Thursday, September 30, 2010

Date Nite in Pasadena

Wednesday is Date Nite.. and last night, we ventured to Pasadena, CA.  {It's not that far of a venture, maybe 40 minutes} We have a friend who connected us with some free parking downtown {bonus!}  It was a great evening!  Our one minor mishap: Jarod's Ray-Bans sliding off the dash, out the open car window and landing in the middle of the intersection, was swiftly restored by some good Samaritan who, after circling the city block we discovered, had placed them on a curb!!!  It was a miracle!!

We had a pleasant 10 minute walk to the Patagonia store {destination}, where we saw:

The focus of this picture is not the beautiful building, but the formidable sky.  Do you see this sky?!?!?!?!?  This is NOT a typical Californian sky... this is a fabulously STORMY SKY!  So much so, that we actually heard two, loud claps of thunder and saw three, massive, horizontal bolts of lightning!!  AND, the icing on this magnificent evening was RAIN!!  It actually rained for at least 7 minutes!!!  It hasn't rained here since January and this is the first time since moving to California, which has been over a year ago... that we have ever had lightning and thunder.  An evening of miracles, really!

We also passed by these two fun little places:

We were headed to the Patagonia store with several jackets between the two of us that didn't quite measure up to the standard we had expected.  However, Patagonia has an A+ return policy {and they let us bring Taiga into the store} so we ended up two very satisfied customers with these new additions {I actually got this Better Sweater is a lovely shade of acorn brown}:

And our great Date Nite ended with Lettuce Wraps and Kung Pao Chicken from Pei Wei.  Wednesdays are such a highlight of my week :) 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Farm

On Saturday, my parents and I took a little day trip to "The Farm".  The Farm is the place where my grandparents moved, sight unseen, from St. Petersburg, Florida with their 5 kids back in the mid 1970's.  The story is that once they pulled up into the driveway, they all sat in the station wagon and cried{!}; it was quite the shock coming from the city..  My grandparents have kept the farm {they no longer live there} but it's used quite frequently by all the aunts and uncles and cousins, etc..  I think I speak for everyone when I say, WE LOVE THE FARM.  It is a place of whipperwhils, tree frogs, cool breezes, shady yards and of course the rushing sound of the river.  The Farm is so special to all of us and it has been quite a few years since my last visit.   I am so thankful for the afternoon drive out there and a chance to enjoy it's peacefulness.

Home to Springfield, Missouri

The trip back home to Springfield, Missouri last weekend was a completely wonderful whirlwind.  Things were in a bit of a "state" starting last Wednesday evening, as we were getting ready to travel, as well as preparing our home for friends to stay while we were out of town.  Thursday morning was a mad dash as we washed the sheets, dropped Taiga off at her PetSmart Hotel, took Jarod to his can't-miss class, grabbed lunch on the go, sped to Johnny Park to drop off the Jetta, then caught a shuttle to Terminal 6 and finally arrived at Gate 68 with a few moments to spare before boarding.  Phew.  I thought all would be well once we actually put our tray tables up and prepared for takeoff, however, I was mistaken.  I got incredibly air/motion sick and for 3 1/2 hours I fought waves of nausea and hot flashes.  After touching down in Missouri and having my feet on solid ground, I started to feel much better.
My parents picked us up and we went to see my brother and sister-in-law's new place and to have dinner.  I love their apartment!  Let me just say it's brand new with twice as many rooms and bathrooms and it cost HALF as much as our tiny spot that was built in the 60's.  Dumb.  Anyway, Amy had a great meal for us and we hung out and played with their new puppy and caught up on their newlywed life.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Checked Out

I am having one of those days where I am just checked out mentally.  And this is not a good day to be having that sort of day... I have counseling sessions with students every half hour from 8:30am to 3:00pm and I am struggling to stay focused on what these kids are saying to me.  Luckily, I am completing an Intake Assessment Form and a Confidientiality Form with each student, so everything I need to ask/talk about is printed right in front of me...  phew.   I just need to be mentally present enough to at least regurgitate what they are saying onto the paper.

