September 16, 2014

Those Humble Beans

Those humble beans ~ they really are a great thing.

I've been working on my food budget, and meal planning with a vengeance.
That's where beans come in in a big way.  I like to include meatless meals
and beans fit the bill perfectly.  They fill up the hungry tummies nicely. 
They are inexpensive, and, if properly prepared, healthy for you.

A win-win in my books.


I've discovered that the bulk foods manager
at my local grocery store will order in whatever I ask for
in the 25 lb bag size and sell it to me for less than
half what I would have paid for it in the bulk section.
Another win-win ~ Yippee...yahoo!  :)

Now, how to prepare all those lovely beans?

25 lbs of dried beans translates into approximately 150 cups
of cooked beans.  Isn't that a crazy thought?  That works out to
approximately 25 cents per cup of cooked organic black beans.

From the dried form, you need to sort through and pick out any rocks 
and shrivelled beans and discard. Then, rinse the beans by putting them into
a large stock pot.  Fill it with water and swish and pour the water off. 
 Do this a few times until the water is no longer dirty.


Next, put fresh water in your pot to cover the beans by several inches. 
 Pour about 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar into the pot and set it on high heat. 
 Bring the water to a bare simmer and shut the heat off. 
 Cover the pot and let sit for about 12 hours.

Drain, rinse and repeat the above step.

After 12 more hours of soaking time (for a total of 24 hours),
drain and rinse the beans. Cover with fresh water.  Do not use vinegar. 
 Bring to a boil and skim off foam.  Reduce heat and simmer, 
partially covered, for about 1.5 to 2 hours. 
 Test your beans for doneness (taste test) 
every so often to be sure they are cooked. 
 Salt added to the cooking water will not allow your beans to soften. 

Do not add salt until thoroughly cooked.


Drain, rinse, and freeze your beans in recipe-sized portions.
I find many of my recipes call for six cups of cooked beans.
So, most of my bags of beans in the freezer are for that amount.
If you need less, freeze less.  It's always helpful to label the bags
so you know what's in them ~ the item and amount of it.

What about you?  Have you ventured into the world of dried beans and lentils?  
It just requires a little advance preparation to put them to use.
They really aren't as scary as they might seem.

Happy Homemaking!
With Love, Camille

September 15, 2014

Happy Lunching!

It's Monday ~ but, y'all know that already.  Okay ~ let's talk lunch.
Is it just me, or does lunch time sneak up on you, too?
Without fail, it seems to catch me off guard more often than not.

I have been making dinner plans for a month at a time.
Breakfast is easy ~ frequently, it will be a variation on oatmeal, or eggs with toast.
But, lunch ~ it can be a little trickier.  I like having a few ideas up my sleeve.
We home educate, so there are hungry people to feed all day long.
There are no bag lunches to prepare, but, lunch is required nonetheless.

Enter leftovers ~ love 'em.  And, simple meals ~ love 'em, too.
This is one of those simple ideas.  Oh yum!


It's flexible and easy as anything.
A big hit all around.  Woohoo!

What are your favourites for lunch?
Please share ~ fresh ideas are always a good thing.
Yes, a very good thing.  Especially on a Monday.  :)

Happy Lunching!
With Love, Camille

September 11, 2014

Hearts on Sleeves

We all like to think we aren't the only ones.
That we are not in this race alone or that someone understands.
In the attempt at being real we sometimes wear hearts on sleeves.
It's easy to do in this online world.  Too easy at times.

Keeping it real is a good thing.  
Revealing everything isn't

It's a fine line we walk with our words.  Pixelled or otherwise.
Keeping in mind that all that is on our minds or in our hearts
ought not to be fair game for the world of onlookers.
I have read some things that I could relate to ~ absolutely.
But, I would hesitate to write them, or even speak them out loud.

Maybe just in prayer.  Alone.  


In an effort to gain ratings and readers,
it can be all too easy to throw caution to the wind.
But, is it for the best?  Is it wise?  Is it godly?

