Sunday, 30 November 2014

Sunday thoughts . . .

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This year I am going to try to honor Christmas and the true meaning of it every day of December.   I was shocked at the recent photos and film of the so called "Black Friday" events here in the UK.  It isn't something that we have ever really done over here that I had noticed, but this year it was pretty difficult not to.  People were behaving horribly all over the UK, so much so that in some of the shops they had to call in the police.   Black Friday . . .  I do not believe it brings out the best in people and it is not what I want my Christmas to be about.  It smacks of commercialism in the worse way.   My Christmas is not going to be a commercial one.

So to that end . . .

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We have this little book about anticipating all of Jesus in the Advent.  It's like a daybook and it covers every day from the first of December to the twenty fifth and we will be studying it together as a family and truly bringing Christ into our Christmas.  After all HE is the reason for the season!

I will remember each day that HE was, is and always will be the most important gift of the holiday season.

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We were challenged by the Missionary Sisters to keep a gratitude journal throughout December and try to find five things each day to be grateful for, and then to thank our Heavenly Father at the end of our days for them one by one.   I will be doing that.   Mind you, I find things to be grateful for each day anyways.   I just don't always remember to thank God for them.   I will be changing that.   I can think of one thing right now.  I am thankful that I do not have a red nose and I am thankful for a childhood that included Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!  I never hear the song but what I am a child again.

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As the days grow shorter and colder I will remember all of God's creatures in my actions and prayers.   We do feed the birds and that is a good thing, especially in the Winter months.  I will not grumble when I see flocks of starlings descend upon our feeders emptying them in very short order.  They are God's creatures too.   I will try to do at least one kind thing for another when I am out and about each day.   Perhaps it will be something as simple as letting someone go before me in the line at the supermarket, or calling up a friend to ask them if they need anything before I go to the supermarket.   It is the gift of giving and it doesn't have to be tied up with ribbons or bows . . .  but with heart strings and sincerity and love.

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I will remind myself each day that I am very lucky to be living in a country where I have the freedom to do these things without fear of reprisal or condemnation.  Where I am free to have views and opinions and the priviledge of worshiping as and when and how ever I want to.   I have been so blessed to have been the recipient of a free education . . .  so many have not.   I have been blessed to have never truly known hunger or any of the other challenges that people in third world nations have to deal with every day of their lives.   To have been born at a time when I have been able to live my life in relative safey and security . . .  and luxury.  Even the poorest of us living in these Western nations do not truly know real poverty.

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There is none so poor as those who are poor in spirit.  That is true poverty.  I will be grateful every day that I am not poor in spirit.  This is a gift.  To be strong and wealthy in spirit.  To be able to count your blessings . . .  even in the things which don't always immediately seem like blessings.  There . . .  but for the grace of God go I.   I will not judge another man without having walked first in their shoes.  Nobody knows the heart of another  Only God knows these things and it is only my place to reach out and to help and to love . . . unconditionally.

If I can master this.   I will have received the greatest gift of all.  I am truly a work in progress. ☺

There will also be plenty of cakes and cookies and chocolates, Christmas movies and Christmas Carols, Ho Ho Ho's and Fa La La's . . . .  coz that's how this gal rolls.

A thought to carry with you through today  . . .

I believe in Christianity 
as I believe that the sun has risen: 
not only because I see it, 
but because by it 
I see everything else. 
~C. S. Lewis༺❀༻༺❀༻

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Cooking in The English Kitchen today  . . . . Pot Roasted Chicken with Raspberry Cider.

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Have a wonderful Sunday!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

It's a cookie fest!

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When my children were growing up the weeks preceding Christmas were filled with hours and hours of baking.   A multitude of cookies, squares, loaves and candied (ie fudge) were prepared and tucked into the freezer, ready and waiting to be pulled out during the holidays.  Some years we had very little money to buy presents for anyone other than the children, and so the baking would also be put onto trays to give to our friends and loved ones.   Yesterday as I was grating the orange zest to put into my cranberry sauce, the smell instantly took me back to those wonderful days.   Why do children have to grow up?   Why can't we stay young mum's forever?   Today I wanted to share with you some of the loveliest cookies I have found over these past days.   Who knows but what I may even bake a few myself!

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I think these Chocolate Meringue Christmas Trees are just beautiful with their bottoms dipped in chocolate and those little red stars on the tips.   So sweet and light as a feather.   From Baking A Moment.   If only I was better at piping.  I may give these a go, if only for the challenge!

