July 16, 2014

A Little Break...

Just taking a little break from this space for awhile.
I have found it to be necessary every so often.  
My plan is to be silent here for the next few weeks.
Just taking a little time away to refresh and regroup.


Each of you is a sweet blessing to my heart.
Thank you for extending grace to me each time I disappear.
Thank you for understanding.


The Lord-willing, I will catch up with you sometime in August.
If you should choose to leave a comment, it will not appear until then.
Your patience is so appreciated.  Really and truly.


May the Lord bless you each with wonderful summer days.
May you be found making memories and enjoying 
the quickly passing moments as they come.
May His peace and presence be with you always.

With Love, Camille

**The photos in this post were taken in 2010 when we were on a family
vacation together in California.  We will always have four.
We continue to miss our Austin ~ so very, very much!

July 15, 2014

And Down it Came

In our area it is necessary to get a permit
prior to cutting down a tree ~ it's the law.
And, this city does not give out permits easily.
However, if the tree is ten feet from your home
or closer, it is automatically granted.

This was our neighbour's tree.  Not ours.
But, it was right along our property line.
Essentially, we shared the tree.
And, it was less than ten feet from his house.

It was destroying our roof and his.  We have no idea what might
have been happening to our foundations ~ scary thought.
Between the two properties there are at least 40 trees.  
This one will not be missed.

See the tree in the centre of the photo below?
It looks as though it is coming up through the fence, doesn't it?
It practically was.

Our home is on the left, our neighbour's on the right ~
in case you were wondering.  Were you wondering?  ;-)


Here is the same shot just looking up a bit.


And up a bit more.  See the top of it?
I'm guessing it was about 75 to 80 feet tall.


On a side note ~ Years ago, we had a tree in our front yard that
stood about ten feet from our house, and rose to the height of 110 feet.
It was an *old-growth* tree and was one of only three of its size in this entire area.  
All the local arborists were aware of it.  When we were calling
around about it they said, "Oh, I know that tree!"  And they did.

The top of our tree-from-long-ago could be seen
from the neighbouring park and even from the freeway.  It was HUGE.
We had it taken down when Fraser was a baby ~ it had been deemed dangerous.
Unfortunately, we don't have photo documentation of that event.  Sad, but true.


A team of three men came early in the morning last Wednesday.
One of the men climbed the tree and one by one removed its branches.


The two other men worked on the ground pulling those branches down
using the pulley system they had rigged up.  They fed the chipper with them.


That's how things went all morning.
Until finally, the tree climber dude was near the top.


See him up there?  See Emma on her perch?


The pulley system was rigged up to the base of the top part of the tree.
The chainsaw worked its way through the trunk just below that base.


Timber!  What a crazy guy...look at him way up there!!
And down it came.


All seemed to go as planned until that tree top smashed
into the remaining trunk just below the calm looking worker.
He had to hold on tight as the trunk rebounded from the blow.
There were a few tense moments at that point.


He assured us that he was fine and we breathed a 
collective sigh of relief.  I am sure the two other workers were
instructed on what to do (and not do) the next time once the job was done.

See the tree top at the bottom of the tree trunk in the photo below?  
It was coming down to its resting place on top of the fence.
Somehow I got the feeling that wasn't their original plan.


There were two trailers full of logs as well as more stored
for a future load.  Some of the wood was ear-marked for us.
Yippee!!  I *love* a good fire in the winter.  :)


Fraser and Calvin were a huge help.


Those logs were heavy!


Just look at the size of one of the slices.



All that remains of the tree.


The view from our front driveway.  It's gone.


We are thankful that no one was seriously injured
and our properties were kept intact throughout the process.
It truly was an incredible thing to witness.

Happy Tuesday!
With Love, Camille

July 14, 2014

Yummy and Adjustable

Is it hot where you are?  It's rarely hot here.
However, in recent days we've been experiencing 
our version of a heat wave ~ we've hit the 90's!  ;-)
(C'mon, give us a little leeway on this one ~ 
we are not built for heat in these here parts.)

All that to say this ~ dinner that doesn't heat up the
house is imperative on days like these.
This, my friends, fits the bill perfectly.  Absolutely.
A couple of bonus features are that it's yummy and adjustable.
This dinner is quickly put together and fills up all the tummies.

Can't possibly get any better than that, can it?

There is a story behind this meal.  I probably won't get it right.
So, I won't even try.  Suffice it to say, I married into it.
Where exactly my Mum-in-love got the idea, I am not sure.
But, it is a hit and we all love it.


African Dish ~ courtesy of my precious Mum-in-love.
It's not really a recipe ~ more like a method.
Take this.  Chop that.  Throw it on.  That kind of method.
Hope it all makes sense.  Ready?  Here goes.

Chop up some toppings in bite sized chunks.
This is where anything goes.  Anything.
If you already like it, it will work.

