Usually, Ellie helps Daddy make breakfast. This particular Saturday we made breakfast biscuits, which are super easy.
Start by rendering about 8 oz of Bacon cut small
Mix 2 cups of bisquick
1 Teaspoon of baking powder
Milk until it is slightly runny
The rendered bacon
About a cup of shredded Mexican blend cheese
Spray a muffin tin well. Pour the mix in, gently place a slice of Havarti on top of eachand back for about 12 minutes at 450.
Quick, easy, delicious. Then we sat around and relaxed and told puns:
Q: What do you get when you boil a funny bone?
A: A laughing stock!
Evie has developed quite a taste for coloring these days, and she is really quite good at it. It’s one of the few things she will sit still for.
Sunday evening we went to Aunty Celyn’s annual 4US fundraising dinner. This is always a great time, and the food is always amazing! Auntie Celyn’s mom, Auntie Lynn, is a phenomenal Filipino cook.
On Monday Daddy had the day off so we drove up to Enumclaw to Dude’s house to pick 6 quarts of blueberries.
The week since then has been a whirlwind. Daddy has been working at the armory, trying to organize all the medical supplies. Mommy has been working at her office, and the traffic going past the base has been nightmarish every night.
We are going to do our best to enjoy a very short weekend before Daddy has to take off again. You all have a great weekend. God Bless, and pray for us.
Happy Friday, Y’all. Summer is finally in full swing around here after all the rain and cold. It’s still fairly cool, and even when it gets into the 80’s and everyone complains about the heat, Ryan still laughs at them.
I survived Fort Bragg in the summer, for years! Washington holds no terrors for me.
Saturdays are the day that Mommy and Daddy are both off, but that doesn’t mean it’s all partying and frolicking and whimsical nonesuch. It is a serious work day, with all manner of noble tasks to be undertaken.
For instance, we harvested some of our compost.
And placed it around our kiwis to slow down the desiccation of the soil around it.
Mommy was also working very hard to make a pink champagne cake for the Moergeli picnic which was on Sunday. It took all day, and she only finished it right before bedtime prayers, but isn’t it pretty?!
But she still had time to have a toenail party (that’s what it’s called, right) with the girls.
Our Japanese plum is starting to come into season!
It is loaded with fruit, compared to last year when we only got about three tiny little plums off it. It’s hard to tell when they are ripe, because they don’t turn purple, they just go from yellow to a slightly more translucent shade of yellow. And we have been having trouble keeping the small ones away, since they ate three of the unripe plums off the lower branches a few nights ago. Silly childs! Yeah, they’ll pucker up your mouth, but it’s probably good for the intestinal health so whatever.
Also, a note about that picture, Kathleen is carrying an empty champagne bottle not because that’s how we party after the girls go to sleep, but because neither of us like champagne, so we dumped what was left from the cake in the compost. Judging by the whooping and hollering and carrying on, the worms seem to have enjoyed it.
Sunday was the Moergeli picnic. We drove up to Enumclaw to get our Moergel on for a few hours. Kathleen has been discovering handwritten recipes tucked in the pages of her 1908 cookbook, and brought it up in the hopes that some of the older folks might be able to identify the handwriting and maybe decipher the ingredients, since some of the abbreviations are unfamiliar.
The consensus was that most of it belonged to Great-Grandma Gerald, and at least one of the abbreviations probably stands for “sweet” milk, by which the Aunts believe she meant condensed milk.
Dude knows how to throw a party for the Ellie! Just bring fresh picked berries. Which reminds me. Dude’s blueberries are coming on, which means we’ll need to find a day to get up and pick them in the next couple weeks.
Kathleen found Evie some new workbooks with a dry erase pen so that she can use them over and over again. She has a math workbook, a penmanship (cursive) workbook, and a phonics workbook.
She loves the Math one, kind of enjoys the cursive one, and has no interest in the phonics at all.
In that respect she is her mother’s daughter.
