Monday, October 13, 2014

Apple cider: farm life update no. 4

Is there anything that epitomizes fall better than a good ol' apple cider making?
The Sinn's have no lack of apple trees (as they have no lack of anything growable in The Valley) & they have a charming propensity towards self-sustainability. Everyone chips in. Maybe not for the entire process, but at some point or another, they'll all wander by & turn the crank for a bit.

Riley was the main help this time. I had to include the photo above: when I asked him to pose with his cute basket of apples, he said in complete seriousness & innocence, "Here, let me fill it up so it looks better." And proceeded to rob the communal crate to garnish his basket. Don't tease him or he'll be even more camera shy.

We did enough cider to be fun & drink fresh, then spent the rest of the lovely fall day touring the farm & smelling the change of the seasons in the air.

The blueberry bushes are starting to gently put on their winter crimson. It's a mercy of God that He gives us some warmth in the landscape during the rainy, gray days of a Willamette Valley winter (which I have yet to experience: last winter was lovely.) 
And here, a photo, albeit unflattering, of my bump. Dar's been taking my camera more. I thought he was napping in the grass & took a little stroll through the hazelnut. That's when he caught me in this photo. It's hard to be the one in front of the camera, unless, cough cough, I have properly primped, but I really do want more photos of our everyday life for posterity. Which is a reality now. Strange. Anyway, you can see my baby belly coming on! 
This also counts as farm life update no. 4, btw.

pregnancy + baking

Life has slowed down deliciously with the coming of fall. I work part-time now, & have time to bask in the sun between loads of laundry (not that 5 a week is much. I KNOW it will exponentially increase come March). I feel like I have time to think again, which comes as a pleasant surprise. Not sure what I've been doing these past months.
Not cooking or baking. I've forgotten how almost. My latest attempts at dinner usually end up being under salted & straggling to finish at the same time. I forgot to put baking soda in a recent batch of molasses cookies & they would've been better used as hockey pucks. I doubled everything but the yeast in some cinnamon rolls (a shameless attempt to endear myself to my in-laws). They gamely ate them. I tried to redeem myself with some raspberry cream cheese rolls. I don't even know what happened to those! 
No one told me that about pregnancy; that your brain suddenly takes a hiatus from tasks you've known how to do for years. I wouldn't attempt going to the grocery store without a list because I'd aimlessly wander the aisles wondering what it was I needed. Every morning, or when I get home from work, I make myself a list I what I need to get done, or it just won't happen. They tell me it goes away after the baby's born...I'm not sure I believe them.

I did however, conquer a batch of macarons & some loaves of bread. Major accomplishment! Remember when I didn't have an oven for 4 months? It probably hadn't been working correctly for months prior to that either. Every batch of macarons I tried to make ended up burnt on the outside & not done on the inside. Same for any bread I tried to make. People, this is what happens when only your broiler element is working, & not the bottom one too. In case you've been burning everything lately, this is something to check out. I was so discouraged, I gave up on macarons until my sister's birthday came up recently. I made a batch. And they turned out! Then I made two loaves of bread (which I rarely do), & they turned out! I was quite pleased & made Darwin admire both extensively. The whole pregnancy is getting much better (read: I eat food besides cold cereal now & don't keel over after I get home from work), although it was always very bearable. Much better than I'd anticipated. Even if baking is a challenge & I can't remember much of anything anymore, I can't complain. My baby bump is there, for those of you who've been asking:). But I might make you wait to see it til next week! When you can see it in person. Can't wait to see some sweet little nephews!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

rhody lake...

Rhody Lake sounds lovely, doesn't it? We spent an hour on bumpy logging roads to get to it, over little creeks that dropped their way down the hills in waterfalls, through tunnels of fir trees, waaaay past cell phone service. Only a few of our group had been there before, to pick huckleberries, and couldn't tell us much about it. I was immensely curious to see what this lake was like. When we got there, we kept driving, thinking there was surely a bigger parking lot with a picnic area, or dock, or something. Something besides this small little bowl ringed with trees, & nary a sign of life besides us. But it was. And it was lovely in a quiet way. There were some aspens (I'll call them that) flaming across the water amidst all the green firs & high, lacy ridges of fir trees all around. The air was so still, not even the littlest spikes at the top of the trees stirred. And it was fun to spend time with some cousins & Grammy & the family. We laughed about our disappointed hopes for the lake & ate fried chicken & had a good time anyway. 
There's probably a really good analogy I could make with that...

 My lighting doesn't do the trees justice.
Some of the girl cousins. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Yahats & memories

I feel like I've said this before...but we went to the Coast over the weekend. It was lovely. No rain, wind, or otherwise PNW-y weather. We stayed in Yahats at Restless Surf, an ocean home built & maintained by the Oregon churches. Fourteen years ago, my family stayed at Restless Surf. It hasn't changed a bit. The cow room? Still there. The fireplace with rocks that light up? Still there. The thundering of waves all night long? Still there. It brought back (shockingly) good memories of my first trip to Oregon with my family. There were moments of drama on that trip for sure. As we passed Cape Perpetua this time, I cringed when I remembered my nine-year old self's melodramatic refusal to hike to the top, "Just leave me here to die!" Ah, yes. But it was still good. It was the summer after my dad died, & the last family vacation with everyone along, unmarried & together. My mom was uncharacteristically brave & led us down into California, up into Washington, over to Crater Lake. Now that I live here, I realize how much territory we covered in our weeks long vacation many years ago & am quite sympathetic to those seven children crammed in a Ford Excursion trekking all over the great PNW. I never dreamed then that it was where I'd one day call home.
It is home now, & I still love that the Coast is mere hours away. It was another quick couple of trips. Since it is mere hours, we went out on Friday & Sunday. We can do that. 
Friday & Saturday were spent at Yahats & Florence, walking the small town shops, drinking little coffee shop drinks, & enjoying the sunshine. The boys were all fishing & we girls were left to our own devices. 

 The Oregon coastline down here is more rocky & rugged. Absolutely beautiful.
 Sunday, we came out to the coast again with the Jones' & Chelsie's sister & husband. We saw whales (!!), a first for me, & had some good seafood.

These are the Jones'. I didn't ask permission to post their picture, so I hope they don't mind...(do you, Chel? It's better than the first one:) ) We had a beach fire & ate pie. Pie on the beach was deliciously unexpected, I'd recommend it.

So that's what we did over the weekend. A little trip down memory lane, & new memories.
In other news: there isn't really anything new. I get that question every time I talk to anyone from my family. Work is busy with their Harvest Festival. Lots of hay bales & pumpkins.
I am feeling pretty good, starting to like food again & have more energy.
I've been scheming up a little from-home job endeavor for after baby.
The filberts are almost all harvested. That's hazelnuts to all you non-PNWers. (I still refer to them more often as hazelnuts despite my best efforts to appear "local".)