March 30, 2009

Jeni's Top 10

In the style of David Letterman, here are Jeni's top 10 reasons why breaking her foot wasn't really so bad......

10. This was an example that Heaven hears us, even our smallest complaints. I had just been murmuring about never being able to find the matching shoe. And, Payless has agreed to extend their discount to "Buy one shoe, get the second shoe 1/2 off."

9. We were just saying how we need to get rid of all my medical equipment I'm not using anymore. Well now, I'm using it. Waste not, want not.

8. I met a girl at the foot doctors who is going to have me make hair pieces for her wedding. That's like $20 - so worth it!

7. I've never had so many compliments on my pedicure.

6. Everyone should learn how to shower with a plastic bag and duct-tape.

5. For 8 weeks I only have to shave one leg. That's a major money and time saver. For example, it takes 20 minutes to shave my legs normally. Now it only takes 10. That's 10 minutes of hot water saved, not to mention the reduced costs of shaving cream and razors. I figure I'm saving at least $5 a month. Ro is so proud of me. We had been talking about ways to cut back.

4. I needed something to take my mind off my everyday problems.

3. A girl always wants to bring attention to her best features and lets face it, my right ankle is smokin'!

2. This was a creative way to get insurance to cover straightening out those unsightly metatarcils.

And the number one reason why breaking my foot wasn't such a bad thing...............

1. I was able to add to my list of medical issues on special occasions. I've had a D&C on Mother's day, had my bladder fall out on Halloween, had a hysterectomy on Valentine's day and scheduled a hand surgery on Christmas Eve. All I was missing was something on Friday the 13th, and this took care of it. Let's hear it for accomplishing goals!

March 29, 2009

Quote 29

There is always some peace in having submitted to the right. Don't spoil it by worrying about the results, if you can help it. It is not your business to succeed (no one can be sure of that) but to do right: when you have done so, the rest lies with God...

C.S. Lewis, Yours, Jack, p. 45

March 28, 2009

Joey's Workout

Last weekend Joey and I completed our workout area by getting a weight-lifting set and moving our treadmill and elliptical machine into the garage. While working out with his friend Tyler last night, they videotaped themselves in a unique way. It reminded me of Tim Conway's "Dorf" videos from the Carol Burnett show which are still classics 20+ years since they were made. Here is Joey, "Dorflike" walking on the treadmill and using an exercise ball.

March 27, 2009

Book Club Dinner

Last night Jeni hosted her monthly book club get-together and I got to cook everyone seven yummy courses. Favorites were the cheese crisps, the sorbet and the wedge salad. Below is a picture of the group and the menu. Fun night!

Pictured (L-R), Top - Carin Halliday, Becky Swasey, Heather Reid, Amy Latimer, Jennifer Sitterud, Bottom - Jen, Rachelle Chiang, Kim Atkin, Jennifer Keeler, Not pictured - Stacie Lewis

1. Asiago cheese crisps, boursin, fresh raspberry
2. Brie en croute, blackberry jam, toasted pecans
3. Wedge salad, blue cheese, buttermilk, bacon, tomatoes, red onion
4. Homemade orange peel sorbet
5. Caramelized apple stuffed chicken breast, fontina, bing cherries
6. Risotto, parmesan, tomato, asparagus
7. Crème brulee, brown sugar, vanilla, chocolate lemon truffles

March 25, 2009

Casting Impressions

This is Jeni's foot after the pins and screw had been inserted.

This is Jeni's foot after the Doctor wrapped it in a cast.

This is Jeni's foot after she and Maddy decopaged and decorated it.

Who knew you could do that? I think that what Jeni did is very symbolic. Regardless of the trials Jeni has faced, she has always tried to find the positive in it and to make the best out of a bad situation. If she was going to have to look at her cast for many weeks, then she was going to have fun with it and make it as enjoyable as possible. I seriously think she should advertise her services for her cast decorating talent. She could call the business "Casting Impressions!" What girl wouldn't want their cast all decked out like this?

March 15, 2009

Cast On

Early Thursday morning, around 1:30am, I received a call from home in my hotel room in Denver where I was traveling on business. Late night calls from home like this are never a good sign. Joey was on the phone and I could hear Jeni groaning in a lot of pain in the background. "I think mom broke her foot. She slipped in your room and fell on it trying to catch herself." Thankfully cousin Kara and her husband had been staying with us and they took her into the emergency room. By 2:30am I was at the Denver airport and by 6:00am I was on a plane home. By 11:00am we were in the Podiatrist's office where x-rays were retaken and we were told that Jeni had broken 4 metatarcils. By 5:30am the next morning Jeni had 3 pins and screw inserted into her foot. On Tuesday the cast will be removed, infection will be checked for, and a permanent cast will be set and will remain for 6-8 weeks.

