Saturday, December 27, 2008

A New Year 2009

Another year come and gone, It's been a while so I figure I'd better put something down...I'll try and get some pictures added here in a bit.

The older I get the longer the drive to Utah seems to take. Once you cross the Wyoming border I swear you pass through some invisible time portal that slows time down to a veritable crawl...If you ever wonder why it seems like the antelope are running faster than you are driving... it's because they are. (for some reason they aren't caught in the time warp.) Even though your speedometer shows that you are going 80 mph you could actually get out and walk wonder it took the pioneers so long to cross the plains...they went through Wyoming, otherwise they would have reached Salt Lake a month earlier.

One of the side effects of slowing down time so dramatically is that the gentle breezes that normally grace the rolling plains of Wyoming turn into raging gale force winds that threaten to blow you completley off the road at any given moment, (The Tornado that blew Dorthy into the land of Oz was just a breeze that escaped from Wyoming) If you ever wonder where the ridges on steering wheels come from it's from people who drove through Wyoming with a death grip on the steering wheel trying to stay out of the land of OZ.

But despite the dangers we took a trip to Utah the first week of January so Stephen could see both his Grandparents, and everyone else before he leaves..while we were there we went with him to the Mount Timpanogos Temple with most of his Aunts and Uncles, It was a great experience. We also made a quick trip up to Brigham City where they have a missionary clothing store and we were able to get 90% of everything he needs to take with him to Brazil. (So aside from a few miscellanious items I thing we have everything put together now). All his paperwork is turned in, so were pretty much just waiting for his Passport and Visa to come back, We need to get his drivers lisence renewed so it won't expire when he's out there, and we still need to set up a joint debit account so we can send him money if emergencies arise. He leaves Feb 17th, and if anyone who is interested he will be speaking in Church on the 15th of Feb, we will be having an Open House at Noon for anyone who wants to stop by and wish him well.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Family Time

It is so nice for us when family comes to visit, and we were so glad that my Brother Ron and his family could make the long drive and spend Thanksgiving with us. It brings back all those memories of growing up together. We spent some time trying to cast my Eagle sculpture, unfortunately it ended up being more of a lesson in what not to do, but at least next time I should be able to get it right.

We pushed the sofa back and resurrected the Ping Pong table from the garage, and had some pretty intense Ping Pong matches, especially between me and Ron and the boys. We also hit the Lanes and decided that whoever lost the last bowling match would have to do dishes. Fortunately I was doing really well and Ron was right behind me....It come down to Stephen and Justin in the last Frame, and Stephen won by 1 point on the last ball.

We also went and saw the new movie "Twilight" which turned out to be pretty good...If you read the book, it stayed pretty much on course, and I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Sonya took over the cooking for one night and I will have to bug her to send me the recipe for her Alfredo sauce, it turned out really well. Happily there was leftovers which I will be enjoying tonight. She and Randie also got to spend a little time together doing some "Outlet" shopping.

We all braved the dangers of "Black Friday" and were able to somehow get up at 3:30 am so we could save a few dollars on Miscellaneous items that will go unnamed for right now. We had gone through the Ad's the day before and decided that we wanted to hit Circuit City...not realizing that they were going out of business. We pulled into the parking lot at 4:00 in the morning, and there wasn't another person in sight..(crickets chirping in the background) after reading the sign on the door we realized why, and headed over to Radio Shack where we had slightly better luck. Stephen, Justin, Alyssa, Jonathan and Mathew braved the crowds at Walmart and managed to come up with the wanted items. There was a small casualty when Stephen hit a patch of Ice and couldn't stop before hitting the curb, we have a few minor repairs (hopefully minor) that we will be looking into this next week. I'm sure the Lord got a chuckle when just before they hit Justin came up with the quote "Jesus take the wheel" they weren't in any mortal danger I think the Lord found it more prudent that they learn a lesson to GO SLOWER on ice, than intervening.

I just want to say thanks again to Ron and his family for braving the Elements (there was about 5 inches of snow on the ground when they left this morning, and it was still falling) and for taking the time to come out and spend time with us here in the Springs.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Best Darn Turkey Ever

My wife tells me that I turned 44 this year, and I have no reason to doubt her, I tend to loose track myself. A few years ago I thought for sure that I was 42 and then learned that I was actually 43... (Somehow I lost a whole year in there), anyway I guess I've been around long enough to have eaten my fair share of turkeys.

I have always pictured myself as an "amazing" chef, the truth is probably closer to periodic flashes of culinary genius, and the rest of the time everyone is happy because it's edible.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are great excuses to deviate from the norm in search of inspired gastronomic delights, and cooking Mr. Turkey has become a personal challenge for me to see if I can improve on the previous year.

When we first got married it wasn't really that hard to "one up" the previous year...I mean when your turkey comes out half raw, it's not that hard to make sure it's at least cooked all the way through the next year. (almost lost my turkey cooking rights over that one, but in my defense I didn't know that an 18-20 pound piece of bird muscle frozen rock solid takes 3 days to thaw)

So over the years I've tried different spices,fruits,vegetables, Basting, not Basting, cooking bags, stuffed, unstuffed, you name it I've probably tried it. A few years ago the "Injector" opened up several new doors, and I was turning out some pretty tasty birds. But this year was definitely the best yet. I mean when you can't wait to go to bed at night so you can wake up and have a turkey sandwich for breakfast the next morning that's got to mean something (I'm choosing to ignore comments made to the effect that it means I'm just crazy)

So in an effort to improve Thanksgiving feasts everywhere, and spread delicious turkey throughout the world, I'm sharing the recipe.