"In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin:
but he that refraineth his lips is wise."  Proverbs 10:19

"He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour:
but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.
A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a
faithful spirit concealeth the matter."  Proverbs 11:12-13

"Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that 
shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding."  Proverbs 17:28

Wisdom is often accompanied by silence.

There are things that might be an encouragement to others,
but, they may hurt the ones nearest and dearest to my heart.
Do I "share" in order to be "real", or do I keep silent in order to be honourable?
Good food for thought.  Yes?

May the Lord give wisdom and insight to know
how much to say and when to say it.  How much I need Him!
May He give the wisdom to know when silence is best.
Ultimately, He is the One we aim to please.
At the end of it all, we only answer to Him.

Please know that these are some of the things I mull over in my brain
because I am one of many words.  I often need to stop and consider.
Posts like this are the result of the self-talk I'm prone to.
A good thing?  I really do think so.  :)

With Love, Camille

September 9, 2014

So. Much. Better.

We have a closet which hides many faults.
It is one of those additions to our home that I love.
However, it can become a catch-all for those things
that cannot be attended to immediately.

You know how it goes ~ if there's space, it will be filled.
That's how it goes around here.  Maybe it's not like that for you?

This closet is for curriculum storage and keepsakes.
Camp chairs and sleeping bags and backpacks ~ they are there, too.
Archives of this and that, and even the outdoor furniture cushions find 
a home behind its closed doors.  It can quickly get out of hand.

Enter the need for a big clear out once in awhile.
Where does all this stuff come from?


So...clear out I did!  You know how it goes.
You've got to make a mess before order is restored.
See the mess?  Oh!  The Mess!!


But, before long, I had four boxes at the door ready to go to charity.
(And, a young man eager to drive alone who took them all away ~ Yippee!)


Curriculum to sell was stacked on the stairs.


More curriculum was filed into a bin ~ ready for a new home.


Orderliness restored to the closet ~ Woohoo!


Ahhh ~ It feels So. Much. Better.

How about you?  Do you clear out closets in the same way?
Do you make a big mess in the process?  Tell me I'm not the only one.
Or, do you keep everything perfectly maintained all the time?
(If so, please don't tell me about it.  That would just not be kind.  Not at all.)

Happy Fall!  
With Love, Camille

September 8, 2014

What If...

What if we all did this?  I mean really did it.

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory,
but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Look not every man on his own things, but every
man also on the things of others."  Philippians 2:3-4

What would life be like?  What would we be like?


It's impossible without the Lord.  It's only lasting with Him.
Pondering these things these days.  Letting it really sink in.
Just a little food for thought this Monday morning.

Hugs to you all!
Camille

September 5, 2014

More Special than Ever

The Hundred Acre Wood is within walking distance of our home.
It's not really Winnie the Pooh's wood ~ we just named it that.
I suppose it all came about due to our children being little and well
versed in all things Winnie-the-Pooh ~ back in the day.

Our children have walked and cycled with us on its paths over the years.
Very often, we would take a little extra time to meander 
through the neighbouring cemetery along its borders.
We would read the grave markers and quietly ponder
those who were spoken of ~ the lives they represented.

We liked that little cemetery.  The children liked it, too.
We had no idea that one of our own would end
up being buried there.  No idea at all.
But, he is.  And now, it is more special than ever.

These photos are from today's walk ~ just the two of us.






Have a beautiful weekend!
With Love, Camille

September 4, 2014

What's for Dinner? ~ September Edition

What's for Dinner? ~ September Edition.
 Just to clarify ~ I have a month of dinners figured out.
I don't necessarily assign specific meals to specific days.
What works best for me is to group the meals into weeks
and then to go from there.

I also include some ideas for breakfast and lunch on my plan (not shown) ~
however, I don't have the whole month planned out for those meals.
As a money-saving strategy, I am incorporating beans/meatless meals weekly.
One of my goals is to have fish on a weekly basis as well.