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From Wine and Glue, these beautiful Gingerbread White Fudge Thumbprint Cookies look very tempting indeed.   I love ginger anything and especially gingerbread anything and white fudge  . . .  well, baby that sounds just gorgeous!  Cookies with fillings.  These have to be fabuous!!  I would use my own gingerbread cookie dough recipe however, not ready made cookie dough.

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 Peppermint Patty Stuffed Ritz Crackers.  Oh my goodness.  Such a simple idea.   Squash a peppermint pattie between two ritz crackers and then dip them in chocolate, garnishing with crushed peppermint candies.   Nothing could be simpler!  I wonder if I can find peppermint patties over here??   I have no idea!  From The Gunny Sack.

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These Italian Anise Cookies look very festive.  Have I ever told you how very much I love the flavour if Anise?  No??  Well I do love it, very much!  I have a bottle of anise extract and every once in a while I put a drop on my finger tip and just suck it off.  I love it that much.   Any-hoooo . . .  these would probably be top on my list!  From  Love Bakes Good Cakes.

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Who could resist this White Chocolate Peppermint Bark?   Not ME, that's who!  I love how it has been cut into snowflakes!  Genius!  From Baked By Rachel.  Actually she used a silicone mold for this, which makes even more sense.  Not a drop would be wasted.

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These Gingerbread Christmas Trees are so very pretty.   I love them.   From Moje Wypieki.  Don't worry the recipe is in English.

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Melt in the Mouth Eggnog Cookies.  So very delicious!  I used to make Eggnog Logs every year.  They are probably quite similar.  From Cooking Classy.

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Chocolate Turtle Cookies.    From Pixelated Crumb.   I always looked forward to getting a box of Turtles Chocolates for Christmas every year back home.  They don't have them over here, at least not that I have seen.   Maybe I will just have to make these cookies instead??

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Twix Cookies.  Chef in Training.   These look really tasty!  Shortbread bases topped with caramel and milk chocolate.   Simply delicious.

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What cookie tray would be complete without Santa's Whiskers?   Not mine!  These have been an annual favourite of mine for years and years.   A sweet dough stogged full of candied cherries and nuts, shaped into a log, rolled in coconut, chilled . . .  then sliced and baked.  From the people at Land O Lakes.  You just know this is a recipe which works!


Know what I heard?   They are saying we could have snow before Christmas.  I won't hold my breath on that one!  But it's a nice idea.  This country comes to a standstill when it snows however, so maybe it wouldn't be such a good thing.   On the good news front, my oldest son had a very promising job interview yesterday so we are praying very hard that he ends up with a job soon.  It's been a very rough year for them all.  This would just be the greatest Christmas Gift for me ever to have him finally back in full-time employment.  Say a little prayer please?   Thanks!  I know you will.

Question . . .  is it being a glutton to want to have a piece of pumpkin pie for breakfast?  I didn't have any last night when everyone else did . . . sigh . . .   I thought so!  There is a slice sitting in front of me as I write this.  I know . . .  I'm such a little piggie!  (But looking at all those cookies made me hungry!!)  By the way, the Thanksgiving Dinner went down a real treat with everyone involved.  Not sure I want to cook another turkey for Christmas however!  lol

A thought to carry with you through today . . .

What if you woke up today with only the
things you thanked God for yesterday?

A sobering thought  . . . Please continue to keep Valerie's dog Scout in your prayers.  He's doing better but isn't out of the woods yet.  Thanks so much!
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Cooking in The English Kitchen today  . . .  Bacon and Mustard Roasted Potatoes.  Seriously Scrummy!

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 Have a perfectly lovely Saturday!  May it be filled with more blessings than your heart can hold.  

Friday, 28 November 2014

Friday Finds

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A few of the wow moments, or things I discover each week that tickle my fancy.  I hope that they may inspire or tickle yours too!  

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Napkins folded to look like Elf Boots!  What a unique idea!  I love it.   From  Serendipity.

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Personalized Wire Ornaments.   I think these are really cute and there are so many things you coudl do with them.  Adding little beaded accents, etc.  From  Crafts Unleashed.  Brilliant!

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I just love this snowflake wreath. It's a really simple thing to make and so very beautiful when it is done.   Found on  Laura's Crafty Life.

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This Jingle Bell Wreath has to be one of the simplest things I have ever seen!  Seriously.   Brilliant idea too.  From The Frugal Girls.

