My Equestrian

We rescued Rachel from the perils of horse camp this morning. She’s been slaving away this past week, caring for the horses (can you say “mucking stables?”), taking riding lessons, playing in the lake and learning more about the Lord.

It’s a difficult life.

rachel's in the lead

here she goes

it's the finish line

This morning there was a show for the parents. What an incredible sight to see Rachel horseback riding so confidently.

A huge thank goes out to Rachel’s close friends, Jenny and Sarah, and their sisters who helped with Rachel’s camp fees. You girls are awesome!!!

rachel and sarah

Rachel and Sarah greet the campers.

We’re very glad to have Rachel home, safe and sound.


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A Visiting Dignitary

On Wednesday one of Joshua’s oldest friends flew into town for a visit. David’s mom, a few years older than me, was one of my spiritual mentors while I was in high school and college. She sang at my wedding and has been a dear friend for many years. Last summer while we were visiting David’s family in Michigan, we casually discussed the idea of David coming to Washington for a visit some time.

swimming in MI

Joshua, David and a random little brother hit the pool hard last June.

“Sure! We’d love to have him,” I said enthusiastically. It’ll never happen, I thought to myself. This is just one of those friendly, polite comments people make when they want to convey their affection.

“Mom,” Joshua said to me several months later, “David and I have been writing back and forth. You know, letters with paper, envelopes and stamps, I’m sure you’ve heard of the US Postal Service. Anyway, he mentioned something about coming to visit this summer. I told him which weeks were good for us. I just wanted to let you know.”

“Mmmm, that’s nice dear,” I responded, giving him my “absolute full attention” while making dinner, listening to my new cd and refereeing a fight between Daniel and Rachel. “Those boys, full of wild plans,” I mused.

Three weeks ago I received a voice mail from Nancy, David’s mom. “Kathy, we’re so excited. We’ve got reservations for David. How is the third week of August? Call me back. We’re buying the tickets tonight!”

What?? I was truly delighted, yet a little surprised. I didn’t really believe they would send David all the way across the country (okay, partly across the US) to see Joshua. What a treat! Joshua and I made plans to fill the time and show David some of our favorite parts of Washington.

Get off the island, David!

great jump!

Sometimes you have to push those good friends OFF!

Prospective Activities

1) An afternoon at the lake
2) An overnight in the Duckabush
3) A hike up around Mt. Rainier
4) A day in Seattle
5) As many board games as we can fit in between our adventuring.

back from the lake

The Duckabush River is COLD! These boys actually went IN the river. Brrrrr.

Perfect! It doesn’t hurt that the weather has been gorgeous this week. Lots of sunshine and warm days. In fact, it might be just a little too warm for Joshua. He prefers the typical Washington climate which hovers in the low 60′s. And he actually likes rain.

We’ve greatly enjoyed David so far. He’s polite, helpful and pleasant to be around (he and Joshua even made dinner tonight). The only grievance against him is that he is actually taller than Joshua, and has been for quite a while.

“He cheats,” Joshua confided. “Both his parents are rather tall.”

Tim and I aren’t pipsqueaks, but we both felt rather diminished by the comparison.

Apart from that, though, David is good company (he’s a gamer) and a great friend for Joshua. Into every relationship, a little rain must fall, I guess.

Anyone else want to come for a visit?

Call first!

Project 366, Day 228

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Bisquick for Dinner and Dessert

Although I love to bake (which is really strange since I don’t eat sugar or flour. But then I’m allowed to be quirky, I’m a homeschooling mom), I don’t have a lot of patience for complicated, dinner recipes. My family, of course, likes dinner so refusing to cook at all isn’t an option.

They’re picky that way.

Where'd the food go?

No leftovers from this dish.

At Target last week my eye fell on a slim cookbook at the end of the checkout aisle. Bisquick – Quick, Money-Saving Meals. “Aha,” I said to myself, “30 simple back-to-school dinners all featuring Bisquick as an essential ingredient.” This thought quickly led to the two Costco size boxes of Bisquick in my pantry. My family likes Bisquick. I think we have a winner.

I grabbed the cookbook, flipped through the colorful, sleek pages and slapped it down on the checkout counter. Yesterday I decided to try out one of the recipes for dinner. I asked Joshua (my hungriest, and often the most meal appreciative child) which he would like to have for dinner – taco pie or lasagna squares. His attention was immediately focused. Ever aware of the complexities of cooking, he asked which one would be easier to make.

