Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cider + pumpkins + a little refueling = fall unicorn.

It's been a long week and Saturday I needed a respite.  Clyde was working and the thought of staying home, confined by walls was not what I needed.  I needed wide open spaces, I needed time to think and I needed to refuel.  So with camera in hand and a full tank of gas I headed north, 80 miles north, in search of fall.  The destination, Bellwood Acres, a u-pick apple orchard and pumpkin patch located in the boarder town of Lynden.   I stopped only once, just around the corner from my home, to indulge in my first ever Pumpkin Spice Latte.  A few delicious sips later I merged onto I-5 looking forward to the freedom only acquired by being completely alone.  I sang along with the John Denver and Billy Joel cd's in my car,  I had a lovely call with my sister and at one point I turned off the music and just enjoyed the silence.  And when I arrived an hour and a half later I was entirely ready to breathe it all in. 

Hello fall, so happy to see you.



I thought about hopping on the "Apple Bin Express" to go out to the apple orchard but decided to save that for when Clyde could come back with me.  Instead I wandered the grounds, offered to take a few family photos for some strangers, enjoyed a quick lunch and ended the day with 2 gallons of fresh pressed cider and 10 pounds of Gravenstein, McIntosh and Jonagold apples.


Taking photos clears my head.  I try to capture a moment in time, a detailed view, a specific angle.  It clears my head because it weeds out the clutter. 



With a camera in hand you control the shot, you put the emphasis on the story you are telling with each frame and you let the noise fall to the background.  It's just like life, everyday we experience so many moments where we get to choose what to focus on and what to let slip to the background.   The focus will shift but all parts are equally important to a great shot.


I had a good day today and I was pleased with all my photos, but I am especially partial to this little pumpkin below. 


Today was exactly what I needed.

How do you refuel and clear your head when necessary?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cider Pressing 2012 at Circle Creek.

The fall freak flag was finally raised on Saturday when we welcomed fall with great friends, good food and an afternoon of cider pressing at Circle Creek Home.


Clyde and I are always excited to spend time with friends and family and we will toast to just about anything, because life should be celebrated the big moments and the small everyday moments.  So when our friends invited us to a afternoon of cider pressing and dining on the deck followed by an evening around the fire pit we were eager to roll the red carpet for our favorite season.


Growing up in Maine, I can not imagine fall with out apples and cider.  My grandparents owned and operated the most perfect apple orchard and the back of our property was literally across the dirt road from one of their apple fields.  It was just a five minute walk to their barn that smelled of hay and apples.  And as if growing up in Maine wasn't perfect enough, growing up in Maine on an apple orchard with a big red barn well, there may as well have been unicorns running around that field, it was magical.

We arrived at our friends home mid afternoon and the press was already in full swing.  They had pick over 100+ pounds of apples the day before and had everything set up beautifully. 


These apples brought back so many wonderful childhood memories of the fields that we played in for hours, the big red barn with the dusty deer head that both fascinated me and freaked me out at the same time, and the most wonderful grandparents a kid could ask for.  I remember the conveyer belt that carried the apples through the washing machine and my grandmother standing at the opposite end picking through the apples removing the leaves and any debris that made it in from the picking baskets.  


The scene was just slightly different than that big red barn but the process was exactly the same, the smell was the same and the only thing missing, my wonderful grandparents and the backfire of the 1936 John Deer tractor that would have me running for the hills every time he started it up.  


The recipe is simple, fresh apples, washed, crushed and pressed, equals cider.

We all took turns helping out, I think my favorite part was sliding the crushed apple bin over to the right to be pressed.  It reminded me of the wheel barrow full of spent, crushed apples my Grandfather would empty from his automatic press and wheel just outside the barn.  


It went pretty quick with all hands on deck and before too long we were done.  I loved that they used washed out milk jugs, just like my Grandfather did and the cider was delicious.  


After the last of the cider was jugged, and the press was cleaned up, we enjoyed a late lunch on the deck.  


