December 30, 2007

Were You There

Last Sunday, Maddy and Joey joined with 3 of our Bishop's family's children to sing a musical number in our ward's Christmas Program. Thankfully they came over within the next few days and we were able to record it. Enjoy!

December 28, 2007

Scene 2, Act 2

Hi it's Jeni. Ok, so Ro is enjoying this blog thing way too much. Sometimes I get on the blog just to check out what I have been up to lately. How embarrassing...(Joey in my pj's). Soo, I have decided to write one of my own. My version of things are always more accurate anyway.

Our 13th year anniversary this year was amazing. As you can see from the earilier blog we had some amazing food! Yes, that was fun to have the camera out every time the waitress came, but how could I be mad, the day was planned so well. Ro put on quite a show.

We began the day early so we stopped in at Mimi's Cafe (one of my favorite) for a salad. After being seated, Ro surprised me with a gift. It was our marriage certificate! That was exciting because after so many moves we had decided it was just lost - we had looked everywhere. I told him it was ok he could move on, but he said he wasn't sick of me yet and would stick around. Then by some miracle he found it! He surprised me with it and I got a little emotional. The waitress came over and saw the marriage certificate and asked if we just got married. Ro shared the story and how we had lost the certificate several years before and right before our eyes she burst into tears! Ok, well not burst but close. "Oh how sweet, he framed it and wrapped it. You should be husband of the year." She went on and on and caused quite a scene - I am suprised Ro didn't take a picture.

Then later that night when we were at La Caille (did I mention it was amazing?), Ro had 13 red roses waiting at our table when we sat down. Then, he pulled out this little box. I ya your present was just too big to bring in here so... um I'll have to um give it to you when we um... Anyway, inside the box was the prettiest diamond necklace. I was so excited that when our waitress came over I had to show her. She asked a few questions about our anniversary and before long she knew about how my vacation this year almost became permanent and how Ro was trying to do something extra special. Yep, you guessed it, tears began to well up and before long our waitress was wiping her eyes and excused herself. At this point I felt it necessary to tell Ro to keep quiet.

The rest of the night was great. We rode in a carriage around Salt Lake and shopped (Ro's favorite thing to do - not). It was one great date! I am so impressed that just thinking about the day brings tears to my eyes.
An Obedient Son

Last night Jeni asked Joseph "Will you run upstairs to get my PJ's?" Only what came out of Jeni's mouth was "Will you run upstairs to put on my PJ's?" We all laughed until Joseph, the obedient son (and resident practical jokster), came down, dressed in Jeni's PJ's.

I hurried to grab the camera and then the fun really began. The first picture below was actually like the 5th or 6th taken because every time I took the picture, the pants fell to the ground right in the middle of the shot. The second picture below shows the first time this happened, unbeknownst to Joey. You can see Maddy laughing hysterically in the background.


One of the traditions our family has enjoyed through most of our marriage is the Christmas Eve fondue. It has become more of a production each year and with the recent availability in the past few years of electric fondue pots, we've been able to do some really fun things.

For those of you that have never "fondued," its a relatively simple process. The most common home fondue consists of filling fondue pots with some sort of oil and then you dip pieces of pre-cut raw chicken, shrimp, beef, pork, etc. into the oil and wait a few minutes for it to cook. Dipping sauces are available and it is a lot of fun. The fun is not in the "getting full," its in the whole experience. You can also have a cheese fondue in which you can dip various vegetables, crackers and other items.

If you want a real fondue treat, try eating sometime at The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant that has become one of Jeni and my favorites. The meal there takes between 2-3 hours and it is a great experience. Jeni and I ate there just a few months ago with some good friends and so we were anxious to try some of their techniques at our own fondue. So, for the first year, we did not use oil and instead used a delicious broth recipe which included bay leaves, garlic, parsley, pepper, beef broth, red wine vinegar and french onion soup. Delicious! It was so much better than the oil - healthier and less messy.

During the evening we served about 40 people, mostly family, and it was a great time. Below are the pictures of the main fondue, the cheese fondue and vegetable table, a chocolate fountain that has become part of our tradition, and some pictures of the family. If you are in town next year and don't have plans Christmas Eve, come and join us!

