If I Had a Nickel ....

If I had a nickel for every time my mother has asked me since being married: "Have you bought any dishes yet?" ... Mitchell and I would be able to comfortably retire to Aruba. The answer has been a consistent no... until today that is. Up until today we had been using 4 old plates Mitchell's sister, Mirien, had given us and some plastic bowls my parents have had since the 80's. We gathered up the gift cards and headed off to Bed Bath and Beyond.

I naturally gravitate to the yellow clearance sections of any store. I strongly dislike paying full price for anything. And lo and behold ... I spotted this beauty of a deal. A chip? Is that all? Pu-lease. I can deal with a chip. Final cost: $25.98 not too shabby.

For once in my life Bed Bath and Beyond did not let me down miserably ...

Along the journey Mitchell and I ran into a wide assortment of exotic snuggies

And WAAA ... LA! Black dinnerware .... no need to ask anymore mother dearest, your favorite children are eating in style


The sweet smell of VICTORY!!

This week Erin and I hit a mini-milestone in our marriage. We have now been married for 7 weeks. We didn't do anything special to celebrate the momentous occasion unfortunately, but this milestone was made sweeter after a small victory last night.

I was recently called into a brand new Elders Quorum Presidency (I'm the Secretary) and since we didn't all know each other too well we were all invited over to the Presidents house to have a little Barbecue. And being a vegetarian barbecue's can be a little interesting, we ended up bringing our own veggie burgers and it wasn't too weird, i don't think we were completely rejected for it. We started out in kind of an awkward huddle as people got to know each other and soon we ran out of the typical small talk things to say that i really hate anyways. The viruses and bacteria in the meat were finally all cooked out and we could begin eating. After dinner we played a game of pirates dice that lasted far too long. And then moved things inside to play the LDS version of the Newly-wed game, called Celestial Companions. It was actually a lot of fun and everyone really started to open up and joke and laugh. And the victory came at 11:30 that night when we realized that we had won the game (against people who had all been married at least 3 years) and we had new friends, and we had stayed up later than we had in about 3 weeks. So overall it was a good night.

And as to not disappoint... i have a few pictures of morphs from my side of the family...

Milan and his wife Rachael... this one is my favorite

My Parents...

My sister Monette and her husband Aaron...

My Brother Morgan and my sister Melayna....
Thanks Morgan for sending all the pictures, i couldn't have done it with out you.


Would You Like to Supersize That?

My brother Max, has been in Spain and Italy for the past 7 weeks or so. Mitchell and I thought it would be fun to get together and throw a little welcome back party for him....we could get together, have some quality bonding time, eat food, and look at some Europe pics. We thought we would welcome Max home with some American food ... and what could be more American than McDonalds?

But you might want to take a closer look ...

Those aren't just any ordinary burgers ... those burgers consist of cupcakes, brownies, icing and a few sesame seeds to top it off. We made sugar cookies and cut them to look like french fries. I even had the audacity to walk into McDonald's and ask them for some containers. They were a little suspicious to say the least.

I know a lot of you may be thinking ... bread, Sasquatch cakes ... and now cupcake hamburgers?! I promise you we don't just sit around all day and bake ... we do hold jobs and go to school.

Max may not look too impressed but trust me, he was downright giddy with delight

Mitchell conquering the Big Mac

I would like to give credit to Bakerella for this creative masterpiece.


And Then There Was One

The other day i stumbled upon a program i had got a while back that takes two faces and makes them into one. Its pretty impressive the quality of the face but also quite scary. We took some pictures yesterday of Erin's parents and her brother and then I had a little fun with them. The glasses are best merged with another face with glasses, and toothy smiles are best merged with other toothy smiles. Here is what we came up with..... These are all 50% of each person, you can see the facial features are a mix of both people and everything else you can see as semi-transparent layers on top of each other.... ENJOY!

Erin and I, from our wedding pictures

Erin and I from the ones taken last night.

Steve and Jan.... this one is probably my favorite

Erin and her Mother

Craig and his Mother

If any of you would like me to combine your pictures just send me an email with some pictures taken head on with a neutral wall as a background.


Sasquatch Siting

Nothing says Happy Father's Day more than a Sasquatch cake. Cake blueprints were sketched, materials were purchased and precise measurements were made in order to guarantee the perfection of this cake. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know some of you are thinking this cake looks like a big ape. We researched and studied many a bigfoot drawings .... you try making a realistic Sasquatch cake, it's harder than it looks. A lot of blood, sweat, tears, milk and powdered sugar went into this cake. We love you Dad!