My poor wife. After all of her other health challenges and now this! It is amazing to be by her side through this though. She is the one making the nurses and Doctor's laugh and making sure they're doing alright. In a time where she is most uncomfortable and in extreme pain, she is most caring and kind. What an example.

As a side note, did you look carefully at the picture above? If you look closely at Jeni's left, non-injured, leg, you'll notice the word "No!" written in Sharpie by the Podiatrist. A few seconds before, he had written "Yes!" on the other leg, indicating to the medical staff which leg to numb up. I wasn't feeling too confident after watching this happen. Seriously, we're able to fly men to the moon, see through telescopes into distant galaxies, send messages around the world in the blink of an eye, dissect the smallest particles of matter and yet we still need a "No!" written in black Sharpie to make sure the medical staff puts the anasthetic in the right leg. Somebody help me out with this!

March 12, 2009

Who Does That?

Since I have taken up gourmet cooking as a pretty serious hobby, I've received an interesting mix of responses. Some people have loved getting the recipes, some have enjoyed the meals I've made and some have asked "Gourmet cooking? Who does that?" Maybe the question gets asked because I'm a guy and guys aren't supposed to be in the kitchen. Or maybe it's because many of the foods I am making are not on a typcial family menu. Either way, this post is an attempt to answer that question not just for those asking, but for myself. What is it about gourmet cooking that has grabbed my attention? I believe it is based on my love for four things.

I have always loved a good meal and I have always surrounded myself with food. If I look back at the jobs I had growing up, almost all of them seemed to center around food in some way. I worked as a lifeguard and assistant tennis coach at Somerset Pool but my favorite shift was working at the snack bar. Nothing could beat those long red licorice ropes on a hot day. I later worked at Target in the toys section but enjoyed mostly hanging around the snack bar and buying things out of the vending machines. Eventually I worked at the Seattle Temple as the night manager in the cafeteria and made mashed potatoes with more butter than I should have. Later it was Dominoes pizza where I worked as a delivery driver and Jeni and I enjoyed the extra pizzas available at the end of the night. And now I've worked in Human Resources for Wendy's for the last 10 years. I love the textures of foods, the presentation, the smell, the science, and of course the taste! I know we all have to eat but I really like eating (all things in moderation of course.)

For two years our family lived in Houston, Texas where I worked in HR for a gourmet restaurant chain owned by Wendy's. This restaurant served delicious gourmet food and I loved spending time with the Director of R&D who was an amazing chef. There's something about learning new cooking skills and techniques that fascinates me. She taught me about the components that make up a great recipe and I was able to watch the chefs at work almost every day. Their food was unbelievable and a desire to start making that kind of food grew within me. When we moved back to Utah I started taking cooking classes at Harmon's and I still hope to take many more. And the learning doesn't stop there. It's not uncommon for me to ask the waiter to ask the chef about recipes and ingredients when we're eating at a restaurant, even though it embarrasses everyone at the table, Maddy and Joey especially. Of course I don't hear their complaints later on when I play around at home and try to recreate the dish!

Many of the recipes I am learning contain time-sensitive steps, require you to follow very specific instructions and to watch temperatures carefully. I love that! I've always been a planner and this allows me to combine my love for organizing things with my love for eating. I love doing dinner parties which require serious organizing and planning including mapping out my timing for the prep and production down to 5 minute intervals in some cases. When you're serving up 6-7 courses, nobody wants cold food! I find this very challenging but very rewarding.

Lastly, I am a believer that working with food is like creating a piece of art. Though my talents in this area are still extremely amateurish, it has become a creative outlet for me that I thoroughly enjoy. I think that's why I love shows like Chopped or Iron Chef or Top Chef. There is so much creativity and there's almost an unlimited amount of combinations that one can make with different ingredients. At some future day I hope to be able to create dishes on my own without following recipes. I'm sure they would all contain blue cheese in some shape or form but oh well!

So there you have it. A straightforward answer to the simple question - "Who does that?" I think it's important that we all do things we enjoy in our lives and what's better than sharing those things we love with friends and those we care about? So, if you're ever in the area and are hungry for something fun, give us a call or just come on over! See you in the kitchen!

