Monday, 31 January 2011

Friends . . .

Nothing among human things
has such power to keep our gaze
fixed ever more intensely upon God
than friendship.
~Simone Weil

I could not settle for most of yesterday. I kept wanting to pick up my phone and send my Angie a message and wait for her reply. We did that every day you know . . . most days . . . quick messages fired off to each other, cloaked in love and friendship. I shall miss that so very much. I always knew that she was only a message away. She was one of my bestest friends and I know she was my biggest fan. That's supposed to be your mom, but I'm afraid that mom and Angie always jostled for first position . . .

I went to her blog and I read the whole thing from back to front . . . it was a way to feel close to her, and to breathe her in one last time, and all the way through it I could hear her voice, with that lovely accent of hers . . . and I remembered the fun we had that last time I saw her, when she and Keith were here just before Christmas . . . and I laughed . . . and I cried . . . and I felt that big old hole in my heart . . .

And then I dug out my Conference dvd's and listened to a prophet's voice and his thoughts on death . . . and the talk he gave last April in which he answered the question of Job . . . “If a man die, shall he live again?”

I found comfort and peace amidst my tears, in the prophet's voice and words and when he spoke the words that the Angel spoke to Mary at the Saviour's tomb . . . "Why seek ye the living amongst the dead. He is not here but risen." . . . I was reminded that we all shall live again, and I felt peace at his words.

Angie is not here, but risen, and the lives she touched with her special ways and words are her legacy to each of us. My heart goes out to Keith, who has lost his best friend, his life's companion, his joy, his love . . . to her family who have lost such a precious daughter, sister, Aunt . . . I wish I could do more.

I have been blessed to have deep friends in my time here on earth. They have been an oasis to me when my life has turned into a desert. Angie was one such friend. She blessed my life in countless ways. It is no mistake that the German root of the word friendship means "place of high safety." My heart was always very safe in Angie's hands, and today I give thanks for the privilege I had of knowing her, and of loving her in this very special way, and especially for the blessing of knowing she loved me back. For that is a special gift.

"We are here to live out loud."

Angie lived out loud, in a most beautiful way, and I am so grateful that I was within the sound of her voice.

*Not Your Mama's Spag Bol*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

This is a different sort of a twist that I put on good old Spaghetti Bolognaise. In truth, I love this even more than regular Spag Bol! I just can't get enough of it!

1 TBS olive oil
16 ounces extra lean beef mince
1 small onion, peeled and grated
1 fat clove of garlic, peened and crushed
2 green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 envelope of Taco seasoning mix
(I use Discovery)
1 (420g) tin of chopped tomatoes
14 ounces of beef stock
6 ounces tomato puree
1 (420g) tin of black beans, drained and rinsed
12 ounces of uncooked spaghetti
Sour cream, Shredded cheddar cheese, chopped or finely sliced red onion

Place the olive oil into a large saucepan and heat. Once it is hot add the beef mince. Cook and stir until it is completely browned. Add the onion, garlic, chilies, salt, cumin and taco seasoning mix and continue to cook and stir until the onion, garlic and peppers are soft. Add the chopped tomatoes, beef stock, and tomato puree. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Gently stir in the beans and cook for a further 5 minutes.

In the meantime bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain well and divide amongst hot serving plates. Top each with a portion of the sauce and pass the toppings!!

Over in The English Kitchen today, a delicious Cinnamon Swirl Tea Bread.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Sometimes words fail me

About 6 years ago, I thought I'd start a little journal online, a blog as it were. I started over on AOL Journals and I had no idea of just what an impact this little blog would have on my life. It gave me the opportunity to work things out in my mind, and to share my thoughts and joys, and most important of all . . . it gave me the opportunity to make and meet new friends, special friends, kindred spirit friends, eternal lifelong friends, invisible friends.

One of the sweetest bloggers I met, and one whom became one of my dearest and closest friends was Angie. (Can You All Hear Me At the Back) One of the sweetest, loveliest and dearest spirits on the web, I was so priviledged to call her friend, and to have been able to spend several occasions in her real life company. Oh what a dear sweet person . . .