At the beginning of the month, I make a master list for the staple items 
I will need for the entire month and shop for them all at once ~ or, try to.
At the beginning of each new week, I make my grocery list for the 
fresh items I will need and shop for them accordingly.

Oh, and one more thing.  I fill in the gaps when I make my weekly list.  
That is, the main dish is decided for the month overview,
but, the sides get plugged in at the beginning of each week.
That's why the first week looks more fleshed out ~ because we are in it!
Any questions?  Feel free to ask.  Now...here's the list.

September 1-7:

~ Shrimp Creole
~ Homemade Fish and Chips with Coleslaw
~ Trader Joe's Chicken with Nugget potatoes, carrots and Greek Salad
~ Trisha's Crock Pot Chicken with rice and steamed broccoli


September 8-14:

~ Farmer's Breakfast
~ Baked Salmon
~ Shepherd's Pie
 September 15-21:

~ Leek and Potato Soup
~ Chicken Stir Fry
~ Salmon Loaf
~ Beef Stew


September 22-28:

~ Sweet and Sour Lentils

~ Meat Loaf and Scalloped Potatoes
~ Tuna Fish Cakes with Foil Veggies
~ Autumn Chowder
~ Chili with Cornbread
~ Tex Mex Chicken Soup
~ Leftovers (Finally!)



September 29-October 5:

~ Green Pea Soup
~ Auntie Fran's Quiche
~ Tandoori Chicken
~ Slow Cooker Spaghetti


Now, we need to implement this and see how it all pans out ~
I find that planning it out helps to keep me on track. 

The big question still remains ~ Will it actually save money? 
I know it will eliminate the last-minute dash to the store as well as the
temptation to order in pizza.  That's got to make a difference...right?  We'll see.

What about you?  What's on your menu this month?
How about this week?  Please share.  
It makes things more fun when you do.

Happy September Y'all!
With Love, Camille

September 1, 2014

Adjusting

We are adjusting.  Accepting the new normal.
We are not moving on.  We are not forgetting.  We are moving forward.
We carry the memories with us.  We are keeping the memories alive.
This is the most difficult road we have ever had to travel.

We are navigating the unknown.  Step by step.

I am slowly getting used to dishing out five plates of food and counting up
five in the van and at church.  Getting used to not being able to talk 
to our son, or hear his voice in the hall or on the stairs.
Getting used to his room sitting silent and his things remaining untouched.  

Getting used to his absence.

We miss him.  All that he brought to our family.  All that he is.
We smile and even laugh when we think of his antics 
and the many ways in which he brought us joy.

We also cry.  Often.


~ Roses from Austin's Rose Tree at his grave ~

The void he leaves in our lives will never be filled by another.
No one can take his place.  No one will ever be able to.
We will miss him until the day we die.  That will not change.
We will carry his absence with us for as long as we live.

It's actually a comfort to realise the truth of it.
We are each special and unique.  It's how God intends for it to be.

So, we navigate this path of grief with our Great God
guiding us each step of the way.  He is faithful and He is good.
We look to Him for comfort and for strength.
We fill our minds and hearts with the Truth found
within His Word and we feast upon it.  We are fortified in it.

It is absolutely the only way forward.
Absolutely the only way to continue to live.
Each day, we are one day closer to eternity.
Each day, we leave more of this life behind.

May we be faithful.

Faithful in all that our Saviour calls us to.
Faithful to live our lives fully for Him.
Faithful until the day He calls us Home.
By His grace and in His strength.  For His glory.

Nothing else matters.  Absolutely nothing.

Many Blessings,
Camille

August 29, 2014

The Quotidian (29. 8. 14)

Quotidian: daily, usual, or customary;
everyday; ordinary; commonplace.


A treat for Fraser's birthday.
Yes, that's Howie in the pilot's seat.  :)
(Photo courtesy of Calvin ~ he got to go for a flight as well.)