March 09, 2009

Chin Puppets Revisited

You may remember the chin puppet escapade last year when Jeni and her sister-in-law Whitnie got a little crazy late one Missouri evening. Well, the fun continued here last night after I had gone to bed. I woke up to find the videos below on our camera. I could not stop laughing! The first is Maddy, the second Joey.

March 08, 2009

Draper Temple Open House

This week we were able to take Maddy and Joey to the Draper LDS Temple Open House. Before an LDS Temple is dedicated, it is open to the public (member and non-member alike) for a tour that takes visitors through every room in the Temple. This is the second time we've been able to take the kids to a such an Open House, the first being several years ago in San Antonio, Texas. Even before a Temple is dedicated, there is a wonderful feeling and Spirit there. Both Maddy and Joey felt it and it was a memorable experience for all of us. I think it is so great that that the Church opens up its Temples to the world in this way, showing that we have nothing to hide. The Temples and the work that goes on in them is not secret but sacred. All the world is invited to come and partake. Once a Temple is dedicated, all members of the Church of age who are meeting worthiness standards are able to attend and enjoy the blessings there.

Since this has turned into somewhat of a spiritual post, I'll just share that I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now for over 18 years. I count my membership in the Church one of the greatest blessings in my life and I am grateful for the lives of friends that helped me find the Church, especially the Klann family who played an instrumental role in my conversion. My sister also joined the Church many years ago and is happily married to a great guy and has four wonderful children. Having joined as a Freshman in college, I am grateful I joined early enough in my life to have been able to serve a two year mission to the Washington DC, Northern Virginia area, an experience that has deeply blessed my life to this day.

I love Jesus Christ with all my heart and am grateful for His life, His example, and His atoning sacrifice in my behalf. I am grateful for Joseph Smith who, under the Lord's direction, restored the Lord's Church to the Earth in these latter-days to prepare for the Savior's coming. I am thankful also to have a living Prophet today, Thomas S. Monson, who leads the Church, and for his counselors and other Apostles who stand by his side. And I am thankful for the Book of Mormon which, along with the Bible, testifies of Christ. I am grateful to have been married in the Temple, sealed for time and eternity to Jeni as well as our children. It is hard for me to put into words my feelings about my membership in the Church but this week, in the Temple, those feelings came to the surface again in a very real and very tangible way. Thank Heaven, literally, for Temples.

March 07, 2009

Dinner Party

Last night Jeni and I hosted a dinner party for our friends the Shockleys and Disbrows. I served up 7 courses and of all the meals we've done so far, I think this one came together the best, especially with a brand new dessert - chocolate and raspberry lava cakes. I'll be posting several of the recipes within the next week. Thanks Shockleys and Disbrows for a fun night - remember, "They're in the Ward!" Here was the menu:

1. Asiago cheese crisps, boursin, raspberries
2. Brie en croute, blackberry jam and toasted pecans
3. Wedge blue cheese salad with buttermilk, bacon, tomatoes and red onion
4. Homemade orange peel sorbet
5. Caramelized apple stuffed chicken breast with fontina cheese and dried bing cherries
6. Creamy risotto with tomatoes, asparagus and parmesan
7. Chocolate and raspberry lava cakes with vanilla ice cream

March 05, 2009

Dads and Doughnuts

Joey's elementary school has an annual "Dads and Doughnuts" event where dads accompany their kids to school to read to them while eating school provided doughnuts. It's a great tradition - one that we've been doing since we moved back to Utah. Except that as Joey has gotten older there seems to be more doughnut eating and less reading. In fact, this year there was no reading at all, yet plenty of doughnuts. Nothing like keeping your priorities straight! This is the last year of this tradition since Joey moves on to Jr. High next year with Maddy. What will this elementary school do without this joker around?!

March 02, 2009

Ward Couples Party

Jeni was recently called as the activities committee chairman in our ward. She and her group teamed up with the Relief Society to plan a chocolate fondue to follow a Relief Society couples fireside at the Church but because of a last minute scheduling conflict, we ended up doing the dessert portion at our house, complete with a nursery in the basement. It was a lot of fun and we had two chocolate fountains going and about 25 couples here. Below are some pictures of the night.

And of course, no party would be complete without one of the hosts spilling chocolate fondue all over himself in one of many clumsy acts that evening.