even more so . . . what a gift each day is, and how very precious . . . how fragile the future is, even at the best of times. Uncertain and unknown, as apt to change drastically as it is to stay the same . . . and so I cherish even more the here's and the now's . . . the gentle soft spoken gifts of each day . . . small and simple pleasures and treasures.

My day is full of them. Thank you for being a part of my days . . .

Here's a quick and easy lunch or light supper. I always try to cook something simple on Sundays. Oh, sure . . . there are weeks when I long for the pleasure of a roast dinner, but I know that with the busyness of our lives on Sunday's, it just isn't practical. It's nice to know though that I have tasty little gems such as this up my sleeve, that are not only quick to prepare, but rather tasty as well!

*Macaroni and Cheese Frittata*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

A frittata makes a lovely light lunch or starter. I particularly like this version because I love macaroni and cheese anyways!

3/4 cup of uncooked macaroni
3 ounces diced pancetta
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and minced
6 large free range eggs
3 ounces of Parmesan Reggiano, coarsely chopped
a large handful of fresh basil leaves, plus extra to serve
freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil on top of the stove and cook the macaroni, according to the package directions. Once cooked, drain it well, rinse, then drain again. Set aside to cool a bit.

Heat a 10 inch non-stick pan with an oven proof handle. Fry the pancetta in it for a few minutes, until it begins to crisp up. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds longer, without browning it. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them well together. Remove the pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon. Stir the pancetta into the eggs, along with the macaroni, the cheese, basil leaves and a good grinding of pepper. Put the skillet with the garlic back over a medium heat and once heated, tip in the egg mixture. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until almost set.

Heat the grill to medium and slide the pan under it. Grill for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until completely golden brown. Remove from the grill and let it sit in the pan for about 5 minutes, then slide it onto a chopping board. Cut into slices to serve.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a garnish of extra basil leaves and a salad on the side.

Showing on The English Kitchen today, a delicious Angel Pie!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Marie's Sunday Six

Welcome to my weekly Sunday Six Smile Makers post . . . the day where I get to share with you some of my smiles and the things in my life that make me happy. Since this is the first Sunday of the summer, I thought it would be fun to share with you my Sunday Summer Smile Makers!!

Days out in the car make me smile! When the sun is shining and the days are long, it's fun to go out driving on a summer adventure. Sometimes there may be a destination, other days you just go where the mood and inspiration take you! The fun part is doing it together . . . the "Are we there yets!", the "I have to go . . . 's", the "I'm bored's, " all add to the fun of the adventure. It's just a great time to do something together as a family.

Playing outdoor games in the sun and warmth. Croquet, badminton, frisby . . . it doesn't matter what the game is . .. it's just fun being together and playing a game out in the fresh air and sunshine!! That makes me smile big time!

Days at the seaside! Sun, sand and surf! This makes me smile. Donkey rides, piers, seagulls, fish and chips, sand between your toes . . . happy holiday makers. It's all good!!

Relaxing afternoons . . . a place to lay down, a good book, some shade in the sunshine . . . nothing to do but just be . . . there is something pretty special about having nothing to do on a summer's afternoon, don't you think? That thought makes me smile!

Picnics make me smile!! There is something about eating out of doors, stretched out on a blanket in a park, in your own little patch of shade, with the people you love, that is so very special!! It doesn't have to be elaborate . . . even a sandwich from Marks and Spencers and a cold bottle of water can be a feast, just so long as you are with the people you truly care about. Heck, it doesn't even have to be outdoors and in a park. Some of my nicest picnics have been spent on rainy days on a blanket in the living room, with my little chicks all gathered around me!

Ice creams!! There is something about a summer ice cream cone that you just can't experience any other time of the year. Soft, cold and melting . . . and studded with a chocolate flake, it is the ultimate summer pastime! The rush to get it eaten before it melts all down your arm . . . that cold sweetness on your tongue . . . sharing with the one you love . . . it's all good!

Ice Cold Lemonade!! Nothing is more refreshing or tasty than a tall frosty glass of Ice Cold Lemonade on a hot summer's day. It makes me smile, and the colder the better!!! Somehow it doesn't taste the same at any other time of the year . . . it has to be summer for a lemonade to taste really, really good!

