February 27, 2015

Here's the Deal

Here's the deal.  The last time I posted my meal plan was the last time
a proper month-at-a-time meal plan was made by moi.
So there it is.  I said it.  The secret's out.

 It was a robust plan.
I shopped for it all and stuck (mostly) to making up those meals.
But, there was too. much. food.  Not a bad thing when it comes 
to stocking the freezer with ready-made meals.  Not a bad thing at all.
But, not such a great thing when you are trying to see if meal planning cuts food costs.
I know it does.  But, when too much food gets made, it can't really be properly measured.

So, what's a girl to do?  Start from scratch, that's what.
 Begin a new month with a new plan.  Six months later.

How does a meal plan get made around here?
First, I jot down numbers for all the days of the month on paper and
pencil in anything that will affect my meal planning beside its corresponding number.
Then, I brain storm and jot down meals that my family likes.  I slot them in.
My goal is to incorporate meatless, egg, and fish based meals into each week.
The remaining meals are comprised of recipes featuring either chicken or beef.

That's it.  Simple, but effective.

It should also be mentioned that this plan is not set in stone.
I prefer to look at a week's worth of meals when I make up my grocery list
and decide at that time what to prepare and when.  It's flexible.
It provides me with the little bit of leeway I like to allow for sanity's sake.

March 1-7

Tanya's Chicken Soup
Farmer's Breakfast with steamed veggies and toast
Salmon Loaf with roasted veggies
Roasted Root Vegetable Soup
Skillet Dinner
Shipwreck with steamed veggies
Pam's Chili with cornbread

March 8-14

Leftover Chili
Out for Emma's Birthday
Chicken Pot Pie with Caesar salad
Autumn Chowder
Cheesy Lentil Bake
Spaghetti Sauce served in half Spaghetti Squash boats

March 15-21

African Dish
Thai Chicken Soup
Something with Fish
Something with Eggs
Tex Mex Chicken Soup
Emma's Birthday Party (menu not yet set)

March 22-28

BBQ Meatballs with Hashbrowns and steamed veggies
Refried Beans with rice and veggie platter
Tandoori Chicken with broccoli
Green Pea Soup
Macaroni and Cheese with salad
Hamburger Soup

March 29-31

Vegetable Soup
Something with Fish
Something with Eggs

As was mentioned the last time I put up my month long meal plan,
breakfast and lunch foods are not scheduled in.
However, a rotation of meal ideas is kept tucked away in my head.
My goal is to keep my budget in check for the month.  Let's see how this goes.

How about you?  Are you in the swing of things
with meal planning these days?  Do you even want to be?
Any tips or suggestions to share?  I'm all ears.

Happy Weekend Y'all!
With Love, Camille

February 25, 2015

Gluten Free/Dairy Free Banana Muffins

So, here's the thing ~ gluten free and dairy free baked goods can be yummy.
These muffins prove it.  Howie couldn't believe they were GF.
When he kept commenting on how much he was enjoying them, I told him my secret.
GF/Dairy Free Banana Muffins ~ If you don't tell, no one will guess.

What you need:

1 cup mashed Bananas
2 large Eggs
1/2 cup Coconut Oil, melted
1/2 cup granulated Sugar (I use evaporated cane juice)
1/2 cup finely ground Almond Flour
3/4 cup Gluten Free flour mix
(I use Namaste Perfect Flour Blend which has xanthan gum included ~
it's my favourite brand of GF flour of all time.)
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder

What you do:

Mix together the bananas, eggs, sugar and melted coconut oil in a mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients from the almond flour
through to the baking powder.  Whisk together thoroughly.
Mix the wet ingredients together with the dry ingredients and stir until completely blended.
You could add in chocolate chips and/or chopped nuts if desired.
It's not necessary to add anything to these...they stand up well on their own.

Spoon into paper lined muffin tins.
Batter should come to the top edge of each of the paper liners.
Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
Toothpick inserted into the centre of several muffins should come out clean.
Cool five minutes in pan and then remove to cooling racks.

Be sure to serve these while they're still warm.
However, even after they were completely cold,
Howie expressed his hearty approval and asked for another.

This recipe makes 9 or 10 regular sized muffins.

So, there you have it.  A gluten free, and dairy free muffin that
tastes just as yummy (or, more yummy according to some)
as its wheat laden counterpart.

Who says Gluten Free can't be good?

Happy Baking!
With Love, Camille

February 24, 2015

Prepared and Appointed

**"You have not the making of your own cross....
but your cross is prepared and appointed for you by divine love,
and you are cheerfully to accept it;  
you are to take up the cross as your chosen badge and burden,
and not to stand cavilling at it.  

