Friday, May 28, 2010

The Big End of May!

May 28th, I have been looking forward to you for MONTHS!  There have been some big things happen this week and I am so excited that the anticipation for this time has finally reached it's culmination!  So here are the happenings at the Sickler Home:

1] Yesterday was my last day at my school sites!  I have closed out all my sessions with my middle schoolers... patted their backs and sent them on their merry, intervention-free way this summer - Haha, we'll see how many of them can stay clean for 3 months :)  So, my job is pretty much over for this school year, however I do have a few days the second week of June in my office to just tidy up and finish paperwork.  (No biggie, no stress and EASY money :)  

2] Jarod has TWO semesters of grad school finished as of today!  Hard to believe that he already has 36 units of his 66 units in the bag.  Just three more semesters to go and I will be married to a Master Philosopher.   

3] We leave for Florida tomorrow morning! We have a week long vacation in St. Petersburg/Clearwater Beach. We are meeting my parents, my brother, his fiancee and her family for the Wedding Celebration!  I haven't seen my family since January and I sure do miss them.  I am so ready to just relax and hang out!  I am also looking forward to some uninterrupted time with the hubs; we have both been so wrapped up in our "own" little lives, that there has been little overlap. 

4] My brother, Austin gets married in 5 days!  It is crazy to believe the time is already here, but I am so excited for him :)  And I am so excited that they are doing what they want: a Beach Destination Wedding!  So cool.  I am so happy for them and their new life that they are starting together, June 2nd.  

5] As ridiculous as this is, I have been looking forward to getting my hair and nails done for months and I finally had my appointments today!  YAY!  I have found a hairdresser that I love here (yes!, finally!) and pedicures are literally DIRT cheap ($13!)  So, hooray for a little self pampering :) 

Now, I am off to pack for our trip and make a little stir fry dinner for us.  Welcome Summer! I have been looking so forward to you!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mocha Chip Muffins at Midnight

My poor hubby is having to stay up late to finish his LAST paper for the semester! Hooray for last paper, boo for staying up late! So, I just put some home made Mocha Chip Muffins in the oven, and am brewing some Dark Roast Espresso for Jarod. Thankfully, I dont work Wednesdays, so I am going to try and stay up with him as long as possible :) I just got my June Book for my club this evening, so I'm reading the opening chapter of "Cold Mountain" by Charles Frazier, on the couch beside my worker bee.

So the muffins - wow, dangerously easy!! If you're craving some mocha, coffee taste and not a lot of sweet - these are the treats for you :)



Mocha Chip Muffins
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips, and more for sprinkling on top
3 Tbsp good quality cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup strong coffee, room temperature
1/3 cup, plus 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions: Mix all dry ingredients together in medium bowl. In large measuring cup (2 cp) whisk together wet ingredients. Pour wet mix into dry ingredients bowl. Stir JUST until moistened (over stirring on quick breads makes them very tough)

Pour into greased muffin pan (6 LARGE muffin tin works very well). Fill 3/4 full. Sprinkle a few chips on top of each muffin. Bake 20 min at 400 degrees.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Suite Francaise" by Irene Nemirovsky

I just finished a beautiful, touching book this morning and can't sing enough of it's praises. I whole heartedly rank it a five star novel. It's riveting (the tension between coexisting German soldiers on French homeland), moving (the reality of war and peace) and refreshing (NOT a pop culture, written to the masses on a Junior High reading level, page turner). Written by a Ukrainian Jew living in Paris during the 1940's, "Suite Fran├žaise" is historical fiction about the German occupation of France; it is 2 books in one plus 50 pages of Appendix. Her original manuscript called for 4-5 books, but she only finished the first two, before being deported to Auschwitz' concentration camp. The Appendix are her plans and notes for the remaining story, as well as a journal/diary as to what was currently taking place in the history of the war. The book went hidden and unpublished for 64 years, before being found, edited and printed. It's wonderful and HIGHLY recommend it.

I have been somewhat disappointed with our books we have chosen for book club, until THIS ONE. It was so refreshing to read something beautifully written, instead of a page turner with no real redemptive quality. I guess I had been searching for a book with a deeper, immaterial value, rather than just a good story line, and I found it!


On a side note, if "Suite Fran├žaise" is on the upcoming, 'to-read' book shelf, be sure to keep a little running notebook of the characters {there are many!} and their French titles and French family lines can get some what confusing -- all the madammes and monsiours! Happy, happy reading :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Running Injury

Welcome back IT band pain. I haven't missed you at all, but yet we meet again.
I have a messy track record with this running injury. It started out of nowhere during a beautiful, spring morning run back in '06. I came to a screeching hault, literally, as I was sure I had just taken a bullet through the side of my knee out of the blue. I walked the rest of the way home, wincing at every point of contact my left leg came with the pavement. It got progressively worse, to the point where I couldn't walk down stairs or get in and out of the car comfortably, and if I sat, I had to extend my legs straight out. To the chiropractor I went. After just TWO sessions, a list of stretches, instructions to ice, ice, ice.. I felt pretty good. Good actually for another 12 months. Then, again out of the blue, came the pain. Chiropractic care: round 2. Same positive results for another 18 months. At this point, my running consistency flew out the window and I was hit and miss for about a year, so no real strain or pain on the band.