It's been quite a few years since I have done this, but can anything be more exciting or wonderful than running through the sprinkler on a hot summer's day??? I don't think so!! I think this afternoon when we get back from church, I am going to get Todd to hook the sprinkler up and I am going to run through it. Maybe he will even join me, now that's a happy thought!! Why didn't I think of this before!!! Happy days!!!

Long walks together in the evening . . . after the heat of the day begins to dissapate, and a cooler breeze starts to blow . . . holding hands as we walk along the sun dappled pavement . . . there is nothing more heart swelling, or a more pleasant occupation I don't think . . . the perfect end to perfect days . . . can you feel my smile? I sure hope so.

When it all boils down to it, I just think that summer makes me smile full stop!! No matter how hot it gets, or how dry . . . it's just nice to see the warmer, sunnier weather . . . and it special to share it with my Todd, and with you. I hope my summer thoughts brought a smile to your faces today!

Another great thing about summer is the barbeques!! We finally got our barbeque put together yesterday and it was the perfect day to grill some chicken. This tasted some good beneath our outdoor umbrella last evening . . . sitting together at our outdoor table with the sounds of summer playing around us . . . mmmm . . . mmmm . . . good!!

*Barbeque Chicken with a Sweet Chili Glaze*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

You can do this with chicken pieces or with a whole chicken which you have spatchcocked**. The end result is a deliciously moist chicken with a finger licking spicy glaze that will have them coming back for more. Plan ahead as it needs to marinate for a bit before cooking.

8 pieces of bone in chicken (thighs, drumsticks, quarter breasts)
or 16 wings (trimmed) or one (1 1/2 pound) chicken, spatchcocked**

For the marinade and glaze:
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
4 TBS soy sauce
4 tsp dark sesame oil
2 tsp freshly grated gingerroot
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all of the marinade and glaze ingredients and mix together really well. Divide the mixture in half, using half to marinate your chicken and the other half for when you cook it.

Place the chicken pieces into a non-metallic, non-reactive flat dish and pour half of the marinade/glaze over it all, rubbing it in and making sure it is well coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours.

Fire up your grill and remove the chicken from the fridge. Place the chicken pieces on the grill, cooking over medium heat, until the skin begins to crisp, about 10 minutes, turning once or twice during that time. Brush with the remaining glaze and continue to cook, until the meat is no longer pink at the bone, turning and brushing with the glaze as required for at least another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve.

Sometimes I get a head start on the grilling by pre-cooking the chicken in my oven for about 15 minutes. Just preheat your oven to 160*C/350*F/ gas mark 4 and place the chicken onto an oven tray. Cook it for 15 minutes before removing it and finishing it off on the grill. If you don't have a grill you can still cook this delicious chicken in your oven. Once you have finished the intitial cooking, continue to cook it in the oven, brushing it with the glaze occasionally for a further 30 minutes or so longer, until the juices run clean when the chicken is pierced with a fork and the skin is crispy and sweetly glazed.

**To Spatchcock a chicken: Spatchcocking a whole chicken is an easy way to impress your guests. You basically butterfly a whole fresh young chicken. You wil want to buy a chicken that has the cavity cleaned out, if not, you will first clean out all the giblets. Take your chicken and using a sharp pair of kitchen shears, cut down all along the side of the back bone on each side from front to rear to remove it. Once you have the backbone removed, place the chicken on the counter, right side up and give it a sharp tap down with the base of your hand to flatten it out. Your chicken is now spatchcocked.

There's a tasty Broccoli Salad over on The English Kitchen today!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Saturday This and That . . .

To be given a new day is to be given a new lease of life. Don't snatch at God's gifts without a thankyou as if your mere existance entitled you to expect a fresh supply of blessings every morning. Accept the gift of the new day with reverence, grace and gratitude.

~from "The Morning Watch"

I am sitting here this morning listening to my Jackie Album . . . For those of you who don't know Jackie was a teen magazine over here in the UK back in the 70's. This album is filled with the songs and songster pop idols of my youth . . . Donnie Osmond, David Cassidy, David Essex, Rod Stewart . . . and a host of others. It's very sweet and sure brings back a lot of memories

Oh to be 16 again and have your whole life waiting in front of you . . . with all the innocence of youth, un tried and un tested by the world. Teen idol crushes, hopes and dreams yet unrealized. It was the best of times . . . it was the worst of times!!

