Presents

Thank Heaven For Small Miracles

image I created these notecards on Minted to use as thank you cards for our new little daughter. They seemed appropriate as her name means miracle.

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For the nurses that took such good care of us in the hospital I paired one of these notecards with some homemade star cookies, keeping to the celestial theme. I carefully placed them in a white tin, using some coordinating tape to seal the lid and add a little flourish with a bow.

We are truly grateful for our little miracle.

Presents

Champagne for Success

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“In success you deserve Champagne,

in defeat you need it.”

– Winston Churchill

Since reading the book Dinner With Churchill I’ve had Pol Roger Champagne on my mind. So when we were looking to purchase a bottle of bubbly to celebrate a friend’s academic success, I gravitated towards it. Once I found the above quote, from the former Prime Minister about his favorite tipple, the gift came together easily.

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Culinary Comfort

A friend stopped by with a thoughtful baby gift on behalf of a moms group I belong to. I was touched by this kind gesture, but even more so by the meal she brought along with it: a homemade chicken dish, tasty salad, and healthy dessert. As fellow mothers they understand that what I really need right now are offers of help. We really enjoyed dinner that someone else cooked for a change.

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Photo: Delia online

When I want to take a meal to a friend in need I make the traditional British recipe of cottage pie. This potato and meat creation was given its name when potatoes became widely available to the lower classes in England, cottage being a humble dwelling. At this time potato was often combined with leftover meat for a hearty supper. Often mistakenly called shepherd’s pie, this version is made with beef (shepherds pie is made with lamb). I always refer to the Delia Smith version for she is the (ageless) doyenne of British cooking. As one friend’s husband put it: “her recipes always work; she ever lies”. With it’s sweet cinnamon flavor and a creamy potato and leek topping this a perennial favorite, it’s one pot meal status making it particularly easy for the recipient.

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Inspirational Quote: Social Animals

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“WE ARE SOCIAL ANIMALS. MY FUTURE DEPENDS ON OTHERS. THEIR SUFFERING IS ULTIMATELY YOUR SUFFERING.” – The Dalai Lama

This quote appeared on the TED blog at the end of last week (visual created by Mike Birchall). Taken from a video released on the final day of TED2015, this was one of seven quotes from a conversation between Chris Anderson and the Dalai Lama. The topic of the talk was happiness, peace and how all humans can coexist. This phrase spoke to me because we are social beings, needing each other. When someone we know is suffering it is important that we react and show we care, offering them support.

Presents

Dinner With Churchill

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I’ve just finished reading Dinner with Churchill by Cita Stelzer and have been immersed in the world of British cooking. Churchill proclaimed to prefer simple foods, but to him that meant roast beef, champagne and other expensive items, all prepared to exacting standards and mostly served elaborately, with great attention to detail. It was a fascinating little book to a modern history buff who also relishes her food and entertaining. I very much enjoyed discussing it with my Book Club recently.
We each take it in turns hosting our Book Club and I always like to take a little something as a hostess gift. I decided against the Prime Minister’s favored Pol Roger champagne or Romeo y Julieta cigars, and deemed a British food item more appropriate. I went with treacle pudding, a classic winter dessert that is impossible not to devour: steamed sponge cake topped with golden syrup, a sticky, sugary substance. I used a Union Jack paper napkin and simple red and white tape to wrap the tin, following a British theme but with a picnic feel. (Picnics – of the Churchill variety – also feature in the book.)
Here are a few of my go to British treats that I like to give:
British Gifts
a – Cadbury’s chocolate – the only chocolate according to the British
b – Twinings tea – British breakfast tea at its best
c – Ribena – a blackcurrant drink, traditionally a popular cold buster
d – Bakewell tarts – an almond flavored pastry and sponge confection
e – Lemon curd – a creamy and citrus jam alternative
f – Coleman’s mustard – English mustard with instantly recognizable yellow branding
g – Walker’s shortbread – a Scottish favorite
Presents

English Rose

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Our second beautiful daughter arrived last week. It was rather early so we were a little anxious, but the birth turned out to be a calm and beautiful experience. Since then we’ve been inundated with congratulations, good wishes and offers of help which have been quite overwhelming. People never cease to amaze me with their kindness.

When I returned home I was greeted by the most wonderful floral bouquet from my husband. One of the names we selected for our little girl was ‘Rose’ so these flowers were particularly appropriate. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by such love.

Presents

Stellar Gift

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Photo from Amazon.com

A chalice – a drinking cup or goblet – these days conjures up images of Harry Potter or some other mystical connection. Stella Artois have also produced a version, a limited edition chalice in support of water.org. For every glass purchased, five years of clean water can be provided for one person in the developing world, a different kind of magical association. These pieces are not only practical but also beautiful, feature enchanting etched patterns inspired by India, Ethiopia and Honduras, with the celestial Stella Artois star image on the stem. I like the idea that these would not only make useful and attractive gifts, but also help fund such a worthy cause, sharing a good message with the recipient.

Wishing someone a cup that “runneth over” is to wish that they will always have more than they need – they will never go without. This is a nice sentiment for a home, so I have purchased a couple to give to friends when we go visiting.