This recipe was posted on Recipe Zaar by Mirj Ra'anana, I made a few minor alterations but for the most part it is intact. (Thank you Mirj, and also thanks to my Brother Ron who was visiting with his family this year for serving as sous chef.)

Honey Brined Herb Roasted Turkey

1 fresh frozen whole turkey, thawed or fresh frozen whole turkey
8-10 quarts water
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup honey
3-4 teaspoons fresh coarse ground black pepper
10-12 garlic cloves, peeled
2 bunches fresh thyme
1 bunch fresh sage
4-5 cups chicken stock
2-3 lemons
2-4 teaspoons olive oil

  1. Remove giblets and neck from turkey, reserve for gravy. Rinse turkey with cold running water and drain well. Blot dry with paper towels. (I personally don't save the giblets, some people like my mother like them, If the economy continues to deteriorate maybe I will learn to like them)
  2. Prepare brine by mixing water, honey and salt in a large bowl. Stir until honey dissolves. Add half the thyme and sage along with the garlic and black pepper. Set aside. Add chicken stock. (My stock pot apparently only holds just over 8 quarts of water, I had a 14lb turkey and 8 quarts was plenty...If your cooking a 22lb turkey you are going to need a HUGE pot...just giving fair warning here). I would definitely recommend getting the fresh herbs if you can find them. Walmart had fresh thyme, and it was Really nice, I had to settle for dried sage, but will be on the lookout next year for some fresh sage. also when peeling the garlic I used a spatula to squash the cloves first, which made peeling them much easier, and helped release some of the garlic flavor.
  3. Line an extra-large stock pot with a food-safe plastic bag. Place the rinsed turkey in the bag and pour brine over the turkey. Gather the bag tightly around the turkey, causing the turkey to be surrounded by the brine. Seal the bag and refrigerate the pot, bag and brined turkey for at least 12 hours. (Yes I'm going to have to get a bigger pot...I had about 3 inches of brine and turkey sticking out above my pot, either that or that 22lb turkey in my freezer is just going to have to stay there)
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350°F Remove turkey from brine and pat dry inside and out. Discard brine. Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large shallow (about 2 1/2" deep) roasting pan. (I just used the good old American aluminum foil turkey pan)
  5. Squeeze lemon juice into the main turkey cavity. Put the squeezed lemon halves into the cavity along with the rest of the thyme and sage. Coat turkey lightly with oil and sprinkle inside and out with salt, pepper. (Since my turkey was only 14lbs I only used 2 lemons, after brushing it with oil I also melted a cube of butter and injected it into the breast. I did not add any additional salt since it had been soaking in brine, and based on the final result think it was a good idea...tasted perfect.)
  6. Insert an oven safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being careful the pointed end of the thermometer does not touch the bone. Roast turkey, basting with poultry stock every half hour or so. (I used the same roasting bag that I used to brine the turkey to cook it in, and since I had injected it with butter opted not to baste this year)
  7. Loosely cover with aluminum foil to prevent over browning, remove foil during last hour and a half of cooking time. Continue to roast until thermometer registers 180°F in the thigh, or 170°F in the breast. (I did cover the top with foil, especially since I wasn't basting.)
  8. Remove turkey from the oven and allow it to cool for 15-20 minutes before carving.

Good luck all my fellow Turkey cookers, and I hope this turns out as well for you as it did for me...I know I will be using this recipe from now on...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Horse Mural

Just before I decided I wanted to try sculpting, I had decided that it would be fun to paint a mural...I talked with Randie to see if there was a chance she was secretly dieing to have a mural in our house and just hadn't ever mentioned it to me before...come to find out she wasn't, but she wasn't entirely opposed to the idea, and we discussed possible walls that might serve as my canvas. Randie mentioned that Sarah was really into horses right now, and maybe I could paint a horse mural in her room

That was all the encouragement that I needed and I immediately started looking at horse pictures to get some inspiration. (I have to stop for a minute and say how wonderful my wife is, she is always willing to humor me in my hair brained ideas, and visions of someday being a great artist.) After viewing several horse pictures and deciding how big to make it etc...I got to work.

I wanted to try and keep it fairly simple and decided to only use 3 colors, White, Black and Brown....It ended up that the brown just didn't seem to work, and I did the whole thing in Black and White.

Shortly after starting it, I decided I also wanted to try my hand at Sculpting, and was torn each night whether to spend the hour I had dedicated to the Mural or to Sculpting (usually the Sculpting won out)

I have to say that Randie was VERY patient with me about getting the Mural done, and I will be the first to admit that I get sidetracked with my hobbies very easily. It's like the farmer that gets up in the morning to feed the chickens, and on his way out notices that the gate squeaks, so he goes to the barn and gets some oil to fix the gate, and after fixing the gate notices that the kids left their toys in the driveway....and about 3 hours later the chickens get fed.

Anyway...I finished the mural this morning (I took the week off for Thanksgiving). Here are a couple of pictures of the finished product.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I bounce between hobbies like a super ball on steroids....about a month ago I decided I wanted to be a sculptor (I use the term loosely). The closest I've ever gotten to sculpting I think was about 6-7 years ago when Sarah got a Play-Doh Fun Factory set for Christmas, it has the plastic thing that looks kind of like a garlic press, and lets you press the clay through different templates. (I think I spent more time unplugging the press than actually playing with it)

Anyway, for my birthday I got a video on how to was pretty good and talked about the different clays, and tools that you would need plus some good pointers on shaping the clay etc. So I went out and got some basic tools and some clay and I was ready to start...I decided that I wanted to do a Golden Eagle Head (Heaven knows there aren't enough eagle statues around) I went out on the Internet and found some pictures to use as a reference and I was ready to go.