December 23, 2007

4, 28 or a Horse

I'm not the most mechanically-minded person this world has seen. In fact, of the 520 million people living in North America, the 2007 "Most Mechanical" ranking had me at 519,998,788, which is a slight improvement over my 2006 ranking. Here are 3 reasons you know I'm not joking.

1. I actually once said that I would "screw in a nail."
2. I bought my first non-manual screwdriver about 3 years ago
3. Joey has had to make his own pinewood derby cars since joining scouts.

One of the blessings of relocating with work every few years is that it has, for the most part, hidden the inability of mine to do anything that involves a tool. When you've moved 10 times in 13 years and you're now in your 6th home, you're not really around long enough for things to start falling apart.

I say all this to set the stage for a project I undertook on Saturday. When we moved to our current home, we gave our dining table, hutch and chairs to a good friend and purchased a table that could be extended on both sides. We were using some chairs we'd purchased many years ago that belonged to a different table so we knew that at some point we'd have to find some new chairs. That happened about 3 weeks ago. Jeni found some beautiful chairs that "coordinated" with the other items in the kitchen ("coordinating" is in, "matching" is out Jeni insists).

The chairs were great but there was one problem. They were the height of barstools and so to sit at our dining table, you pretty much had to sit like you were riding a horse with your legs to the side. Having just moved from Texas, this was no problem for us at least through dinner but by dessert the cramps were unbearable. We knew that we had to either raise the table, lower the chairs or enroll in horesback riding lessons. I slowly did the math - 4 legs on the table, 28 legs on the chairs, or buying a horse. So I decided to fix the table... but how? Not wanting to let Jeni down, I promised her I knew what I was doing and would take care of it. She said ok and it sounded like she snorted, but she DID just get over a cold and still had some sniffles. I give her the benefit of the doubt.

Because I couldn't find a tape measure, I took an envelope and wrapped it around the bottom of the table leg and marked it with a pen and then I was off to Home Depot. My first thought (ok, my only thought) was to look for some long wooden poles to use like stilts (these were called dowel rods, pronounced like "vowel" but with a "D" - fascinating!) that I thought I could somehow glue onto the bottom of each of the 4 table legs. Unfortunately the widest ones they had were too skinny according to the Lumber Department Expert. He went on to say something about some wood and a drill and a hole and a sander and a table saw and a router. I don't think Home Depot trains body language or he would have clearly noticed that he had lost me at "wood." After pretending for about 10 minutes that I understood everything he said, I decided to walk around with my fingers crossed, hoping for the best.

Amazingly, I stumbled across a section for fence posts and found basically a round ball with a metal piece sticking out of it (allegedly called a screw). Something told me that this could work! I showed Jeni who was highly impressed and after borrowing a small metal thingy for my drill (supposedly called a drill bit) from a good friend, I went to work. I closed my eyes and before I knew what was happening I had drilled some holes, squirted some wood glue and dumped some paint and whalaa! I was done!

Now I know when you see the finished product, you'll be tempted to say "Wow, the table looks like it came that way! There's no way Ro could have done this. I'm sure Jeni or Maddy or Joey did it all." But for you skeptics, I've included pictures below. The first is the "Before" shot from nearly a year ago. The next picture is the "After" shot - the raised table with the new chairs. The last picture is a closeup of one of the legs.

So if you ever get in a bind and need some help fixing anything in your home, call me anytime and I'll see what I can do. The number is toll free (800) PUR-LUCK, or local call (801) FAL-APRT or (801) ITL-BRAK.

December 19, 2007

La Caille

With my recent passion for gourmet cooking, I was excited to go to La Caille, Utah's top French restaurant, for Jeni and my 13th Wedding Anniversary. French for 'The Quail', La Caille is nestled stream-side in the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon and has won 12 consecutive AAA Four Diamond Awards. It sits on over 20 acres of beautiful property and it was all lit up for Christmas.