Let’s see, what else…
Oh, Evie and Ellie are both convinced that the food on Mommy’s plate is definitely more delicious than the food on their own plates, even when it is patently clear that it is the same kind of food.
Ellie likes to try on Daddy’s sandals:
And Ryan finally got the fence fixed, with a gate and everything!
If you are wondering why the diagonal bracing is not a perfect “X” it’s because the 2×4 was two inches too short, and Ryan was not willing to run to the store and buy another one. It works and doesn’t looke terrible. The only problem is that the new post that Ryan set is plumb, or pretty darn close thereto, but the old post that the hinges are set on is NOT! Not even close. You can see how this makes the whole fence sag into the neighbor’s yard, and makes the bottom of the gate not flush with the pole.
It hurts Ryan’s soul, but not enough to dig out the old post, chip away the cement and reset it. It’s going to stay as it is.
And that’s all for this week, folks. We hope you have a great weekend, don’t forget to pray everyday for us and for your own families.
The one on the right is a Texas skillet Ryan has bought probably about six or seven years ago, which he has used and abused until last summer. After a couple failed attempts to strip it and cure it, we ended up putting it on the shelf until we would have time to strip it again. This summer, Kathleen found a recipe for curing a cast-iron skillet in her 1908 cookbook, By boiling potato skins in it for an afternoon, then heating it over the stove top and coating it with a very very light coat of oil. It has since worked quite well, and between uses we scour it out with coarse salt, heat it over the stove and coat it with a light coat of oil.
A pan on the left belonged to to Kathleen’s great grandma Agatha who immigrated to the area from Switzerland in 1910. We don’t know when she bought this particular cast-iron pan, but we do know that she must have used it for a good portion of her life. Compared to the new cast-iron the difference is quite remarkable.
The old cast-iron pan is thinner than the new one, but it’s unevenly thinner as if it once was thicker and has been worn down in areas. The very bottom of the pan is slightly warped from being heated and cooled repeatedly for a few decades.
The inner surface is where the magic really is, it is as smooth as glass From decades of being scoured out with ash or sand or salt or some other grit and then re-weld reheated and used over and over again. Eggs and even cheese slide off this thing like butter.
It reminds me of a place I saw in Louisiana about seven years ago when I went down to give a talk at a Catholic school there. The school was built on an old manor house, and the drive up to the old building was flanked on either side by giant oak trees that have been planted there prior to the turn of the 20th century. About 15 years later they were transplanted further out to make a wider lane to accommodate the new motor cars that were just coming into Vogue at the time. Now close to a century after they were first planted, Hey for me truly magnificent tunnel of green over this old gravel drive up to a giant brick building that now houses a content in Catholic school.
In both cases, the cast-iron and the oak trees on the drive, the foundation was laid by somebody who would never see the final result. We in our generation are benefiting from their diligence and foresight a century or more ago. My own cast iron has a long way to go before it reaches anything like that level of smoothness and perfect finish, but if we keep at it and work very hard, maybe our great grandchildren will get the chance to enjoy this Texas skillet the way we enjoy a great grandma Agatha’s frypan.
Yesterday Papa Murphy had a deal for a free pepperoni or cheese pizza with purchase of a qualifying large or family sized pizza. Basically two larges for $26-ish. Kathleen forwarded me the email containing the deal early in the morning while I was doing Korean class. By afternoon we still had not figured out what we were going to do for supper, but we both decided we were not hungry enough to warrant two large pizzas. So I looked around the refrigerator, and scanned the kitchen and pulled out some ingredients, and my new cast-iron pizza pan I got for Father’s day, but haven’t used yet.
We were going to make “Watcha Got Pizza.”
These days we can’t pull out a pan in the kitchen without Ellie coming running from wherever she is in the house yelling, “Cooking? Cooking? Help! Help!” Perhaps because of that, Evie has started to ask to help to and actually get excited about cooking.
We started with the dough, as always. This time I wanted to try something new, and a little sweeter than a typical pizza dough.
