October 9, 2015

What it Became ~ Part One

The journey with our home began when Howie bought
it without any input from me.  And, without an inspection.
Two strikes against it.  But, we weren't planning on moving in.
The house was to be whipped into shape and sold.  For a profit.

Those were our plans.
And, it really had nothing to do with me.

At least, that's what I thought at the time.  It's obvious how that turned out, isn't it?
My exact words to Howie when he drove me past the house for the first time were;
"Oh, Howie!  We aren't going to LIVE there, are we?".
His answer was an emphatic NO.  I was relieved.

Click here to see some of what I saw.
It was most definitely not love at first sight.

Six months of sprucing up and cleaning took place.
We put the house up for sale and it didn't sell.  We waited.  We prayed.
The Lord softened our hearts and provided a way.  Then, we moved in.

Nothing much was altered after the initial phase of making it our own.
We prepared the nursery for our baby-on-the-way (Austin) by stenciling
teddy bears on the walls and painting the lower half of the room hunter green.
Howie's home office was painted another bold colour and wall-papered.
Curtains were made and hung and deep cleaning was done.

That was about the extent of it.

Tenants moved in beneath us.  A laundry room/shed was shared between us.
The suite was completely separate from our living space.
My Dad had been commissioned by us to put up a wall, among other things.
(On a side note ~ he has been such a help to us over the years.
A huge blessing.  Thank you, Dad!  XO)

Four years later, after our second set of tenants had moved out,
Howie brought his work home and became our basement tenant. 
We occupied the upstairs of the house and kept the suite separate.

It was still our intention to sell.  To move on.
A house with a suite in our area would sell best.
So, we kept it intact.

More babies were born, and, we found ourselves
bursting at the seams.  With only two bedrooms upstairs, and
access to one basement bedroom, we felt pushed to our limits.
The six of us occupied 1100 square feet of our home.

It was snug.  We contemplated selling.
But, our home had problems.

The most pressing concern was the failing septic field.
Four children and all the laundry little ones require had tipped it over the edge.
A second major concern was the improperly closed in (not by us)
carport-turned-bedroom which had water damage and leak issues.

It became abundantly clear that we couldn't sell it in the condition it was in.
Surely, anyone who might have been interested would be put off
by these deficiencies.  Any normal person would run the other way.
So, we ran headlong into renovations that would stretch out
over the following eighteen months and beyond.

Thankfully, we knew someone who could help.
Unfortunately, the only way to hook up to the city sewer was by going
the most direct route.  Through the house from front to back!
That trench was on its way inside.  Not a fun prospect.  

Jack-hammering in the house is not for the faint of heart.  Just to be clear on that point.
We would work into the evenings after the children were in bed.
It has been proven that if they feel secure, they will sleep through almost anything.

That trench went through the boys' room,
under the wall to the laundry room, down the hall,
and through the basement bathroom to the back yard.
It got worse before it got better.  These photos were taken
when this part of the basement was still separated from the upstairs.

Remember my reference to slugs?  And mushrooms?  Inside the house!
They were there due to a hole that was only discovered when the
outside wall was removed.  Former renovations (not ours) gone wrong.
When it rained, I vacuumed.  With a wet/dry Shop Vac.
Often two full barrels of water were sucked out of that carpet.

Prior to the boys moving into that room, we had it fixed.
But, it turned out to just be a Band-Aid solution.
The entire wall had to be removed and rebuilt from the foundation up.

This is the corner where the hole to the outdoors was.
At that time, it was Austin's and Calvin's bedroom.
Currently, it's the room that Fraser occupies.

It was deemed the wisest course of action to put these things right.
And, in the process of doing so, we made it our own.

That's when the fun began.  And the grey hair started coming in.
And the sleepless nights returned.  Blood.  Sweat.  Tears.
All while raising up a young family.  At the beginning of this adventure,
the children ranged in age from eight years old down to one.

It nearly finished us off.
We said we would never renovate again.
Never say never, right?  Right.
More to come....

Many Blessings,

**Click here for the introduction to this series of posts.

October 7, 2015

What it Was

Nearly twenty-one years ago, we moved into our home.
Our dream home it wasn't.  In fact, it was never our intention to move in.
Our plan was to flip it after a little sprucing up.
However, the market went flat and the house did not sell.

So, move in we did.

God's plans are always better than ours.
I must admit, though, it took quite some time for us to realise
that this was one of His very good gifts to us.

When we first moved in, the house sported blue carpeting which was
stained pink in places due to the previous owner's dog's urine.
Those stains were everywhere.

