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"Comedy has to be based on truth. You take the truth and you put a little curlicue at the end."

Sid Caesar

07 Apr Posted by in Living | Comments

From Spring to Winter and back again

We are spending Conference weekend up at our good friends, the Whiting’s, cabin in the Uintah Mountains. By we, I mean everyone but Brandon and Annie who are spending the week in San Francisco with Annie’s family. How dare they choose a really fun week in California over hanging with us. Oh, and Maddie’s husband Jeff is also MIA as he has to go for three weekends in a row out camping for a geology class. He brings home rocks – and Susan gets excited about them as well – go figure.

Anyway, it’s interesting to go from spring in Utah Valley to a place where snowmobiles are still needed to get to the cabin. Though we have been to this fantastic, beautiful place many times, this is the first time the care taker of the cabin area (called Uintah) happened by and offered to haul us and all of our paraphernalia up to the cabin in his suburban with tracks on it.

Loved that machine. I’ve always wanted a snow cat type of vehicle – they go anywhere. It’s a guy thing. I also want a tractor w with a back how and a bucket. Not sure why – a just want to be able to dig huge holes and move lots of dirt. If I had one, I’d probably re sculpt my back yard every two weeks. So maybe it’s good I don’t have one.

In between Conference sessions on Saturday, we went snowmobiling. It’s great in the spring because the air is much warmer. Nick got to learn to drive a snowmobile.

My niece Sarah, who came with us got to learn to drive as well. This photo is of Sabrina and I after a long ride.

The highlight – beyond the tons of food – was riding snowmobiles in full suites to get to the Priesthood session in Evanston, Wyoming. Down close to the cars we had to go through huge puddles, and over stretches of mud to get there and the suits stayed clean! Brittany Whiting caught this picture of Nick and I as we headed out. Overall, and great weekend with great friends and family.

18 Mar Posted by in Living | Comments

Where did the time go?

Okay, so I’ve been slothful at writing again. Well, about Christmas time, Madison got engaged, and on March 9th, she got married to Jeff Selck. Here’s a photo or two of the big day.


Of course with this being our second daughter to marry in a six month timeline, we ended up do A LOT of the wedding ourselves. What that means is that if I wasn’t working on wedding stuff, I was feeling very guilty about not working on wedding stuff, which caused me to not keep up the blog. But I will do better, I promise!

About a week before the wedding, we helped Brandon and Annie move out of our basement and into their new home. In the same day, we then moved Amber and Mark from their apartment into our basement and then we moved Maddie’s and Jeff’s stuff into the apartment than Amber and Mark vacated. I’m getting too old for this. To be more accurate, I can still do it, and in fact did it, I just whine more.

The night before the wedding, after we got the decorations up for the reception, Susan and I washed and dried just a few strawberries… just one of about 10 things we had available or dipping in two chocolate fountains. Hard to go wrong with two kinds of chocolate!

For the record that dining room table seats 10 people. That’s a lot of strawberries. The wedding day was great and we are slowly recovering and reclaiming our house from wedding décor.

01 Jan Posted by in Favorites, Living | Comments

The year that has passed

One of the reasons I started this blog this past year was to have a release for the writing I like to do. Every now and again, I even wax poetic. This morning I woke up, looked out the window and this was the view that I saw.

Yeah, it became one of those poetic moments. So with that as a backdrop. Here’s what I was thinking this morning.

As I woke up this morning to face a new year,
I can’t help but think of the year that has past.
There have been so many ups and downs,
that I can scarcely believe it has ended at last.

My career has definitely been a roller coaster ride,
with some good things, but challenges I dread.
Yet I know life doesn’t revolve around me or my wife,
as our family’s lives keep moving ahead.

My eldest Brandon and his wife, both graduated,
now have new careers they’ve begun.
While finding work was a challenge to be sure,
they’ve now purchased a new home – so fun!

Amber had an amazing year to be sure,
which started by finding the job of her dreams.
Just after that she found her dream man,
married him and is deliriously happy, it seems.

Madison graduated from high school with scholarship in hand,
and we nearly lost her to a rare medical condition.
A miraculous recovery, dream job, and man of her own,
She’s engaged and Jeff will be our latest family addition.

Sabrina turned sixteen in the spring of last year,
and I was the one who taught her to drive.
Along with the license she was so happy to get,
brought on dating which her mom and I hope to survive.