About an hour ago, Angie's sister called me to let me know that Angie passed away this morning. I don't know what to say. My heart goes out to her family who must be feeling her loss even more keenly than myself, for after all . . . who am I, but . . . an invisible friend . . . the truth is Angie wasn't invisible to anyone who was lucky enough to know her. She touched all of our lives with her joy of life, her wit, her loving and caring ways . . . I don't know what else to say at the moment, as the tears are coming hard and fast. I know she is in a far better place, free from pain and the constraints of her disease. I will miss her so very much . . .

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.

Angie left pieces of her beautiful heart woven into the lives of anyone lucky enough to know her. To know her was to love her.

Goodbye my sweet friend. I'll catch you on the other side, and then we'll give em hell together, eh! And Angie, we could always hear you at the back . . .

Marie's Sunday Six

Here we are again. It's Sunday already and time for me to share my best smile with you from the week behind me! It is always hard picking out six to share with you as my cup of life truly doth runneth over, but I'll do my best! It's also hard to believe that we are already at the end of the month of January! The month has flown by ever so quickly! Todd doesn't mind though, because he is really looking forward to spring. The winter can't pass quick enough for him! February is always a really quick month as well. It's only two days or three shorter than all the rest, but for some reason it always seems to make a big difference!

New slippers make me smile, and this week I got two pairs! I needed some new ones to wear around the house as the insoles had all worn out on my old ones and I couldn't wear them anymore, and I needed a new pair to wear to hospital, because they are funny about germs and infection and so everyone needs to have brand new slippers to wear. I sent Todd into Chester city to pick me up some. I know . . . dangerous . . . who knows what he might have come back with! Men are notoriously famous for having bad taste when it comes to being trusted to pick up anything pertaining to women's wear. I have had some pretty awful things given to me throughout the years. It was a big thing for me to charge Todd with this task, but he did really well. I was impressed. Pink fluffy slippers with little puffy polka dots make me smile!

My Pampered Chef Party made me smile big time! I had never been brave enough to have something like this in my home since I moved over here. I think I was always afraid nobody would come, or that I didn' t know enough people to invite! I was realy surprised though because I had lots of lovely ladies show up and we had a wonderful time! It was really nice to meet Sheilagh (and her friends) in person, although we didn't really have a lot of one on one time to spend with each other this time. We are planning on having her and her husband Ralph over for a meal something soon though so there will be lots of time then to socialize! It was also nice to spend time with the other ladies who came as well, and to get to know them better. Best of all, it was nice to get to spend that time with Julie, who came up all the way from Gloucestershire to do my party! I have known Julie for a long time now. We first made friends on a recipe sight called RecipeZaar, on the message forums. We became good friends through there and it was so good to see her again, and in our new home! The best part was she stayed overnight and so we got to spend some really fab time chatting and laughing together! She's a real gem! I love her to bits! Parties, and friends . . . and the two together make me smile!

This little lady makes me smile a bazillion times every day of my life! She is such a little sweetie pie. I cannot imagine a life without her in it. She was awfully sick last night though, and so I am going to stay home from church with her this morning. She seems to have stopped vomiting now and is laying here quietly next to me, but I just don't want to take the chance and leave her on her own for that long . . . Although we are very careful to make sure that there is nothing laying around for her to chew on that she shouldn't or anything dangerous for her to get into, puppies do have a habit of eating things they shouldn't . . . plants and leaves in the garden, cardboard, etc. Call me paranoid, but I am just really afraid anytime she isn't feeling well, especially where she just had her operation a few weeks ago. She's doing very well with the dog training you know. She's very clever . . . the only problem we are still having is when people come in. She gets so excited, and jumps up on them. We are having the darndest time getting her to stop that. It's really hard. We don't want people to stay away coz we have a manic dog that jumps all over them! She does make me smile though, in countless other ways!