Enter - now, May 2010. I went to a new chiropractor yesterday because of some lower back pain. [self diagnosis--I've never had an "office" job of sitting 7-8 hours of my day and I am pretty sure my desk chair is the culprit]. He did a standard adjustment, then asked about any other aches and pains. I gave him my speal on the IT band history. He barely touched the band by my left knee and I nearly fell over from the pain. He proceeded to deep tissue massage (get down into the belly of the muscle, he said--which really means, rip apart muscle and nerve endings, I think) the outer part of my lower left leg. I had tears in my eyes. He just kept repeating as he massaged, "Whoa. Wow. Oh, oww. Yeah, that's crazy!" (Things you never want to hear your doctor say). Then he asked if I'd ever had surgery on the band; he said it felt like scar tissue all the way from my knee to my ankle. Apparently, back in '06, I had done more damage than I realized. He had me ice for 20 minutes, then said not to be alarmed if I had bruises the following day. Lovely. And, he is right; I'm definitely black and blue.


I am instructed to now ice BEFORE AND AFTER I run, do multiple band stretches and visit again next Thursday. I guess I am back on the journey of recovery and hopefully, a full healing from this band pain!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Our First CookOut

We had a "first" yesterday evening--a GRILL OUT! I made burgers (for the first time!) and we grilled up a few Oscar Meyer 'dogs (for the first time too!). It was totally fun, totally good and totally on my repeat list for June! Haha. In honor of the upcoming summer, we decided to have a Barbecue theme for Jarod's weekly spiritual formation group at Talbot. So we jammed 10 1/2 people [that inlcudes little Nannie :)] into our teeny apartment and shared a meal and some fun conversation together. Everyone pitched in, brought part of the menu and shared in prep & clean up. Jarod did especially awesome grilling! :) It was such a good, good time. We feel so honored to already have a strong community surrounding us and good friends to share life (and burgers!) with out here. And I was totally enjoying myself and FORGOT to take any pictures! Haha.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Girls Morning in Old Towne Orange

So my little Book Club friends are quite wonderful. We all spent Saturday morning in Old Towne Orange having breakfast at a FUN little spot called "The Filling Station," went antique browsing and got inspired for decorating ideas (when we can afford it, which is when all of our husbands are out of school and making bank--haha).

This is Rachael. Her and her husband are moving to England in just a few weeks where Ben will work on his doctoral degree in Cambridge. I am SO going to miss this girl!


Heather and I were most intrigued and inspired by the antique shops. We are vowing to have a little antique/vintage craft day pretty soon.


This is everyone in the Book Club: Laura, Rachael, Anne, Heather and me!

This is "The Club" at Laura's house, discussing 'The Red Tent' by Anita Diamante.

But, back to Orange. Look at this SUPER cute little craft idea. They are selling for like 15x's the amount that we could make them for. We just need a little felt, some hot glue & hair pins:

This room ABSOLUTELY inspired me. I love the distressed wood that has been painted lovely whites and slate blues. I love the mirrors, the jars with tree buds, the fun throw pillows, the framed map of the bay, and the wicker. IF Jarod and I move to Santa Barbara, I TOTALLY want my house to have this cool, calm, cozy, beachy feel. Love it, Love IT!


And, what trip would be complete without seeing this:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

We Have a Truck Again!

We're Toyota truck owners again! We had been contemplating getting a second vehicle recently since the Jetta had started giving us some problems about 7 weeks ago. With Jarod solely relying on his bike for his transportation, with all the camping/climbing/beach going we do, with owning a 75 pound, shedding fur ball, and with really being stuck when the Jetta was in the shop, we decided it was time to get into a 2nd vehicle.

Now, obviously, it's old! But it's AWESOME! It has low mileage, a solid front axle (I don't know what that means, but it's supposed to be good), it's very clean, 4 wheel drive, runs GREAT, and is from the era when Toyota just made 'Trucks', not a Tacoma, a Tundra, etc. I think that's funny; we'll just have to write 'Truck' for model. Haha.

We drove to Victorville (1 1/2 hrs away) to check it out, discussed it over a roast beef sandwich at Arby's and decided it was a win. And, the more we got to know the couple we were buying it from, the more we were affirmed in our decision. They turned out to be believers and had grown up in Colorado & in Oakhurst (right outside Yosemite Valley); they have a little girl and are expecting a boy in August. They also are moving to Wyoming (Schultz's, I think we need to connect you guys-your kids are nearly the same age!) So, we really feel great and are thrilled over this purchase. YES!




