November 25, 2014

London and Wales ~ Part One

As was mentioned in my last post, going to Britain
was not on our radar in a serious way until it was booked
and we were making preparations for our departure only one week later.
We hit the ground running and didn't stop until it was
all over and we were back in our own beds.  Yes, crazy!


We just about forgot to take a *farewell* shot and then,
just as my brother and mom were about to drive away,
we flagged them down, and gathered for the photo above.  
Anticipation ran high.


Our flight was AC 854 to London ~ see it listed above?
After a nine hour flight through the night, we arrived.
We got a rental car and proceeded to drive to
our friend's mom's home an hour away.  

Side note ~ driving on the wrong side of the road on the wrong side
of the car with left handed shift was interesting, to say the least.
I kept having to look away ~ Howie was doing the driving.
He did very well and overall, we only had a few *colourful* moments.
We logged over 1150 miles on our rental vehicle ~
all things considered, I would say it was a great success.


We got ourselves settled and the next afternoon,
we ventured into the city.  Emma noticed the *little* things ~ 
like the lettering (above) on the pavement.  Oh, so British!
We took a train and then the underground and arrived one hour later.


First stop ~ Tower of London and the Tower Bridge.
It was afternoon, so we opted to save the Tower of London for
another day when we would have more time to explore ~ wise plan.


We took a Thames River boat ride from the Tower
to Westminster and saw sights like these ~
The London Eye on the left, and the Parliament Buildings on the top right.
See the Big Ben clock tower?  We did ~ up close and personal for well over an hour.  
Our Calvin is a photographer ~ we happily indulged him.
Big Ben at dusk was a *must do* for our young man.


While Calvin was shooting Big Ben, Emma shot people (pun intended).
(After she captured Big Ben on its own first ~ of course.)


See?  People are in this shot ~ any guesses who they are?


We had time for silliness, too.


Actually, we had LOTS of time for lots of things.
Calvin was busy, busy, busy.  He got some amazing shots
which he agreed to allow me to post...see below.


The next five shots are Calvin's ~ yippee for the tripod!


Big Ben on its own ~ he used HDR imaging for this shot...


...and this one.
Both were taken on the same night with varying exposure
times and techniques.  The differences are interesting, don't you think?


The London Eye ~ opposite side of the bridge
and opposite side of the river...kitty-corner from Big Ben.


Another of Calvin's shots ~ an iconic London image.


After Big Ben, we walked in a big circle around the downtown area.
Along the way, we enjoyed some of the sights of London at night.


Buckingham Palace was gated and guarded (of course) ~
but, that didn't stop us from peering in and wondering.
(There was someone sitting in a front window on the lower level ~
who was it?  Couldn't say...but, we were intrigued by it all.)


Calvin set up his tripod and we got a family photo ~
this is Emma's photo of the set up.


Here is Calvin's photo of us all ~ Buckingham Palace at night.



We ended the night in Trafalgar Square ~
See Calvin with his tripod and me watching him?


We arrived back at our lodgings late and went to bed.
It messed with my brain a little when I thought of what time
it was back home ~ around 4pm BC time.
We were all restless at about 2am in our new locale ~ 
a little mixed up.  Nothing new, really.
It took a few days, but, we got sorted out ~ mostly.

More to come...ready or not.
Many Blessings, Camille

**All photos in this post courtesy of our two photographers ~
Emma and Calvin.  Thank you, my loves.  xoxo

November 24, 2014

A Little Bit Crazy

I am a planner.  I like to have things all sorted out.
(As proven by posts like this and this.)
Events lined up on the calendar.  Neat and tidy.  Predictable.
But, then!  Sometimes I like things to be wild and crazy.
Just sometimes.  Just a little.
Not so long ago, we embraced the wildness.

Back story first.

Over six years ago, our precious Uncle was dying.
He wanted to die at home, and it was my privilege to
go and help in his last days.  In Wales.  For two weeks.  By myself.  
It was an incredible blessing to have been part of it all.

During my stay, our Auntie hatched the plan to have us come for a visit.
She was serious about it and excited at the prospect.
She shared with me in the happiest of ways that she had
figured out how to house the six of us in her teeny tiny home.
(Everything's smaller in the United Kingdom.)

We thought it was a great idea, too.


~ All of us with our precious Auntie in Wales ~

So, we saved and planned (see?  told you) but, life happened.
Our Austin got sick and then he got sicker.  
We couldn't see our way clear to go on any of the dates
we had chosen.  Our savings all got used up.
The plan got shelved.