This night Jesus bids you submit your shoulder to His easy yoke.  
Do not kick at it in petulance, or trample on it in vainglory, or fall under it in despair,
or run away from it in fear, but take it up like a true follower of Jesus.
Jesus was a cross-bearer; He leads the way in the path of sorrow.
Surely you could not desire a better guide!  And if He carries a cross,
what nobler burden would you desire?  

The Via Crucis is the way of safety; fear not to tread its thorny paths...
remember that it will soon be followed by the crown,
and the thought of the coming weight of glory will greatly lighten
the present heaviness of trouble."

Many Blessings, Camille

**Quoted from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening
February 23rd evening reading

February 23, 2015

The Quotidian (23. 2. 15)

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

Surprise!  One for each of us...boys included.

Blurry, but my favourite.

Digging in.

Austin's Rose ~ beginning to bud.

Spring is springing.

First of the season.

A little giddy over the sunlight.

Artificial next to the real.

Opening up the hangar.

Prepping for a flight which didn't end up happening due to the gusting winds.

Aspiring pilots.

Happy Monday!
With love, Camille

**We have kind friends who graciously loan us their plane.  It's not ours.
Thank you, J and C for being willing to share with us.  You bless our hearts.

February 19, 2015

Sneak Peek

Just a little sneak peek....

I've partially dressed the window and changed
my mind at least three times.  Thankfully, the fabric is inexpensive.
Almost there.  Really.  Truly.  Hopefully.

Hugs, Camille

February 16, 2015

While We Were Gone

I don't know if I've mentioned it here before, but, 
our home falls into the *older* category.  At least, here in Canada it does.
We've tweaked and rearranged and updated along the way.
Long ago, I had the bright idea to do our master bedroom in wallpaper.
The wallpaper was put up as well as the curtain rod.  And, that was it.

I hit a brick wall when it came to decorating the space.

Nothing went with that paper.  Nothing.
It was a mistake.  I mostly closed the door on it all.
It stayed like that for ten years.  And, we lived life.
We let it slide.  And chatted about what we would one day do.

While we were gone, Howie implemented those plans.  Perfectly.
He worked 'round the clock ~ keeping the business going and renovating in the off hours.
He didn't take much time for much else.  I had no idea.

Actually, I had an inkling.  When he asked how to remove wallpaper
and what the codes were for the paint colours before we left.  Those were clues.
However, I had no idea that he would tackle the entire project in one fell swoop.

But, he did.  And, I am so thankful.

When our plane landed and we were waiting to be picked up at the airport,
I didn't realise there was a surprise being finalised for us at home.
Calvin arrived driving the van and informed us that
we were under strict orders not to go directly home.
We were banished from the house for a couple of hours.

Another one of those clues.

Howie was madly finishing up.  When we did arrive home,
he opened the door to greet us with caulking all over his jeans and paint on his shirt.
The house smelled very strongly of fresh paint and newly applied caulk.
The walls were still tacky in places and the supplies were still on the bathroom floor.

But, it was done.  And it is beautiful.

The beginnings of stripping off all that paper.  True love.
Howie used a fabric softener solution which worked beautifully.

However, it all took time and a mess was made in the process.
A word to the wise ~ think long and hard before installing wallpaper.
In some cases I still believe it is the best thing to do.  In this case, it wasn't.
Live and learn.  Oh, and leave when the job is being tackled!  ;-)

My Sweetheart carefully planned and measured and implemented.

He worked diligently to get it all done while we were gone.
(And, he even took photos to document it all...wasn't that sweet?)

This is how the bathroom looked with all the supplies lined up neatly on the floor
and on the counters.  Apparently, this was his work station.  I'm glad I didn't know.

Moulding was purchased....

...and installed.

My Dad came by to lend a helping hand ~ thanks so much Dad!

The level was employed....

...as was the caulking gun.

Howie really did work 'round the clock.
The poor neighbours.  :)

But, he completed the project, and I am so thankful.

Now, I am busy making curtains and dressing the room ~ finally!
Before and after photos coming soon...I hope.

Happy Monday Y'all!
With Love, Camille

February 12, 2015

Amazingly Simple Jean Quilt

During our recent visit to my sister's home something I hadn't noticed
before caught my attention ~ the most adorable jean quilt ever.
She had it rolled up in a basket just asking to be used.  Love in a bundle.

I am not a quilter.  Never have been.
However, this looked like something I could do.
I had previously been intrigued by the jean quilt idea.
Jeans were collected and saved.  For years.