Telephone calls from faraway friends make me smile big time, and I was so pleased when Lura and Jan called me all the way from California this week. Lura calls me most weeks, and I am always so happy to hear her voice and talk to her, but getting to talk to Jan this week was an added bonus! It was so nice that they wanted to make me feel like a part of their get-together. I think blogging friends are really special friends, and I am so grateful for them in my life. Blogging friends always seem to connect with each other in a very special way. Maybe I've just been lucky through the years, as I have never met a crazed axe murderer yet! They've all been lovely and Lura is one of the loveliest of all! From the beginning we have felt more like sisters than actual sisters often do! There was that immediate feeling of kinship and an eternal bond that you know extends beyond the veil of here and now. The only sad part is that we live so far away from each other, but then again, if we lived closer, these telephone calls wouldn't be as special would they? Telephone calls from faraway friends really make me smile!

Feeding the Missionaries makes me smile. I always love it when we can have them over to our home and I can cook for them! They are such nice young people, and I love being able to do this thing for them. If I had a son or daughter who was serving on a mission, I would be so grateful to anyone that was kind to them and had them in their homes, and who took care of them and fed them up. At a time, when most young people their ages (19 to 21), are spending their time having a good old time, boozing and partying and being promiscuous, these young people are serving their Lord and Master and doing it with love . . . with love for their families, with love for their Saviour, with love for their church and with love for their fellow beings. I am grateful for the love and service that they share so willingly with others, for the fine examples they set and for the special spirit and feelings that they bring into our home. I cannot do enough for them. Most of them would tell you afterwards, that the two years they spent on their missons were some of the best years of their lives. What they do is brave and selfless and special. Missionaries make me smile.

This is Luke. He is my second youngest grandson and the youngest son of my eldest son. All my grandchildren make me smile, but today Luke is making me smile in a very special way as he is 1 year old today! Happy Birthday Luke! Families and birthdays always make me smile! I wish that I could be there with him to help him celebrate this special day, but alas . . . just not possible. But we have sent a lovely present and a card and I may even call later on to wish him a Happy Birthday. We shall see how it goes. He is a cheerful little boy and of course I think he's just the sweetest lad. Mind you, I say that about all my grandchildren. It is every grandmother's prerogative to think her grandchildren are the best, don't you think!!

I think you'll agree from new slippers to special grandsons, and everything in between, I've had a superdy duperdy smiling week this week! Life is good.

Here's something else that is good. Redneck Casserole. It's really just beans and weiners under potatoes and cheese, but hey . . . it's delicious! (cheap and easy too!)

*Redneck Casserole*
Serves 4-6
Printable Recipe

This is a no brainer. Easy to put together and on the table in about half an hour, it uses stuff most people have in their freezer and larder. It’s a good one for those nights when you are in a rush and don’t have time to put together anything more complicated. All you need is some crusty bread on the side to mop up the juices and a tossed salad!

3 (415g) tins of baked beans
1 TBS cider vinegar
2 TBS molasses
1 packed TBS of soft light brown sugar
1 tsp dried mustard powder
½ tsp onion powder
1 package of smoked frankfurters, cut into 1 inch slices
6 frozen potato waffles, or a couple of handfuls of frozen tater tots
6 ounces of strong cheddar cheese, grated

Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F. Empty the beans into a 9 inch square deep baking dish. Stir in the vinegar, molasses, brown sugar, mustard powder and onion powder. Mix all together well. Stir in the cut up frankfurters. When all are mixed together lay the potato waffles evenly over top. You may have to cut a few of them to fit on one side, but use the cut off bits to fill in the middle bit. If you are using tater tots just lay them evenly over top of everything. Sprinkle the grated cheese over top of the potatoes, making sure they are covered evenly. Bake in the heated oven for about 30 to 35 minutes until well bubbly and the waffles are crisp and the cheese is melted. Let sit for a few minutes before spooning out to serve.

In The English Kitchen this morning, some delicious Jaffa Rock Cakes!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Going the extra mile . . .