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Water Colour Butterflies.   A free printable.   I think they are so cute and would love to have a mobile of these hanging over my craft desk.  I love butterflies.   From  The Ellie Blog.

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Twenty Three Recipes for Leftover Turkey from the people at BHG.  You can never have too many recipes for using up leftover turkey!

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I'm always looking for new cookies to bake for the hols.   These Almond Shortbread With Amaretto Cookies look fabulous.  I love shortbread.  I love almonds.   From Julie's Album.

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These homemade lollipops are so cute.   The kids will love these and there are so many things you can decorate them with!!   From Just a Taste.

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How to peel garlic really quickly with no hassle or smelly fingers.   There's even a video.  It's a brilliant idea from Kevin and Amanda

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I love this fun child's table and chairs set.   It's bright and colourful and a great way to use up leftover bits of paint.   I'll be honest.  I would love this myself!  (I know!  Call me crazy!)  From  Sparkles by Jessica

And that is it for this week.  My Friday finds!  I hope you found something in all this lot to tickle your fancy!

A thought to carry with you through today  . . . . 

“Perhaps our eyes need to be washed
by our tears once in a while, so that we
can see Life with a clearer view again.”
~ Alex Tan


Could you please spare a few prayers for our friend Valerie's dog who got poisoned.   Praying Scout makes it.  It's so distressing when one of our furry family members is ill.   ((((hugs)))) to Valerie and Scout and the family.

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I'm showing off new muffin tins in The English Kitchen today  . . .  these have recesses you can fill!
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  Once again this week has just flown by!  Have a wonderful Friday!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Five Things About Me

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First of all Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American loved ones and friends.  I hope your holiday is the best ever and that you are surrounded by lots of love and warm feelings!

It's Thursday and you should know what that means by now.  Yep, another Five Things About Me post!

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When my children were growing up I used to make them a gingerbread house or other creation every year for Christmas.   One year I even created a Gingerbread Tree.  I always enjoyed these labors of love and I hope that they did too.  None were quite as elaborate as this one here today.  But if you are so inclined you can find the templates for this one, etc. on  Goodies by Anna.  Isn't it gorgeous!

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I was terrified of Santa Claus when I was a child.   My mom and dad had a really scary Santa Claus Mask/head that my mom got in Germany that they would hang on the wall every Christmas and I hated it.  With his pointy hat and scary face, it just frightened me to pieces.  I didn't want to sit on Santa's lap or anything.  In fact I can remember crying one time when I was taken to see Santa Claus.  I believed in Santa Claus until I was a good eleven years old . . .  and I can distinctly remember hearing his bells one year and of course he always left a piece of his beard on the tree each year.  I was a very shy child, so that could be why I was afraid of him. I don't know for sure.

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Stone Fruit Tarts with  Coconut Pastry Cream by Inspiring the Every Day. (Aren't they just gorgeous!)

I love pie.   Everyone in my family loves pie.  If it's got a crust, we are in there like dirty shirts.  It doesn't matter if it is a sweet or a savoury pie.   We have never met a pie we didn't like.

Until now . . . 

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Stargazy Pie.   The pie that looks  back at you.   A pie baked with whole fish in it, their heads and tails poking out through holes in the crust . . .  eyes gazing at you.   I could not bring myself to eat this.  Never in a million years.   This would be a great diet food for me, because I would have no problems resisting it whatsoever.

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I believe in angels and know we are surrounded by them from time to time.  I can feel their presence.  I don't think they always have wings.  In fact I think more often than not they do not, but I think the occasional one does.  I like the idea of having a Guardian Angel.  I love reading stories of angelic encounters.  My favourite one of all is the Angel who visited Mary to tell her she was going to bear the son of God.  I love reading about the Angels which appeared in the heaven's to the Shepherds on the night of the Saviour's birth.  "Fear not for we bring tidings of great joy!"  I love reading how the Angels gathered around the Saviour in the Garden of Gesthemane to minister to him after his prayers on the night before his crucifixion.  I love the idea that an angel appeared to a young boy with an inquiring mind in the Americas.  I don't doubt that it happened.  Not for an instant.  There are many who poo poo that idea and yet believe in alien encounters.  I say why not?  Miracles happen every day.    There is an angel which sits at the top of each of our Holy Temples.  My heart always fills with joy at the sight of him each time we go to the Temple because I know I am in for a real treat, a tiny piece of heaven on earth.