I'm Not Ghetto Anymore

VeSo remember when I shared way back in January that we hit a coyote on our drive home from the midwest over Christmas? Well, when we hit him, he dented the hood of our car and broke the grill. Consequently, the large VW had just been 'dislocated'... and all was fine an dandy til about 4 weeks ago, when I noticed that it had fallen out or been stolen (?) out. So, Jarod thought it looked pretty ridiculous and ebayed a new grill & VW symbol. Well, it finally came (all the way from Greece!) and Jarod installed it in the Bank of America parking lot! Now it doesn't look like the front tooth of my car is missing!






Sunday, May 9, 2010

To my Mom

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. How I wish I was home to celebrate this day with you! I am sure you know that as much as I am enjoying this new 'California Adventure' chapter in my life, I miss being close to home, to you. I bet you can tell how much I miss you by all the frequent phone calls! I think you're really wonderful, Mom and I am so thankful for all that you've taught me. I don't think I tell you often enough how special and dear you are. I wouldn't be the same, had I not experienced your faithfulness, your loyalty, your consistency, your great ideas, your time, and all your love. I miss you! Can't wait to see you just 2 1/2 weeks! Get ready for coffee by the pool in the mornings!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Apple Strudel Muffins

I baked Apple Strudel Muffins this morning. They turned out SO yummy, that I had to share them. They're pretty quick, especially if you have the butter set out ahead of time, so it's soft. I added more cinnamon than recommended. I also cooked them about 5 min longer because I used a large muffin pan. Jarod and I had these with a cup of vanilla nut coffee this morning by the pool. So fun :)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cps flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cp butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cps chopped apples
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 1/3 cp packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbs butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 12 cup muffin pan.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar and eggs until smooth. Mix in vanilla. Stir in apples, and gradually blend in the flour mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan.
  4. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture is like coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over tops of mixture in muffin pan.
  5. Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to sit 5 minutes before removing muffins from pan. Cool on a wire rack.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mid-May Menu


I dont know what it is, but I am becoming a sucker for new recipes to test in my kitchen. Cooking and baking is a growing interest of mine, and now I am totally on the prowl for healthy (by this, I clarify to mean raw, natural, whole food, etc.) recipes. So here is my menu for the upcoming week:

Saturday, May 8th - Apple Strudel Muffins [love baking on Saturday mornings!]

Polenta Lasanga



Sunday, May 9th - Cilantro Soba Noodle Bowl


Monday, May 10th - 44 Clove Garlic Soup


Tuesday, May 11th - Romaine Pesto & Egg Stuffed Tomatoes


Wednesday, May 12th - left overs! [I work Wed nites and J has a class - it's pointless to cook]

Thursday, May 13th - Broccoli Pesto & Fusilli Pasta


Friday, May 15th - Tobasco & Asparagus Quinoa

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Farmer's Market

Tonight we took a spontaneous trip to the Fullerton Farmer's Market with our friends, the Rosa's. So fun! Sampled some of the BEST fresh fruit, ever! I had ginger ice cream for dinner. Yum. I also had some amazingly good hummus (avocado & cilantro).. Jarod makes a really good homemade hummus already, so now he has some inspiration for spicing up his traditional recipe. The Market was totally enjoyable; fun music, delicious food and close friends. Little Nan is almost 3 months old! And she is awesome, totally chillin' with Mama, never made a peep. :)




My Stick Family


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lemony Blueberry Muffins

These were a fun little treat to bake early on a Sunday morning :) Jarod likes them because they are quite tart and not too sweet. And, anything that comes with a lemony sauce is always fun too. Also, for the Lemon Sauce, I added a lot more lemon juice; probably around 3/4 cup total. I like lemon!




Lemony Blueberry Muffins
{If you like lemon meringue pie and blueberry muffins, you'll be a fan of these!}

2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tbls baking soda
1 tsp baking power
1/4 tsp salt
zest of 2 med lemons
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup lemon juice (approximately two lemons)
2 cups individually frozen blueberries


Directions
Prepare large muffin tins by greasing well and flouring the bottoms. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
1. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and zest together.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until the mixture is fluffy and lemon-colored. Add buttermilk and lemon juice, stirring well.
3. Add wet ingredients into dry. Briefly mixing.
4. Fold in the berries.
5. Spoon the batter in the prepared cups.
6. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the baking cups. The cakes should be golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes should come out clean when done. Cool on wire racks.
Serve with Lemon Sauce. *See below
Lemon Sauce

1/3 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbls cornstarch
zest of 2 lemons
4 tbls butter
Directions
Mix all the ingredients except the butter in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture boils. Gently boil for a few minutes or until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Cool until the sauce thickens to serving consistency.