I have always found myself to be fascinated with the origins of sayings, old wive's tales, quotes and the like. They are like little snippets of a people's history, and I am a real history buff. If you had told me that I would one day be a history buff, when I was a school, I would have denied it . . . I found school room history to be largely boring, or maybe it was just the presentation of the teacher's lessons that made it so . . .

It was not until I got to University that I became really excited about it. I had a particularly excellent Professor for my Canadian History class that first year, and that is where my love affair for history got really started!

We have often heard the saying, "Go the second mile." In these modern times, it is used to describe a person who does more than he or she has been asked to do. The origins of the saying though, go back two thousand years . . . to a much cruder and rougher time in history.

In ancient Judea, Roman soldiers would force the local men to carry their heavy packs for them. However, Judean law at the time, forbade them from taking any man more than a mile out of his way. Early Christians may not have been able to beat the Roman army by military might, but they had a much greater force on their side.

Compelled to walk the first mile, they would often "go the second mile" out of love for their Saviour, showing the Roman invaders their faith in action, and maybe even converting a few to Christianity along the way.

Kind of brings thing into perspective doesn't it? If you find yourself being faced with a particularly difficult task, when you would rather be anywhere else on earth, why not do it . . . go for the second mile . . . with love.

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
~Matthew 5:41

I was able to text Angie yesterday and get a reply. She is still in hospital and feeling pretty rough. She thanks you all for your continued love and prayers. Let's hope she begins to feel better and is soon able to go home.

I had a lovely surprise call from Lura last evening. She had our friend Jan over and they were doing a little tea party and decided to call me up and include me! It was so sweet of them! (and fat free too!)

We really enjoyed The Kings Speech! It was an excellent film and so very well done. The beginning of it was spoiled a bit for me by a man right behind me, who had obviously fallen asleep and was then snoring rather loudly, not once or twice, but right through the whole first half hour or so of the film! His partner took him out then though, and we were able to watch the rest of the movie snore free!! (The mind boggles!) Whilst there I realized that this was the first time Todd and I had gone out to the movies since we moved back to Chester. It was rather nice! We took ourselves to McDonald's after for a treat as well! It turned into a date night!

I recently found refrigerated Pizza dough over here in the UK. Most times I make my own, as it's not all that hard to do, but sometimes it's nice to have something to hand that you can use in an instant. Reminds me of the slumber parties I used to go to at my friend Gini's house, when we were all teens. We would always make pizzas. It seemed like lots of pizzas at the time, but was probably only half a dozen or so. They were always so good! Pizza and Teenagers go together like peas and carrots! Here's a way of pleasing all the different tastes in your family on one big delicious pizza!

(picture courtesy of

*Pizza Times Four*
Serves 16
Printable Recipe

Indulge your families taste varieties with this clever pizza which has four seperate topping ideas!

1 can of refrigerated pizza crust (13.8 ounce)
(or make your own )
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

BBQ Chicken Square:
1 TBS chopped red onion
1/2 cup honey barbeque sauce
1 cup of chopped cooked chicken pieces

Margherita Pizza Square:
1 TBS grated Fresh Parmesan Cheese
4 to 5 (1/4 inch thick) slices of plum tomato (about 1 large tomato)
6 or 7 basil leaves torn

Hawaiin Pizza Square:
2 TBS Pizza sauce
2 slices Canadian Bacon, quartered
1/4 cup pineapple tidbits, well drained

Pepperoni Pizza Square:
2 TBS Pizza sauce
8 to 10 slices of pepperoni

Preheat the oven to 220*/425/ gas mark 6. Grease a cooking sheet with some white vegetable shortening. Sprinkle with a bit of cornmeal if desired. Unroll the pizza dough. Place it on the cookie sheet and press out the dough, starting at the centre, until you have a 14 by 12 inch rectangle. Brush with olive oil.

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, then remove from the oven. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on the pizza in the shape of a cross, dividing the crust into four individual squares. Use the suggested toppings to top one of each of the four different squares. Use the Mozzarella Cheese to top the whole pizza.

Bake for 10 to 13 minutes longer, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbling. Cut the pizza into 4 squares, and then cut each square into 4 squares making a total of 16 servings.