In other words, which meal would be on the table quicker. You can’t fool me, kid, underneath that sensitive soul lurks a starving teenager.

Joshua is easy to please.

“They’re both relatively the same, they’re from my new Bisquick cookbook,” I said as I flashed the cover in his direction.

“All Right!” he responded, “In that case, I pick lasagna squares.”
“Done,” I nodded and set off to make dinner.

sarah with the

The recipe was super easy. I doubled it and made an extra dish (leftovers are highly welcomed around here). Since I was on a roll and entranced by the glossy pages of the book, I decided to try a dessert recipe. That afternoon Tim had brought me home a big package of apples from Costco.

“Hmmm, Caramel Apple Dessert sounds yummy,” I mused. “I think I have time to make a quick treat for after dinner.” When the kids are busy and I’m making dinner, I obviously spend a good portion of the time talking to myself. Or maybe I’m just trying to spice up the blog. You decide.

Rachel is at camp this week (we miss you, Rach!) which means her dinner dish responsibilities fall to the rest of the family. I need a steady supply of desserts around in order to bribe the kids to help clean up the kitchen each night. Tim served ice cream on Monday while I was at Bible study. It worked beautifully, the kitchen was spotless when I arrived home. I figured something called Caramel Apple Dessert was bound to motivate my cleaning crew.

I need to research the homemade versions of Bisquick which are out there on the web. Can a homemade recipe compete with the big box from Costco? Anyone make a Bisquick type mix from scratch? Does it work well in these type of casserole dishes? I like the idea of using more whole grain flours in the recipe. Let me know what you’ve discovered.

Here are the two recipes we enjoyed last night.

Easy Lasagna Squares

1 lb ground beef
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
2 cups shredded moz cheese
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

2/3 cup Bisquick mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs

1. Heat oven to 400. Brown beef. Stir in spices, tomato paste and 1/2 cup of mozz cheese. (Note: I didn’t have tomato paste and substituted with spaghetti sauce. Also I used Colby Jack cheese instead of mozzarella).

2. Grease 8 inch dish. Layer cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese in dish. Spoon beef mixture evenly over top of cheese. (I doubled recipe and made one in oval Corning Ware dish and one in pie pan).

3. In medium bowl, stir Bisquick mix, milk and eggs. Pour into dish.

4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese over top (I didn’t use anywhere near as much cheese as this – maybe 1/2 cup). Bake 2 or 3 minutes longer until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with quartered cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves if desired.

Whoops, was this apple supposed to be IN the pie?

Caramel Apple Dessert

1 1/2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup granulated sugar (I used only 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup milk

2 medium cooking apples, peeled and sliced
1 tbs lemon juice
3/4 cup brown sugar (I used only 1/3 cup)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350. Stir together Bisquick mix and sugar. Stir in milk until blended.

2. Pour into ungreased 9 inch square pan (I used pie pan). Top with apples. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Stir together brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over apples.

3. Pour boiling water over apples.

4. Bake 50 to 60 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream.

Can we have seconds?

There you have it, two easy recipes. The apple dessert baked with a yummy caramel sauce on the bottom. It wasn’t quite a pie, more like an apple coffee cake with caramel sauce. Tim didn’t think the lasagna squares tasted very different from the basic cheeseburger pie which Bisquick features on the back of the box. Mind you, my family loves that recipe so his comment wasn’t negative. But it does mean I didn’t do a good job of flavoring very well. Interesting. I’m eager to try out some of the other quick and easy looking recipes.

What do you fix when time is short and you’d rather be outside playing than in the kitchen cooking?


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Endurance Hiker

In these troubled times, it pays to have a guidebook.

For example, when choosing a hike for an afternoon outing, it might be helpful to read these words, describing a trail I chose, somewhat at random:

Goat Peak #958C — 2.8 miles

A very steep, long climb with no water, this trail is for the endurance hiker. At the summit of Goat Peak there are views from Glacier Peak to Mt. Adams and everything in between. Slippery when wet, with an elevation gain of 2600 feet, the trail is closed to horses. The trailhead is at Hells Crossing.

I’ve been called a number of things, but ‘endurance hiker’ is not one of them.