1 1/4 cups white all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup milk
2 TBS yeast
Evie mixed the molasses in the boiling water until it was all dissolved, and then I added the milk. I added the yeast while Evie stirred it very gently to soften it, and then we set it aside to activate. Ellie dumped the cups of flour into the mixing bowl as I measured them, and then we added the activated yeast and mixed with a spatula until it was read to knead. At this point Evie took over the dough, carefully kneading and folding it, while Ellie greased the pizza pan…
And we set the dough aside to rise on the pan, and prepped the toppings.
One large apple, diced.
Two aidel’s sausages, (bacon, mushroom, swiss flavor) diced
1/2 leftover onion, diced
2 TBS brown sugar
Evie and Ellie provided quality control on the ingredients as I diced them (Evie convinced her little sister to try a large bite of onion, as a true older sibling should). Then they helped me put the onions in the Oklahoma skillet which I had preheated and oiled with the olive oil.
I sautéed the onions for about five minutes, maybe more. I was going for a slightly sweeter pallet so I wanted them well caramelized. I then threw in the brown sugar and apple, and continued to sauté until the apple started to get just a little soft around the edges (don’t want it too soft or it will turn to applesauce when the pizza bakes).
It was at this point that I saw that Ellie had traded her roller for her fists…
But I was busy adding ingredients so I just said, “Gentle touch, Ellie,” and kept sautéing.
A quick turn to brown the sausage and the topping was ready.
And Ellie had torn four large gaps in our dough. Evie was devastated, but we were able to patch it back together tolerably well.
Then we preheated the oven to 425 while waiting for Mommy to get home. We baked the pizza without the cheese for 7:30, and then topped with Havarti…
We went camping this weekend with some of our friends.
I am an early riser at the best of times, but when I am camping I am usually awake as soon as it starts to get light. I enjoy being awake early, and I like sitting at a fire while it is still cool and say my rosary.
On Saturday, of course, the children were also up with the sun so there was very little solitude first thing. By Sunday a full day of play and a late night had taken some of the bounce out of them so I had about an hour and a half sitting there, tending the fires. My goal was to burn what wood we had left, but to make it last a couple hours so that I could boil some water when everyone woke up, and at the same time to burn it as cleanly as possible without leaving any unburned chunks behind.
The trick is to have a shape that allows you to get enough oxygen in to allow the wood to burn, but not so much that it just blazes away. So I built my fire very carefully with the larger pieces and the half burned logs, split some kindling from a dry plank with my knife, and got it going with some crumpled newspaper. After the initial blaze died off I kept a pretty good frame with two of the bigger pieces, and built my coal bed in the middle. I laid one piece at a time across the frame and let each one burn away to coals which fell into the gap between the frame before adding the next. This worked until my frame was burned. Then I scraped the coals against the metal firepit and used that as my frame.
It worked quite well. I had a lovely bed of coals and only one more piece of plank at 7:30 when everyone else was starting to get up. We made some coffee and hot cocoa, and then burnt the last piece.
As I worked I said my Rosary and meditated.
The mistake most people make with their camp fires (and the reason you usually find the fire pit full of half-burned bits and ends of logs) is that they just let the fire burn out as it lies. Each individual coal, left to itself, loses its heat to the atmosphere too quickly to sustain the combustion necessary to consume it entirely. In order for the dying fire to be kept going, it has to be scraped together. You must huddle all the coals together in one place as closely as you can where the ones at the inside can provide the inner, glowing heart of heat, and the ones at the outside can take advantage of the oxygen and keep burning. This preserves the coals that you will need when you do put a fresh piece on.
It seems to me that this is sort of what is going on the Church in America right now. We are bleeding off members, and even those that do remain tend to be isolated. We show up for Mass on Sunday, we say the responses, half-heartedly mumble the songs, and leave without talking to our fellow parishioners when the Mass is over. There are no processions, no confessions, few prayer groups, low attendance at parish events, and for most Catholics our primary social circle and our parish circle are two separate groups. That is, we spend the majority of our time with people that we are not going to Mass with.