Our youngest, Nick, is now the age of fourteen,
eating more times a day than a hobbit would dine.
He love physics, music and video games,
and his voice is now lower than mine.

As I think of the events of the year that has gone,
I try to anticipate the year that starts anew.
The thing I know for sure is that despite all my plans,
what will happen… I haven’t a clue!

27 Dec Posted by in Food, Recipes | Comments

Dutch Oven Sausage Stuffing Recipe

This is my favorite stuffing recipe. I suppose it could be made without using a Dutch oven, but what would the fun be in that? The ingredients are as follows:

  • 2 ½ lbs pork sausage
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 onions – dice in ½” square pieces
  • 24 oz. sliced bread, dry and cubed
  • 6 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Directions:

Brown the pork sausage in the bottom of a 12” Dutch oven of the deep variety. Add the celery and onions once the sausage begins to brown. Sauté until the onions are clear and all the meat is cooked through. Now add the bread, butter and all the spices. Stir until the bread is covered with the butter and the spices are evenly distributed. Cook at 350° using even heat for around 30 minutes.

23 Dec Posted by in Living | Comments

It’s Official… Maddie is Off the Market!

For those of you that are wondering how Madison is doing since her near death experience of being in the hospital for 10 days and dealing with SMA… well, not only did she gain the weight she needed, but she has now gained a fiancé! That’s right, my little girl that got better, got a great job, got a car, and got an apartment… and got a man! Last night Jeff Selck proposed and she said yes!

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Maddie has been doing a happy dance for the past 24 hours. We’ve known for a while, since Jeff asked Susan and me for permission to ask her about a week ago.

The ring took a few days to get built, which was the reason for the delay. Speaking of the ring, here it is on her finger. It’s a nice one. The wedding day is March 9 in the Mt. Timpanogos Temple. If you are keeping track, that means two daughters getting married less than 7 months apart! Yeah, no stress here. We love Jeff and are very happy for them both. As I mentioned a few posts back, they met at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, when Jeff trained Madison on her duties when she is assigned to the Psych Ward.

While Maddie plans on becoming a nurse, Jeff who has already double majored at BYU in Russian and Physiology & Developmental Biology (the boy is pretty smart to say the least) is actually getting a Master’s degree in Geology. So, Jeff rocks – literally. Susan teaches all about rocks in her curriculum in 4th grade, which means there are many rock discussions at our house. They discuss metamorphic, conglomerate and the like, while I still prefer Led Zepplin, Cheap Trick, etc. So we have rock covered. Anyway, that’s the news at the Phillips for this weekend.

22 Dec Posted by in Food, Recipes | Comments

Dutch Oven Turkey Recipe

I love doing a turkey in the Dutch oven. So many people end up with dry, tasteless bird when they cook a turkey. That does not happen with this recipe. When I do a turkey, it is all about taste, not looks. In fact, I carve the bird and serve it on platters, so no one even sees the finished product in the oven.

One tip is to cook your bird upside down so the breast is cooked in juices the entire time. That’s what I’ve done here. If you don’t have a Dutch oven big enough (I use a 17” extra deep Maca oven that will hold a 30 lb. bird), you can do this in a roaster oven and use a cooking back to keep the moisture in. If you do use the Dutch oven, the moisture is kept in without using a cooking bag.

Here is a list of the things you will need:

  • Turkey – I like a 22 lb fresh Tom
  • 1 cube of butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 3 sprigs of fresh sage
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 4 heads of garlic (around 20-25 peeled cloves)
  • 2 cups of water
  • Large syringe

Directions:

Clean out the turkey and remove the neck, gizzard, etc. that come with the bird. Stuff the main cavity of the turkey with the onions and garlic cloves.

Using ½ the stick of butter, cover the outside of the turkey. Salt and pepper the outside as well.

Take the remaining half stick of butter and add it to the chicken stock in a pan and melt the butter into the stock. Fill the large syringe (I use an epidural syringe I got from a nurse that works in labor and delivery) with the chicken broth/butter fluid and inject the broth into all meaty parts of the bird. The skin will plump up everywhere you inject the turkey.

Add the water to the bottom of the pan, place the turkey in upside down (breast down) and cover with the fresh herbs. Don’t worry is some of the herbs fall into the water at the bottom of the pan, we use the flavored juices at the end.

