Archive for September, 2010

When Maria meets apples

Building on the success of strawberry picking, I’ve been meaning to try apple picking for a while. When a coworker mentioned an apple orchard where you could also buy fresh donuts and cider, I was sold. I canvassed interest among the girls (because, let’s face it, even if they guys would care to go – and they didn’t – they would never care enough to plan it) and picked a date. And then I was faced with a dilemma – we could go to the highly recommended orchard an hour’s drive away. Or we could go to the unknown orchard whose “U-Pick” sign I had spotted on my drive to work. Convenience won out, so we headed to the orchard that was close by.

All of us were a little bit surprised when told that this was probably the last weekend of apple picking, and they only had one variety of apples left (Cortland). Isn’t apple picking supposed to be a fall activity, extending well into October? Well, apparently not. Next year, I will get an earlier start and go in August, when a particularly tasty-sounding variety is said to be ripening.

So, what happens when I am let loose in an orchard, with a view to pick some apples to eat and cook with?

We end up with good eating apples, to be kept in a box somewhere cool.

Times three layers.

We also end up with cooking apples – the lightly dented specimen which will end their life in apple jelly, and possibly apple pie or crumble.

To join their brethren which have already been turned into cinnamon apple jam.

Yes, those are 500 mL jars. Missing is the one other jar that is already in the fridge, because it didn’t seal properly.

We also end up with two good-sized grocery bags. Lucky for me, these are orders that were placed by the ladies who couldn’t make it.

And that’s what I filled my time with on Saturday, from 2 p.m. until laaaaaaaaaaaaate into the evening.

Oh, there may have been some of this

and this

involved, too. But let us not point fingers at the helpful parties who guiltily helped me demolish some of that zucchini bread and caramel popcorn.

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The few days before we have guests coming over are always busy with cleaning around here. Tomorrow, I’m kicking out Dan to host the first part of a bachelorette party, so cleaning was in order. Also, of course, food preparation was in order, but I’ll have to take pictures of the finished products tomorrow.

Now that I finally feel like I’m starting to have a bit more time, I’ve also started decorating for fall. I bought 4 pumpkins, which are sitting on the porch for now. I saw a great idea for a pumpkin decoration, and I can’t wait to do it and share the pictures. In the meantime, though, I’ve finally put together my first wreath! I’m very happy with how it looks – and it was a great excuse to go and get myself a glue gun!

First, start with a wreath and fake flowers and branches, all found on sale at Michael’s. I stole Dan’s wire cutters and used them to snip the individual flowers off their stems, since I didn’t want to deal with trying to snake the stems through the gaps in the wreath in an effort to hide them.

Next step – cider. Can’t have a craft project without a cider on hand. 🙂 Trust me.

I played around with the arrangement for a while, and when I was happy I glued each flower to the wreath. Here’s how it turned out…

And here it is gracing our front door! I’m not fully happy with the placement, but unfortunately given the shape of the glass insert in our door, I don’t have much choice.

But yay, my first wreath! Fall seems a lot less depressing when it brings projects with it!

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Alonguin trip: the pictures

Despite the bad weather preventing me from taking as many pictures as I’d like, due to

(a) not wanting to take the good camera out in the rain, or

(b) not being able to stop paddling long enough to take a picture, because otherwise we’d drift off course,

I was able to take some pictures after all. Below are a few teasers, see the gallery for full list of pictures.

The sun greeted us on Sunday morning… until we hit Opeongo, we actually thought we were in for a fairly decent day!The day of the scary thunderstorms. It’s hard to convey through pictures how dark it got… suffice it to say that some of the pictures from this time actually turned out blurry, there was that little light.The evening of the scary thunderstorm day we actually got a few hours of gorgeous sunshine in which to dry out our clothes.

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Today, we mourn summer

Our dear friend, summer, slipped away quite unexpectedly last week. Nobody was prepared, and we will all miss his warm personality and sunny demeanor. These are hard times for all – a support group will be set up shortly to help deal with this loss.

But seriously – what’s up with the cold weather? I don’t remember it being quite this bad so early in the last couple of years. The first sign was when I had to go dig out my warm terry robe when I got up this morning. Even when I left the house, the air had quite the bite to it, and even in the car I wished for gloves. The final nail in the coffin was that for the last 3 days, BB has been insistently climbing on my lap (and staying there) whenever I’m sitting down.

Unfortunately, this means that I’m not sure if I’ll be able to reach my retroactively set goal of biking 1,000 kms this year. Another 5 days of biking to work and back would have let me achieve that, but with temperatures dropping down to 7 in the next few nights, and my general wussiness when it comes to cold, I don’t know if I’ll be able to suck it up for 5 more mornings. Maybe indian summer is on the way to rescue the year…

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Algonquin trip 2010: the shorthand

I’m not nearly as motivated as my husband to write about our trip in detail just yet, what with all the housework that’s piled up and what not. But I figured I would at least make an appearance and let you know I did survive – if just barely at times. 🙂 So here’s a quick rundown of the highlights, with more details to follow once I sort through my pictures, hopefully over the weekend.

The one constant this trip was the forces of nature. All week, we were hounded by wind, rain, clouds – or a defeating combination of all three. One stressful day in particular, we were surrounded by thunderstorms (or a single thunderstorm which kept circling back to us – we weren’t sure). I’ve mostly only canoed on calm water before, so it was a bit of a surprise to encounter close-to-3-foot waves on Opengo lake. Lots of fun by powerboat (thanks to Matt of the water taxi), not so much in a canoe. Even to escape the waves, we had to perform an epic turnaround. Glad that’s over.

Another force of nature was animals. And not even the ones you’d expect – on the second day, I accused Dan of having ripped my backpack (which was the designated food backpack) when taking it down from the tree. Imagine our surprise that evening when we noticed a couple of fat little mice waddling around our campfire area, completely unafraid. Putting two and two together, we realized that the little suckers must have climbed down the food pack rope, chewed through the pack, and through two ziplocks (on closer inspection, we noticed that they had taken a few bites out of our bread).

Despite the unpleasant conditions, one thing I was grateful for was that we had packed appropriately. We slept dry, were able to cook food when required by our menu, and didn’t stray too far off course. Another thing I was grateful for was that I still got to spend all that time with Dan, and both of us kept our spirits (mostly) high throughout the trip. Yay spousal bonding. 🙂

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You know what’s nicer than a Friday afternoon? – A friday afternoon before the long weekend!

And what’s nicer than that? – Knowing that you’re not coming back to work for a full week, since you’ll be on vacation. In our case, canoeing in Algonquin!

And what could possibly be even better than that? Getting off on such a Friday at 2 p.m., because you get an email from your CEO saying everyone should leave at 2 and enjoy the long weekend. For real. [Or, you know, some prankster hacked his email and sent out that message, but… meh. I take things at face value. :)]

Enjoy your Labour Day weekend. Dan and I will be spending it somewhere around here.

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