I think all in all it took me about 2 weeks to finish, working on it an hour or two a night. Turns out that I'm a pretty good sculptor (at least with birds). Here are a few pictures I took when I almost had it done.

Since it turned out so well, I wanted to keep it, so I started researching how to create a mold so I could cast it... There was quite a bit to learn and It was actually pretty make a long story short, I was able to create the mold, and am at the point where I'm almost ready to make my first casting (fingers are crossed) I'll let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Proposition 8

I have watched with great interest the backwash of Proposition 8 as I'm sure many of you have also... and I have been greatly saddened by the actions of those who chose to oppose this measure. I honestly thought that our country was past this type of behavior.

I think that people take for granted the freedoms that we have in this country, and in so doing they start to think that just because they want something bad enough they should be able to have it, and if for some reason they can't, then all of a sudden their rights are being violated, No one ever said that you have the right to do whatever you want...that is not Freedom.

Freedom was never a blanket statement or ideal that allows you to do or say whatever you want whenever you want. There have always been checks and balances that "Limit" our freedom, which is why laws were established, to help us govern the use of the freedoms we enjoy...the laws "protect" the freedoms we have, and without them things would quickly turn into a chaotic nightmare. God has always had laws, and man has followed that pattern.

Think for a minute what would happen if all the traffic laws were suddenly removed, with no laws to limit your driving, you would literally be taking your life in your own hands anytime you got in your car. It would be total chaos, in reality the laws that seem to limit your freedom, are what actually give you more freedom.

Proposition 8 wasn't about "taking away" any ones freedoms, it was about defining what the institution of marriage is. God gave us the agency to allow us to govern ourselves, and he also instituted marriage as a union between a man and a woman... "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Why would we want to tamper with something that has been instituted as a proven pattern since Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden.

I have some gay friends at work, they are good people, but to my knowledge they haven't "lost" any freedoms, they can still legally live together, they still have all their health and retirement benefits, and all the freedoms that I enjoy, so exactly what "freedoms" are they losing... the ONLY thing they can't do is say they are married, and that is because marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman.

I have seen some of my friends that are single parents, and the struggles that they have to overcome to raise their kids. How can gay or lesbian couples, (no matter how well intentioned they are) provide the male or female perspective that is missing in their relationship to children they choose to raise.

Our nation is made up of definitions, and whatever I want to be in life, I have to modify my self to fit that particular definition...there are reasons for those definitions... Proposition 8 is not just about preserving the sanctity of marriage, it goes much deeper than that, it's about preserving the family, creating strong family's creates strong communities, which creates a strong nation.

Will Gay marriage eventually be legalized...It's quite possible...will I be rioting in the streets, and vandalizing Gay people's property...absolutley not.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Is Portugeuse the same as Spanish

Stephen received his mission call in the mail today...He will be going to MACIEO BRAZIL, He is pretty excited. Brazil has it's own Mission Training Center in Sao Paulo and he will be flying directly there from here. He leaves February 18 and will be serving for 24 months.

Here are some pictures and a map of his mission that came with his call, we will keep you updated as we receive more information


Monday, October 20, 2008

Indian Project

Sarah came home from school about a week ago, and said she had to build a house that Indian's would have lived in for a school project..(at least we had a weeks notice, with the boys it was usually the night before). We decided that it would be fun to build a Pueblo since we live in the South West.
Our first efforts pretty much met with disaster...we used an air dry clay, and we would get the walls up, then the next day the clay had shrunk so much during the night that everything would be distorted and cracked the next morning...after trying for 2 days to unsuccessfully repair the shrinking issues, we decided to scrap the whole thing and try with a poly based clay.

That made a huge difference, and from there on everything went smoothly...To be totally honest I probably had more fun than Sarah did, but she did help put everything together, and we had fun doing it.

She gave her presentation today, and said that she looked down to point out how we had made some of the ground cover, and when she looked up the whole class was gathered around ...She's pretty sure she'll get an A

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fall Garden and Man Tomato's

There is supposed to be a Hard Freeze tonight, (which is about 2 weeks earlier than normal), So I blew out the sprinklers, and brought all the tomato's that were still on the vine into the Garage, where I hung them up to see if any would still ripen on their own.

We had a great garden this year...LOT's of zuccini and summer year I'm just putting in one squash...they are just to prolific and they take up to much room...(we still have shredded zuccini in the freezer from last year) The Corn was fantastic, and we had enough tomato's to keep me happy most of the summer, I even made some homeade maranara sauce for dinner the other night and it was really good.
I didn't realize that there were Male and Female tomato plants...I guess I got the Male ones this year.

Anyway, I'm sad to see it year I think we will be ready for another go at the Giant pumpkin...

So many things to do...and just not nearly enouph time or money.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

No It's Not Halloween yet!

No...that's not grey hair...well maybe just a couple are, (shh...we won't mention that to Randie)

A few weeks ago the Relief Society had "Fabulous Friday", it's basically the same as "Super Saturday", or "Wonderful Wednesday"... anyway all the women in the ward get together for a Huge blowout Craft night, of chatting, and treats. Since Randie is the Coordinator of all that, she spent quite a bit of time putting it all together. I must say I was impressed with how she dealt with all the logistics. It's not an easy task putting together something that large for 60-80 women.