Without banding together and reinforcing our faith, our fervor grows cold, and goes out.
It also occurred to me that the first part of the fire, when the paper and wood takes off, was always my favorite part as a kid. The bigger the flames, the better the fire, in my opinion. That still holds true. I love big flames, just for their own sake. But that is the immature form of a campfire. That is not the useful fire. The fire that is useful for boiling water, cooking food, heating a house or a camp consistently, is the fire that is mostly coals. The dirty flames from all the brush, bark, cardboard, and other impurities have burned away and what is left is the solid heart of the wood, slowly being consumed. The harder and tougher the wood, the better the coals, the more useful the fire.
And of course, whenever the coals start to get lazy, all it takes is a little pneuma to get them going again.
For those who don’t know, Catholics are supposed to celebrate Easter for a whole week. If you haven’t gotten on that yet, you still have a whole day to get your celebrate on! Plus, tomorrow is Divine Mercy Sunday. I can’t think of many things more important to celebrate than Divine Mercy, since none of us are getting to Heaven without it.
So do yourself a favor, dust off an old cookbook (for you TLM folks out there, I am sure you can find a pre-1962 liturgical cookbook written in Latin) get your kids together, assign some tasks, and get cooking. Make something delicious together, eat it together.
This was a particularly delicious dish (asparagus wrapped in prosciutto). It has unique spiritual symbolism, in that it represents all of our highest spiritual longings.
Don’t believe me? I shall explain:
The vegetable represents our hope for higher things. That’s why it’s called “aspire-agus.”
We wrap it in the prosciutto of happiness
Season it with zest
And pour over it the olive oil of gladness.
Plus, prosciutto is pretty much like bacon, so it’s awesome.
Or, if the weather is nice in your neck of the woods, get out and hike. Or plant a garden. It’s easy! Get yourself a hoe and some seeds, chop up a few square feet of your front lawn (get rid of all that useless grass, best to take it out by the roots or it will come back) and put the seeds in the dirt.
On Easter we had Deedee and Papa and Dude over, along with Uncle Pat and Aunt Patty, and Travis and his girlfriend Savannah. Between them the girls made out like bandits.
Deedee and Dude filled about three dozen eggs, which Travis and Savannah cleverly concealed all over the lawn.
Everyone loves watching little kids find eggs, even if there is entirely too much candy for two very small children to eat.
We grownups don’t have as much energy, so we mostly celebrate in a more sedentary fashion.
And then we finished up with a rousing game of “Ticket to Ride” which was the first time we have played it with all five players. Let me tell you, the board gets way more crowded with five players.
And the rest of the week we have tried to be at home enjoying ourselves as much as possible, thanking Jesus for the gift of His resurrection.
The girls playing dress-up together (they are superheros. They apparently have not been following Edna’s advice.)
The Daddy is slowly learning how to do hair, since we seem to have so much of it around the house.
So is Ellie.
And that’s all for this week, folks. Remember, It’s still Easter until Sunday.
They are getting so big now. I am glad I get to see them, even if it is only on the video chat.
We had a big event last week.
Happy Birthday to a great old lady. Mommy and the girls went to visit her in her apartment.
And had fun hanging out with Deedee and Papa and Aunt Pam.
They also got to go play at the park.
The park at Bradley lake has a swing designed for one big person and one little person, so that you can sit and swing with your baby in a little basket swing facing you.
Evie and Ellie thought it was great for some sister time too.
Poor Ellie has not been sleeping well this week. She keeps waking up in the middle of the night crying like she is not comfortable. Maybe it’s just teething, or maybe she gets hungry. It’s strange, since she used to be such a great sleeper. She still falls asleep just fine, but she likes to wake up in the wee small hours of the morning now.
Unfortunately that means that Mommy has to wake up too, even on work nights. Ellie does not acknowledge work nights.