Over in The English Kitchen today I'm pushing the boundaries with a delicious Parsnip Cake with Browned Butter Frosting! Delicious!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Friday Mish Mash

Teach me the art of taking minute vacations, of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend . . . to read a few lines from a good book.

~Wilfred A Peterson, Slow Me Down Lord

Apparently, we are sleeping more than an hour less than we used to each night, in order to get up and get all the things done that need doing each day. Commuter times, gym time, meetings etc. . . . it would appear that although we live in a time of countless labour saving devices . . . we live in a society where every minute must be filled with activity.

At one time people retired at sunset, and then arose again with the dawn . . . but those days are long since gone . . . I cannot imagine retiring at 4 pm in the winter, can you??

It does make sense though that we should treat ourselves to a few minutes each day for dawdling just a bit. "Mini Holidays" that all of us can afford to take and none of us can afford to miss. A few minutes with the scriptures, or reading some poetry . . . admiring the plants in our garden, or chatting with a friend on the phone . . . just sitting and daydreaming for a few. These are little mini holidays that cost little and we won't even have to leave our home to take. I think they would go a long way towards restoring our souls, don't you?

Todd and I are taking a mini holiday this afternoon. We are taking ourselves off to see "The King's Speech." We hardly ever go out to a film. We have one of those large screen telly's and Sky Digital and so we usually take all of our film entertainment at home, but for this one we thought we would make an exception! We have heard so many good things about it and, well, you know . . . Colin Firth . . . who can resist! (I know Todd's not going for Colin Firth, but it's an added incentive for me! Mr Darcy!)

I have heard no more from Angie, so am assuming no news is good news, and that the matron has taken her phone away. Please continue to keep her in your prayers, and I will update you as soon as I know anything more.

We had the missionaries over for their tea last night. I spoiled them with bacon chops and macaroni and cheese, vegetables and salad, french bread, a special cake, some lemon pudding with cream, and they left armed with these tasty biscuits. I like to think that if I had a son out there doing a mission, someone would be feeding him up well and taking good care of him, and so I like to do the same. They never complain!

*Jam Thumbprints*
Makes 16
Printable Recipe

You can use any flavour you want for these tasty cookies, or even use a selection of different ones. Our favourite is raspberry, but apricot and strawberry are also very good!

1/2 cup butter, softened (4 oucnes)
a scant half cup caster sugar (3 ounces)
few drops vanilla
a generous cup (5 ounces) plain flour
8 tsp thick jam or conserve

Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and the flour with a wooden spoon to form a dough. Chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170*C/325*F/ gas mark 3. Line two baking sheets with baking paper and set aside.

Divide the dough into 16 even pieces and shape each into a walnut sized ball using your hands. Place onto the baking sheets. Press your thumb gently into the centre of each slightly and make a dent. Fill each dent with a little jam, about 1/2 teaspoon..

Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown around the edges, but still slightly soft. They will firm up once cooled. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

There's a Spiced Potroast cooking over in The English Kitchen today!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Prayers Needed for Angie

Our Angie (Can You All Hear Me At the Back) is in hospital again with pneumonia! Any and all prayers would be very much appreciated. Let's pray her back on her feet again! I am in contact via cell phone (well, for as long as they don't catch her at it.) This is the second time this winter. I will keep you all updated!

Thursday thoughts . . .

You may be surprised, or maybe not . . . to know that I have a collection of Haley Mills films. As a child she was an actress I greatly looked up to. I am not sure if it was her posh British Accent or wholesome look, but there was just something about her adored! I often sit and watch one when I have some free time. One of my favourites is Pollyanna.

Oh how I love the story of the little girl, sent to live with her grouchy old spinsterAunt, after having been made an orphan. Set at the turn of the 20th century, it hearkens back to a much simpler time, before modern conveniences, cars and fast living had taken over the world.