I never started dating boys until I was 16. I wasn't allowed to and I wasn't a kid that went against the rules my parents had set for me, so I guess I was a bit of a late starter compared to some. I only ever dated two boys seriously and I married both of them! (Not at the same time mind you!) I was so incredibly naive compared to the young people of today . . . very, very innocent. I was married and a mom by the age of 19. I thought I knew it all then and that I was really wise, not to mention pretty cool with my bell bottoms and platform shoes . . . but, when I look back I realize . . . I didn't know anything at all! I don't reckon I would relive those days for anything, although I wouldn't mind having the same figure I did then . . . and knowing the things I know now!

I had my hair trimmed etc. yesterday. My young friend Jenny did it for me. I just had a bit trimmed off the back and a light fringe (bangs to you North Americans) cut in the front with a bit feathered at the sides. She did a lovely job and she even straightened my hair. Wow, what a difference. I look 10 years younger . . . seriously! And I have never had straight hair in my life. I am going to have to go and get myself some hair straighteners now! I really like it. Jenny is the grand daughter of a friend of ours. When I first moved over here she used to come and spend time with us all the time. She was only about 11 years old then. She would bring her Steps CD ( a pop group over here) and then she'd put it in and dance all the moves for us that the band did in their videos. She's all grown up now and a hair dresser. Time sure flies!!

I have been stressing a bit over the Sharing Time I have to do tomorrow for the Primary Classes. Sharing time , for those who don't know, is a time during the Sunday School when you have a fun learning activity. There is a very wide age group in our Primary class . . . so I have to do two separate ones. One suitable for younger ones and one for the older ones. I have never been in a Ward that had such a large Primary before and there are some real active children in this one that can be a real challenge. The theme is "By The Power of the Holy Ghost We can Know All Things." Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

We got ourselves a cheap phone yesterday that we can use when we are in Canada. It's a pretty basic one, but it will work. (Just so long as we remember to bring chargers and adaptors!) It took me about two hours yesterday just to figure out how to send a text, and I needed Jenny to show me how to remove the text sounds last night. They were driving me nuts. I like quiet texting and as far as the predictive texting goes . . . forget it!! I just can't handle that! Anyways, it's all sorted now. (I think!!) Things are so much harder to understand when you get older! At least they are for me, and I don't think I am alone in this. Our house phone has a full mail box and we can't for the life of us figure out how to empty it. We think we have emptied it and then when Todd calls the house phone to test it, we keep getting the same message that the voice message box is full. It's a complete mystery to us!

We're having a couple of friends over for supper tonight. We're finally going to try out the Barbeque that we bought when we moved here . . . just some burgers and salads, but it will be nice regardless. The weather has been so lovely and it's about time we had a barbeque! We'll probably eat outside on the patio as well.

And so there you have it . . . it's all go in the Rayner household! Life is pretty wonderful . . . each and every day!

Oh, I made some chocolate covered raisin cookies yesterday for our little friend Jenny. She will always be my little friend, no matter how old she gets!

*Chocolate Covered Raisin Cookies*
Makes about 36
Printable Recipe

Kind of like a chocolate chip cookie, but with chocolate covered raisins in them, as well as chocolate chips. Very, very good! (if you like raisins!)

4 ounces butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate covered raisins
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5. Line a couple of baking sheets with some parchment paper. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Stir this into the creamed mixture. Stir in the chocolate covered raisins and the chocolate chips. Using your hands, shape the dough into walnut sized balls. Place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Allow to rest on baking sheets for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

There's a delicious Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble over on The English Kitchen this morning, using fruit from our own garden. Traditional flavours, and oh so scrummy!

Friday, 25 June 2010

A Princess with a purpose . . .

"You are very precious, each of you, regardless of your circumstances. You occupy a high and sacred place in the eternal plan of God, our Father in Heaven. You are His daughters, precious to Him, loved by Him, and very important to Him. His grand design cannot succeed without you.

~Gordon B Hinckley

Yesterday I helped Todd to collect in some of his catalogues. It was a pleasant day, sunny and warm and I quite enjoy helping him out with this. You meet some very nice people in the process and it's great exercise.

