Wednesday, August 31, 2011

grand camping fare...

What's a camping trip without good food?  They say fire is the most important aspect of the camp experience...but our gang thinks food ranks right up there.  We combined food and fire and came up with a few treats that we all enjoyed!

We tried cooked banana boats on the open fire...with both sets of campers.  They had great fun preparing them...

...and we all agreed they were delicious! 

To make a banana boat, slice down the inner curve of the banana (with the skin on)...but do not slice right through the skin on the other side.  Gently open the slice wide enough to stuff with your chosen toppings.  Use your imagination!  My favorite boat was one stuffed with peanut butter and milk chocolate chips.  The grands preferred coloured mini-marshmallows and chocolate chips.  Wrap the banana in heavy duty tinfoil and place in the coals of a fire for about 2 1/2 minutes per side...or  roast on a grate above the campfire.   Five minutes later...unwrap and enjoy the ooey-gooey goodness right out of the boat.  We added a scoop of ice-cream...for a dessert that was hard to beat!

Another first for us...was cooking up bush pies. A bush pie is basically bread stuffed with a filling of your choice...and then cooked inside a cast-iron bush pie maker (available at any sporting goods store).

We used pizza toppings inside our bush pies...and cooked them two at a time inside a double bush-pie-maker.  The girls would have liked them for every meal!  We never tried the dessert version...which is filled with any pie filling or Nutella and bananas.

The cinnamon snakes for breakfast were a big hit as well.

We covered our wiener sticks with tinfoil...then wrapped long strips of dough around the foiled end (used refrigerated Pillsbury crescent dough) and roasted them over the open fire until golden. We brushed the cooked 'snake' with butter and rolled in a cinnamon/sugar mixture.  So good!

We never needed the fire for this quick lunch...but walking tacos are always a treat. Purchase the single-serving size nacho chips...slit the bag...and make up your nacho plate right in the bag. (The recipe can be found at the link above.)

And of course we had wiener roasts...

 ...and smores. 

Food and fire...a good camping combo!  Though the camping season is nearing an end...I just thought I'd share these campfire food ideas for you to store away until you have need of them.  My recipes for banana boats, cinnamon snakes and bush pies have been in a file waiting to be tried since 2008.  They have now been tried and approved!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

the grand camping adventure ~ chapter 2

Once the others had left for home we got down to the serious business of camping with Emme and Spencer.

But first we needed ice-cream cones...also a camping tradition with these two!

We arrived at Edaleen Dairy the same time as a busload of seniors coming to enjoy a lick of their own. Now I never send anyone south of the border to buy dairy products (smile)...but if you happen to be in the really should check out their ice-cream.  Good to the last lick!

In years gone by...we made the plans and the girls fell in line.  This time was different!  They came with plans of their own...and informed us that they had an after-dinner surprise for us that first night.

We cooked up some bush pies as the sun was setting...and then settled in to enjoy their surprise.  We sat in our appointed chairs facing the stage and waited.  And then we laughed...a lot!  They put on a fashion show for us...modeling  lot of outfits that looked very familiar.  Many were dresses that I had once sewn for them...and they somehow managed to squeeze into.  They threatened to flee if I pulled the camera out for many of their 'numbers'...but did let me take a few pictures. 

The sweaters they modeled were baby gifts for them from Great Aunt Nellie...and worn for professional photos they had taken at age two.  I think they still look smashing in them all these years later!  Most all the outfits that showed up on stage were from their preschool years.  I'm so glad they took their show on the was great camping entertainment!

We spent the next day at the beach...Birch Bay.  After finding our perfect spot on the beach...and leaving our lunch on a blanket...the girls set about chasing away all the sea gulls.  It was hard to forget what happened last year...when the sea gulls enjoyed our lunch while we beach combed.

They had no luck this year...though the girls shared a few crumbs once lunch was done!

We noticed that things have changed from earlier camping trips with these two.  They are much more independent these days...

...and for the first time, they took the paddle boats out on their own.  They also let me sit on the sidelines at the pool while they swam, though that was a bit of a debate!  And they played tennis for the first time...and did great.  And did I mention that they sleep in nowadays?  Their camping days only began at 9 am!

We had a good time with our two 'happy campers'.  When I watch those two together...I think how nice it would be if we all had a twin! 

When our camping adventure came to an end...we left for Canada, where we belong.  And riding in the back of th RV...were two girls singing along to the Beach Boys and laughing (as they have done on every return trip from camping).

We noticed that not all Canadians were returning home.  These seem to have taken up permanent residence at the Kampgrounds of America in Lynden!  We may just meet again one day...same place.

Monday, August 29, 2011

a grand camping trip

It all began with our first two grandchildren...when they were two years old.  We thought a camping trip with them would be a fun time...and it was.  I'm sure they have no recollection of the event!  We have gone every summer since...and their one night get-away became two several years ago.