One of the Crafts was "Picture Blocks" where you take 3 large blocks and put pictures on all 6 sides of each Block then stack them strategically somewhere in your house for people to ooh and aah over. (They really do turn out pretty nice.)

The person who was going to cut out and sand all the blocks fell through, so Randie and I (and a couple other women) ended up doing 200+ blocks ourselves.

Can I just say my wife is amazing...(Even when she looks like she just walked out of a sandstorm)

Monday, September 29, 2008


Yes, Justin went to Homecoming this year, (His first Semi-Formal Date). He asked Jenny Miller if she would go with him, and of course she said yes. He ended up opting for the Teddy Bear/Note on the porch approach, and since it was also her birthday threw in some roses as well. She answered with the classic hidden message in the cupcake, and it was all good.

They ended up doing a Group date with 3 other couples, and had planned on going miniature golfing, but the weather didn't want to cooperate, so they changed horses mid stream, and decided to come over to our house to play games, but one of the couples ended up being 1/2 hour late, so they pretty much just hung out and chatted until it was time to go to dinner at one of the other parents homes, were they were waited on by siblings.

After dinner they were going to come back over to our house and make cookies, but it got to late to fast, and they ended up just going to the dance.

The dances at the school are just not good...I could be more detailed but don't want to offend any ones sensibilities... The guys had previously decorated another parents basement and then joined up with another 4 couples and had the dance there....that way they had control over the music, refreshments, atmosphere etc.

Justin had a great time...and I'm sure we will be seeing Jenny again.

Papers are In

After getting all his paperwork done and sent in it is pretty much a waiting game now to find out where he will be going. He met with the Bishop on Sunday, and will be meeting with the Stake President sometime this week. The Bishop said that he will most likely get his mission call sometime between October 20th-31st and will probably be leaving before Christmas.

The minor health issues he was having seem to be working themselves out. The doctor put him on a mild antibiotic and gave him a nasal spray to counter act the allergy problems he's been having...I think once he gets away from all the grass cutting at the golf course that he will be fine. The doctor gave him a clean bill of health, so I don't think it will impact where he is called. He still wants to go on a foreign mission, so we'll see what happens. Will keep you all posted as we get more information.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Balloon Fest

Another indication that 1 more year has flown by....Every year we try and make it out to Memorial Park for the Colorado Springs Balloon Festival, it's pretty much a tradition now. It is always fun to stand and watch all the multi-colored balloons launch into the sky, and you can never have enouph pictures of hot air least thats what it would seem if you went back and compiled all the pictures I've taken over the last few years...Good times where had by all, and of course you always have to get a funnel cake or it's just not a Balloon Festival.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Pikes Peak

Ok... so we have lived here for 7+ years now and have never taken the time to go to the top of Pikes Peak (14,000 ft) so on Saturday we loaded up the van, and headed up the mountain, It's about a 3 hour round trip up and back, and I have to admit that I got a little nervous after we got to about 12,000 ft. the drop off from the road was a LONG way down.

Once we go to the top you could definitely tell that the air was a LOT thinner, even for us who are used to breathing at 6,500 feet. The brochure that they gave us said that at that altitude you were breathing 1/2 the oxygen that you get at sea level.

The view was spectacular, It was kind of disconcerting to see some of the clouds floating below you... the were also some amazing cloud formations, that looked totally different from where we were at.

There is a gift shop at the top (of course there is) we learned that they get over 500,000 visitors a year, and since it was a Holiday weekend there was probably 100+ people there, we got some doughnuts and fudge, as a reward for making the trip.

I took some pictures but they don't do any justice to the magnitude and grandeur of the view.

If you get out this way, it's definitely worth the trip, we plan on going back in October to see the Autumn leaves on the way up... to bad we've missed it all these years.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dutch Oven: Round 2

Yes, It's true... I don't give up easily, or maybe I'm a sucker for punishment, but I decided to tackle the whole Dutch oven thing again...but this time armed with all the failures of last time.

So first order of business was to get a Dutch oven that wasn't big enough to feed the entire state of Texas, I had to hit a couple of stores to find one, and ended up with a nice little 10" oven. (I could actually lift this one with one hand.) Next was to get some new briquettes, something that would actually catch fire and stay lit.

I decided to go with a desert this time, and I have always been a big fan of Pinapple Upside down cake... (I know what your thinking, but hey it's just a cake it can't be that hard)

I pulled up several recipes on the internet, and using them as a guide came up with one that I thought would work really well.

I'ts been raining alot here, so I put some tin foil down in the garage and soaked some briquettes in lighter fluid...amaziningly with in about 15 minutes I had some nice coals going...I put everything together, sat the oven on some coals and put some more on top...and 45 minutes later....this Is what I got.

YEAH!!! Now were talking....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ready, Set, Go...

We are fast approaching that "Great and Dreadful" day when Stephen will be leaving to go on his mission. Great, because he will be leaving on one of the greatest adventures of his life. Dreadful becasue for us as his parents it will be like there was a death in our family... I can't even imagine what it will be like to not have him around anymore...
He met with the Bishop on Sunday and recieved the go ahead to "Start his paperwork". My understanding is that the earliest you can turn in your papers is 3 months before your 19th birthday...and that is where we are at right now.
In preperation for getting everything ready we had his wisdom teeth pulled last week, so he would be up to date on all of his dental work, All that we need to do now is have the dentist sign off...He goes in for his physical next week, and then I think it's just a matter of filling everything else out. (it is all done online now, once it's finalized the bishop sends it electronically to Salt Lake)
Once it is sent, we were told that Stephen should get his letter telling him where he will be going within 2 weeks.