I had separate bowls of chopped toppings galore for our feast.
There were bowls full of radishes, zucchini, green onions,
raisins, coconut, pecans, and tomatoes.
Go wild.  Get creative.  The sky is the limit.


Cook up a pot of rice and scramble fry some ground beef.
The beef benefits from some added spice ~
I used garlic powder and sea salt.  Simple, but tasty.

To serve, put a bed of rice on each plate.
Then, a scoop or two of meat goes on top of the rice.
Next, you let your guests build their own meal by adding
the toppings that appeal to them.  It's an individual thing.

Finally, pass the BBQ sauce.  It's the grande finale.
Pour on as much or as little as you like.  We happen to like lots.  

What is your favourite thing to make for dinner
on a hot, hot, hot day??  We all want to know.
Please tell all in the comments.  Pretty please?

Welcome Summer!
Many Blessings, Camille

July 12, 2014

The Quotidian (12. 7. 14)

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


Girl time.


Repairs ~ as per usual.


The Professor's set up.


Abandoned as the wind blew.


Just a little sorting required.


After the ride.


Dry after only two hours.

Happy Weekend, Y'all!
With Love, Camille

July 10, 2014

An Experiment

I'm in the middle of trying something new.
It's an experiment ~ at least, for me it is.
I've planned meals before ~ usually a week at a time.
I've even done it for a whole month ~ rarely.

The challenge with planning a menu for each day of the month
is that I don't do very well at seeing it through.
I get lost after a week or so.  It's discouraging.

But then.  Then!  A fresh twist on the old idea emerged as a result
of some online reading.  It was nothing new, really, it was just that in that
moment my thoughts gelled.  I got excited about the possibilities.
My goal is to challenge myself to feed my family well while
paring down my current rate of grocery spending.

I implemented the idea and am in the midst of seeing it through.
It's going very well.  It's not restricting.  Actually, it's liberating.


The idea?  Sit down with your calendar and your recipes.
Grab a pen and a stack of paper and a cup of coffee.
(Yes, the coffee is essential...or tea...it could be tea.)

Figure out how many weeks are in the coming month.
Take a piece of paper for each of those weeks and write the days 
of each week on top of the separate sheets of paper.
The papers in the above photo have dates corresponding to the 
weeks in July ~ 30-6; 7-13; 14-21; etc...

Then, look at all the *special* things coming up.
Write down main meal ideas on the papers corresponding
with the weeks those special things are happening in.
Then, jot down enough main meal ideas to fill in the remainder of the days.
Don't assign specific meals to specific days of the week, unless you want to.

Continue until you have enough ideas for the entire month.
Simple?  Yes.  I leave things kind of loose for breakfast and lunch.
If you prefer, you could plan ideas for those meals as well.
I have found, however, that it's dinner that stumps me most.
So, dinner is all I plan for in this detailed way.

Once the plan is in place, I make a master list 
of the ingredients required to pull it all off.
The fresh stuff I buy weekly, as needed.
But, the pantry staples are shopped for in one fell swoop.
It seems to have streamlined things around here.

Oh, and a fun feature is that, except for those special occasions,
it's flexible ~ mix it up and make what you want within your plan
for the week or the month....whatever works!
I am liking this new system.

What about you?  Do you plan it all out or wing it?

I've done it both ways and I must say, I prefer it planned.
So, you gonna join me and plan a month of meals?
Apparently, it makes the food budget go further.  
I'm out to prove it.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Many Blessings,
Camille


July 9, 2014

Tried and True

You know those good old standby recipes?
The ones that are tried and true?
Likely, they are the ones you remember your Mama
making in your growing up years.  Simple goodness.

Tried and true ~ definitely the category these fall into.
Can't believe I haven't posted the recipe here yet.
Prompted by my sweet friend ~
they are just now making their blog debut.

Emma and her friend Miss Sarah baked these together
yesterday ~ crazily...they have already disappeared!


Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
(Courtesy of my Mom)

Just FYI I've included a photo of the original hand-printed recipe card.
I copied out many of my favourite recipes onto 3x5 index cards
for my *hope chest* ~ note the incorrect spelling of coconut
and the way I printed my *e's*...it was long, long, LONG ago!  ;-)



Another note ~ I never use margarine.  Only butter.
Everything goes better with butter, right?  :)

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar (I use evaporated cane juice)
1/2 cup golden brown sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened medium coconut
1 and 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp sea salt



Cream together the butter, sugars, vanilla and egg.
Measure all the dry ingredients into a separate bowl
and use a whisk to mix together thoroughly.
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet.  Mix well.

Scoop out teaspoonfuls of the cookie dough
onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Leave a little room for expansion.
Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 10 minutes.
The cookies will puff up a bit and then flatten as they cool.
Remove to cooling racks and enjoy.  Sparingly.

Oh, one more thing.  Be sure there are a few
loved ones nearby to share with.
These are dangerously more-ish.  Don't ask how I know.

