You’ve Got to Pick an Apple or Two

19 Oct

I spy an apple tree.

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Fuji Apple Tree

Last Saturday we traveled to Parkdale, Oregon to visit an apple orchard. We picked Draper Girls Farm. It’s located on the ‘Fruit Loop,’ near Hood River where there are several farms.

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Draper Girls Country Farm

We picked Draper Girls for the large selection of apples and it didn’t hurt they had several animals on the farm.

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Annabelle meets a pig

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No Mr. Ed jokes, please.

We found out there are two ways to pick the apples. The first is to lug a ladder around, climb high up and toss them down to your partner.

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Derek picking some Fuji apples

The second way is to pick the apples you can reach.

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Sometimes you need a lift

Apple picking etiquette includes not eating the apples until you have purchased them. Unfortunately, Eddie did not get the memo.

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Ed sampling the goods

Apples can get heavy, so they have a wagon you can use to haul them around. Our wagon seemed especially heavy.

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20 lbs of apples + Ed

We had a total blast at this farm. We even doubled our original haul and ended up with 40 lbs of apples. They are currently taking up the entire bottom portion of our refrigerator. Lots of biting, slicing and 2 apple crisps later and we still have plenty left. Next year, we need to get out there to pick the elusive Honeycrisp apples.

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Photo courtesy of Annabelle

One month in Oregon

27 May

We’ve been here a month. We made the move, are basically settled and Derek found an accounting job! This is huge news. Let me update you on our adventures in Portland, Oregon.

Total Hipster

Total Hipster

Okay, okay…so, we don’t technically live in Portland. We live in Hillsboro, which I’ve heard is like living in Canada to a true Portlandian. Example, I got my haircut in SE Portland. I tell the hairdresser where I live, ask if she’s familiar with the area and she tells me; “Yeah, it’s all the same up there.” I get it. Even though it took me 15 minutes to drive to her salon, I don’t live in Portland. It’s just like if you live in Cedar Park, (God, help you) don’t you dare tell me you live in Austin. Same goes for Kyle, Bastrop, Round Rock & Lakeway. You can’t claim Austin until it’s on your return address & the same goes for Portland. So, yes…we technically live in suburban Portland, but we’re cool, I promise.

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Rockaway Beach

1. I have an accent. Most of you may know this, but damn these people here pick up on my “Texas drawl” rather quickly. By the way, that’s their terminology, not mine.

2. Say spendy instead of expensive. Examples, on the news, “A guy wrecks his spendy new Corvette.” Also, “How was that hamburger place, was it spendy?”

Eddie chowing down on a Pine State Biscuit

Eddie chowing down on a Pine State Biscuit

 

3. Public transportation frightens me. I was super pumped about using the buses, max, trams to get around, but honestly I’m a little afraid I’ll get trapped somewhere and not be able to find my way home. Ridiculous, yes, accurate representation of someone who used to drive over 30,000 miles a year, yes as well. As a side note, Derek will be riding a bus and the MAX to his job five days a week, so he can work out the kinks and hopefully get me over my irrational fear.

Tillamook Factory

Tillamook Factory

4. Breakfast burritos do not equal breakfast tacos. Instead of Texas traditional cubed potatoes, they use hashbrowns, which tends to be soft. Soft on soft on soft with a side of bacon still equals soft.

5. Bring a jacket to the beach. What, what? Yep, it’s about 10 degrees cooler at the beach and sit near a sand dune so you’re not blown away with the wind. Can you imagine wearing a jacket at Texas beach in May? Me either.

Windblown at Seaside Beach

Windblown at Seaside Beach

6. PST is not conducive to watching television. I have to stay up until 11 pm to see Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live, so instead, I watch it the next evening…it’s a little depressing to be a dy behind in TV.

7. The library here is amazing. So, that’s where my state income tax goes…among other things. There’s a coffee and doughnut shop inside the library, a duck pond outside and I think you can check out like 100+ items. It’s amazing and so far we’ve been twice every week.

Seaside Beach

Seaside Beach

8. Don’t even bother with the Voodoo Doughnuts on 3rd, just go to NE Davis. There is ample parking, no line and the same great doughnuts. Done.

