Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer

We're finally having those longed for lazy days of summer.  The girls are staying up later, reading until they fall asleep.  They're even now out having a water fight (it's 7:30) instead of getting ready for bed.  :o)

The lazy days means there is no rhythm or routine to our day so I'm struggling to feel motivated to do anything with regards to house keeping.  I just want to be lazy and loll around and play with the girls.  I've not been good about instituting cleaning hours into our days and the house shows it. 

But, I keep reminding myself, this is time I will never get back.  I'll always (pray God) have a house to clean, but I won't always have small girls who find wonder in turning dried out daylily scapes into whistles.  As long as I can deal with the mess without sinking into a mass of anxiety, all will be well. 

Today we explored the world of Perler (or as my girls call them "melty") beads. 


Ellie's fingers seem to be just the right size to manage the beads and the small pegs on which they are places.  Lil struggled a big, lamenting her fingers were no longer as nimble as they had been at four. 

I have to say, I understand her consternation, having tried to put some beads on those posts myself. 

Yesterday was the Feast of St. Olaf.  It is tradition in Catholic churches to celebrate the feast day of the saint for whom they are named, so yesterday was "Olaf Fest" at our church. :o) We would have Mass at 5:00, dinner (pot luck) at 6:00 and watch "Frozen" at 7:00.

I was asked to help set up so I was there from 4:00 until "Frozen" ended.  It was rather a long evening, but loads of fun. 
How could I not have a good time when our priest came in wearing his Viking helmet?? ;oP

A parishioner made this fun cake.  :o)

I suppose now would be a good time to explain St. Olaf was a Viking, huh? ;o)

A close up of the cake.  She told me the first one was so big it fell apart in the fridge.  O.o!  I can't imagine putting all that work in the cake and then having it go kaput! Poor thing!

Our food tables were laden with all sorts of delicious noms.

Getting to them, however, proved to be rather difficult as there was quite the crowd.

I remember church suppers from my childhood so fondly.  The grown-ups never paid attention to what we filled our plates with, and if we hit the desserts up three or even four times, nobody cared.  The grown-ups visited with each other, and we kids all took care of ourselves.  Ahhhh...good times. 

The best best part of the evening was the screening of "Frozen" in the sanctuary.  Both young and old attended and fun was had by all.  I think the women with whom I was sitting and I  sang along more than the kiddos, but hey, who cares? ;o)  I will say there was a round of rather audible "Oh thank goodness!" from the little guys present when "Let it Go" was over, which made us grown-up-type folks chuckle.  :o)

As for the other parts of summer, the girls took the box from Nana and Pop's house and turned it into a clubhouse.

See?  The holes poked in it are air holes.  Underneath is a small light of some variety and a small fan.  Part of me desperately wishes I were small enough to fit in there with them. :o)

And, finally, the girls exploring heaven.  Ahhhhh...

I think we were all wishing we could simply bring home one of every book in the store. 

Lil was playing around over here because, why not? 

So far this summer she has completely devoured the first two Harry Potter books and is now working on book three.  She has also read the first few Lemony Snicket books.  She and I are currently working on A Cricket in Times Square

I so love watching the endless worlds of words opening up for my girl and can't wait for it to do so for the Bean.  It's all so magical and amazing.  I love watching her eyes light with delight when she reads a particularly funny or insightful passage.  Hooray for reading!

I'll leave you with this, the epitome of summer--Ellie making mud pies...er..."strawberry soup"...;o)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Bitty Grows

This child has grown up this summer.  Time has sped by, leaving behind my little girl and replacing her with this super funky, fun, spunky eight year old who is fascinated by building things and reading chapter books.  The dailiness of living blinds you to these changes.  You don't notice until one day you're looking at photos and suddenly you see what's been there all along and you're struck rather dumb for a moment. 

I've continued to not write much about her because I'm still treading that fine line of sharing and what she would consider over sharing.  Baby, toddler and preschooler behaviors are all so universal and we're all in the trenches together.  When your children get older, their troubles start to be a bit different and the struggles, while potentially universal, start to feel more personal, more private.

And yet, how can I NOT share my sweet Bitty Girl? 
She's been taking full advantage of the lazy days of summer now that swimming is over.  Friday I started to get a little worried when she hadn't appeared by 9:30.  I carefully opened her door to see what was up and found this.

She has torn through the second HP in no time.  She told me she's to the point where she can only read it during the day because it's getting too scary now to read at night. :oP I respect that, and find she's like I was, and can keep two or three books going at once. 

We spent an hour in B&N today, looking through the 7-12 year old reading section, looking at covers, reading book backs and jackets, searching for new stories to discover.  This is such a fun age! :o) I love that the books that interest her are not necessarily books that would have been on my reading list (I did a lot of Judy Bloom, Beverly Cleary, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, The Babysitters Club, etc.  You know, nice, fluffy reads...Okay, I did read more challenging things, but still) so that I can experience new books.  Right now, I'm not prepared to let her read something I've not also read, just so I can be prepared with answers as needed, and know the content of what she's reading.  Besides, I might possibly have a YA reading problem...;oP  YA books are among my favorites. :o)

The child is a pack rat.  A HUGE pack rat.  I can't toss anything, or even look at tossing something without her saying, "But I could use that to make a...".  This is all rather frustrating to a woman who has no use for clutter and has a heart attack just walking into the doorway of her child's bedroom.  The items she has rescued are varied and the uses she finds for them even more so.