I think Jeni is going to write about the Anniversary part later so I'll focus this entry on the restaurant and the food. Yum! Next to each picture in red will be the description of our food from the menu and then following you'll see my take on it. I'm sure Jeni didn't think it was very romantic to have me pulling the camera out every time a new dish came out but I couldn't help myself. She's been putting up with me for 13 years for which I'm very grateful.

The Entrance
This was the front entrance of the restaurant, amazingly decorated as you can see. We wish we could have arrived earlier in the day to see the rest of the grounds but just the lights around the restaurant were worth it. The restaurant was way up in the foothills so there wasn't anything else around which made for a very romantic setting, plus it was snowing!

Paté D' Jour
The finest French Paté selection served with onion, aioliand toasted baguette. Paté is French for paste and the Paté here were varieties of goose, duck and some other kind of liver. It reminded me of Braunschweiger, a paste I ate growing up. Delicious!

Shaomai Dumplings
Vegetable filled dumplings served in a warm chinois broth with slurping noodles. The dumplings were very much like traditional potstickers but a little more crisp. The broth was a bit spicy and the noodles started firm but softened up . We didn't dare slurp them, but I wanted to!

Roquefort Salad
Crisp Romaine Hearts, Roquefort and Asiago. This was a great salad, especially because of the crumbled Roquefort but the presentation was fun too. The asiago dressing was tangy and a bit tart.

Avocado Salad
Avocado, Crab and Grapefruit Salad. The presentation on this one was amazing with the very thinly sliced avocado forming the foundation. The grapefruit and crab combo was a great taste!

Tournedos du Beef Béarnaise
Grilled Tenderloin tips with Bearnaise and Portabella Mushroom. This was my dinner and it was amazing. The meat was incredibly tender and the Bearnaise sauce (similar to Hollandaise) put it over the top. The mushrooms were very tasty too as were the potatoes au gratin.

Filet Cafe de Paris
Charbroiled Filet Mignon, Roquefort and a sauce of Armagnac & moutard. This was Jen's dinner and I had to try a bit of course. The meat was the best I've ever tasted and it was topped with an amazing Roquefort butter.

Trio of La Caille Desserts
A miniature sampling of our favorite desserts: Creme Brulee, Chocolate Chantilly Cake & Baked Alaska. A perfect end to a perfect, once every 13 year meal.
Xtreme Kids

We are thankful that Maddy has taken after Jeni in many ways, one of which is her wonderful ability to sing and perform. After several years of being without a group, Maddy joined the Xtreme Kids vocal performing group at Center Stage Studios in Orem, UT. Its been a great experience for her and she has learned a lot.

Attached are a few clips from a couple of the group's recent Christmas performances. Go Maddy!

December 09, 2007

The Lights at Temple Square

Over the weekend we visited Temple Square with Bob and Carin and our families. The lights there at Christmas time are just amazing - you have to see it to experience the wonder of it. The Church website advertises 100's of thousands of lights and it looks like it! Jeni and I both realized as we walked the grounds that just one year ago we made this same trip but with Jeni in a wheelchair, unable to walk more than just a few feet. We were both very grateful to commemorate the one year anniversary of that trip with a much healthier Jeni, especially knowing everything she had been through this last year. To celebrate this year, she went shopping with Carin afterwards! Here are just a few pictures of our families and of the grounds.


Madelyn turned 12 this month and was very excited to join the Young Women's program at Church! The first picture shows Maddy holding her Young Women's medallion. The second is of her and her friends at her birthday party where they celebrated by doing a scavenger hunt at the local mall.

December 02, 2007

2007 Pinewood Derby

Joey entered the Ward's Cub Scout Pinewood Derby a few weeks ago and his entry was one of over 20 cars. Other than me sawing the car to Joey's specifications, he did everything else including the paint job, picking the driver, etc. His is the black car with the yellow and white stripes and the lego driver with the sideway's hat.

After racing the car, it was pretty clear that some of the dads had just as much fun (or more) as the kids working on their cars. There were some amazingly fast cars and Joey's didn't quite compare. But, it was a fun experience for all the boys and I was proud of Joey for doing most of this on his own.

Here is a video of one of his races. His car is on the left of the screen.