The kitchen had brown appliances which we swapped out
for harvest gold hand-me-downs from Howie's parents.  The cupboards were dark brown.
The windows were of the single pane variety complete with brown aluminum frames.

The bathroom featured a yellow sink, toilet, and tub.
The septic field would be stressed to the point of failure in a matter of years.
And, the roof would need replacing.  Twice.
We had a bout of slugs and mushrooms inside a basement bedroom
due to an improperly closed in carport.

I'm ashamed to admit it, but, we felt it wasn't good enough.
Just a stepping stone to something better.
We had no intention of putting any money or much effort into this house.
We lived in it just as it was for about eight years.

Our plan was to sell and move to something better as soon as we could afford it.
Obviously, we thought far too highly of ourselves.
And, we thought far too little of this gift we had been blessed with.

The Lord should have stripped our home off of us and never given us another.
But, He so graciously allowed us to stay.  How thankful we are that He did!
My plan was to document our renovation journey, but, it didn't properly get done.
Until now.  Want to come along for the ride?  There's more to this story.

And, it does have a happy ending.

Do you have a renovation story to share?  Are you in the midst of them?
Or, have you lived through renovations in the past?  Do tell all.
And, if you post about it on your blog...please let us know!

Many Blessings,

**Photos in this post are from the mid-to-late 1990's.
**Click here for part one in this series.

October 5, 2015

The Quotidian (5. 10. 15)

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

Alive and Well.

The neighbourhood lawn boy.

His feet.


Austin's Rose Tree produced approximately 60 blooms this year.

Making one of her own.

My side-kick.

Happy Monday Y'all!
With Love, Camille

October 2, 2015

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies ~ Gluten Free

You would never guess these are gluten free.
No need to feel deprived of yummy things if you have
to bypass the gluten.  These make up for that.

Be sure that your oats are certified gluten free
if you have to be strict about your gluten avoidance.

What you need:

2 cups Rolled Oats (GF)
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1 cup Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup melted Butter
2/3 cup Golden Brown Sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened Medium Coconut
1 large Egg ~ slightly beaten
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

What you do:

Grind the oats in a food processor until flour-like in consistency.
Leave a few oats in slightly larger pieces to provide texture to the cookies.
Put ground oats into a medium bowl and stir in the baking soda, sea salt and
chocolate chips until well blended.  Set aside.

Melt butter over medium heat in small pot.  
Pour melted butter into large mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.
Stir the brown sugar, coconut, egg, and vanilla into the melted butter.  Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir together until mixed thoroughly.
Spoon heaping teaspoons of cookie cough onto parchment lined baking sheet.
Don't press the dough down before baking.

Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 8 or 9 minutes until golden.
Remove from oven and allow cookies to rest on pan for 5 minutes
before removing to cooling racks.

These cookies will spread as they bake ~ 
be sure to leave space for them to comfortably do so.
It's imperative that you let them rest for the recommended 5 minutes
or they will fall apart.  If you cannot wait, your cookies will be broken.

I must admit, however, it's worth it to have one (or two) 
warm from the oven.  Use a fork if you must.  :)
One recipe makes 36 cookies.

Happy Baking!
With Love, Camille

September 28, 2015

The Quotidian (28. 9. 15)

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

Running Rodent.

Outside our front door.

Close up.

See the steam?

Sunshine streaming in ~ a rare treat these days.

To eat by.

Into the woods with two of my treasures.


Surveying the work in progress.

Blurred...but, a memory I want to keep.

After the ride.

The empty space has been filled ~ finally.

Happy Monday!
With Love, Camille

September 24, 2015

Suddenly and Slowly

Life is full of seasons.
And, the seasons change.

One sure thing this side of eternity is change.
Sometimes, it sneaks up on us quietly.  Softly.
At other times, we are thrown into the deep end and 
barely have a chance to catch our breath.

It is how it is.

While mothering little people, it is easy to get lulled into the false
notion that everything will go on and on and on.  Just the same.  For always.
But, change slowly creeps up on us.  And, then, life is different.

When we were in the midst of diapers and high chairs and naps,
it felt like that season would never end.  Like it would never change.
But, it did.  Diapers were no longer needed.  Naps were abandoned.
The little people grew into bigger people.  Suddenly and slowly.

One season gives way to the next.

For years, we walked at the beach together as a family.
We thought it would last forever.
We knew it couldn't.  But, we hoped it would.

Those were precious days.  And, we knew they were.
We had no idea how much we would miss them when they were gone.
We had no idea how quietly that season would slip away.