Happy Baking!
With Love, Camille

July 7, 2014

The Quotidian (7. 7. 14)

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


Apples at the ready.


What we made with them (Emma's idea) ~ YUM!


Blowing away (almost) ~ sheets on the line.


Sick and reading ~ she's fully recovered.  :)


The view looking up and away behind Austin's grave.


Cherries from our neighbour's tree ~ free!
(The boys picked them for me and descended unscathed.)


Crossing more off the list ~ thank you, Calvin!


Not exactly sure what the attraction was ~
this is the way I found them.  :)


Practising for church.


More blooms on Austin's rose tree.

Happy Monday, Y'all!
With Love, Camille

July 5, 2014

My New Go-To

I have a new favourite around here.  
Credit for this idea goes to my sister-in-law.
Thank you, TJ for sharing!  :)

Perfect for summer grilling and easy hosting.
This Trader Joe's marinade is my new go-to for chicken.
I've also used it for white fish and it turned out yummy.
(Actually, I think anything done in this sauce would be yummy.)

Take a package of chicken tenderloins and lay them in a 9x13 glass dish.
Pour marinade over the meat until it's covered.
Tightly wrap with plastic and set in the fridge overnight.


When ready to grill, preheat BBQ on high heat.
Prepare an old jelly roll pan by lining the inside 
of it with a few layers of tin foil ~ seal it well.
(I have a dedicated grill pan ~ they do get ruined by the BBQ.)
Then, put a layer of parchment paper on top of the foil.
Scrunch up the sides of the foil so the sauce won't spill out.

Pour the chicken and sauce into the prepared pan.
Place pan on the BBQ and close the lid.
When the sauce begins to boil and the chicken begins to turn white
(approximately five minutes) turn each piece of chicken over
to allow for cooking on the other side.

Keep the lid of the BBQ open at this point and keep turning
the meat until thoroughly cooked.  YUM!

Happy Grilling!
With Love, Camille

July 2, 2014

Every Quarter Century (so far)

So far I've flown to Victoria on Vancouver Island twice.
Twenty-five years ago with Helijet and this past Monday with Harbour Air.
Both times I went with Howie and we flew for free.  Yippee!  :)

A friend of ours worked for Helijet long ago, and she gave us tickets 
so we went for the day.  That's how our first flight over was free.  

This past spring our Calvin did a photo shoot for Harbour Air.
He was paid for his services with cash and two round-trip tickets.
He gave us the tickets for our anniversary ~ wasn't that sweet?

Want to see what he was able to capture of their fleet?
Click here to see one of Calvin's photos.

So, our track record includes a flight to the Island
once every quarter century.  A rare treat for sure.  
We only make it every twenty-five years if it's free ~
that's a necessary requirement.  :)

Here's the seaplane we boarded in Vancouver Harbour.



Howie sat in the front row seat directly behind the pilot.



I was allowed to sit right beside the pilot!  See the headset?  Fun times.



As we flew over the Lion's Gate Bridge, Howie snapped a photo.
We have walked under this bridge and driven on it...now we have flown over it.
See the group of trees the bridge seems to disappear into?  That's Stanley Park.
The seawall we have walked many times is visible beneath it.



Heading into Victoria Harbour.



Howie with *our* plane...



...and both of us with it.  Self-timed shots are the best.  :)



The day was glorious with hardly a cloud in the sky.
The Legislative Buildings in the background and the 
hanging baskets in the foreground were stunningly beautiful.
One thing I *love* about Victoria is the hanging baskets...they are everywhere.



Howie looking back toward the inner harbour.
The Empress is on the far left in this photo.



Couldn't resist using Emma's Macro setting for a few flower shots.
(Thank you my little love for loaning me your camera.)



We saw many Harbour Air planes taking off and landing throughout the day.



We walked and walked and walked along a never-before-discovered path.
It was lovely and has become our new favourite.  
We think it's the best kept secret of Victoria.



Our view from one of the benches along the path.
Looking to the right...



...and to the left.



Oh, look...it's us!  :)



Howie and the pilot heading into our home-bound plane.



Howie took a turn in the cockpit ~ a definite highlight.



The views on the return flight were amazing.



See those little tiny white dots?  They are yachts and sailboats.




If you look closely, you'll see the tail end of a ship directly below us.
It was one of the BC Ferries ~ I took this shot looking straight down.
The pontoon is hiding most of the ferry ~ they are HUGE.
Whenever we go to Victoria, we normally travel on the water, not above it.



Vancouver from the air.



Landed and docked (on the water) safe and sound.



The view looking back at the line-up of seaplanes docked at Vancouver.
The plane furthest away in this shot was the one we flew on.



It was a real treat to have had a day out together...just us.
Thank you, Calvin, Fraser and Emma for sending us away 
for the day and for holding the fort ~ We love you!  XO

Wonder if we'll go again.  
Hmmm....maybe in another twenty five years?

Many Blessings,
Camille