The first thing Mommy wants to do as soon as Daddy gets back is sleep for at least 12 hours straight.
Some pictures from this week:
This Montessori school has been such a good experience for Evie. She has taken to it like a duck to water, and, now that some of the initial excitement has worn off, even takes time to eat some of her lunch while she is there. She has friends and she is excited to see them every day. But school has seemed to increase her curiosity, not just at school, but at home. She is more interested in books, letters, drawing, and writing “notes” for Daddy.
Ellie too is growing fast. She can now say “Papa!” Let me tell you, that makes Papa super happy. Oddly, Mommy’s name is still “milk” (in sign language) even though she has been weaned for over a month now.
Let me tell you, one of the best parts of my day is when that video chat opens up and I hear Ellie calling from the other end of the house, “Hi! Dada!” then I hear her little hands and feet slapping the floor as fast as she can crawl to come and play peekaboo and shake Daddy around and make faces.
It is going to be a great day when I can hug my girls again.
thank God for technology. Think about our great grandparents during WWII, or even during Korea, Vietnam. There was no video chat, there were no phones, there were only letters. (Those don’t go out of style, by the way. Kathleen and I have approximately doubled the volume of the military postal system in the last month, I think.) Remember the Gulf war. Heck, I remember the early days of Iraq and Afghanistan when guys couldn’t call back for weeks or months at a time, and then it was only ten minutes on a staticky sat-phone connection and then “Time’s up, next man.” I remember the sickening feeling of getting an answering machine (who has those anymore?) at three different numbers in my one chance to call home for a week.
Technology is great. But it is going to be wonderful to be able to hug my girls.
That’s all for this week, folks. Keep us in your prayers. God Bless!
We sure picked a heck of a week to skip a Family Friday last week. We skipped it because we were out at the beach (spoiler!) and our family was too busy Familying on Friday to Family Friday last Friday.
So last week… Busy week.
We already told you about Uncle Adam’s Birthday, and then we had a wonderful little pizza party on Saturday (the 21st).
Making the dough
Ready to receive the toppings
We took the opportunity to try some new things with some old recipes.
Ronny and Amanda came over with RJ, and Uncle Adam and Maryanne brought Edmund and Annarose, so it was a fun little family party. (Speaking of RJ, he just turned one year old! Happy Birthday RJ!)
The next day our next door neighbors’ 7-year-old daughter had a pizza party. Her mom and dad made individual pizzas for everyone on the grill, and we played Pictionary.
It was awesome.
Then Deedee and Papa came over for a visit.
The following Monday Daddy had a short day at work so he and the girls went for a hike. We chose a short but intense hiking route at a nearby park. In fact, it was almost a little too intense.
30 seconds later…
Two minutes later…
On Tuesday we got to go to evening Mass together. Deacon George and Evie had a conversation about the throne that the Gospel sits upon, and the role of the Deacon in placing the Word of God on the Lectern.
We got our first two beets out of our garden, and Ryan fried them up with butter.
Then the weekend came and we began our biggest adventure of the summer, so far.
We went Camping!
We drove out on Thursday during nap time and set up our tent and campsite. Daddy and Mommy and Evie set up the tent.
While Ellie crawled around and tasted the local dirt to make sure it was up to her standards of quality.
Then, while we waited for Deedee and Papa to show up, we went down to the ocean. It was a long hike through the sandy trails.
It was a long, hard trail, but Evie forged ahead! She raced to the beach. She saw….
She recovered remarkably quickly. Two minutes after that video ended she was getting buried in the sand. After that we could not get so much as one of her toes in the water the whole weekend. But that is okay because there are so many other things to do at the beach:
Of course all that beaching is hard work. Ellie is not afraid of the water at all!
Of course we spent some time in Deedee and Papa’s camper.
We did some sight-seeing as well at the lighthouse.
It was a great weekend!
That’s all for this week, Folks. Have a Great weekend!