We needed Craig to smile for us ... and this was his pathetic excuse of a smile. He claimed to "not know how to smile."

Mitchell caught this wonderful candid shot of Craig ..... with a real smile.

Pearl stache


I am my father's child

Growing up my dad would frequent an Iranian owned market called Arash. And I'm pretty sure he keeps up the same tradition today. I can tell you about many a time when my dad would come home with an armful of relatively unheard of and almost completely rotten bags of fruit that he'd picked up at Arash for a dollar each. He'd have figs, gooseberries, huckleberries, loquats, kumquats, mayhaws, paw-paws, saskatoons, chayote and all sorts of other odd looking and odd tasting fruits and vegetables. Well on my way home one day i decided to stop in at Carl's Super Saver Store, and lo and behold its Ogden's version of the Iranian legend.

I got a tub of yogurt for fifty cents and 20 whole wheat tortillas for a dollar. Giant artichokes for twenty-five cents, huge ripe tomatoes for ten cents and tomatillos 20 for a dollar. A large bag of fresh baby spinach for sixty-nine cents. And carts packed full of 5 cent wonders. I stocked my basket so full with various wonders and new discoveries and it was getting quite heavy. And when i got to the register it all totaled up under 9 dollars. And the spirit of Arash was alive in me.

Not everything was edible....
There was candy in there from christmas... for 5 cents!!

Sorry Dad, but i didn't find any lavash or doogh .... but maybe next time around. Happy Fathers Day to all.


Uncultured Swine

If free food were a song, it would be music to our ears. An artistically inclined couple in the ward announced that their work would be displayed at the Ogden Eccles Community Art Center.... but what got us really excited was the fact that the event would be catered. Mitchell and I showed up with one goal in mind, not to necessarily enjoy the art but to score a free dinner. We went, we saw, we conquered.

Super cool, old mansion they have turned into the art center

Art junkies

I am kicking myself because I didn't get any pictures of Mitchell attempting to squeeze himself between the two kiddos. His dismount was even better... it involved him falling backwards off the bench while a crowd from the artsy community watched in shock. Oh how I love my Mitchell


Battle of the Breads

My luck with making bread on my own has been anything but good. Starting out as what i'll call a solid brick, and each attempt slowly making its way towards perfection. Behold the perfect loaf! The only problem with making such awesome bread is now i have to match it or top it next time around.
Here is my adorable wife eating a hot slice of perfection. And i know she liked it because she snuck another slice when she thought i wasn't paying attention.
Now i've got another one in the oven and one rising. Its time to go win over our neighbors with a hot loaf of 100% whole wheat bread. If any of you were expecting this to be super long sorry to disappoint you, I'll spare all the details. If you'd like to learn the secrets check out www.artisanbreadinfive.com and buy their book. Its a great way to wow your friends and family and overcome the bread curse.


Cover your Curves

I have a confession. I have always wanted to be a swimsuit designer. I can remember sketching up designs in High School when I was bored in a chemistry or english class. Swimsuit season always left a bad taste in my mouth because I could never find a swimsuit that was cute yet modest. Well ... I come bringing glad tidings of joy. The search is over. Some smart Mormon mom read my mind. www.limericki.com


Aruba, Jamaica oooo I wanna take ya

I work from the luxury of my home. Which isn't bad, its just that my living room, family room, front room, entry way, theater room, and office are all the same room. For those loyal readers out there who aren't yet familiar with my line of work, i work for the worlds largest drapery installation company (at least as far as we know). We fly people all over to install drapes in hotels, hospitals, timeshare condos and even some military barracks. I used to enjoy the life of a traveling draper, but moved up to the head IT guy about 6 months ago.

Well yesterday my boss and I were chatting about the jobs coming up and I mentioned I had never been anywhere cool when i traveled. (We frequently have jobs in Hawaii, and Mexico, Virgin Islands and the nicest spot I've been is Panama City... Florida... in December). He then told me of 2 jobs coming up in Aruba, but he said "you wouldn't want to go there, because you can only work 2 days a week there at the Hotel and you wouldn't make any money". And then he realized that I'm the only one who could still make money the other days of the week because i'm the only one that works from home. So then he was practically begging me to go. He offered to send Erin and I to Aruba for 10 weeks all expenses paid....and I'd only have to work at the Hotel 2 days a week and then my normal workload when i had time... pretty nice eh??