She's a very cheerful and optomistic little girl, despite the hardships that life has dealt her, and goes about bringing cheer and joy into the lives of the embittered people in her town, worming her way into their hearts in a very special way. One of the games she likes to play is the "glad game" which she had learned from her father. The game consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation. It originated in an incident one Christmas when Pollyanna, who was hoping for a doll in the missionary barrel, found only a pair of crutches inside. Making the game up on the spot, Pollyanna's father taught her to look at the good side of things—in this case, to be glad about the crutches because "we don't need 'em!"

This time of the year, when our days are at their dreariest and coldest I like to play the "Glad Game," myself. I am mindful of all the good things in my life, noting the things that bring me particular pleasure in my diary . . . things like the appearance of Christmas roses in the garden, or those first snowdrops pushing their little white heads up through the earth . . . those pink hyacinths that were planted into a bowl at Christmas coming into bloom and filling the air with their sweet perfume, buds that begin to appear on certain trees and plants . . . the carpet of crocus that soon follow . . . the way that the birds are beginning to chatter more cheerfully of a morning . . . the slight lengthening of the days, it may only be a little each week, but all of a sudden it becomes very noticeable and very cheering!

These are all small things, but I am ever aware that, if it wasn't for the dreariness and cold of this time of year, they would not be as precious or as noticeable to me . . . and so I am glad for the dreary cold which helps me to be particularly mindful and grateful for these little pleasures . . . and so it is with life really. If not for the dark corners we would never fully appreciate the light, likewise our little sorrows make us ever more grateful for our joys. An opposite in all things is necessary for us to grow, and to learn to appreciate all that we have even more. We could never know joy, if we have never first experienced pain.

"One by one, the snowflakes floated down on to his warm snout and melted. he reached out to grab them so he could admire them for a fleeting moment. He looked towards the sky and watched them drift down towards him, more and more, as soft and light as a feather.

'So that's how it works,' thought Moomintroll. 'And I thought somehow that the snow grew from the ground up!'"
~Moomintroll's Book of Thoughts

The more we think we know about the world and life, the more we are surprised by all we have yet to learn. Remember . . . Happy thoughts make Happy People!

Here's a delicious meal that will have your family clambering for more and is sure to go to the top of your family favourites list! Todd is not a pasta lover . . . so he says . . . but he always eats it anyways and appears to enjoy it. I do think he doth protest too much!

*Rigatoni and Meatballs*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

My family always loved this old standby. It may seem like a lot of faff, but most of it can be done well ahead of time and then just popped into the oven for about 20 minutes before you want to serve it.

For the meatballs:
1 large free range egg
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 TBS freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 pound extra lean ground beef
(Can use ground turkey or chicken if you wish)

For the sauce:
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
3 cups sliced mushrooms
1 green pepper, trimmed, de ribbed and chopped
1 1/2 tsp each, dried basil and sugar
1 tsp each dried oregano and salt
3/4 tsp of black pepper
1 can (28 ounce) of chopped tomatoes
2 TBS tomato paste

To finish:
2 TBS olive oil
1/2 pound of rigatoni pasta
1 1/3 cups shredded Mozarella cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

LIghtly mix together all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Shape heaping TBS of the micture into balls. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the meatballs and brown them all over, in batches if necessary, for about 8 to 10 minutes, removing to a plate lined with paper towels as they are done. Set aside.

Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms and green pepper to the pan drippings. Sweat over low heat for about 10 minutes until softened, adding a tablespoon of water if needed to keep them from sticking, and stirring occasionally. Add the basil, sugar, oregano, pepper, tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to the boil, then add the meatballs. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, until tender but still firm. Drain well and return to the pot. Stir in the sauce and meatballs gently, to coat.

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Lightly grease an 8 cup shallow baking dish. Pour in the pasta mixture, spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle with both cheeses. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the casserole is bubbling. Enjoy!

Over in The English Kitchen today, delicious Baguette Pizzas!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Wednesday thoughts . . .

There are some of us who can manage to get our acts together enough to be able to look pretty good all of the time. The reality is that there are a lot more of us that can only manage to do it some of the time. It's a lot of work, can be quite expensive and let's face it . . . who really wants to be "on" all of the time. My ex boss used to spend hours before she went out anywhere doing her hair, applying makeup, picking out the right clothes to wear, etc. etc.