If I want to give excuses for myself, my list would include:
-Decaf coffee this morning (we're out of the caffeinated)
-I leave for Missouri tomorrow
-I'm thinking about what to pack and take
-I'm thinking how great it will be to have caffeinated coffee in parents living room and chatting
-I'm thinking about cleaning my apt for company that will be staying there while we are away
-I'm thinking about having to kennel my dog from Thurs to Mon
-I didn't eat breakfast
-I didn't have my normal 10am "pick me up" apple

I am hoping that it is those excuses alone that are causing my "checked-out-ness" and not a "tired-of-my-job-already-since-its-only-mid-September" reason. 

Monday, September 20, 2010


Three days until I'll be in Missouri with my family! 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Caramel Apples

I was a little adventurous the evening before last, and decided to take on making Caramel Apples.  I have never done this before.. and decided that I was going to even be so grand as to MAKE my OWN caramel...  ha.  Let me also state I had approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes before I was to arrived at Friend Gathering with Special Out of State Guests with the dessert.  And, this is not the first time that I have thrown myself into a panic by baking something NEW and, generally out of my league, in the midst of crunch time. Sigh.  One day I will learn.  
My Caramel Apples were definitely an A for taste, but a B- for presentation and definitely a C- for wreck caused in kitchen during baking process.
The actual process of making caramel was fairly easy (I did plan ahead and buy a candy thermometer).. it was the process of dipping the apples that turned things quite messy.  I got this great recipe from 101 Cookbooks.  By the way, she's not joking about about getting the ice water into the pan of caramel.. ahem, my fiasco.

I suppose I was shooting for this sort of look {see below}.. This was the surprise my husband brought home from Whole Foods for me on our anniversary.  I can dream big, right?

Caramel Apple Recipe

Please be careful when making caramel apples, you will be working with dangerously hot, sticky, ingredients - I always put on an apron and make sure I have a closed-toed pair of shoes on when making candy. Be extra, extra careful if you have kids around. On the ingredient front, I typically go for a mild clover honey when making caramels.
6 - 8 small apples, unwaxed, cold
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup honey
Special equipment: candy thermometer, and lollipop sticks
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Push a lollipop or popsicle stick deep into each apple - in through the stem.
Fill a large bowl 1/2 full with ice water and set aside.
In a medium, thick-bottomed saucepan heat the cream and salt until tiny bubbles start forming where the milk touches the pan - just before a simmer. Stir in the honey. Bring the mixture to a boil. Now reduce the heat to an active simmer and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 15-20 minutes minutes or until the mixture reaches about 255-260F degrees. To stop the caramel from cooking, very, very carefully set the bottom of the saucepan in the bowl of cold water you prepared earlier - taking special care not to get any of the water in the caramel mixture. Stir until caramel begins to thicken up - you want the caramel to be thin enough that it will easily coat your apples, but not so thin that it will run right off. If the caramel thickens too much simply put the pot back over the burner for 10 seconds or so to heat it up a bit.
I tilt my sauce pan so all the caramel forms a pool on one side, and use my other hand to dunk and twirl each apple until it is thoroughly coated with caramel. Place each apple on the parchment lined baking sheets and allow the caramel to cool and set.
Makes 6 - 8 caramel apples.

The First of My Fall Baking Adventures

I just met a great girl, Jenny B, about a month ago.  She is from Dallas and just has the great, Southern way about her.  She made some melt in your mouth cookies last week and was gracious to pass on the recipe.  Wow.  Just imagine mini, fluffy pumpkin pies...  Mmm.

Jenny B Cookies

- 2 1/2 c flour
- 1 t baking powder
- 1 t baking soda
- 1/2 t salt
- 2 t ground cinnamon
- 1/2 t ground nutmeg
- 1/2 t ground cloves
- 1/2 butter, softened
- 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 6-8 T heavy cream
- 1 t vanilla extract

1. preheat oven to 350 F.
2. combine: flour, powder, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, & salt. mix with spoon, then sift.
3. (separate bowl) cream: butter & sugar. add & mix (to butter/sugar): egg, vanilla, 2 T heavy cream.
4. in 2-3 batches, add flour mixture to butter mixture. you will alternate flour (mix), 2-3 T heavy cream. do this until it is completely mixed. *try not to over beat, as this will result in flatter, more crispy cookies. :)
5. bake for 8-10 minutes (maybe a little longer). take them out before they start to brown too much on the edges.