But, the dream didn't go away.

Over the years, Howie and I would send each other emails
containing deals we had come across for flights to London.
We continued to dream.  No firm plans were in place.
This past October was no different from the norm.  Not especially.
Except for the fact that another deal came across my desk.

This one seemed too good to pass up.

Our friend's Mom was still willing to have us stay with her
for the London portion of our trip ~ as long as it was while she was there.
Which happened to be only for another two weeks ~
her plan was to leave for six months at the end of October.
That was that.  Impossible.  Or, so I thought.

But, then another overwhelming thought crowded in ~ Why Not?
Why couldn't we just pick up and go?

Our Aunt was willing to have us anytime.  No issue there.
Howie was able to get away from work.  School could be flexible.
The timing actually couldn't have been any better.
So, the plan was made suddenly and without any warning.
We booked our flights on a Tuesday and flew out on the one that followed.


~ Inside our Auntie's cosy home ~

With accommodations all covered, and access to kitchens
at both locations, we were set!  (It's necessary to have a kitchen, right?)
Our Aunt was thrilled that we were coming ~ she's sweet that way.
She also is incredibly accommodating and hospitable.
We were thrilled to have been able to go. 

We planned the trip, went, and were back home
before it even registered what was actually transpiring.
It was like ~ What just happened?!

So, that proves it ~ we are a little bit crazy.
And, incredibly thankful.
More photos to follow...soon.  :)

Many Blessings,
Camille


**Photos in this post courtesy of our Calvin ~ 
Thank you my love.  XO

November 19, 2014

Only Then

For nearly eighteen months now, a piece of my heart has been missing.
It will not be put right until the day I enter eternity.
Not until then.  Only then.  Then!
In the meantime ~ I live.  I breathe.  I go forward.

And, I carry with me this broken heart.

Every time I hear Fraser play the piano ~
especially when it is something he has composed.
Every time our photo is taken ~ just the five of us.
Every time I set the table for dinner.  And lunch.  And breakfast.
Every time I wash the sheets and iron the clothes ~
and Austin's aren't in the mix.  Or, they are ~ 
because the boys are using them.

Every. Single. Time.

~ Family Photo with Poppa and Grandma 2007 ~

It exposes the broken piece.  The part that is missing.
Our boy doesn't make new memories with us.
He doesn't join us here.  But, we will join him there.
And, that is what I cling to.  The certain truth of it.

We are headed to where he is.  For all eternity.
What a precious thing it is to rest our hearts there.
We fortify ourselves with Scripture each time we feel ourselves falling.
It is the only way forward.  The only way to continue to live.

Our Austin gave his testimony during a school chapel time
about six months before the Lord called him Home to Heaven.
One of the young ladies commented that he was living out the following verse ~
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."  Philippians 1:21
What a powerful legacy.  May it be true of all of us.

May the Lord help us to live as though eternity is all that matters.
Because, after all, it is!  By His grace and for His glory.
From now until forever.

Many Blessings,
Camille

November 17, 2014

Six Week Bran Muffins

This is an oldie but a goodie ~ it's definitely not new.
But, it merits another go-around.
Breakfast all ready to go in the morning is always a great idea.
So, whip up a batch and enjoy!

This batter will keep for up to six weeks in the fridge ~
however, around here it's gone in about two days!
Original recipe found in Company's Coming Biscuits, Muffins and Loaves
several adjustments made by moi.


4 cups Bran Flakes cereal
2 cups All Bran cereal
2 cups boiling water
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar (already reduced)
1 cup brown sugar (already reduced)
4 large eggs
4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup fancy molasses
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups craisins or raisins
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 each ground cloves, allspice, and nutmeg

**I substituted whole wheat flour for some of the white...
if you want a lighter muffin, you can use all white flour.


In large mixing bowl, place the two cereals and pour boiling water over.
Mix and let stand to partially dissolve.
In mixer, place softened butter and the two sugars.
Cream together until well mixed.
Add in eggs one at a time and mix after each addition.
Stir in the buttermilk.  Mix together with the cereals in large bowl.

All your wet ingredients should now be together in the large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, stir together all the remaining ingredients with a whisk.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just incorporated.
Transfer to a storage container (glass or plastic...not metal) and seal.
May be kept in the fridge for up to six weeks.
However, I have never had mine as long as that.  
I would aim for no longer than one month,
but, that is just me.  :)

To bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Line your muffin tins with parchment or paper muffin liners.
Fill lined muffin tins 3/4 full ~ I fill mine to just below tops of paper liners.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until toothpick inserted in muffins comes out clean.
Let cool 5 minutes in pan prior to removing to wire cooling racks.