But, that quilt never got made.  It was much more involved than this one.
I must admit, I was slightly frightened by the project.  It kept getting put off.
But, the jeans were still there just waiting to be made into something.

Enter Janine's amazingly-simple-I-can-do-this jean quilt.

I took photos and measurements and came home with
renewed enthusiasm for this long ago abandoned idea.
The box of jeans was dug out of the closet.
A partially made flannel nightgown was cut apart.
And, a teeny bit of cream coloured flannel was purchased.  I was all set.

And, the quilting began.

One side is raggedy with all the seams unfinished.

The other side is finished and randomly patched together.
There's no right or wrong to this.  It was a wonderful quilt to begin with.
If you look closely, you will see some of my mistakes.
But, that makes it all the more endearing.  At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

My sister had hearts on her quilt.  I copied.  Cute, don't you think?

Want to know how to make one yourself?  Easy peasy.
Here's how you do it.  Gather together all your jeans with holes in the knees.
Or, do like my sister did, and buy a few pairs from the thrift store.
I just happened to have a big ol' collection in the closet.  So, I was prepared!

I didn't have any quilting supplies.  But, I must say, a rotary blade, cutting mat,
and clear quilting ruler came in mighty handy.  I borrowed the ruler from
my sister and bought the cutting mat and rotary blade as a set.
It was the most economical way to go.

First, I cut off the seams and pockets of the jeans.
Then, the remaining material was cut into 5 inch squares.
I needed 144 squares for each side of my quilt.
My plan was for the finished product to be 12 squares by 12 squares.
The jean side and the flannel side require the same number of squares.

So...144 squares of jean material and 144 squares of flannel were cut.
This is by far the least fun part of making this quilt.
But, what's gotta be done must be done.

If you want hearts...cut those out and randomly
stitch them to a few of your squares.

Once you have all your jean and flannel squares cut out, this is how you begin.
Take one of your jean squares and lay it on the table right side down.
Lay a flannel piece right side up on top of that jean piece.
These two pieces should match up exactly and be right sides out.
Take another piece of flannel and lay it right sides together on top of the last flannel piece.
Then, take a piece of jean material and lay it right side up.

You should have a stack of four squares in the following order:
Jean ~ right side down; Flannel ~ right side up; Flannel ~ right side down;
Jean ~ right side up.  Now, sew a straight line down one side connecting all
four squares together.  Make sure your seams are a consistent measurement.
They all need to be the same in order for the quilt pieces to fit together nicely.

I used just shy of 1/2 inch seam allowance.
You could go as narrow as 1/4 inch if you want less fray.

On a side note ~ It's advisable to use a jean needle for this project.
I broke at least four while putting this quilt together.  I thought it was only
fair to warn you.  Just buy a package of needles and you'll be fine.  :)

Once you have sewn one side...open up to expose the flannel as shown above.
Now, take another square of flannel and place it right side down
directly on top of the square on the far right (the one to the left doesn't get added to).
Place a square of jean directly on top of that flannel right side up.
Stitch together at the far right with another straight seam.  Open up and repeat.

Keep adding to your quilt in this manner until you have
12 squares sewn together in a single row.

One side will be jean with raw edges exposed as shown above.

And, the other side will be flannel with finished seams as shown above.

 Iron your raw edges flat for each row of quilting as you complete it.

Once you have two rows of 12 quilt patches made, sew one of the long edges together.
Press flat and make another row to add to these two.  
Continue until you have 12 rows all sewn together.

Sew the full length of the quilted row on one edge only.
Remember to piece your quilt together with jean/raw edges on one side
and flannel/finished edges on the other as shown below.

Iron the quilt flat between each new addition.

Once your quilt is all pieced together, sew a straight seam
along the outer edges to finish it off.  The outer edges will fray just like the jean side.
It will get cosier with each wash.  According to my sister, you will
need to trim the threads after the first few washes due to all the fraying.
But, that's the charm of it...don't you think?

And, that's it.  It's as simple as that!

My quilt was made up of pieces of jeans collected from
each of the children through the years.  Some were even mine.
I embellished the finished quilt with a label from inside a pair of Austin's jeans.

The pocket from a pair of Emma's jeans made up one of the squares.
Memories are all tied up in this quilt.  It's a treasure.
Get creative with your quilt and customize it to make it extra special.
And, most of all...have fun!

Here it is ~ all rolled up and ready to be put to use.

Any questions?  Clear as mud?
Start collecting those jeans.  Happy quilting!

With Love, Camille