Forest Park

Forest Park

So, let me close for now. This next month will bring huge changes for us as Baby D starts his accounting career and both kids are in full-time child care/school. We plan to enjoy the festivities at the Rose Parade/Festival in June, try out a pizza place or two and figure out transit system. Hope you all have a great start to the summer.

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2073 Miles

9 Apr

It is with much excitement, a bit of anxiety & a twinge of sadness I officially announce the S Family is moving to Portland, Oregon this month. To our loyal readers, all three of you, this is not a shock, I hope. How did we come to this decision? What does Oregon have in store for the four of us? Why Portland? Ugh, can you handle all the rain?

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Annabelle’s snapshot at the Rose Garden

Texas summers are hot- I mean really hot & I melt in the heat. So, we threw the idea of a cooler climate back & forth for years & this is a big part of the relocation. Also, we miss a big city. Small town living is fine, but there are only so many opportunities in a small town for a young family. I want to give my children room to grow, lots of culture & tons of opportunities & I’m confident Portland will live up to my expectations. Portland has awesome grocery stores, museums, close to the ocean, close to mountains, lots of outdoor activities & great restaurants. 

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Annabelle at the Children’s Museum

What we are leaving behind is the start of our family. Our history is rich all over Texas, but especially runs deep in our hometown of Austin. Both of our children were born in Austin, we met, were married & began this wonderful adventure there. There are many things we will miss about Austin; the comfort & familiarity factor, and of course, our friends & family. Yet, we will be a mere 2073 miles away from everything we know. We made the trip to Valley Mills 4 years ago, but the truth is we never really left Austin. Sure, we didn’t technically live there, but our hearts never left. 

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Doughnuts- 24 Hrs a day

This is a huge move. I now have no car. I said goodbye to my decade old Camry ‘Mildred’ a few weeks ago. That was the biggest indicator our lives were different. I can ride my bike to work! I remember driving my old Camry over 150 miles a day around Austin going to 2 different ACC campuses, between massages & other errands. I will now bike less than 3 miles a day roundtrip to work.  Derek & the kids will ride the MAX when they visit the Children’s Museum. No more thirty mile car rides into town to, “Do something fun.” We can take a leisurely drive to Canada, or to the Coast. Annabelle is already stocking up on Tillamook cheese. 

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Eddie directing at the Children’s Museum

Time will tell what is in store for all of us in Portland.  I have no doubt it will be a phenomenal adventure and will create some awesome memories. Won’t you join us?

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S Family at Multnomah Falls

Meet me in St. Louis

26 Jan

“You are crazy to go to St. Louis in January.” – said everyone to me.

Well, Annabelle & didn’t care if we got snowed in; we just wanted to meet sweet baby Carina!

Annabelle & her new best friend Carina

Annabelle & her new best friend Carina

Carina is the daughter of two of my favorite people ever, Cara & Marcelo. So, Annabelle & I planned a trip St. Louis.

Our first full day in STL we lucked out with gorgeous weather & we took full advantage. All of the girls headed to the St. Louis Zoo where we met zebras, wild Somali asses, sea lions & my favorite- hippos!

Some fine ladies at the zoo

Some fine ladies at the zoo

It was a beautiful day at Forest Park & we had a lovely lunch outside of a museum & soaked in a warm January day by St. Louis standards.

Who is the guy on the horse? Uh, it says, "Saint Louis."

Who is the guy on the horse? Uh, it says, “Saint Louis.”

Friends

Friends & fountains

The next day is started to get colder, so we bundled up & headed to the park in nearby Brentwood. Although I looked like a fool in white gloves & hat, we had a fun time.

Seesaw

Seesaw

Gorgeous day at the park

Gorgeous day at the park

Carina at the park

Carina at the park

Cara & Marcelo were wonderful hosts & they have an amazing condo. I wasn’t sure I could get Annabelle to return home with me. She was in love with the condo, Cara & Marcelo, but especially baby Carina. We even got Carina to laugh, and I am still telling everybody about the sweet, gorgeous baby we visited.

We came all the way to St. Louis to meet you baby girl!

We came all the way to St. Louis to meet you baby girl!