Baking beauty ~ making these.


Waiting to be cleaned ~ necessary after this.
(It's been cleaned since I took this photo...yippee!)


Just as I found it ~ made me smile.



Pollyanna ~ A rare treasure from my childhood shared with my girl.


I believe it was my grandmother's before it was my mother's 
before it was mine ~ 1913!



Monopoly Marathon ~ Two different games...
two different brothers...over the course of a few days.




Proceeds of a lawn care job ~ they were picked legitimately.


Reading to the sick girl.


Figuring it all out ~ sort of.


The New Driver ~ Look Out!  ;-)


It began innocently enough ~ now it's a treasure.

Have a wonderful weekend!
With Love, Camille

August 27, 2014

Bird's Eye View

Mid-summer we went on a little local adventure.
We had never taken our children up Grouse Mountain before,
so, it was high time we did!

The day was a little iffy weather-wise, but, we forged ahead anyway.
The boys opted to hike to the top with my Sweetie.  
Emma and I (wisely) took the tram.


Two of our dear friends joined us ~ what a treat!  
Here we are at the top (minus Howie and the boys...
they were still hiking) ~ I took the photo.  :)


See the boys and Howie?
It's not called "The Grouse Grind" for no reason.  It's grueling.
The boys completed the hike up in approximately 40 minutes.
Howie came in at just over an hour.


Grouse Mountain is a favourite local skiing spot in the winter months.
Here you can see the chair lift above and the city below.
The snow completely melts in the summer months.


Emma found some wild flowers ~ 
not sure if we were supposed to pick them!


Family photo-op.  :)


Our friends left the mountain earlier than we
had to in order to catch a ferry back home.


We ended our day by visiting the Grizzlies at their enclosure.
These two were rescued as orphans approximately fourteen years ago.
Apparently, they are well cared for and happy.  They are so powerful.
We were so trusting of the fence!


See how close they are to us?


See the two white peaks of the new bridge halfway up and
a little to the left of centre in the photo below?
Emma and I crossed it when we were making deliveries in the winter.


It was lovely to have this bird's eye view of Vancouver.
It was a rare treat for sure.

What adventurous things did you do this summer?
Do tell.  Pretty please?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Happy Wednesday Y'all!
With Love, Camille

August 26, 2014

Well Worth the Effort

My sister and I share food ideas and like to sample
each other's wares.  This past visit was no exception to the rule.
This ice cream was one food idea I brought home with me.
Along with the recipe book it was found in ~ thank you, Janine!  :)

~ Toasted Coconut Ice Cream ~

Altered slightly from the recipe as found in
by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker and Dabney Gough


This is a cooked ice cream.  The base must be set in the fridge
to cool for at least a couple of hours prior to churning.
It is a little fussy, but, well worth the effort.

~ What you need ~

1 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1/2 cup sweetened dried shredded coconut
2 cups whipping cream (unwhipped)
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar, divided (I use evaporated cane juice)
1/4 tsp sea salt
5 large egg yolks

~ What you do ~

Toast both types of coconut separately in a skillet and set aside.
I found that 250 degrees F was the right temperature to toast it at.
Be sure to stir constantly and remove from the pan as soon as it's done.
Toasting the coconut will only take a few minutes ~ be careful...it burns easily.

Infuse the milk and cream with the 1 cup of unsweetened 
toasted coconut by using the following method.
Bring the cream, milk, salt, and half the sugar (6 Tbsp) to a simmer in a heavy pan.
Stir in the unsweetened coconut.  Return to a bare simmer and remove from heat.
Cover the pan and set aside to infuse for approximately 30 minutes.

Once the 30 minutes is up, strain the milk mixture 
through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl.
The goal is to remove all the liquid from the coconut meat.
Press the coconut with the back of a spoon to accomplish this.
Discard the coconut meat ~ yes, really!  It's tasteless.  :)
Clean the pan and pour the infused cream mixture back into it.