The next two grands had to wait until they were three before they could go camping with Grammy and Grandpa.  They are now five...and had their third camping adventure this year.  We have three more grands under the age of three...and we are beginning to wonder what kind of precedent we have set.  We may have to re-visit our camping format (or maybe we just need a very large RV, so we can take them all at once!).

Last week we loaded up the RV and took Ranen and Ryder to the Koa just south of the border in Lynden, Washington.  It's a wonderful place for that we frequented with our own young family decades ago.

Our spot was next to the pond...and their favorite camping activity seemed to be feeding the ducks.

Golfing, riding bike, enjoying the playground...and for a few brief moments, even sitting around the was a good time.

And of course we spent some time paddling around the lake...just like their dads did in those same paddle boats long ago.

On the second day, the moms arrived at our campsite with the rest of the grands...and we had a picnic lunch together.  (That was the consolation prize for those who could not stay overnight!)

Micah immediately discovered the ducks...or they discovered him! 

He inched his way to the pond and before long he was in up to his and all.

The ducks had their picnic as well!  When the picnic was over...Emme and Spencer stayed, and the rest all left for home. 

Does Maggie look a little downtrodden? She tells us often that she's a big girl too...and was not that thrilled to be leaving.

As for the rest of the grand camping adventure...we'll continue with chapter two tomorrow!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

my favorite B & B next door...

At long last...there is a Bath and Bodyworks in my part of the world.  In the past...most every trip to the USA required a stop at 'B and B' to stock up on soaps...and candles...and other yummy smelling potions.  They have finally moved north of the border...and last week they opened at a mall nearby.

Heidi and I packed up Lucy and went to check out the new location.  We came bearing coupons...and took advantage of their grand opening specials.  When all was said and done...Bath and Bodyworks almost had to pay us to shop there.  I said 'almost'! 

It seems I'll hardly have an excuse to head south anymore!  Having said that...I have a very good reason to be there right about now.  It's time for the annual camping trip with the grands...and the KOA just south of the border happens to be their chosen spot. I'll tell you all about it...after the weekend. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

of pears and prayers and one who cares...

Let me introduce you to Frieda...a wonderful woman that I have known almost as long as I can remember.

She loved to sing...and one of my earliest recollections of Frieda is of her singing in the church choir. Later I sang in that same choir with her for many years.

Jenny, Corrine, Steve, Kris and Mike ~ with Herman and Frieda

She was also a Sunday School teacher extraordinaire...and all my children had the privilege of being in her class when they were wee.

She loved children and they all loved Frieda.  Before she had grandchildren of her own...she borrowed our oldest on several occasions and babysat him while hubby and I led the youth group at church.  Later she watched our pre-school daughter many times, while I worked in the raspberry fields.  On one such occasion, I came to retrieve Heidi at the end of the day...and Frieda handed me a delicious pear loaf, fresh from the oven to take home for our dinner.  It was a pear loaf from a community church I also had at home, but had never tried.  The loaf was delicious!

Frieda also loved flowers and gardening...and for several years in a row she was a winner in  a local gardening contest...winning top spot in the 'most improved large garden' category. The photo above was clipped from the local paper in 1987...and waiting in my files for today!

Not one to be idle...Frieda has always been involved with the women's group at church...

...and has been one of our faithful 'blanket ladies' for many years. They give freely of their time and energy to make blankets for those in need around the world.

More significant than all the other things Frieda has done through the that she is a woman of prayer!  Not only has she organized the prayer chain at church...she is always there if someone is in need of prayer.  Last week she assured me once again, that she prays for my family every day.  We should all have a Frieda in our camp!  The praying grandmas in my life have gone on to their reward...but Frieda is still here and praying faithfully.  How special is that?

Last week I pulled out the old community cookbook...the one with the pear bread that Frieda had baked for me some 30 years ago.  I decided I would bake a batch and drop off a loaf  for her. 

The loaves turned out just fine...and once they were fresh from the oven I brought Frieda a loaf.  She recalled baking the pear bread all those years ago and sharing a loaf with me..and was quite delighted to have the loaf returned after all these years.

Frieda is also a great encourager!  She reads 'My Front Porch' regularly and encourages me to keep writing.  She also follows Mennonite Girls Can Cook...and not only bought a cookbook but also came out to one of our book signings to show her support. 

Frieda has no idea I'm doing this post today.  Often in life we live with regret over the things we might have said or done and never did.  Frieda deserves to be thanked from the bottom of my heart for all she has meant to me and my family over the years.  I have an opportunity right here and now to do that...and so I am.

Thank-you, Frieda!