I'm a fairly low maintenance woman, and I guess it shows. To be honest I just can't be bothered with all of the faff. I'm pretty much a take me as you get me kind of a girl!

Unfortunately there are too many people out there in the world who make our outside packaging count for far more than it really should. They are quick to judge and quick to form opinions, based on what the media tells us that we should look like, or what size we should be, or what clothes we should wear, etc. etc. and I'm ashamed to say that I have certainly been guilty of it on occasions myself.

But really . . . what's on the outside really matters very little in the eternal scheme of things. All the money in the world, makeup, designer clothing, bo-tox, up to date hairdo's and other worldly things cannot buy a person true beauty . . . the beauty that radiates from within.

"Beauty is an internal light, a spiritual radiance that all women have but most women hide, unconsciously, denying it's existance. What we do not claim, remains invisible."
~Marianne Williamson, A Woman's Worth

If we spent as much time pampering our souls and feeding our spirits, I think we might find that we'd need far less of the outer trappings of beauty, as our outsides would be magically transformed with the radiant light of our spiritual growth and beauty from within. Joy is probably the best face lift we could ever experience. Let's face it . . . how could anything created by God ever be anything less than beautiful???

I just love lamb and never tire of looking for and trying out different ways of preparing it. This tasty dish came from a supermarket magazine. It's quick, easy and very delicious!

*Lamb with Couscous*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Tasty lamb cutlets with a delicous houmous dressing, served on a tasty bed of couscous!

8 lamb cutlets
2 TBS olive oil
the juice of one lemon
1 TBs fresh thyme leaves

For the couscous:
250g of coucous (a generous half pound)
400g tin of chickpeas (2 cups garbanzo beans)
6 TBs pinenuts, toasted
4 small tomatoes roughly chopped
small bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
the juice of one lemon

For the dressing:
200g tub of prepared houmous (about a cup)
200g tub of no fat Greek Yoghurt (about a ciup)
the juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 bunch of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Preheat your grill to high. Place the cutlets into a shallow dish with the oil, lemon juice and thyme. Turn to coat. Set aside.

Place the couscous into a bowl. Cover with boiling water. Leave to set for 10 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Fluff up with a fork and stir in the drained chickpeas, pinenuts, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, oil and lemon juice. Mix well.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

Place the lamb cutlets onto an oiled grill pan. Place under the heated grill and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked to your liking.

To serve, pile the coucous onto plates, placing two cutlets on top of each and spooning on a bit of the dressing. Pass the remainder of the dressing at the table.

In The English Kitchen today, a delicious Lime and Ginger Posset!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Simple Woman's Day book

FOR TODAY, January 25th, 2011...

Outside My Window...

It's cold, wet and still. I know if I was still down in Kent the snowdrops would be poking their little heads up through the flower bed by the back door . . . I am not in Kent though, so I will have to go seek some out here and plant them by my front door here in Chester so that I can have that singular pleasure the end of each January. They are like a little promise that spring is just around the corner!

I am thinking...
About my Pampered Chef Party tonight. I do hope that everyone comes that said they were coming. I would hate for Julie to have come all the way up here for nothing.

I am thankful for...
We did a Raclette Evening last night for our Family Home Evening Group. It was such a lovely time and we ended it up by watching the Witnesses of Christ video on the television. I am so thankful for friends that I can share my love of the Gospel with. Good times!

From the kitchen...
There are some cookies but other than that not a lot at the moment. Wait until tonight! There'll be lots then!

I am wearing...
A pair of black and white jim jams. Not my favourites, but comfy and warm.

I am creating...
Still working on new designs and that special project. I am also working on my doll's house but nothing to show you on that yet. I did a little painting the other day though. I think she turned out rather sweet. What do you think?

I need to go back to using my old printer though for prints. The new Kodak ones come out muddy looking and it is a waste of ink and paper. You would think Kodak would be able to get it right.