In a medium heat proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks 
with the remaining 6 Tbsp of sugar (the other half of the 3/4 cup).
Bring the infused cream (in your pan) to a simmer over medium-high heat.
Reduce heat to medium and carefully add half a cup of the hot cream
mixture to the yolks and sugar in the bowl.  Whisk briskly while you do this step.
Keep adding the hot cream half a cup at a time to temper the yolks.
Repeat this step for a total of three times.

Keep the cream mixture on medium heat and whisk it in the pan
as you add in the tempered egg yolks in a slow and steady stream.
Keep whisking until all the yolks are incorporated into the pan of cream.  
Whisk constantly while you heat the custard to 180 degrees F.
I use a thermometer to be sure the correct temperature has been reached.

As soon as the custard reaches 180 degrees, pour through a clean mesh sieve
which has been set over a clean glass bowl.  Whisk as it cools.  
Cover with plastic wrap and set in the fridge to cool completely.
Cool a few hours or overnight.  The custard will thicken.
Churn in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

Stir in the sweetened, toasted, shredded coconut in the last
couple minutes of churning.  Serve immediately for soft serve.
Or, transfer to a freezer container and freeze a few hours for firmer ice cream.

It's nearly impossible to make this last any longer than one day.
Go ahead...try to prove me wrong!  ;-)

Enjoy!  Love, Camille

August 25, 2014

Spreading Their Wings

It's inevitable.  It cannot be stopped.
Our children grow and change and become independent.
Or, they ought to.  And, we ought to facilitate it.
When and how is an individual family's decision.  Wisdom is required.


We are in the midst of these changes.  Right now.
Boys to men.  It's happening right before our eyes.
Our young men are spreading their wings.


~ Fraser and Calvin on the right ~

If it weren't for the fact that my boys have a Dad
who remembers what it was like to be a young man,
they would not be allowed to go on adventures like they do.
No sirree.  It would not be allowed.  Not at all.

But, that would not be good.  I know it wouldn't.
These really are good and necessary things.


At the beginning of August, Calvin and Fraser piled into a car
with two other young men and travelled clear across the Province.
Right into the mountains.  Out of cell phone reach.  Seven hours away.
Deep into the heart of Grizzly Country.  For real.
(They didn't see any bears, but, they were informed of their presence.)

They slept and ate and hiked.  Day after day.  For nearly a week.

This was the reason behind the trip Emma and I took.
A little distraction was a good thing for this Mama.
Poor Howie ~ he was holding the fort at home, and had
plenty of time to think about what it was that we had done.
(Maybe he began to second guess our decision to let them go?)

~ Fraser and Calvin on the left ~

When the boys returned, I had them unload everything into the laundry room.
They were under strict orders not to bring anything beyond its borders.
The report of "I didn't change anything but my socks for five days!" was
not music to my ears.  But, they survived.  And, are the better for it.

On a side note ~ white and camping do not mix.  Just sayin'.
Thankfully, I have a good supply of Oxi-Clean on hand.  It works wonders.

The socks that had been zipped closed in the Ziploc freezer bag,
however, were not salvageable.  Nope.  They were promptly ditched.
Wet socks sealed up for days on end produce nasty results.  Very nasty.
Thankfully, they were the only casualties of the entire experience.

Our young men survived and did it well.



The boys came home filled to the brim with stories and over 1000 images.
By all accounts, it was a wonderful experience for each one of them.
And, as a bonus, the friendships being forged are stronger because of it.
We are thankful for these opportunities for our young men.

But, I must admit ~ we are glad to have them home.
(It is a little messier and louder ~ but, it is good.)

Many Blessings,
Camille


**Photos in this post courtesy of Calvin ~ Thank you my love!  XO
(The first group shot was taken by a French hiker, the second shot was
taken by J.H., and the final group photo was taken using the self-timer.)