Monday, January 28, 2013

Lamb Stew

Today, I made lamb stew. My husband and I gave it five stars.

Below is an approximation of my recipe.

I began by browning a lamb shank with a teaspoon of minced garlic.

Meanwhile, I put a box of liquid beef stock in the crock pot to which I added:
       a bag of raw baby carrots,
       a half cup of celery chunks,
       about 20 tiny red potato quartered,
and two small onions cut in wedges.

To give it flavor, I added:
        half a cup of red wine,
       a dash of Worcestershire sauce,
       half a teaspoon of thyme,
and half a teaspoon of basil.

When the lamb was soft, I cut it into bite-sized pieces and added it, with its broth, to the crock pot.

About half an hour before supper, I put the stew into a large pot on the stove, added a can of mushroom soup (because it was not thick enough) and let it boil.

During the last ten minutes, I added a bag of frozen peas and salt and pepper to taste.

I served the stew with biscuits and grapefruit halves. It was a warm and filling winter-time meal.
Our family has an inside joke about lamb stew. About fifteen years ago, we went to the British Isles with the whole clan. In a pub in Ireland, our daughters ordered lamb stew. Unfortunately, our son opted for fish 'n chips.  

His order turned out to be mediocre, while theirs was superlative--the best they had ever tasted. Well, they ribbed him about what he missed for the rest of the trip and continue to mention it from time to time even to this day.

Tonight, as we feasted on mouth-watering lamb stew, we wished he was here to enjoy it with us. His sisters and the rest of you would have been welcome, too.


Saturday, January 26, 2013


A winter wanderer spies the English garden hibernating until spring,

tucked beneath its white blanket.

Across the road, a stone entrance bids welcome to the pristine pasture.

Instead, the wanderer chooses to pass by and approaches the hat-covered roadway. 

From inside, the north

  and south riverbanks are postcard-perfect.

But then, the bridge telescopes drawing the visitor back into the wonder of winter.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Fresh Starts, Renewed Goals

Do you love the clean slate of January 1? I do. First, there is the physical overhaul which involves putting away the decorations and sweeping up the pine needles; then there is the transfer of last year's important dates to the new calendar. Actually, both fresh starts are a blessing.

When I am enjoying the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree, I always think that I will leave it up into the new year. However, after the ball drops, I am ready to put away the tinsel and give the house a clean sweep. Similarly, when the calendar flips from December to the new year, the blank pages motivate me start afresh filling my days productively and leave me wondering what events will fill the blank pages.

This year is no different.  As much as I have enjoyed the swaged lights on the fence and the red bows on the lampposts, I am ready for a simpler winter scape. Here is how I changed the house scenery.

Outside the wreath of shiny red Christmas balls was replaced by one of magnolia leaves. In my opinion, the red berries still look festive, but the Burberry ribbon makes it less of a Christmas wreath and more a winter decoration.

On the front stoop, I decided the snowballs could stay, but I removed the red bow on the wire basket.

Inside snowmen replace carolers.

 Snowflakes appear where there were wise men and shepherds.
I left the poinsettias, because the white blooms seem to bridge the calendar from December to January.

Similarly, the white cyclamen repeats the winter's color-scheme.

Just as January brings a pared down aesthetic to my house decor; it also brings a simpler style to my life. No more cards to write or gifts to wrap. Now I can linger over coffee, read a good book, and take time for exercise and contemplation.

However, my new year's resolutions won't tolerate too much leisure. I am freshly motivated to accomplish a writing project begun several years ago. I am determined not to waste a day. Each new morning, I aim to rise early and be productive.

Actually, each new morning is an opportunity to reset. As Anne of Green Gables said to Marilla, "Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"

It is easy to set ourselves up for failure in the new year, but thankfully, the Lord's mercies are new every morning, and his mercy triumphs over judgment!

Happy fresh starts, my friends, in your house and in your life!