I miss my friends! It was so awesome to just be around Cara & Marcelo as we spent most of our time longing in comfy sweats, watching or doing funny yoga videos, snacking on goodies from Trader Joe’s & chatting away about the wonders of parenthood.

How you pose post-baby

How you pose post-baby

Our last day we met up with Emily & Paul, and they showed us all around town. I’ve known Emily for over thirteen years, and I was very excited to meet her husband Paul. Oh, don’t let me forget to tell you it was fuh-reezing cold. Emily sent me a detailed & thoughtful potential itinerary and she planned a perfect St. Louis tour. Our first stop was the Magic House. Annabelle was able to kick an NFL field goal, play with magnets, pretend she was a veterinarian, catch a plastic fish & go down a few slides. Needless to say, this was her favorite part of the day.

Sliding at the Magic House

Sliding at the Magic House

Next up was St. Louis style pizza. Emily & Paul took us to Imo’s where we sampled toasted ravioli-it was delicious. We ordered a 14 inch pizza for Annabelle & myself, and we pretty much finished it. Of course, Annabelle filled up on the sausage & bacon and left the rest for me. They use Provel cheese, and I have to say I’m a fan. It was creamy & smooth while the crust was crisp; a perfect combination.

Imo's bacon & sausage pizza

Imo’s bacon & sausage pizza

After an exciting trip down a genuine St. Louis cobblestone street, we arrived at the St. Louis Arch. By this time it was a frigid 26 degrees with a nice wind. I’ve always heard people say, “The wind will just cut right through you.” I’m confident I now know what this means. I could have sworn a razor blade was cutting my front lip, but Emily & Paul assured me it was fine.

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The Gateway to the West

We picked a great day to go to the arch because there was no wait to hit the top. After I assured the cashier I was not claustrophobic, we climbed into a tiny capsule and zig-zagged up to the top. There were tiny slits of windows to look out to Missouri & Illinois. I loved it!

The girls atop the arch

The girls atop the arch

Annabelle was a little worried when we stepped out of the capsule, but Paul kept her from falling. Paul, she is still so thankful.

Annabelle clinging to the walls

Annabelle clinging to the walls

There was a great museum dedicated mainly to the “discovery” of the West, but Annabelle was turned off by the talking & moving statues. Perhaps the best part of the museum was when Annabelle asked if a gray-bearded, fur coat clad man was part of the exhibit. To her relief, he was merely a patron.

Next up was Crown Candy. One might think on a 26 degree day at 3pm an ice cream shop might be a desolate retreat. Uh, no. We used up all of our luck at the arch, so we waited in line at least an hour. As Paul pointed out they are celebrating their 100 year anniversary this year. You may have seen them on Man vs. Food with their 5 Malt Challenge. Rest assured, I will be partaking in that challenge on my next visit. No, seriously I will do it. Annabelle couldn’t stand the wait, so she ordered a strawberry cone in a cup while we were still in line.

Our STL tour guides

Our STL tour guides

Hot Fudge Malt & chips

Hot Fudge Malt & chips

After three Hot Fudge Malts & a terrifying run-in with a homeless Frosty the Snowman, it was time to head to the airport. Annabelle & I had a blast in St. Louis. We squeezed in so much in our short visit & we can’t wait to go back. I asked Annabelle tonight, “What was your favorite part of St. Louis?” Her answer: meeting baby Carina! Until next time, we will miss our STL friends.

Sarah & Cara by photographer Annabelle

Sarah & Cara by photographer Annabelle

Croissants

14 Jan

Well, I can check one thing off the resolution list. I made croissants! Here are some things I figured out in this baking marathon.

Dedication is one of the requirements of making croissants from scratch.

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Yeast, flour, sugar, malt powder – all intricately measured on a digital scale.

Teamwork & communication is another requirement when making croissants, especially with two small children present.

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Poolish aka the Starter…it’s ready to go

Pounding butter with a rolling pin is in fact cathartic, and cheaper than therapy.

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330 grams of butter

I am not a very good roller. It’s particularly difficult to roll dough out length wise without increasing it’s width. Any tips?

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Egg washed & ready to be proofed

A louder timer might ensure the croissants don’t get too brown in the late stage of baking. Well, maybe next time.