Friday, August 1, 2008

$100 Dollar Earwig

I got up to work this morning...didn't notice anything wrong, and Randie went to run some errands, when she got home she walks in and says "Did you turn the Air Conditioner Off?" I said "No, I don't think so", and walked over to check the Thermastat...81 Deg. hmm....(come to think of it, it is kind of warm in here) I play with the controls...Fan comes on but no Air Conditioning, I went outside to look at the AC Unit...It is defenitly not working, but the lines aren't frozen, and the breaker is still on. I went downstairs to check the Filter, it's a little dirty but not enouph to stop airflow.

Time to call in a profesional. I call 2 or 3 and they all give me "The earliest we can be out there is sometime next week" I keep calling and finally find someone who say's "We can have someone there in 2 hours, It's $99.00 for a service call, and if we find any problems the $99.00 dollars goes towards the repair... I bend over and give them my address.

Profesional comes out...Checks the thermostat, it's still 81 deg. (Seems a lot hotter though now) Plays with the controls, Fan comes on but no Air Conditioning, so we go outside to look at the AC Unit... Still not working, he checks the lines to see if they are frozen, and then checks the Breaker...(Hey those are all the things I did)..Now he pulls off a little panel, gets out his miniature Mag flashlight (those are the ones the "Profesionals" use...I had one once by the way, just so I could pretend I was a profesional). after shining his light around for about 30 seconds...he says "Theres the problem" I'm thinking maybe there's a wire that came loose, he gets into his bag and pulls out some needle nosed pliers, reaches in and pulls out a dead earwig..."WHAT?" I think to myself, He says "That should fix it".

"WHAT?" a dead earwig, you've got to be kidding me... apparently when the thermostat decides it needs more air to keep the house cool it sends a signal to the AC Unit, and a little switch flips from open to closed, which completes the circuit and the AC Unit turns on until the thermostat says "thats enouph" then the switch flips back to open. sometime yesterday an earwig got lodged in the switch, stopping it from closing. So in the end...I paid $100.00 for an earwig... (for that much money I should have kept the earwig and framed it. I have paintings (ok they are prints) that are way cheaper than that hanging on my wall.

Urban Camping

Randie has a Relief Society event coming up where they are doing some Dutch Oven cooking, and then letting everyone sample all the food that is cooked... what a great idea, the Men should do something like that.

So I start to think..."We have a Dutch Oven, and I even know where it is... hmm, I'm a pretty good cook, I should get it down, and we can have a nice Dutch Oven meal tonight." So I mention it to Randie who also thinks it's a great idea because she can use this as a means to determine what kind of cost they are going to be looking at, and see how many people it would feed. It's about 4:30 and I figure it will take a couple of hours, so we should be able to eat around 7:00...a little later than we normally eat dinner, but it will be worth, we have a plan.

(Stephen and I lighting a few more coals)

We quickly pulled up some recipes online, and found a nice recipe called "Chicken and Potato Delight" sounded good...and the Recipe says it serves around 8-10 people...I'm thinking.."Not bad, there are 5 of us, and Stephen and Justin eat for 2 people each...we should come out just about right" I jot down what we'll need from the store...and I run down to Walmart. the recipe calls for 10 chicken breasts, which makes sense I guess, 1 for each serving, about 12-14 potatoes, a couple onions, some bacon, 3 cups of cheese, Mushroom Soup, Chicken Soup, some Sour Cream, Mushrooms and some spices. by the time I'm done it cost me $35.00...OK, I guess that's not to bad, if you break it down by servings that only $3.50 per I'm feeling pretty good about that, and when I get home Randie is thinking that if everyone got 1/2 serving we could probably serve around 20 people for her Relief Society event, which is even better.

It's about 5:00 pm by now, so we need to hurry and get this going, I have Stephen go out to get the Dutch Oven, and I start chopping chicken and vegetables like a mad and by 5:30 every things chopped and we are ready to cook.

( Justin came out to play the guitar for us... )

We grab the Dutch Oven and drag it out to the back yard. (I seriously think it weighs about 50lbs) the recipe calls for about 18 briquettes on the bottom, to "FRY" the bacon. So we get out the lighter fluid, and soak 18 briquettes, and light a match... cool we have a nice little fire in our back's like camping almost, without having to load the entire house into the van first..."I like this"

Jumping ahead 1/2 hour...I thought the briquettes were finally lit, (Lesson 1: all briquettes are not created equal). We put the Dutch Oven over the briquettes... and wait for the "frying" part to start...hmm 15 mins later, "No Frying" (Lesson 2: All Dutch ovens are no the same size) The combination of having a HUGE Dutch oven, (I learned afterwards that there are only 2 other ovens that are larger than ours) and tempermental coals just doesn't work well...obviously we are not getting enough heat...darn coals just aren't working, (Lesson 3: Throw away 5 year old coals and get new ones)... We need something to really charge those coals...I'm thinking "BLOW TORCH" that should do the trick. I run to the garage and grab the blow torch, and I have to say it did light them up pretty good. Plus I put about 15 more briquettes down (these were from a different bag "Kingsford") Now we had some heat and finally the bacon started to sizzle..."Yes" we were on our way...of course by now it's a little after 6:30 pm. I go in and tell Randie that were not going to be eating at 7:00, might be 8:00 or 8:30 as all we have cooked right now is the bacon, "But it smells good".