Boys of Chinook Pass
We stopped for a quick picture at Chinook Pass, on our way to the east side of Mt. Rainier.

The boys and I attended the our church’s annual Men and Boys Campout, which I wrote about last year. This year, we brought along two other boys, and had a nice time. The weekend event is pretty unstructured (purposefully), so we camped, whittled, rode horses, built forts, played in the river, poked sticks in the fire and hiked to Goat’s Peak.

A boy and his hatchet ...
Our hatchet figured prominently in many of these activities.

I guess the trail’s origin at Hell’s Crossing should have been a clue. I sought advice from the event organizer, a semi-retired pastor who administrates at our church and heads up Men’s Ministries.

Weekend Cowboys
Everyone who wanted to (and even some who didn’t) got a chance to ride.

“It’s a little steep,” Dale cautioned me, “but not too bad. I used to hike up there quite often,” he assured me breezily.

I probably should have remembered that Dale used to train with runners competing for a place on the U.S. Olympic team.

A man and his faithful steed
No horses were injured in the filming of this blog.

As we set off up the trail, my heart sank. Leading the way, Joshua strode out as though the incline were a minor annoyance; I found myself gasping for breath after taking only 50 steps.

“Tell … ya … what,” I huffed, long pauses between each word. “How ’bout you guys take one of these whistles, and give a blast if you need help. I’ll keep one as well, and you boys wait for me from time to time.”

What's keeping you, Dad?
A relatively flat part of the trail …

David charitably kept me company, providing me an excuse for going so slow. Every 20 minutes or so, I’d catch up with the rest of the boys, who were usually lying around on rocks, chafing at the bit to be off. “What took you so long, Dad? We had time to build a lean-to and whittle a staff … “, Daniel asked, reproachfully.

“David … has … short … legs … “, I wheezed, hoping to pacify him with a true, but irrelevant fact.

Heroic poses
“Is that the peak? Or maybe that one over there?

Eventually (after several tries) we reached what we thought was the top of Goat Peak. For a long time, the trail slithered up a ridge and across several saddles, so we were never entirely sure. We later discovered the trail was part of a larger, 27-mile path, which had duped many a hiker before us into miles of extra climbing. Based on the topographical map I checked, the vertical rise was as much as 3000 feet to where we called it a day.

At the top?
I declared this the top, by the authority vested in me …

The older boys laughed and skipped down the trail to the parking lot, while I plodded downward with David. Due to a knee injury I sustained as a parachutist in the Army, I can’t really go very fast downhill, so they were snacking and guzzling root beer at the car for a good while before David and I arrived.

My faithful companion
David didn’t seem to mind that I was so slow.

That night, knee throbbing, I hobbled from the car to the campsite, while the boys sprinted around, playing tag. “This whole ‘aging’ thing is not very well managed,” I mused, remembering my own youth. I used to squander my energy playing Ultimate Frisbee and such, never realizing how briefly that strength would be available to me.

Goat Peak, or maybe not
We never were sure, even from the road, which peak we had climbed. Maybe this one?

Maybe my current ‘exercise plan’ (mostly involves moving my computer mouse) has something to do with my lack of physical prowess?

American River
Um, that river is glacier-fed, isn’t it?

Nah, probably not. :)

Project 366, Day 222

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I Am Here But Not Blogging

Okay, obviously I am blogging but I’m not really blogging. At least not “Tim and Kathy Style” with a plethora of pictures accompanied by wordy paragraphs that may or may not have anything to do with the photos.

Rachel and I went away for our Passport 2 Purity weekend. It was wonderful! We had a fantastic time and loved every minute. Tim found us a great deal on a beautiful hotel and we ate out, went shopping (several times) and enjoyed a movie. Just a lovely mother/daughter weekend.

Not to mention all the discussions on dating, sex and purity.


More on that later (maybe).

Meanwhile, and here’s where some gorgeous photos would be included, Tim took the boys off on their annual father/son/men’s camping trip. They had such a great time last year that this time they expanded the group to include a family whose father is currently deployed. Tim, and five young men (ranging in age from 7 to 14), tents, food and sleeping bags in hand spent the weekend at Mount Rainier.

Let’s see feather beds at the Hyatt or sleeping bags in a tent? Hmmm. Which would you choose?

Pictures coming, I promise.


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