We ended the day relaxing around the fire pit with a little nip in our cider, a bite of homemade apple pie and the sound of coyotes off in the distance.


It was a lovely day of feeling blessed and grateful for great friends and family and I can not imagine a better way to welcome in fall.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Enjoying the last bits of Summer.

It seems that Summer just began in July, so the fact that it is September and the season has officially started to change, feels as if it went by much too fast.  The mornings are a bit cooler, the evenings require a light fleece layer, and the sunlight has shifted, slightly lower in the sky.

Fall may be calling upon us but we have decided to screen our calls, let the answering machine take a message and get back to fall when we are good and ready.

So we filled this long holiday weekend with as much Summer as we could squeeze in and it all started with Mango Lime Margaritas on the patio Friday night.  I altered this recipe taking out the sugar adding more lime and using fresh mango and a bit of mango puree.   We are usually purists when it comes to margaritas and not big fans of the blended versions but these are yummy and the thick rim of lime spiked sugar around the rim of the glass is addicting.


Our plans for Saturday included happy hour burgers at Ray's Boathouse and a game of mini golf at Inter-Bay. The weather was perfect and the crowd at Ray's was massive but we were lucky and able to get seated right away.


Then in the middle of dinner, I challenged Clyde to the game of mini golf.

And it was all going good until I realized he brought his own putter and ball.  Seriously, who does that?  A golfer does that and I don't know what I was thinking challenging him in golf, even if it was mini golf, but I could not take back my wager.

Let the game begin.


It was a beautiful evening and much to my surprise the course was quiet with just a few groups ahead of us.  I liked that no one was rushing behind us and I took advantage of that with a Mulligan on the first hole, ok maybe it was a few Mulligan's but who's counting?

Well, Clyde was counting and with his score card, golf pencil, and his own "Never Compromise" putter he brought from home, I knew I was in trouble right away. The first two holes went well, we tied one and I was one behind on the next.  The third hole my shot resembled that of a pin ball machine, way too hard and my hot pink ball bounced off the bricks three or four times and then almost returned back to the tee, whoops!

Then we came to the fourth hole, the fourth hole shook my mental game.


This hole has a boulder obstacle and a sharp left turn.  Clyde lined up his putt and drew the club back ever so gently,  he tapped the ball onto the green and watched with pride as he achieved the coveted hole in one, oh crap, I mean "Great shot Sweetie!"


Yikes, the next fourteen holes were not hole in one's but they might as well have been and all I can say is I left the loop with five dollars less in my pocket than I started. 

And since everyone knows, mini golf always requires a trip to the ice cream parlor, we decided to try the famous Molly Moon's. 


I had heard many great reviews about this boutique ice cream and was anxious to try some of the unusual flavors, salted caramel, honey lavender, roasted apricot and cream, strawberry, Stumptown coffee, balsamic strawberry, Theo chocolate and many others.

So we headed over to 1622.5 ~ N 45th St.  and we knew we had arrived at the right spot, when we saw the line out the door and spilling up along the sidewalk.  That is always a good sign, right?

The smell of sweet cream and freshly made waffle cones greeted us just outside the doorway and the line snaked all the way down to the end of the shop and back again. 


We sampled the watermelon sorbet and honey lavender ice cream while waiting in line, and before too long we were ordering,  I indulged in the salted caramel and Stumptown coffee while Clyde had the salted caramel and the roasted apricot and cream.  Yum!  Our favorite was the Stumptown coffee, not too sweet with a strong, fresh coffee flavor.

It was delicious and the line of patrons kept coming, spilling out the front door and continuing up the sidewalk even as we left.

I love that their address is 1622 and a half ~ 

Sunday we had friends over for a late lunch on the patio and the Mango Lime Margaritas returned. 


It was a lovely long weekend and I have decided  to put off answering the call of Autumn until next Sunday, which is when the rain is expected to return.  

I hope you are all enjoying the last bits of Summer.
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