It's almost 7:00 the bacon is done and I add the Chicken, onions, and mushrooms...I put the lid on and move 1/2 the coals from the bottom to the lid...chicken cooks pretty fast we should be good now. It is now almost 8:00 and the chicken is finally done, and it still "Smells Good". We are ready to add the potatoes, soup, and sour cream...I run in and tell Randie we might be looking more at 9:00 or 9:30 pm for dinner, and it's starting to get dark. (Lesson 4: briquettes are usually only good for about an hour) The recipe says to stir every 10-15 mins, I pop the lid after 15 mins..and it's not doing much of anything...We are loosing heat again... 30 mins later, We have new briquettes, now we can start cooking the potatoes. I run in to tell Randie she might want to feed Sarah a snack and we will definitely be ready by 10:00...She give's me that "Yeah..Right" look.

Lesson 5: you can't cook a HUGE meal with a LITTLE heat...It's now 10:00 and I'm firing up some more briquettes...and this point it's becoming personal..It's me or the Dutch Oven, and I've determined that whoever wrote the recipe didn't have a clue as to how many briquettes it would take...(after reading the recipe later I learned they used a 12" dutch oven and mine is 15" ) it's 10:30 now and we FINALLY have some good heat going, I can tell because I can hear it boiling inside...I go in and tell Randie that we should definitely be ready by 11:30...she looks at me like I'm a mad man, and she'll believe me when Hell Freezes over.

I'm checking the potatoes every 15 mins now...and they are just not cooking very 11:30 I finally admit defeat, the potatoes are still a little bit crunchy, but I'm so tired at this point I don't even care, We all ate a big helping, and cleaned up as quickly as possible, and I collapsed into far as servings go I think we could have fed a small army, the good thing is I know what were having for dinner tomorrow night, and the next night...

(sure smelled good..)

Lesson 6: If you've never really cooked with a Dutch Oven...give yourself plenty of time to learn.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Golf 101

For those of you that don't know my oldest son Stephen got a job this summer working at one of the local Private Golf courses, and it's turned out to be a pretty sweet job...he gets to work at 5:00 am and is home by 2:00 or 3:00pm giving him the rest of the day to play. Anyway one of his "Benefits" or "Perks" is that he can get us onto the course for free. Now I know a lot of my friends would be driving out to "Pick him up" from work everyday, and maybe sneak in a few holes while they were out there. Me I've never played golf in my entire life, with the exception of PlayStation, which I'm pretty good at, so it can't be that hard...right?

(almost worth it just to drive around in the golf carts)

So this last Thursday Stephen, Justin and myself decided it was about time we gave it a hard can it be?

(a swing, and a miss... This seemed to happen alot)

The Golf course is on the very north end of the Springs and it takes about 20 minutes to get out there...the whole drive out it's threatening to rain...and all I can think about is that we are going to show up on the evening news, and the lead in to the story would be something along the lines of..."3 stupid golfer's were struck by lightning tonight..." I mean, you can only tempt fate so far, and I think your crossing a line somewhere when you go out into an open grassy area and raise metal rods up into the air in the middle of a thunderstorm.

Luckily for us by the time we got there it was just a drizzle and by the time we got to the first tee, it was beautiful weather...slightly overcast, no wind...the PERFECT weather for golf.

(I think Justin got 3 feet of this shot)

We stopped at the driving range to hit some balls, and get a "feel" for it...out of a basket of about 25 balls I think I got 2 to make it off the ground and out to the 100 yard marker. I'm not a hugely competitive person....I'm more the do it because I enjoy it, and try to do better each time. I also am not 18-20 years old anymore, and I figured I'd be doing well to just keep up with my boys, It was kind of nice to find out that I was actually a little better than them, at least I could hit the ball straight 90% of the time. (I wonder if "larger" golfers can get more weight behind a swing...hmm)

(I think this was one of my better shots...I actually chipped it onto the green...I felt very "Tiger Woodsish")

Anyway we teed off and decided that since this was the first time, and in an effort not to tick off the team behind us, that we would just play best ball, and not keep score (Thank you, Thank you, Thank you...we would still be out there looking for balls if we hadn't)

Just a few observations about golf.
  • I can see how people could get "VERY" frustrated trying to hit that stupid little ball.

  • I think if I play about 2000 holes I could probably get better.

  • If I had to pay, I would have to be better.

  • Spending time with my boys...priceless
Will I go again...Yeah sure I's worth it just to be with my boys, plus I think in another 2 or 3 days those muscles won't even hurt anymore.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ward Campout

Camping in Theory:
It's not that I don't like camping... The whole idea of camping is wonderful, I love it... getting away from civilization, all the pressures and stresses of everyday living, the opportunity to commune with nature and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, the chance to contemplate life and your relationship with the great creator ...I love the idea. The reality of camping is sometimes a whole different thing.

Getting Ready to Camp:
Have you ever been getting ready to move, and you have the nightmare where your loading the moving van, and no matter how many times you pack and rearrange all the items you just can't get them all in? ...welcome to Camping.