You also meet all sorts of people. People like this oriental woman yesterday who didn't answer her door . . . fair enough . . . but then when I had gotten two houses down came out into the garden and started hurling abuse at me in Chinese! I could tell that what she was saying was not very nice, because of the expression on her face and her actions towards me. I was glad that I could not speak Chinese.

Another elderly woman was very chatty and friendly. I expect that she was somewhat lonely, and so I stood and chatted with her for a time at her garden gate . . . we talked about dogs and husbands and loss. She was a widow who had lost both her husband and her dog in the same year . . . I could identify with the loss of her dog, but thankfully I still have my husband. She had a lovely Chocolate Lab pup and I was quite interested in her, as we are thinking of perhaps getting one for ourselves.

One person really made me feel sad though. I knocked on this one door and a very large young woman opened it, but the way she opened it and hid behind it led me to believe that here was a girl that was afraid of other people, and perhaps ashamed of who she was. She was severely obese, and that is sad enough . . . but it was very clear to me that she was hiding away in her house. That image stayed with me the remainder of the day . . .

I thought to myself . . . if only she knew who she was. Knowing the area that she lives in, I can well believe that if she does go out her door, the people that live nearby are probably quite cruel and judgemental towards her . . . they don't know who they are either.

These words that I started my post off with this morning are the words of a latter day Prophet. Words carried by him to us, the beautiful daughters of our Heavenly Father . . . words meant to uplift and to help to carry us through this life here on earth. It doesn't really matter if you believe that Mr Hinckley was a prophet or not, (he has since passed away) these words resound with truth and with love.

It made me sad to think that this precious daughter of Heavenly Father was not living the life that she was meant to live . . . because of the way she looked, and the way she is treated by others . . . and because she clearly doesn't know who she is. It also made me sad to think that that oriental woman clearly doesn't know who she is either, nor who I am . . . for if she did, she would not behaved in the manner that she did. It was not befitting the daughter of God for her to behave in such a way . . .

How about you? Do you know who you are?? Can you feel His divinity coursing through your veins . . . can you feel that part of you that is Him and do you draw on it's strength?? We, each of us, have a part of the Divine within us. That part that is called spirit comes from our Heavenly Father . . . and that is who we are. We are not these shells that we call a body . . . these shells that fail us and let us down with their many imperfections and weaknesses . . .

We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and
our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction.
As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ,
our Savior and Exemplar.
We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who:

Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.
Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.
Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.
Delight in service and good works.
Love life and learning.
Stand for truth and righteousness.
Sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on earth.
Rejoice in the blessings of the temple, understand our divine destiny,
and strive for exaltation.

~The Relief Society Declaration of the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Oh how very grateful I am for the knowledge of who I am, and why I am here. This knowledge has given my life deeper meaning and worth. It has helped me to be a better me, and spurs me on to greater and better things each day. It helps me to stand a little taller! I am a Princess with a purpose. I wish I could teach this to all of Heavenly Father's most precious daughters . . .

Just my thoughts this morning . . . I hope you don't mind!

I baked these muffins the other morning and they were quite good. They stuck to the pan though, so if you decide to make them, make sure you use paper liners. I adapted the recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. It's quite a good book and everything in it usually turns out really well!!

*Coffee Cake Muffins*
Makes 12
Printable Recipe

These delicious muffins have a tasty streusel filling and topping! Don't be tempted to bake these without muffin liners. They stick, as you can clearly see from my photo. Taste fabulous though!

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup packed dark soft brown sugar
1 TBS ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
12 TBS unsalted butter, chilled
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/gas mark4. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Place the sugar, 1/2 cup of the flour and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Remove 3/4 cup of the mixture to a small bowl. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar and the cinnamon, whisking it in well. Set aside.

To the remainder in the food processor add the remaining 1 cup flour, the baking powder, the baking soda, and the salt. Pulse to combine. Drop the cold butter evenly over top and pulse until the mixture forms small pebbly pieces. Add the eggs and the sour cream and pulse until the batter is well combined and thick.

Spoon generous tablespoons of the batter into the prepared cups. Top each with about 1 1/2 TBS of the streusel mixture. Finish off with the remaining batter to cover and then a final sprinkle of the remaining streusel. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, turning the muffin pan around halfway through the baking time.

Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. If desired, dust lightly with icing sugar before serving.

It's Cheeseburger Double Cheese Macaroni over on The English Kitchen this morning!