Cover the oven with the lid and cook at around 350° for 3 hours using even heat (slightly more coals on top than bottom). I tend to make the oven a little hotter in the first hour of cooking and go with a lower heat for the remainder of the time. Because my oven is so deep, it takes around 25% more coals than the usual formula to get the heat I want.

The key is to use a meat thermometer to check your meat temperature. When the breast meat is at 170°, your turkey is done! Make sure you do not overcook it. When the bird is done pull it out of the oven (probably in pieces as the meat falls off the bone!) carve the meat and place it on serving platters that have a bit of an edge to them. Now, using a ladle, pour some of the juices from the pan over all the meat before serving. This will be one juicy turkey!

15 Dec Posted by in Living | Comments

I’ve been a bad boy

Okay, I’ve been bad, really bad. It’s been a few months since I’ve posted here in my blog. I’ve been meaning to, but life got crazy and hard, and stressful and well, I just should have caught up but didn’t. I’ve had a picture of Maddie on the front page with tubes out her nose for way too long. I’ll do better and keep this up more regularly – promise.

With that lame apology out of the way, let me just catch up with high lights. First, Madison is doing MUCH better. Her weight is where is should be and she did not have to have that horrible surgery. She has moved into an apartment, is doing great in college at UVU and loves her job as a Certified Nursing Assistant at UVRMC. She gets to move around from floor to floor and do all sorts of things. Oh, and she has a boyfriend! They met on the job at the hospital, as he trained her on how to do work in the hospital’s psych department. How many people can say they met their boyfriend in a psych ward?

Amber got married in August to Mark McEntire. They are very happy and we love seeing them every chance we get. Amber just graduated from UVU and has been working for an Engineering firm full-time for that past nine months or so. She loves it, loves Mark (as do we), and loves being graduated. Too bad Mark still has a few years of schooling to go.

Brandon and Annie have purchased a new townhome in Saratoga Springs, very close to where Annie works. They will move in toward the end of January. We are happy for them, but will miss having them in the house.

While I still do a little consulting, I have turned most of my energy into the training business. I’ve partnered with my former partner Ron Tracy, who has stayed in the training world since I left several years back. I don’t know what possessed him to want me back, but it’s been great working with him. I just taught a leadership class this past week for a new client up in Logan and had a blast. I will focus on the sales and marketing and Ron will do most of the training, but I do like getting out and teaching on occasion. I’m looking forward to building the business. So that’s a general catch up on life. Don’t worry, I’ll still be talking about food a lot, as well as life in general. Not much biking going on in the winter, I’m afraid.

Oh, speaking of that… I’ve started another website called DutchOvenTopia.com. It’s just about Dutch Oven cooking. I’ve got some initial content there and will be adding more on a regular basis for those that are Dutch Oven fans.

27 Jul Posted by in Living | Comments

She’s home!

After 10 long days in the hospital, we were able to bring Madison home from the hospital on Wednesday night. On Tuesday, she got the NG tube out, (the one that pumps out bile from her stomach). She has gained around 9 lbs since she was admitted. My guess is that 4 or 5 lbs is just from rehydrating her.

She will have the feeding tube in for another 5 weeks or so, but life is much better for her here. A home health nurse came and trained us on what to do for her. She even has a backpack that will take her bags of food, pump, etc. with her and she can go mobile when she needs to. Madison was positively giddy when she got the pack set up and was able to roam the house for the first time. Here she is attached to her I.V. stand (I’ll bet you don’t have your very own like she does!)

We all love having her home for a myriad of reasons. Here is my top 10 list:

  • Madison is doing much better! (That’s the one that counts)
  • The hospital room only had room for one chair.
  • Susan no longer has to sleep in that one chair.
  • We don’t have to eat any more hospital cafeteria food.
  • Nurses don’t wake Maddie up all night.
  • I don’t have to drive back and forth to the hospital several times a day.
  • Our other kids are no longer orphans.
  • My TV is MUCH bigger than the one in the hospital.
  • We get to see weather again.
  • No one has asked me “can I get you anything?” for a whole day.

We are very hopeful that all of this will work well and she won’t have to have the surgery. We feel very blessed to be where we are. Thanks again for all the love and support everyone has shown us. I’ll update you again in a few weeks when there is something new. But, do come back for my usual rants, won’t you?