Getting ready to camp is the worst part of camping...I'm reminded of the Disney cartoon when Goofy and his son go camping, and they have everything they own strapped to the top of their we were heading up the canyon, we passed a van towing a trailer to hold all their "Gear", and I found myself thinking. "maybe I should consider getting a trailer"... How much Stuff do you have to take to spend one night in the wilderness?

I think I must have been spoiled as a scout, we used to camp in the desert, and we would throw some food items in our backpack, bring a ground cloth and a sleeping bag, and we were good to go for a couple of days at least. If we got hungry, then we knew to bring more beef jerky next time.

Once your married though the whole camping dynamic changes, now there's diapers, and formula, collapsible cribs and blankets, the list goes on an on... (luckily we've made it past that part of life, so now we have twice the room that we used to.)

And if we're keeping it real the whole age factor definitely does come into play, gone are the days where you scoop a little sand out of the ground to make a depression for your butt, and you roll up your jacket for a pillow, now you've got Air mattresses, blankets and real pillows to bring, you'll need chairs to sit on, and a table (or two) to put stuff on, flashlights, lanterns, and glow sticks (ostensibly to keep the bears away) and bug spray to ward of the bugs attracted by all the lights...and last but not least a cooler large enough to double as a small refrigerator with enough food and treats to feed a small army.

Somehow we managed to get it all in the Van...and we were Off to find Nirvana.

We arrived at the camp ground around 5:00 pm, and there was only 5 other family's there. I did some quick math (okay, I did some math) 5 families, average family size around 4 or 5 so that means 20-25 people, considering that there are 530 people in our ward, not a very good turnout. I didn't take into consideration that most people don't get off work until 5:00 so by 7:00 pm I had to redo my math... there were about 20 families, and 90% of them had children under the age of 5.

(Justin obviously didn't go hungry)

I've decided that camping and babies don't mix really well...they are kind of like land mines that are set to close to each goes off, and it sets all the others off. Needless to say I'm pretty sure there was a baby crying sometime during each hour of the night... (I have to take my wife's word on this, as I was so tired I fell asleep on my nice air mattress, with my warm blanket and soft pillow, and didn't hear a thing)

(First law of Camping: "You can't call it camping unless there's a campfire")

When all was said and done... we had a great time...Randie and I got to meet some people that we didn't know, Sarah got to play with her friends, and Justin had time to relax with some of his friends.

(Second Law of Camping: "You have to wear a hat") year I think we'll be packing it all up to do it again... I might even bring the Dutch oven this time.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Soccer Visit

Randie's nephew Chris ended up playing in a soccer tournament, and as luck would have it they ended up holding it right here in the Springs. We love it when family comes to visit because it's just our family and theirs....unlike when we go home and it's our family and 11 other family's. (not that we don't like to go home...we do. Sometimes though we get pulled in so many directions that we don't get much 1:1 time with anyone.)

The Tournament was held at the Air Force Academy, which is right at the foot of the mountains, and you can look out over the whole valley...very inspiring.

Chris's team the Rangers did exceptionally well and made it to the Championship match, which unfortunately they lost (the officiating left a little to be desired) and they ended up taking 2nd place.

It worked out well for us though, because our families got to spend some time together...Hopefully they will have another tournament here again in the future.

...I bet you can't guess who the soccer player is

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Utah, the Final Frontier

We just recently returned from our yearly pilgrimage to visit the place of our birth, and revisit our roots. With the rising cost of gas we were a little concerned about the cost of driving, normally it costs us just under $200.00 to make the 1200 mile round trip. This time it was $260.00 (it wasn't as bad as I initially thought it would be) the average price we paid was around $4.00/gal.

This year we had the added bonus of getting to see my Sister Melanie, who came in from Florida, it's been 3-4 years since the last time I saw her and her family. Plus my youngest sister Becky had just given birth to twins just before we came there was a lot going on... and since both of our families live in the same city, It quickly turns into a whirlwind, and by the time it's over your head is spinning so fast, you can't remember what's next.

All in all it was a great trip... we are looking forward to doing it again in November when Stephen leaves on his mission.

Here's a quick recap
  • 10 hour drive to get there
  • LeBaron family get together
  • Local swimming pool with Ron and his family
  • Short visit with Becky to see the twins
  • 2nd LeBaron family get together
  • Fireworks outside the Stadium
  • Baptism of Randie's Niece
  • Breinholt get together at Jodie's
  • Water sports with David (no one died)
  • Boys went Dirt Biking (still no deaths)
  • 10 hour drive home (me and Stephen... Randie, Justin, and Sarah stayed)
  • Camping with Breinholts
  • Kids went to Movie's to see Walle
  • other various visits and activity's
  • Randie, Justin and Sarah flew home
A few pictures...

The Twins

Fireworks on the 4th


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Garden's up and Growing

Yes, it's my favorite time of the year...just turning the corner from spring to summer, and my Garden is flourishing. If you didn't know already, I love to garden. We always had a garden growing up, in fact I can never remember a time that we didn't have a garden. I was always amazed at the whole process of planting a little seed and watching it turn miraculously into something wonderful.
When I was younger I loved to plant a row of radishes, because from seed to mature radish was like 3 or 4 that I have a little more patience I think tomato's are my favorite. (and of course pumpkins) We don't have ton's of space in our back yard so we made 3 grow boxes on the south side of our house, and we are putting in some raised flowerbeds along the back fence where I think I can sneak a pumpkin in hopefully next year.
I have to blame my mom for my green thumb, she was the driving force in our house to get the garden in, although it seemed that she tried several times to squash (no pun intended) my gardening enthusiasm by making us pull endless weeds (always in the blazing sun when it was 120 deg), and harvest rocks in the spring like they were potatoes. But amazingly somehow it stuck with me. I love to go out every morning and just see how things are one else in the family seems to have much of an interest, with the exception of Sarah, she loves to help me plant and harvest.
The cold weather seemed to last a couple weeks longer than I had hoped so I don't think I'll have tomatoes by July 4th, but we will definitely have zucchini by then.
I'll post updates occasionally so you can see how it goes. Happy Green thumbs!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Car Accident

Whenever the phone rings on Sunday morning It always makes me a little bit nervous, Usually it's someone from church who needs a last minute substitute for their primary or Sunday school class...or the Bishop want's you to talk in Sacrement meeting.