- 8 oz. cold cream cheese
- 1 stick unsalted butter, firm but not cold (if you are in a rush, you can stick it in the microwave for a few seconds, but be careful it doesn't start to melt)
- 1/8 t salt
- 1/2 t vanilla
- 3 3/4 c confectioners sugar

1. beat cream cheese, butter, & salt.
2. slowly mix in confectioners sugar.
3. add vanilla.

**be sure cookies are completely cool before adding.

Taiga's New Bed

I bought Taiga a new bed.  And if you know my dog, you know she likes to lay on anything you set down {towels, a blanket, air mattress, a tshirt, decorating pillows, etc.} Well, her dog bed was pretty flattened.. so I bought her this nice fluffy one.  Well, its so fluffy, she cant even lay on it!  You can see in the first picture she's holding on with her back leg... and the last picture, she has totally rolled off of it.  Haha, silly girl.

Talbot Wives Weekend in San Clemente

I am blessed to be working with the Talbot Wives Leadership Team this year at Jarod's school.  This is a ministry for wives of husbands who are in school and it is wonderful!  I don't know what I would have done without them when I moved to SoCal last summer, knowing no one.  They are a fabulous group of faculty wives and student wives.
We had a retreat in San Clemente last weekend and I was completely blessed by the time away in a beautiful home and the fellowship of women.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

Here is a little bit of our Holiday Weekend.  I also must say that this was my last weekend of summer, {I head back to my school job in the morning}.  I do think, however, that we lived it up the last three days.  This is a big bonus living in So Cal, beaches and mountains, all in the same weekend :)

Saturday - Sunny Day at Newport Beach with Talbot Wives Fellowship

Sunday - Breakfast with the Huffmans at Arthurs
               Church with the Huffmans at Anaheim Vineyard
               Cloudy Day at Newport Beach with the Huffmans
               Backyard Barbecue with the Huffmans

Monday - Climbing at Tahquitz Mountains, near Idyllwild

A few photos from the weekend:
Heather & Dustin (Sunny Day)

Hannah attempting to bury Taiga in the sand (Cloudy Day)

Dog Burying Success!!

David & Jarod

Cloudy Day Beach Fun

To the Mountains!  Can you spot Jarod and Drew climbing?

She's got her own backpack now :)

My Silly Dog

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Book Club Coverage

I have a new, favorite book.  Maybe not quite "all time favorite", but at least "Top Three".  Of course, everyone knows this book or has endured seen the movie, but somehow it had gotten past me these last 28 years.. that is, until last month.  

It's quite a commitment to read a thousand page book.  But once I got thru the first 130 pages of history and explanation, the plot kicked in and I was taken, whole-heartedly taken, by my love/hate relationship with Scarlett.  You know, it takes a strong backbone to make your protagonist such a hated woman.  Most heroines are not of the despicable nature, most heroines don't lack redemptive qualities, but Ms. O'Hara is probably the most selfish woman I have ever encountered in a book!  And all the while I am outraged at her backstabbing greediness, I am captured by her tireless determination.  She never doubts.  She never waivers.  She never second guesses.  She doesn't give a flying flip what anyone says or thinks of her.  She just does what she thinks she must.  It's admirable, her spirit; but all the while shocking, and sometimes frightening.  And Rhett, oh Rhett Butler... or should I say "oh, Ashley!" (I'm pretty sure if I counted the "oh, Ashley!"s in the movie, it would at least be 115 {that's one every other minute})  He, Rhett, is her saving grace and she misses it.  She constantly misses it.  I will say I did not see the end coming.  I knew the coined phrase, "Frankly, my dear, I just don't give a damn," but I did not see the context coming at all.  I felt so betrayed when I finally ended the book.  I kept saying to myself, "but..", "what if..", "if only..", "maybe"... and on and on.  I thought about this book days after I finished it.  In fact, I am still thinking about this book.  Wondering what happened to Atlanta, to Tara, to Wade and Beau, to the free darkies, to Scarlett's sisters...

I read on the back of my copy, that the only other book that has outsold "Gone with the Wind", is The Bible.  So yep, that pretty much sums up the amazingness of this classic.