October 25, 2010
Nothing means more to me than quality... and I mean *truly* quality time with friends and family. Click here to view the whole gallery.
The head count of the 2nd annual smash grew tremendously and along with many new families, we saw most of the Muddy Portage crew in attendance. It was great to see faces we haven't seen in a while as well as several new friends we've met over the summer.
There were enough people who pitched in to make the process go. As you can see, there are parts to fill with such an operation and without diligent help, it can go slow. Those apples didn't stand a chance.
I had mentioned we try to put together a video so that we can look back at how our families grow over the years. People took the "dressing for the part" quite seriously so I think we'll have some good you-tube fodder real soon. I have to say that my hat looked rather dumb compared to all the straw and cowboy hats correctly sported by others.
The apples "smashed" more difficult than last year. They were pulpy and it took more effort to extract all the juice. We have a rough estimate of about 28 gallons compared to the 47 gallons last year. While we're sure the dry weather had an effect, I felt the apples were a little too ripe (along with the fact that we had only a Gala, Winesap and Winter Banana mix - Not completely ideal for cider) Still, everyone had cider to take home and Glenn and I had plenty left over to make sure our other loves ones got some.
Thanks so much to Glenn and Mary Burris for not only providing a great venue, but going above and beyond to make this look like an event coordinated by a committee. The hay rides were an exceptionally nice touch and the kids loved it. A little background... the smash wasn't going to happen this year just due to how busy everyone has been. Glenn and Mary stepped up and said they were planning a fall party of some sort anyway and this was just the thing.
The apple smash means a lot to me because as a kid, I attended a number of these with my dad, along with steam-engine shows, berry picks, you get the picture. My dad refurbished this press and made all the wood parts, painted it and got it all ready to use. But, he never got to use it before a stroke in 2001. So, last year was its maiden smash... and this year was its second run. I hope to keep this going so that our kids can remember such things. I truly believe that by instilling the spirit of our fathers in them will make them remember, and even aspire to push it further... ultimately to become better contributors to society. I can still see and remember my first apple smash, and my dad heading it up, all to only be sure there was enough cider for everyone to take home. So, my heartfelt thanks go to Glenn and Mary for making this happen.
We'll be shooting for the first or second week of October next year. If you liked it, you might mark your calendar. The food this year was stellar. Thanks to all who brought something. That really made the food easy! We'll be thinking of ideas to completely eliminate the monetary apple overhead for the next time. It might be nice to get everyone to bring a sack or two of apples so that the apple purchase doesn't lie on one or two people. Bring apples, take cider! We're open to ideas. I hope you enjoy these pictures and watch for the video soon.
Love Susan, Jason and family
July 19, 2010
Our favorite place to be in the evening. We take an updated shot in the same position each visit.
Our forth trip to Michigan City fully documented here for our family. The weather and water has been the warmest yet. The highs have stayed in the mid-upper 80’s with just the right mix of sun and clouds.
The cottage is showing wear as other guest at the house hasn’t been treating it with total care. We were greeted with a wiggling door knob, a play station not working, a missing coffee pot, electric sockets taped over and not working, and an empty propane tank on the grill. Since arriving the door knob has been fixed, the electric is supposed to be working right again (afraid to check), and the rental office has given us another coffee pot. I haven’t told the office yet about needing a new propane tank for the grill. A grill is a must for a family on vacation!! Update: A new propane tank has arrived.
This trip has brought out how much Hannah and Nick are growing up. At the park Nick is swinging across a kid-zip line that he was afraid to in the past and Hannah is flying across the monkey bars just like a monkey. The monkey bars took her all seven days on the last visit to master. Both Hannah and Nick are riding their scooters to the beach verses us pulling them in a wagon. This is a bitter-sweet milestone and indicator that my babies are growing up. Nick says riding his scooter makes him think about food and makes him hungry. When we return from the beach it is usually dinner time and everyone is grilling out. He loves the smell!
Jason has been getting much needed sleep and relaxation with the family that he hasn’t been able to get in the past weeks, with work and the remodeling project consuming most of his time and sleep.
I have enjoyed eating all our meals together as we very seldom get to do, plus I have Jason helping with the food prep and cleanup, which is a welcoming break. I am looking forward to playing and spending time with Hannah and Nick on the rest of the vacation as school will start in a few weeks after we return.
Monday With the threat of rain in the forecast for the entire day, we spent the early part of Monday afternoon at the outlet stores. It ended up to be a beautiful sun shining day. Jason bought some new clothes and sandals, Nick bought an Iron Man 2 wrist shooter toy, and Hannah picked out some sparkly new shades, some school clothes, and a new Webkinz (that was promised for her birthday). We grabbed lunch out and headed back to spend the remainder of the afternoon at the beach and dinner at the cottage, cranberry-apple chicken (a recipe Hannah stole from Aunt Jen’s recipe book). The day ended with a trip to the park, card game of Uno, a little wine, and Sammy the Seal shows. Yes, Sammy the Seals show. Jason taught Hannah new tricks to perform with her newly adopted Webkniz pet seal, who she named Sammy. Sammy the Seal was the first longer length book she had ever read and originally was Jason's as a boy.
Tuesday Today I woke up to the sound of rain. Hoping it was something else. It isn’t supposed to get out of the high 70's today, but weatherchannel.com hasn’t been right yet. I probably need to find out the weather in the local news. Here’s to another great day at the beach and hoping the weather man has got the weather all wrong again. Tomorrow is supposed to be a warm, sunny day in the 90’s. I have been enjoying a cup of Jason’s gourmet coffee every morning and some time to myself at the computer. I guess it has ended for me today as I hear the sound of little feet and Nick already playing with his new toy he got yesterday for a souvenir, now complete with lost pieces. I guess the hunt begins! All pieces found and look forward to another great day with my family!!!