When we look back, we see how gently the Lord dealt with us.
How tenderly He led us.  How graciously He kept us.
Through it all, our great God never changes.  He always is the same.
Because of Him we carry on.  Because of Him we hope and trust.

Because of Him, we are able to move forward.
Only because of Him.

Our Austin's body was laid to rest at the edge of these woods.
It's where we walk most days now.
We still love the beach, but, we love the woods even more.

These days, Calvin is working and studying, so, he exercises alone.  Early.
Fraser and Emma exercise together most days ~ often just ahead of us on the trail.
So, Howie and I are experiencing a bit of a throw-back to our newlywed days.
Just us two.  At least, that's the way it is in the exercising department.

But, we know this is just another season.
Likely before we really want it to, it will change.

Just the other day, Howie was away for the morning, so, I headed into
the woods with our younger two.  It was a precious time together.
I am fully aware that each moment is a gift.  Nothing ought to be taken for granted.

This is a season of transition.
All seasons are.

During our trip to the UK nearly a year ago, we had the opportunity
to visit with various members of Auntie Mary's village church.
A precious couple shared some of their story with Howie.
In so doing, they offered wonderful encouragement for our grieving hearts.

They know first hand how to encourage in these things.  They have walked a similar path.
At the age of twelve, their boy was killed when he was struck down by a passing truck.
More than thirty years ago.  Their's was a sudden change.  A shocking one.
In that moment, their family was torn apart in the physical sense.

And, yet, they looked to the Lord in the midst of it all and found comfort.
They stood firm on the very promises that encourage our hearts, and they found peace.
A continual reigning in of heart and mind is necessary for the journey.
The steadying place to stand is on the Word of God.  On His Word alone.

This precious couple still carry the memory of their boy along with them.
They do not forget, but, the sharpness of the pain lessens as the years pass by.
As they near the end of their earthly journey, they are finishing their race well.
They are a joy to be around.  It is our desire that we would follow in their footsteps.

Only by the great grace of our great God is it even possible.
But, it is possible.  And, it is attainable.  In His strength alone.

So, as the seasons change and the path takes twists and turns,
may we be found following wherever our Saviour leads.
May we be found rejoicing in Him each step of the way.
And, may we embrace the seasons as they come.

The Lord is eternally good.  And, eternally faithful.
We have nothing to fear when we follow Him.
One day, not long from now, He will lead us Home.

With Love, Camille

September 22, 2015

Creamy Potato Soup ~ Gluten Free

This soup!  It's inexpensive to make and SO yummy to eat!
You can satisfy all those hungry tummies for approximately
$1 per person (hearty appetites included).

The cost increases if cheese and bacon are served.
Of course, bacon and cheese are wonderful additions, but,
not necessary for the yum factor.

Here's what you need:

7 or 8 large Yukon Gold Potatoes ~ diced, skins on
(You should have about 10 to 12 cups diced potatoes)
1/3 cup Butter
1 large cooking Onion ~ peeled and diced
6 cloves Garlic ~ minced
Water to cover potatoes in pot
2 cups Heavy Cream
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
Grated cheddar and crumbled bacon for toppings

Here's what you do:

Scrub and dice the potatoes ~ be sure to leave the skins on.  Set aside.
In large pot (mine's a 5 Quart size), melt butter and saute
the garlic and onions until translucent.  Add potatoes and toss to coat.

Cover potatoes in pot with water (only until barely covered) and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes,
or until potatoes are very soft.

Puree with an immersion blender until mixture is nearly smooth.
I like to leave some chunks of potato in the soup for a little texture.
Stir in the sea salt, pepper, and cream.
Heat through and serve.

Crisply fried and crumbled bacon along with
shredded cheese are wonderful toppings for this yummy soup.

Serve this creamy potato soup to six or seven very hungry people
on a cold, blustery day while a fire blazes in the fireplace.
You'll make all your guests very happy.  Guaranteed.

Hugs all around!
With Love, Camille

September 21, 2015

The Quotidian (21. 9. 15)

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

Back in the swing of things.

Day One of Two ~ Emma's Schedule.

The nights are drawing in.

More of this and so much more to go!

Off to a shoot.

The obligatory wave good-bye ~ love!

The Hamster Hilton.

The best spelling program ever!

Lessons begin again.

Getting 'em done ~ spelling errors and all.

Change required in a hurry.

Curl on my girl.

No more lessons ~ he just enjoys playing.

The composer's hands.

For emergencies.

Ten years and counting.
(Only one paper and two carriers these days.)

Fancy cereal bowls for the first time in our married life.

So my sister can see ~ our new plates.

Happy Monday Y'all.
With Love, Camille