I am going...
I have the Pampered Ched Party tonight, and then a Presidency Meeting for Primary tomorrow night. Thursday we are having the missionairies for their dinner and then Friday is temple day. I am not sure we will be able to make that together though as it is a long time to leave Mitzie on her own. Our Temple is about an hour and a half away, so that is 3 hours alone on the travelling time, and then the time we want to spend there on top. We may have to go up and book a B&B sometime when we are feeling a bit flush, one that accepts dogs and then leave her in the room so that we can go to the Temple for a few hours. We'll have to see how it goes.

I am reading...

The Weight of Silence, by Heather Gudenkauf
A tense tale following the disappearance of two seven-year-old girls from a small town in Iowa, the storytelling is brilliant and easy to read. In short it is a can't put it down kind of book! Very engaging and wonderfully written. If you like books by Jodi Picoult you will love this novel. Spread over a 16 hour period of time it follows the disappearance of two 7 year old girls who disappear from their homes on the same night without a trace. Written a chapter at a time by a different narrator each time, (individual characters in the book) it is a real page turner!

(Yes, I am still on this book. I've been falling asleep too soon evenings! It is still engaging and still entertaining!)

I am hoping...
I have my appointment at the specialists hospital on Monday next. I am hoping it goes well and that they can get a handle on all this pain I have been experiencing in my knees, etc. It is hard to believe that even as short as 6 months ago I was able to walk distances and enjoy it. Now I am almost a prisoner in my home.

I am hearing...
Early morning sounds . . . the house cracking and snapping as it comes alive. Clocks ticking. Walls creaking . . . the Westminster chimes from our newest clock, Mitzie snuffling here beside me. She is a demanding but worthy companion in the mornings. I love her so much. She's a sweetie pie. The dog trainer yesterday said she is brilliant, but then again she's not going to tell us she's a little rotter is she? lol

Around the house...
There is a HUGE pile of ironing to do and all the dishes from last night. Nevermind . . . it will get done eventually!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...
Just what I've already mentioned. With the price of petrol going up, up and UP, we haven't been venturing very far, except to church, in our car. When is it going to stop I want to know! Enough already!!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

This is a slide show I did several years ago of Pendragon Castle up in the Eden Valley where we like to stay when we go up to Cumbria. I love it there. It is so quiet and serene. I look at the stones of the castle and wonder about the hands that built it, oh so very long ago. What a work it was and it has such a magical feel about it . . . the sheep run in and out of it's nooks and crannies now . . . the river Eden running along the edges of it's mound . . . it is a beautiful place for sure. We are planning on going back this summer for a week or so and bringing Mitzie with us. It will be nice to go back . . .

And just as a closing thought for today . . .

Gardening is an instrument of grace.
~may sarton

A thought to inspire for today. I can't wait for the warmer days to come where I can putter about in the garden, God willing. I have such big plans!

And there you have it . . . my day book for this week. 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 are some delicious Oat and Ginger Cookies to tempt your palate. I think of all the cookies, Oatmeal has to be my favourite kind. I am always looking for new versions to try out. These are my latest and they're very good! (I love ginger!)

*Oat and Ginger Cookies*
Makes one dozen
Printable Recipe

You can replace the ginger with raisins if you want for a less zesty version, or have both for a really tasty combination!

1 1/2 cups flour (6 ounces)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
3/4 cup rolled oats (2 ounces)
1/2 cup soft light brown sugar, packed (3 ounces)
1/4 cup white sugar (2 ounces)
6 pieces of stem ginger in syrup, chopped into bits
1/2 cup butter, melted (4 ounces)
1 large free range egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/gas mark 4. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.

Whisk the flour, soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt and oats together in a bowl. Stir in the sugars and oats. Beat the butter and egg together. Add this to the dry mixture, mixing well to combine until dark amd moist with a good dropping consistency. Stir in the chopped ginger.

Drop by spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each for spreading. Bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown but still a bit soft. Leave to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before scooping off to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

NO, you're not imagining things. That is spaghetti on toast. My treat for today over in The English Kitchen.