23 Jul Posted by in Living | Comments

Maddie update #2

Well, here we are on day eight of Madison’s incarceration here at UVRMC. Today they are blocking her NG tube (which sucks bile out of her stomach) for six hours and then draining it for one to see how much bile she is really producing. Since the NG tube uses suction and bile is produced in the intestines, they weren’t sure if bile was being pulled from the intestines as well as the stomach. Once the bile production is down enough, they can pull that horrible tube out of her, leaving just the smaller, more flexible feeding tube. The feeding tube by the way, may be in as long as six weeks. Can you imagine not eating or drinking for six weeks? Weird. Once the NG tube is out, she can come home. That could be tomorrow, but likely Wednesday. We just won’t know until the doctors tell us.

Yesterday, they put a PICC line in her because her small veins kept bursting when they tried to put the IV’s in. A PICC line goes into a larger vein in the upper arm and a small tube is inserted which is 35 cm long. It almost reaches her heart. That’s much better than the IV’s and she is happy about that.

So, what do people give a girl in the hospital that can’t have food? In my last post you saw the stuffed animals… but the real winner usually is – flowers! She’s been here long enough that I had to throw one arrangement out already. But as you can see, there are plenty left.

The room here is very small and we have fun trying to fit people when visitors drop by. One guest fainted last night from locking her knees as she stood by the bed. A beautiful face plant into the mattress! Maddie has her own tree of goodies that goes with her as we take walks around the floor or goes anywhere else. Amber put a Christmas tree ornament on it.

I think Madison is getting tired of having everything that goes in or comes out of her getting measured. In the toilet they use this thing.

It’s called a hat. Not one I’d like to wear. Since Maddie is a CNA, she deals with that on her own… the staff likes that, I’m sure. So that’s the latest on the Maddie Watch. Hopefully my next report will be with her home!

19 Jul Posted by in Living | Comments

Update on Madison

Many of you may know that since my last post, we have been dealing with Maddie’s medical condition. I’ll spare you too much detail but after three days, countless times of her throwing up and Susan’s relentless pursuit of a doctor who would listen and consider that this was NOT the flu, Maddie has a very rare condition called SMA Syndrome. In fact, it is the rarest of all gastro-intestinal diseases, with only 500 cases in recorded history. The mortality rate from this is one in three. We almost lost her, but thanks to Susan’s persistence, she found a doctor that would listen and ultimately saved Maddie’s life. I strongly suggest you go to wikipedia and look up “SMA Syndrome.” There is a great explanation there with diagrams and everything.

In short, her small intestine was completely blocked or choked off by the SMA artery which pinches the intestine off where the artery leaves the aorta. This happens only to very thin people and the condition actually causes the body to starve itself over time. Treating this as an eating disorder, which it is not, would have been very dangerous. We are very lucky that this was diagnosed, because that is one of the biggest problems with this condition. This condition was literally starving Maddie to death without anyone knowing.

She currently has a feeding tube up one nostril that they managed to get down past the blockage and clipped to the inner wall of the small intestine so they can now give her 2000 to 4000 calories a day. Up the other nostril is a tube that pumps the bile out of her stomach, which was four times its normal size. Once the stomach shrinks and the bile production subsides, they can pull that tube out and send her home – that should be in a day or two. She will still have the feeding tube in her. She will need it for four to six weeks. The goal is to fatten her up so the fat cells that increase the angle where the SMA branches off of aorta so the intestine doesn’t get pinched off. Kind of like fattening the turkey before Thanksgiving, but we don’t eat her at the end. If that process is successful, she will not need the very major surgery that would move the intestine to a new location – we definitely don’t want the surgery.

All and all, Maddie is a pretty tough cookie. I could not have gone through this with the grace and lack of whining that she did. Here is a picture of her once the two tubes were just put in.

Here she is with some of the stuffed animals kind family members have given her.

Here she is trying to be as happy as possible with two tubes down her throat.

This is Sabrina in the hospital hallway using some very bad and extremely annoying Ninja moves on me.

We feel very blessed to have some great doctors and medical staff, a very supportive family, and that this rare condition was caught in time. Maddie was supposed to start work here (I’m sitting next to her hospital bed) at the end of the month. They are very kind and willing to work with her on a start date that will work for her. If there is new news, I’ll keep you posted.