That was the first thing that went through my mind when the phone rang this morning, then I saw that it was Stephen calling, and I thought "whew, It's just Stephen"... however, the first thing he said is "Brady and I were just in an accident"...then all sorts of things went flashing through my mind...horrible things...the one good thing I thought was that at least it wasn't someone else calling to say that Stephen was in an accident...that would have been worse.
After making sure that they were both OK, I had him fill me in on what happened.

Stephen and Brady both work at one of the local golf courses, it's about 20Min's from our house and they take turns driving to save gas...Today it was Brady's turn to drive (they have to work every other Sunday from 5:00 am to 10:00 am, and then work full time during the week) they were on their way home and Stephen had fallen asleep (he was the passenger), unfortunatley Brady fell asleep also...Stephen woke up just after they went off the rode, when he realized what was happening he yelled at Brady, and then noticed they were headed straight for a light pole...Brady woke up and swerved, but it was to late to avoid hitting the pole...they did turn enough that they didn't hit it straight on but they still hit hard on the passenger side.

They both had their seat belts on (all of that yelling at them in the car for the past 18 years to put their seat belts on paid off) If they didn't they probably wouldn't have made it, they were going about 45 mph when they hit the light pole, and it totaled the car.

We feel very blessed that no one was hurt, they were both pretty shaken up, but it will end up being a good experience...allot of life's lessons aren't this painless...we are counting our blessings today.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Coconut Cake Mistake

Sometimes you just have to know where to draw the line. I must have a few defective genes somewhere in my makeup because when it comes to baking I sometimes get this overwhelming urge to "Make it from Scratch"... (and when I say make it from scratch I mean I'd have hen's outback laying the eggs if could sneak them past the city ordinances.)

It all started because I saw this show on the food network about how cakes today are just Styrofoam imitations of the "Real" cakes of yesteryear. So I decided last night around 5:00 pm that I was going to make a "Real" Coconut Layer Cake from Scratch.
I sat down and did some research, and made a list of ingredients...and was off to the store for some coconuts, and some coconut extract..(now this is how bad my affliction is...I read that instead of using the "Imitation" coconut extract, that you can make your own "real" extract by soaking freshly grated coconut in some vodka for a couple of was close, but I finally talked myself out of that, and forced myself to settle for the "Imitation" extract)

After getting back from the store, I got my variable speed drill and proceeded to drill out the eye's of the 2 coconuts I'd purchased, and Drained the water out of them for use later. I had read somewhere that you can crack coconuts with relative ease by popping them in the over for 15 in they went...and amazingly it worked really well...the meat pretty much popped right out. I peeled the outer layer off the meat, and ran it through the food processor to shred it...and now I was ready to start, I had my big bowl of freshly shredded coconut...and it was only 6:30 pm.

But, I still couldn't start on the cake batter because the recipe called for coconut milk, and coconut cream, both of which are derived by taking different amounts of freshly shredded coconut and combining it with boiling milk, then letting it sit for 1 hour (7:30) then running the mixture through the blender and then straining out the milk, or cream (8:00)

NOW... I'm ready to start...I have my Coconut water, my home made Coconut Milk, my home made Coconut Cream, my "imitation" Coconut Extract, plus a large bowl of freshly shredded Coconut.

I get the butter and sugar mixing, add the flour, baking powder, salt and the coconut milk and cream...then fold in some menage to make it a nice sponge cake...put it in the pans and pop them in the oven (8:30)....take pans out of the oven (9:10) looking good, let cake cool in pans (9:20) cakes fell from altitude sickness (sigh) worries, we've come this far so I have to finish, let cakes cool (10:00)...Start 7min frosting (that's what its called) and it was pretty close to 7 minutes...This is where I made my next mistake....I should have just used the 2 layers, but I had originally planned on splitting them for a 4 layer cake, but since they fell...I ended up with 2 half layers and some pieces. (10:15) sense in quitting now...frosted the first layer, put pieces together for the 2nd layer frosted that and added the last and final 3rd layer, frosted the whole thing...and finished at 10:30 pm...
So...$16.00 and 5 1/2 hours later I had a nice Coconut "mush" cake...I have to say that if the cake hadn't fallen it would have looked amazing, and I do have to say that it did taste REALLY GOOD, don't know if it was because after all that work I wanted it to taste good or if it really was that good.
Was it worth it...if it had turned out...probably...this go around I'm still debating...

Yes I'll probably make it again, BUT I'm going to buy Pre-Shredded coconut, and see if Walmart carries Coconut milk or cream (I'm thinking one or the other will do) and I'm pretty sure I can get it down to a respectable 2hrs instead of almost 6, I'll have to figure out how to deal with the altitude sickness, a little more flour should cure it.