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“I see the angel Moroni, standing atop the temple, as a shining symbol of our faith. I love Moroni, because in a degenerate society, he remained pure and true. He is my hero. He stood alone. I feel somehow he stands atop the temple today, beckoning us to have courage, to remember who we are and to be worthy to enter the holy temple, to ‘arise and shine forth,’ to stand above the worldly clamor and to, as Isaiah prophesied, ‘Come to the mountain of the Lord’—the holy temple.” 
–Elaine S. Dalton 

This is exactly how I feel when I see him on the Temple Spire.

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I have the ability to roll or "curl" my tongue, and I can not only do it up and down like this, but sideways and under as well.   Not everyone can do that.   I can also lift just one eyebrow, and it works with both eye brows.  I find it easier to lift the left one, but I can also (with concentration) lift the right one on it's own as well.  Can you roll your tongue?   Only between 65 and 82 % of people can.

And that's it for this week.  My five things about me.

I wasn't feeling very well at all yesterday afternoon. I had a twinge which was quite painful in my upper right abdomin.   It may be my gall bladder I think.  It's pretty much gone off now, but it still there in a niggling sort of a way.   I think I may skip the ladies' dinner tonight. 

A thought to carry with you through today  . . .

"Nine requisites for contented living . . .
Health enough to make work a pleasure.
Wealth enough to support your needs.
Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them.
Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them.
Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished.
Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor.
Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others.
Faith enough to make real the things of God.
Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future."

~ Johann von Goethe

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I am talking Turkey Leftovers in The English Kitchen today.   Good for now, or for Christmas.  Whatever floats your boat!

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Have a wonderful Thursday!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Wednesday this and that . . .

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It took me a couple of hours yesterday, but by the time our Spanish nurse got back from work yesterday Christmas had arrived at our house.   I think Todd thought it was kind of early, but I really wanted the decorations up before we do our Thanksgiving Dinner so that everything is festive looking for the Missionaries when they come.  Job done.  The photos are not so great because the lighting was already poor by the time I finished it all.  I will try to get some better ones taken today.

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Ariana was so excited when she came in last night and saw them all.  That made me happy.  It's nice to have a young enthusiastic person in the house.  I had not realized how much I missed that.  ☺

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My youngest son's partner Sara posted this photo of Baxter on FB yesterday.  I think that little furry family member gets cuter every time I see him.   He is so adorable.  I wish I could get a nice photo like that of Mitzie.  His personality is perfectly captured in this.

I have fallen in love with these dogs.  Nova Scotia Duck Toller Retrievers.  If I ever won the lottery (and I can't coz I don't play, lol) I would get one of these as a companion for Mitzie.  Sometimes I think she is really bored here with just us two old people to play with.  She gets really excited when anybody new comes in.

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A friend stopped by the other day with her young lad who is about 10 years old and she was so happy to see him, and of course she just love, LOVES it when the missionaries come over.  Not sure how she would be with another dog though . . .  maybe her feelings would be hurt?

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I don't know!  I am sure she would get used to it being here after a bit and then they would really enjoy each other.   Has anyone ever had any experience with this?  Share!

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I've been working at building my portfolio this past week or so according to the recommendations of the Licensing company.   This is one that I have done.  They said that they prefer the smaller heads to the larger ones . . .

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Happy faces and funky hair . . .

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Pin dot eyes and funky footware . . . crazy hats.

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Bright colours . . .

And so I am trying to oblidge.   Hopefully I am doing enough.  In any case I always enjoy creating.   I have a total of 16 main pieces to do . . .  8 that are inspirational and 8 involving friendship . . .  plus co-ordinating backgrounds and borders.   A tall order, but I am sure I am up to it.   At the end hopefully I will have a portfolio which is appealing to any prospective clients. Fingers crossed.

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These past couple of years have been pretty lean ones and they are getting leaner.  I need something to give soon.  I feel like I have been juggling and juggling trying to keep all my balls in the air . . .  without dropping any, but  I'm not sure how much longer I can keep it up.  I'm getting tired of the juggling.  I really need to catch a break.  But enough of that.

Don't worry, be happy, right?  Right!

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A thought to carry with you through today  . . .


"Where charity stands watching 
and faith holds wide the door 
the dark night wakes - 
the glory breaks, 
Christmas comes once more."
~ Phillips Brooks 


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It may not look like much, but looks are very deceiving.  In the English Kitchen today  . . .  Potato and Bread Stuffing.  An old time favourite.  Delicious and simple.

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Have a wonderful Wednesday!!