**Important ~ If you should bake these right after mixing the batter up,
don't bake as long!  Begin checking them after about 17 minutes.
The chilled batter takes longer to bake than when it's at room temperature.
It should be obvious, but, apparently not.  I over-baked my first batch.

Happy Baking and...Happy Monday!  :)
Many Blessings, Camille

November 15, 2014

The Quotidian (15. 11. 14)

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


A precious note from a precious Auntie.


Another precious note with names jumbled up and Austin's 
included by accident ~ I was so pleased that it was.


A recent gift ~ how I often look.


Evidence ~ she sometimes leaves a trail.


What happens when a friendly game of tug-of-war
takes place with the hand towel while it's on the rack ~ 
obviously, it didn't end well.


One sunny afternoon. 


And Emma, too.


Table pretties.


One package all ready to go!


It bloomed!  (Always surprising.)

Happy Weekend Y'all!
With Love, Camille

November 14, 2014

Homemade Curry Powder

Curry powder is a combination of a variety of spices.
A few years ago, I came across a recipe for homemade,
and, oh, is it ever good!  I never purchase the premixed powder these days.
If I run out, I just whip up a batch.  It's as easy as one-two-three.

Every recipe that calls for curry powder is enhanced by this stuff.  
Give it a try and see if it isn't so!
Original recipe found in Lucy's Cookbook.


4 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp ground coriander
4 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 rounded tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 rounded tsp ground cloves
1/2 rounded tsp ground cardamom

Stir together and store in a glass jar tightly closed.
Use in any recipe that calls for curry powder.  Enjoy!

Many Blessings, 
Camille

November 12, 2014

Even in the Midst

Last Christmas we were not home.  We left.
My sister graciously hosted us.  We even were blessed to stay
with friends we met through blogging.
We had a little time for exploring as well.

This year, we plan to stay home.
We plan to do many of the things we love to do.
And, we plan to make some changes to the usual.
Parts of this are going to be hard.  They always will be.

Until the day the Lord calls us Home.


~ Our precious four in 2008 ~

"...earthly gatherings, after all, have something about them
that is sad and sorrowful.  The happiest parties sometimes
contain uncongenial members: the merriest meetings are
only for a very short time.  

Moreover, as years roll on,
the hand of death makes painful gaps in the family circle:
even in the midst of Christmas merriment we cannot help
remembering those who have passed away.  

The longer we live, the more we feel to stand alone.
The old faces will rise before the eyes of our minds,
and the old voices will sound in our ears,
even in the midst of holiday mirth and laughter.

People do not talk much of such things; but there are
few that do not feel them.  
We feel we need not intrude our inmost thoughts on others,
and especially when all around us are bright and happy.

But is there no better gathering yet to come?
Is there no bright prospect in our horizon of an assembly
which shall far outshine our most joyous assemblies?
An assembly in which there shall be joy without sorrow and
mirth without tears?  

I thank God that I can give a plain answer to those questions...
The gathering I speak of shall take place at the end of
the world, in the day when Christ returns to earth the second time.

...And the very first thing that Christ will do will be 
to gather His people."

Taken from "Heaven ~ Valuable Counsel of our Eternal Home" 
by J.C. Ryle ~ snippets from pages 68-71


~ Christmas Eve 2009 ~

So, though our celebrating will be shaded with sorrow,
we know the future is bright.  One day, our sorrow will fade away.
All because of our Saviour and His promises to His people.
We know that our journey here in this life is relatively brief.
Eternity is forever.  What a joyous Hope we have!

Rejoicing in these truths in these days.
Rejoicing that our Great God is so good.
So very, very good! 

Many Blessings, Camille

November 10, 2014

The Quotidian (10. 11. 14)

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


Spelling lesson wig-less.


Gear at the front door ~ ready to go.


Abundant supply from the neighbour's tree ~ free for the taking.


He only required an apple crumble as payment.
So, I made two ~ one for our neighbour and one for us.  :)

Many Blessings,
Camille


November 6, 2014

In the Saddle

So...it's Thursday, and I'm back in the saddle.
Sort of.  It may take a little time to find my groove.
These breaks I take?  They are good and necessary.
Thank you for being patient with my regular disappearances.
I am thankful for y'all.  Truly thankful.