Brien has a number of flying machines scattered throughout the house and shop.  Lil has been particularly intrigued by his glider and has worked on repairing the broken tail so it will fly better. 

She recently found this spent pinwheel flower in the yard and determined it must be used for something lest Mom toss it.  (I SO would have tossed it if I had gotten to it first!)

She attached it to a stick, added wings, and there you have it.  :o)

 She wanted me to get a photo of the prop spinning. I did what I could. :oP

In her own words:



She's a pretty neato kiddo, what can I say?

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Sparklies:

1.  Pop and Nana had a fun cardboard box the girls discovered today. 
They spent hours playing in it.  Seriously.  It came home with us and is now living on the bridge where Lil has made a club out of it.  Boxes are the BOMB!

2. 
Everybody helps out in this house.  No exceptions. :oP

3.  We had a heavy storm yesterday while the sun was shining off behind it.  I listened, and the moment the storm was over I ran outside.  The family followed.  It was worth the remaining drizzle to take in the view:



If you look VEEEEERY carefully, you can almost see the double there across the top right corner.

4. 
My house has been smelling heavenly. 

5.

Dinner last Friday.  NOM!

6. 
We've been eating through two pounds of cherries about every three days or so... Ahhhhh, summer fruits how I love thee!

7.
Because Atlantic Beach pie is too incredible.  Oh man.  How can you go wrong with all that fresh whipped cream and tart/tangy citrus? 

8.  We spent the afternoon with N&P.  We have a new take and bake pizza place, Papa Murphy's, and they thought we should try it out for lunch.  I'm still stuffed and lunch was six or so hours ago.  It was goooooooooood.  From there we did B&N and Joann.  It's been a lovely day. :o)


No milestones.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

How to Make Elliston Flour Biscuits

My days at the pool are being spent more like this and less like "Coach Rachael" freezing her tukus off in the shallow end at 8:00 in the morning.  We still like to head to the pool in the afternoon, and tomorrow, I might just pack us a picnic lunch and we'll spend the day there.  :o)  Summer is a wonderful thing!

Today was NOT one of those lovely pool days, it started out cold and stormy (did you hear about the tornado that hit a campground on the Eastern Shore?) and has been pretty overcast and gross for the rest of the day.  The girls (all four of 'em) and I headed out to kill some time at TJ's and then the 'Jay, and then spent much of the afternoon vegging. 

Today is the kind of day you want comfort food, a good book and a cup of hot tea.  I made some biscuits last week and decided to document the process for the girls for when they are older. 
 Begin with this flour.  This is the best biscuit flour, and Daddy has found a local source for it.  Otherwise, you'll just have to get it when you go visit Lissie.

I found this recipe on the bag the other day.  Who knew it was there?  It's pretty much exactly what I do.

Dump flour in a big bowl.

Cut in shortening.

Use a pastry blender.  Spend the money and get one--you'll get a lot of use out of it if you bake like your mama does!

If your flour and shortening don't look like this when you're finished, you need to add a bit more of either one or the other.

Pour in the milk.

Lissie uses a wooden fork, but I don't have one.  I use the big serving fork.  It gets the job done.  The trick is to not overwork the dough.  Biscuits are lighter and fluffier when you just barely work the dough.

If it's too dry, just add a bit more milk.  It's always easier to add more milk than more flour.  Add the milk slowly.

When it looks like this, it's time to stop.

Throw some flour down on your work surface so the dough won't stick.

 Dump it out, and sort of gently shape it into a mound.  Really, don't work it too much.

 Then, pat it down to about an inch thick.

Dip your cutter (if y'all are really nice to your mama, I'll make sure you each have a set of these glasses and bowls and whatnot) into the flour.

 Then, cut out the biscuit.  Try and be more careful than I was here, and cut as close to the edge as you can.

Place your cut bikkies on a baking stone (again, a worthwhile investment if you take after your mama with all the cooking and baking) as close together or far apart as you like. 

When you've cut out all you can, do NOT--I repeat, DO NOT--gather up the dough and roll another ball.

You just sort of roll it up and scootch it together to from another 1" thick mass of dough.

Yes, the first ones cut are the prettiest, but really, does it matter if they're not so pretty?  Isn't it all about taste and fluffiness?  The last bikkie is typically just rolled up like a pinwheel...

Another tools you girlies are gonna want to pick up is a bench scraper.  Trust me on this one.

You clean up your mess and kitchen (and make your sausage gravy and eggs) while the biscuits bake.  450 for 15 minutes or so.

Here ya go.  They should look like this.

Split one apart and smother with gravy.

Or, simply add butter or preserves, apple butter, our whatever catches your fancy.

Look at how light and fluffy they are! 

Remember, don't overwork the dough

Yes, you girls will be making biscuits with me in the kitchen for years to come before you move out on your own, but it doesn't hurt to have a tutorial for visual reference when you're out on your own years from now.  Don't tell me you won't be wanting biscuits, and you know these are so much better than the can.  :oP

Sorry there are no amounts, it's strictly an eyeballing it sort of thing.  I truly believe you ladies can handle this.  :o)

****************************
Sparklies:

1.  My beautiful, sun-kissed Beanie.

2.  Her equally beautiful, sun-kissed sister. 

3.  Sweet, glorious garden candy!

 4.  Some people find them terrifying.  
I find them fascinating!

5. So beautiful!

6. The rain meant I didn't have to water the gardens today!


No milestones.