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A little browner than anticipated, but look at those layers.

Twenty hours is the amount of time it took me to create these fine French delicacies.

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Next time, you will meet almond & chocolate my friend.

Excuse us, we like to eat our croissants standing in the kitchen with poorly groomed hair.

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Ed a mangé trois croissants

Croissant recipe found in Bouchon Bakery

Resolve…for another Vegas Christmas

12 Jan

Resolutions.
Some hate them, some love them, but whether we want to admit it or not, we all make them. My old stand-by in school was to stop biting my nails. I never succeeded. As an adult, I really enjoy the start of a new year, and I use it as a time to reflect, plan & hope.
I’ve got a lot of plans for this year.

Sarah’s List

  • Bake croissants from scratch. I have the ingredients ready to go. 
  • Master the macaroon- I can do it. 
  • Read more often; magazines do count! Sorry, bibliophiles. 
  • Exercise out of love, not out of guilt. 
  • Turn the TV off, especially if no one is watching. 
  • Savor my time off from work. 
  • Live as though I am on vacation. 
  • Frame those rolled up prints, and find a spot to hang them.
  • Limit procrastination. This is the hardest for me. (See delayed blog below for proof.)

Derek’s List

  • Get a job. 
  • Lose weight; get down to 210. 
  • Try to remain as calm, and positive as possible. 

Oh, did we tell you we spent Christmas in Las Vegas & it was amazing?

Annabelle & I watching the fountains at Bellagio

We stayed six nights and Grandpa, Nana, Ma Candy & Papa Craig joined us in Sin City. We ate, we laughed, stayed up late and enjoyed Christmas away from home. We were so busy, we didn’t take many photos.

Ed’s first Vegas meal

We frequented our usual favorites, the Peppermill, Payard, Evening Call for daiquiris, Bouchon Bakery & RA sushi.

Annabelle & I posing at the Bellagio

Papa Craig even rented this enormous van for us to travel to the Hoover Dam. It was so large, people thought he was running an airport shuttle, which I guess is true because he did drop us off at McCarran.

Windblown at the Hoover Dam

Imagine a little girl dressed in a Hello Kitty outfit. This girl is walking around her favorite city and she sees Hello Kitty. See, it didn’t take one thousand words to describe this picture.

Annabelle & Hello Kitty. Have you ever seen such legs?

Did I tell you we met Ice-T at Peepshow? Well, we did. Annabelle is now obsessed with Crazy Girls. Ed ate his way through a buffet & Baby D and I even beat the house. It may not be a traditional Christmas destination, but we had a blast. We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and hope 2013 is treating you well!

Annabelle Leigh

12 Nov

Four years ago we welcomed a little girl, Annabelle Leigh.
If there was ever a match made in heaven, it’s her being matched with us. We are peas in a pod. Actually, Baby D & I may be the peas in her pod. Sometimes in life, you get what you need. Other times, you get what you want. Only once in a lifetime though, comes an Annabelle Leigh.

Already best friends

She is sensitive. A raised voice directed towards her and it’s a flood of tears.
She is a cowboy boot wearing, red lipstick toting, tangled hair flowing, stubborn as a mule kind of girl.
She is a marketing firm’s dream. There is not a televised product she wouldn’t purchase if given the chance.
She is content. She loves a Friday movie night on the couch, made all the more perfect by a run to Dollar General for candy & ‘homemade cookies’ aka Chips Ahoy.

Showing off her painted pumpkins

Things she loves: Tom & Jerry, sausage pizza, lollipops, horses, flying in airplanes, King of Lion, Coca-Cola, painting, watching Dak play football, Spongebob, chicken, Las Vegas, french fries, licking the batter bowl, scary movies, Rio, exercise, bacon, changing Eddie’s diapers, nice hotels, balloons, strawberries & cuddling.

Halloween as a queen…a nice one.

She apologizes to me often for growing taller. “I’m sorry Mommy, but I have to grow bigger just like you. I’m sorry, but I have to, don’t be sad.” She says this as she gently strokes my hair & face. It’s all I can do to not burst into tears immediately.
She is someone I’m glad to know and I’m so thankful I am her mom. I love you Annabelle.

Cuddle friends
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