Summer time is hiking time in the Pacific Northwest! We found a nice little trail hike in Dupont last weekend that took us from the town hall down to the sound.
Evie is really quite a good hiker. Hopefully she gets lots more practice this summer.
Mommy made some absolutely delicious coconut prawns on Friday. They were amazing, as evidenced by the fact that Ryan and Kathleen ate about two pounds of them together. Even Evie ate two of them, and she is very averse to eating new things.
A friend of ours had a baby baptized on Saturday evening after Mass, so we went to Mass Saturday night.
Then Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne came over and we hung out at our house for a while. Ellie was very intrigued by her baby cousin.
Sunday was the day of the annual Moergli Picnic (The Moergli’s are Deedee’s Mom’s family). We are sort of related to them, twice removed, in Kathleen’s case, three times in Evie and Ellie’s, but that’s close enough for a picnic. Mommy spent the morning concocting deliciousness:
The picnic was almost intolerably hot for everyone except Daddy (he has spent a lot of time in hotter places) but everyone still loved seeing the girls.
We experimented with camping out in the back yard last weekend, but that didn’t work so well (Evie did very little sleeping. Consequently, so did Daddy). Daddy has been trying to get a hammock up behind the tent, but has been having issues due to not having the right materials.
The only points to anchor the hammock are approximately 30 yards apart, consequently if you hang it with any dynamic material (i.e. material that has any stretch to it), you end up lying on the ground as soon as you put weight in it.
We did eventually find the right combination of hammock, straps and price from Amazon, and with a few times tightening with a ratchet strap…
Why does it appear to sag so low in that picture, you ask?
Daddy and the girls got to go to MC on Monday. Unfortunately, Mommy wasn’t feeling well.
We also celebrated Uncle Adam’s birthday this week. Unfortunately, he has requested us not to post any pictures of him so no one will see how old he is looking now. It’s really quite shocking. What hair is left to him at his advanced age is as white as printer paper and twice as crinkly. Aging. It’s a son-of-a-gun.
Since last week, Ellie has gained a great deal of mobility. So we have put her to work, giving her a job that will hone her latent predator skills. We even cave her a cave-baby outfit to wear while she chases her quarry.
Seriously, though, she is growing by leaps and bounds. Or at least by creeps and grounds.
Mostly she bear-crawls, commando crawls, and butt-scoots to anything she can pull herself up into a standing position on.
Once there she pulls herself up, and falls, and pulls and falls and pulls and stands and wobbles for a few minutes, until eventually she falls again.
It’s all hard work and requires a lot of eating and sleeping to support.
A lot of food. Healthy food!
Fortunately these are the things that Ellie is good at.
And she has a big sister who is more than willing to help her.
She cooks food for her baby sister. Today it was flower soup.
Holds her sister.
Helps her stay cool in the heat, and celebrate Fourth of July all at the same time.
And Evie also gives her great fashion advice.
The only thing Evie does not do, is go to sleep.
It’s amazing how much these two get up to in any given day. Mommy and Daddy just seem to do the same old same old, most of the time. Although this week we did have some fun family cooking. We made pasta carbonara, out of the Vatican Cookbook.
If you look closely you can see that our copy of the Vatican Cookbook is signed by the owner of La Vittoria restaurant, which is featured in the book. We got it signed when we were in Rome about 1 1/2 years ago.
Then she found a recipe for honey oat bread on the internet somewhere and made that.
It was delicious. Very hearty and robust, but mildly sweet and nutty. We should share the recipe sometime. Speaking of recipes, Daddy made a new pizza this week that is scrumdiddlyumptious. You guys should come over and try some sometime.
That’s all for this week. God Bless, and have a great weekend. Bye!
“Chivalry is only a word for that general spirit or state of mind which inspires a man to heroic and generous actions and keeps him conversant with all that is pure and beautiful in the intellectual worlds.
— Kenelm Henry Digby, “Maxims of Christian Chivalry”