~ Our precious four in 2006 ~

This photo was taken by Howie just after he dropped me off 
for a few days of quiet in a lovely location.  See?  It's a trend.
Hopefully, in the next week or so, I will have a chance to get caught up
with each of you at your places.  I've missed you.

Hugs, Camille

October 16, 2014

Unplugged

I'm going to be unplugged for the next little while.
Each of you has been so very gracious to me whenever
I take these times of quiet.  You bless my heart.
Sometimes I have found it to be necessary.
Thank you for understanding.

I plan to be unplugged in every area of this online world.
Lord-willing, I will catch up with y'all in a few weeks.
Until then, I'd like to leave you with some Scripture.


"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed,
because His compassions fail not.

They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul;
therefore will I hope in Him.

The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him,
to the soul that seeketh Him."
~ Lamentations 3:21-25 ~

How wonderful it is to soak our hearts and minds in truth.
It is absolutely the only way forward.  The best way to live.
May the Lord be your portion day after day.  He is faithful.

With Much Love, Camille

October 14, 2014

No Cook Chocolate Ice Cream

This stuff is a little dangerous.
Why?  Because you can go from idea to 
bowl in less than 30 minutes.  Scary, right?
Oh well.  Throw caution to the wind.  Exercise tomorrow.

My sister shared this recipe with me.
I tweaked it just a little.

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract


Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl until dissolved.
Churn in your ice cream maker for approximately 20 minutes.
Serve immediately to four or five very happy people.

Happy Tuesday Y'all!
With love, Camille 

October 9, 2014

In the Cemetery

We often go and tend to Austin's grave.
We water the flowers and clean off his stone marker.
It is lovely in the cemetery.  It's a peaceful place surrounded
by God's beautiful creation.  We are thankful.

A few weeks ago, I was at Austin's grave alone.
I had made a detour on my bike, and stopped by for a few minutes.

A lady walked past me with her dog and we exchanged a few words.
Her husband was buried not far from our son.  She is eighty.
As I worked at Austin's grave, I noticed an elderly
gentleman grooming some graves a little way off.
When I was leaving, I acknowledged his work.


He engaged me because I had engaged him.
He is ninety.  His wife has been gone six years.
His hobby is tending her grave and those around it.

We exchanged stories and quickly began talking about eternal things.
His face lit up when he realised I was a Christian.  We made a connection.
He wanted to see Austin's grave.  Then, he weed whacked it for me.
He said he would add our son's plot to his roster.  He's been back since.

Isn't it incredible to think of these *chance* encounters 
that are anything but *chance*?  Furthest thing from the truth.
We marvel at the many ways in which the path we are traversing
intersects with another's.  Sometimes only once.
We are keenly aware that our Lord orchestrates every meeting.
He so gently leads us along.  He is with us each step of the way.

The Lord is so very good to us, isn't He?
May we be found following Him wherever He leads.
Until He calls us Home.

Many Blessings, Camille

October 7, 2014

Sour Cream Streusel Muffins

I've served these up for brunch.  
Yessirree...I have!  They do not qualify as *healthy*.  
But, dear me...are they ever good!
I'll bet you'll love them as much as we do.  
You won't regret it if you bake up a batch.  Promise.


Original recipe was found in "Mad About Muffins" by Dot Vartan ~
Altered slightly by moi.  :)

~ Ingredients ~
2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I use evaporated cane juice)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 large egg
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup full fat sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

~ Streusel Topping Ingredients ~
1/3 cup granulated sugar (evaporated cane juice)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp butter, cold
1/2 cup chopped pecans


~ Method ~

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Measure first three ingredients into large bowl and mix together with a whisk.
In another bowl, beat the egg and whisk into it the sour cream, melted butter and vanilla.
Add the sour cream mixture to the flour mixture and stir by hand until just moistened.
Fill twelve parchment (or paper) lined muffin cups with batter.


Make the streusel topping by mixing the sugar and cinnamon together in
a medium bowl.  Cut the butter into these two ingredients.
Stir in the chopped pecans.  Spoon  about one tablespoon of this topping
onto each of the muffins prior to baking.  Press down a little.
Divide the topping evenly between the twelve muffins and bake.



Bake at 400 degrees F for approximately 18 to 20 minutes.
Done when a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.
Remove to a wire rack to cool.  Don't cool too much ~ these are best when warm.
It's a good idea to have a few loved ones nearby to share with.
Don't say I didn't warn you.  ;-)

Happy Baking!
With Love, Camille