Edited to add: Who would have known that I chose Frieda's 87th birthday on which to publish this tribute to her?  I had no idea!

With love,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

a wedding to remember...

A wedding that I will never forget!  My one-and-only brother was married in Stanley, Iowa...on August 23, 1986.  Though it was a busy time on our farm back home...and Expo 86 was drawing us to Vancouver on a regular basis...we couldn't miss Bill and Jeanne's wedding!  And so we booked a cheap flight on Frontier Airlines...a flight which connected through Denver and got us into Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  My five year-old nephew was ring bearer...and so my sister Kathy and my nephew Lucas joined us on the same flight.  We got to our destination on schedule...only to discover that  Frontier Airlines had made the news headlines that day.  They were filing for bankruptcy...and would no longer be flying.  We were in Iowa...and we would enjoy the wedding.  We had no idea how we would get home on Monday!

Bill and Jeanne met at His Hill in Comfort, Texas...and before long the wedding bells were ringing!

They were married in a little country church (with no air-conditioning)...

...with lovely stained glass windows...on a very hot and humid day.  And once the vows were said...there were still photos to be taken.

If they all look a little 'under the weather''s because they were! Did I mention that it was very HOT?

One of the groomsmen was out cold for a spell...and the rest of the wedding party needed fresh air!

And...for the record...the groom and his lovely bride...along with his parents and five sisters. 

The ringbearer could relax with his cousins once his official duties were done.

The reception was a happy affair at a local golf air-conditioned comfort. Their cake really 'took the cake'!

 Kathryn, Heidi, Jamie and Lauren

It seems there was not too much action at the bar...and so the groom's nieces decided to swing on the stools for a spell!

It was a lovely wedding...and we were happy to welcome Jeanne into the family.  Once all the wedding festivities ended...we still had the problem of getting back to Vancouver on Monday.  It was decided that we would send Lucas (my nephew) home with Grandma and Grandpa in the motorhome...and the rest of us would go to the airport and see if we could find a flight home.  I should explain that Grandma and Grandpa's motorhome was already quite full to capacity...since my sister and her two pre-schoolers and my daughter (who was seven at the time) had driven out with them.  What was one more?  I'm not sure my dad is ready to talk about that travel adventure just yet! 

On Monday morning we drove to the airport...and were told that United Airlines would take stranded Frontier passengers as they had room.  After a few hop-skip-and jump flights...United flew us to Seattle.  That was as close as we would get to Vancouver.  Because of Expo 86 there were no flights available to Vancouver...where our car was waiting for us.  To make a long story short...someone we never even knew came to our rescue and drove us north to Vancouver.  Late that night we arrived home...while Lucas was on the bus with his cousins having the time of his life for four more days!

All that happened twenty-five years ago.  Today seemed like the perfect day to share a few fun memories!

Best wishes to you both on your 25th wedding anniversary...
and many blessings in the years ahead!

Monday, August 22, 2011

summer in the city...

With a spell of summer weather upon us...we decided to go see what 'summer in the city' looked like!  We loaded up the bikes and headed for Lord Stanley's Park, which borders on downtown Vancouver.

Stanley Park is a 1000 acre urban park which was named after Lord Stanley of Preston who was once Canada's Governor General.  It is larger than New York's Central Park and attracts eight million visitors annually. It is ranked as one of North America's best parks.  As a visits to Stanley Park were all about seeing the monkeys and the polar bears.  I had no idea that there was so much more to the park than the zoo.  Sadly, the zoo was phased out in 1997...but the Vancouver Aquarium  (also in the park) is a big attraction for today's kids.

There are many ways one might choose to explore the park...

...but we chose to ride the seawall on our bikes.  The seawall is a 9 km pathway that circles the park...and is packed with cyclists, pedestrians and roller-bladers. 

From the sea wall...there was much to see.  Girl in the Wetsuit has been sitting on her perch since 1972.

We saw the Lions Gate Bridge from the underside this time...a different perspective!

Siwash of the icons of Stanley Park. Several years ago the park was devastated by strong winds and many of the ancient trees toppled...but the lone fir that sits atop the rock still stands.

And just beyond Siwash Rock...we found a rock artist hard at work.  He showed us exactly how it was done!

We discovered that there is much to do in the park on a lovely summer day.  Some played in the water...some played cricket (we think)...others were lawn bowling...and some simply soaked in the sun.

We cycled by the totem poles at Brockton Point...First Nations art...which happens to be the most visited tourist attraction in all of British Columbia.  

And eventually we returned to the parking lot near the beautiful gardens where our outing began. 

We bade farewell to our park in the city...

...and as we left a large cruiseship was taking leave as well. 

It was a fun time...but always so good to come back to our home in the country.  We sat on the back patio and breathed in the country air and the quietness on our return.  Summer in the country is the best!