The weather here has been rapidly changing. Now, the high for today is in the mid 80’s and a chance of scattered thunderstorms. Better, I think we will get ready for a day at the beach.
Today turned into the best beach trip yet. It was a nice sunny day in the 80’s. The weather man predicted rain throughout the day. Nick enjoyed tossing his water bomb ball back and forth he earned it at the library for participating in their reading program. Jason, Nick, and Hannah built a small kingdom of sandcastles. The stately sandcastles attracted some small pirates, who wanted to steal our buckets and stick decorations, and demolish the kingdom. I was really amazed the parents let their children run free as I watched them do it. I stopped the bucket thief in her (sand) tracks. We have taken a mid-day break and Jason has gone to the outlet malls and grocery store. He is on a hunt for a new bathing suit. We are going to go to the park and swimming pool after dinner if it isn’t too late. Update: Hannah and Jason went to the pool and Nick and I went to the park. Hannah and Jason took an evening stroll through Waterfall Park. We ended the day by watching Pete’s dragon and falling asleep.
Wednesday The start of the last two full days here. I woke up to sunny skies, better start than yesterday. I am going to try not to check the weather today, since it hasn’t been correct so far. The highs are supposed to be in the 90’s. I am looking forward to another full day at the beach, this time with sunscreen for me. Yesterday, I came back roasted. I am putting a roast in the Crockpot for dinner tonight. We should leave the cottage smelling good with all the cooking that has been going on in the kitchen. I brought Hannah and Nick to the park this morning after breakfast while Jason drank coffee and woke up some more. It warmed up pretty fast this morning, so we didn’t stay at the park long. We went back and prepared to go the pool only to get detoured because there was “an accident” in the pool. We came back to the cottage for lunch and are now heading out to the beach, wishing we brought our umbrella on vacation today. It is going to be a hot one. Nick would like a ride in the wagon today to the beach instead of his scooter. Update: Nick rode his scooter to the beach and back. I helped with little push breaks here and there. It was hot at the beach, but as always we had a great time playing in the sand and water. We spent some time relaxing back at the cottage, and Jason made us some banana/ strawberry daiquiris. We played game of shoots and ladder and went to the park while Jason finished up dinner. Nick made friends with a friendly 9 year old girl at the park. Hannah joined in on playing. I could stay on vacation forever, but Jason is ready to get back home soon.
Thursday The heat index could reach up to 105 degrees today. Instead of walking to the beach, I think we will stay closer and go to the pool. Packing and getting ready to head home. Planning trip to the beach after dinner… Update: We went to the beach after dinner to see it one more time and to watch the sunset. The sunset was beautiful and we stayed and played and built sandcastles on the beach till 10pm. The water was warm and the temperature wasn’t as hot. We should have spent more of the hot days there in the evening. We packed up when we arrived back at the cottage and headed home to make the drive during the night to avoid traffic and making stops with the kids. Can’t wait to do it again next year!
October 18, 2009
The first annual "Apple Smash" yielded 47 gallons of cider and a few hours of great fun among our family and friends.
The word for this weekend is most certainly "extraction" - that is, getting the juice from what mother nature has given us. Gently pressing, or violently smashing, it's all good. On Saturday, I helped the Specters press their grapes in Dave's refurbished grape press. On Sunday, we did our "1st Annual Apple Smash" using the cider press my dad refurbished but never got to use. Many years later, it finally did it's maiden smash. Two truckloads of green, red and yellow apples, a dedicated cart, wash, cut and smash crew, and we have 47 gallons of liquid gold. Everyone took home more then enough, and I have enough left to make 20 gallons of apple wine... and 5 gallons of Apple Jack.
Thanks to Dave and Sara Specter, Mark and Tracy Webster, Libby, the kids and my wonderful wife Susan. Special thanks to the Kinkers for providing the beautiful venue, the means, and some mysteriously good coconut curry soup.
With a week of gloomy, dank, cold rainy weather a week before, and a frost the night before, it turned out to be a BEAUTIFUL day and a perfect end to a summer with a very strange crop cycle. I look forward to doing it again next year!
August 01, 2009
My little fella who is becoming a real outdoorsman.
We took a trip down the Whitewater River via Morgans in Brookville for Nick's 5th birthday. The weather was beautiful and we saw a bunch of wildlife including many turtles and a beaver as big as a pig. The river was busy as many other unthusiasts siezed the day.
Afterwards, we headed over to uncle Michael's to grill out and eat cake. Took some good pics to document the experience.
June 20, 2009
Pouring in the milk in the same ice cream maker we used when I was a kid. If you're serious about ice cream, go to a flea market or somewhere and locate an old hand-crank one with a heavy metal cannister inside. Avoid the modern, plug-in plastic crap.
On Sunday, we'll celebrate Hannah birthday a little early before we go on vacation. Strawberry ice cream was our test run Friday night. We'll do it again on Sunday with all the other kids and chocolate and butter pecan is on the menu.
We used this same ice cream maker when I was a kid. Yeah you have to hand crank it, but that's the point. The kids tend to tire out a little early, but when I take over to finish it off, I think back when my dad did this same thing with us. Our electric maker just collects dust. They make things so shitty now days. Plastic and thin metal for the canister. This ice cream maker has a solid, heavy metal canister with a lid. The point is so the ice and slat can cool it so cold, that the ice cream actually sets up. It gets harder to crank and you know, it's almost time. We added in the fresh cut strawberries and cranked it somemore.
Finally, on a sultry, sweaty hot night, the whole family about busted in to song as each of us felt the essence of summer.
Thinkin' this thing is going to come out a lot this year!
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