But It would be from mid July to the end of September.... and Erin is still in school then and couldn't go the whole time. And I couldn't go to my brother's wedding in Washington (now the end of August instead of the end of December). So... do I stay or do i go?? This is my chance to live it up on a Caribbean Island ..... and help my company get out of a rut and also guarantee some job security for a while longer.

Here are some pictures i found online to try and help make my decision......

17 miles north of Venezuela

Cacti and exotic looking umbrella things

Water so clear you can see dark spots!!

Natural pool you can snorkel in...

And a natural rock bridge.... And then forever in life I could say i took a ten week vaction in Aruba. Maybe i'd love it so much Erin would move down and we'd start a jet ski rental place and you all could just come down and visit us and stay with us.... Bermuda Bahama come on pretty mama.


Sabbath Smashup

So much for a fun and relaxing Sunday afternoon with the Hicken family. I invited the parents and Craig over to our place for a little family fun. About the time they should have been arriving .... we received a call.

Mitchell and I came to the rescue. We brought family fun time to them... and Craig sure had fun

Yes, I take the blame. I confess, my invitation to fun led to this incident. My mom says she still loves me.

In the midst of this melt down ... there was another meltdown. In Mitchell's eyes, an even more tragic meltdown ... an ice cream meltdown.

Father Hicken bids farewell to his trusty steed and sheds a single tear


The Miraculous Microwave Muffin

In the time it would take a normal person to stir up a batch of muffin batter, preheat the oven and then bake them, i am able to microwave the muffins eat a few clean up the kitchen and then blog about it.

Erin and I love muffins and I make them probably about once a week. This week i made them 3 times, because of a recent discovery or should i say "happy accident". I was baking a batch of muffins that i read about on Meredith's blog, and i had made this recipe once before and decided it needed a little help. So i added a dash and a half of salt and a shiny green apple. And because i added the apple there was now just a little extra batter at the end, too much to throw out, and enough that it would have made the others overflow and then I'd have a messy oven to clean or a smokey house. And i didn't want to get another muffin tin dirty and wait another 14 minutes for just 2 muffins. So in this conundrum i was in... I decided I'd find a small dish and bake a muffin blob along side it. But the small 1 cup Pyrex dish i had only said "Microwave Safe" and not Oven safe. So i microwaved it. And lo and behold it turned out, It puffed up and got all cake like. The apples cooked and it was a wonderful muffin. Erin and I ate it and then had to wait another 14 minutes for the others to bake.

So because I am a man of science. I decided to try it again this time only with a less healthy recipe. (hold on the timer is going off for the control group)

So as I expected the ones baked in the oven look a little nicer, more rounded and a slight goldeny color. But the taste isn't far off. I will definitely microwave my muffins again.

I have included a few pictures to document my results.

These muffin cups are great, i got them at Bed Bath and Beyond for $7 and they are microwave safe and oven safe. They are easy to clean and were perfect for my little experiment. The batter you see is chocolate chip, not blueberry. If Erin wouldn't have been gone you could have seen some high quality shots but instead you get some camera phone pictures.

This is one baked in the microwave next to one still in batter form. The color doesn't change much but the texture and size does quite a bit.

Here is a side by side comparison of the 18 minute oven baking against a 45 second microwave bath.

Here is another side by side cross-section comparison. Not a huge difference really, both spongey and both taste excellent.

Here is a close up of the microwaved miracle. Final conclusion.... they taste about the same to me. I'd say if you're going to give them away then go ahead and bake them because they look better. If you're looking for a fast and easy breakfast or a treat.... the microwave is the way to go. And if you don't want to go out and spend the money on these cute little silicone cups then they'd probably work in any plastic cup or small glass dish. And then you can just bake them when you want them, and the leftovers you probably put in the microwave anyways. Just save the batter in the fridge and have a hot and easy muffin whenever you want it. And if you're looking for a tasty yet healthful muffin recipe, check out Meredith's blog. (I added a bit of salt and replaced some of the flour with soy protein powder and you could even try an apple.)

Tomorrow i'll try out cupcakes in the microwave... check the comments to see how they turned out.