December 31, 2008

Movie Night

With the kids out of school this week, we've been ancy to do something fun as a family. So, Jeni and I decided we would go to some movies we've been wanting to see. And did we ever. It took some careful planning, a few charts and maps and only one argument about shortcuts to successfully navigate our way, but we were able to squeeze in 3 consecutive movies. Our entire family caught the 5:15 Bedtime Stories, I left at about 6:15 to get us good seats for the 6:45 Valkyrie where Steve joined us (Jeni slipped out mid-movie to catch some of Twilight for the 3rd time), and then Joey and I stayed afterwards for the 9:15 Quantum of Solace. I can already hear your questions, so I will answer them for you.

Yes, we are crazy.

No, six hours worth of popcorn does not help your digestive system.

Yes, we bought tickets for each of the shows.

Yes, I got kicked out of Valkyrie before it started for arriving too early.

Yes, Bedtime Stories is a cute show. Small children will love it.

No, Quantum of Solace is not a cute show. Small children will not love it.

Yes, we had a great time.

December 30, 2008

Grandma Halliday's Doughnuts

This is a great recipe that has thankfully carried on through the years. Jeni's grandma on her dad's side was an amazing woman and from what I hear, an excellent cook. I knew her only briefly before she passed away many years ago but of her many legacies and traditions that live on, this is one of our favorites. Jeni's sister Rebecca and brother Steve and I made these the day after Christmas, complete with a flour and shortening battle. This recipe yields about 10 dozen doughnuts and holes.

4 cups sugar
4 tablespoons Crisco
4 eggs
10 cups Flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons nutmeg
4 cups buttermilk

1. In mixing bowl, cream together sugar and Crisco.
2. Add eggs and continue to cream.
3. Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.

4. Add 2 cups of the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and continue to mix together.
5. Add 1 cup of the buttermilk.
6. Continue alternating between the dry mixture and the buttermilk.
7. Remove dough mixture from bowl in small sections and add more flour if necessary to get proper texture before rolling out dough and cutting doughnuts out.

8. Add doughnuts to vegetable oil around 350 degrees.

9. Turn over when bottoms have browned slightly.

10. Let doughnuts sit on paper bags until fully drained of oil.
11. Throw flour in the face of the person on your left, then take a picture.

December 28, 2008

Quote 24

We read of spiritual efforts, and our imagination makes us believe that, because we enjoy the idea of doing them, we have done them. I am appalled to see how much of the change which I thought I had undergone lately was only imaginary. The real work seems still to be done. It is so fatally easy to confuse an aesthetic appreciation of the spiritual life with the life itself – to dream that you have waked, washed, and dressed, and then to find yourself still in bed.

C.S. Lewis, Yours, Jack, p. 16

December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve Fondue

Jeni and I hosted our 2008 Christmas Eve Fondue last night and there was a lot of food and a lot of family! We served meat fondue (chicken, beef and pork) using chicken broth with a blend of seasonings instead of oil, cheese fondue using cheddar, mozzarella, and buttermilk, and we also had a milk chocolate fountain running. Great times!

December 19, 2008

All I Want for Christmas

Maddy was invited to join a band for a Christmas recital a few days ago. They performed "All I Want for Christmas" and Maddy sang lead while her friends played guitar and drums. For only a few rehearsals they did amazingly well! The performance is below.

December 17, 2008

14 Years

This week Jeni and I celebrate our 14 year anniversary. It seems like yesterday that we were married in the Salt Lake Temple and its been a wonderful whirlwind ever since. We've had countless moves, several health challenges, career changes and the like and yet I think we'd both agree that we are happier now and closer to each other than we have ever been. I am so grateful for Jeni as she has been patient with my many imperfections and has been merciful and forgiving to me, especially when I have deserved that kindness the least. I married well above me and am very fortunate to have found such an amazing wife and true best friend. Among the many things she has taught me these last 14 years, I cherish her counsel on what it means to be a Christian and I will be forever grateful for her example, never forced but always there.

December 14, 2008

For Friends

December 13, 2008

Midnight Clear

My favorite song at Christmas time is Kurt Bestor's arrangement of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear." I don't know why, but more than any other song it makes me think of winter and snow and all the great things that come this time of year. I've enjoyed it for over 10 years and finally decided this year to learn it. Enjoy!

December 12, 2008


One of Jeni's talents is an amazing ability to decorate. She has a great sense about what colors, patterns, and fabrics go together and everywhere we've lived people have commented on her gift. Equally impressive is the transformation our house goes through during Christmas time, Jeni's favorite time of the year. Here are just a few pictures of Jeni's holiday decorating as well as our tree (above) and our 6'2" Santa (below).

December 11, 2008

Rockin' Down the Chimney

Here's a partial video of Maddy singing with her Center Stage VIP group. Each year they've done a different Christmas theme and this year it was Christmas in the 50's. Go Maddy!

December 10, 2008

A Christmas Carol

One of our annual holiday family traditions is going to Hale Theatre's "A Christmas Carol." There's just something about that play that brings us closer to the spirit of the season and we've enjoyed it as a family for many years. We went last week and had a great time. Hale's "Scrooge" is especially wonderful (pictured above) and does just as well as any of the movie version Scrooges. Speaking of the movie versions, I think we must own just about every one ever made but our collective favorite is the one starring Albert Finney.

The oddest one in our collection would have to be the Muppet version. I wonder how the Muppet franchise decides which movies they're going to do? Clearly there are some that just wouldn't make sense. Here would be our vote for the worst character pairings...

1. Animal as Yoda from Star Wars
2. Miss Piggy as Bella in Twilight
3. Kermit as the Joker in Dark Knight
4. Beaker as James Bond

December 09, 2008

Classic Skating

Our kids don't do big birthday parties with friends every year but with Maddy turning 13, we agreed this would be one of those years. She chose to have her party at Classic Skating in Orem, a place she has loved ever since we moved back to Utah. The picture above is the invitation that she passed out to 20+ friends, most of whom showed up on Friday night for 3 hours of skating fun including pizza, chocolate torte, games and of course, the "snowball." Maddy has some great friends and they spoiled her with some amazing presents.

December 07, 2008

Quote 23

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 56

December 06, 2008

Culinary Training

Today was a great day! For my birthday, Jeni signed me up for some gourmet cooking classes taught at the Culinary Education Center at Harmons Grocery. I didn't even know such a thing existed but my first class was today and it was fascinating! The class lasted for two hours, was hands-on, and we learned how to make Chocolate Ganache Truffles, Peanut Brittle, Toffee and Hard Candy. I have another class in a few weeks on Christmas Brunch items including...

1. Crab, Avocado, Brie and Hollandaise Omelet
2. Winter Citrus Salad With Tangerine Syrup
3. Yukon Gold & Pancetta Hash
4. Dried Apricot Almond Scones
5. Hot Mocha White Chocolate

I'll be sure to add the recipes to the blog as I learn them. I can't wait!

December 01, 2008


Last night we started Maddy's 13th birthday celebration. Yes, 13. Teenager. How did this happen that Jeni and I are parents of a teenager? I suppose Maddy eased us into this by acting like a teenager the last few years so we are ready. One of the main presents she asked for was getting texting back so after much debate and discussion, we agreed. The picture above is Joey's creative card. The pictures below show Maddy with her presents, posing, and singing happy birthday to herself. I've also included a video showing her opening her phone with a text message from T-Mobile wishing her a happy birthday and happy texting! Happy Birthday Maddy!