A Successful Attempt at Smoking on the Grill


I have to admit a downfall in my own manliness.  I cannot smoke ribs.  I just don’t seem to know what I’m doing or as I read all kinds of suggestions I am smoked-chicken-readymaybe just following the worst ones.  Smoking ribs is an ability that any man should have.  Well, if you don’t eat meat then maybe it’s not for you.  I’m sure you could smoke vegetables and they would probably be some of the best vegetables you’ve ever had.

I haven’t wanted to give up on smoking meat though so I have a attempted a few times.  Last year for my birthday, that is what I wanted to do.  I didn’t want to go anywhere but simply stay home and get to try smoking something.  Again, I was dissappointed.  Temperature doesn’t seem to be my issue although I find myself fluctuating +/- about 50 degrees from my goal.  I can create smoke, that isn’t the issue.  For pork, it has always just come down to the tenderness that I wasn’t happy with.

But, there is hope.  I have found a process and recipe that has worked amazing for me.  It has renewed my hope in my ability to learn more about grilling.  I have to give full props to Kevin Haberberger for this one.  It wasn’t pork.  It wasn’t beef.  But it was good and looked beautiful too.  Check out Kevin’s article about smoking a whole chicken at  I was skeptical that mine would come out as well as he made it sound but it really did.

smoked-chicken-on-grillMy wife loved it and said it was the most tender chicken she has ever had.  It lacked a little in smoke flavor because I didn’t keep my chip box well supplied during the process but that is easy to fix.  I also didn’t have lemons in the house so I used lemon juice.  The bird turned a beautiful brown that I never expected, tasted great and just fell apart when trying to serve it.  I am excited to smoked-chicken-dinnermake it again and maybe just add a little more smoke to the picture.  My wife is having visions of turkeys and Thanksgiving.  We will have to wait and see about that…



Putting Our Roots Where There’s Room to Grow

Moving to the Country

It is finally happening!  We’re moving to the country.   We just have to make it past the bank underwriters, the home inspector, the water inspector, and the bank appraiser and then it is ours.  That home in the country for which we have watched for during the last few years.

My wife and I have thought very critically as to whether a house in the country would be right for us.  When people ask why we want to do that, it is often difficult to come up with an answer.  Yeah, I like the idea of having land.  We think it will be neat to have more garden space and maybe some animals we couldn’t have in the city.  For my wife and I it just seems like a better place to raise a family.  I don’t know why.  It just does.

We want our children to learn something different than all of the other children.  In the schools today, kids are taught what to think.  There is this box they are given to say this is the world and this is what you do in it.  This is what you believe about science.  This is the life you want.  You go to college after school and then look for an entry job where you can climb a ladder to nowhere.  This is the kind of country you live in.  This is whats wrong with things.  And it goes on and on.  They are only given room to create their own version of life if it doesn’t conflict with the life they are being taught they should have.

No thanks!  My boxes are getting packed and we can’t wait to get into the closest we can come to paradise here on earth.  The biggest dilemma so far is what to do first with all of that space and freedom!


The living room is the perfect place for a guitar amp!

Marital Compromise Wurk’d for Me

Compromise is an essential practice of healthy marriages. That’s probably my psychologist/family coach line I would say if I were a professional at this. But I’m not so all I can do is tell about my own experiences. I wanted to tell everyone how marital compromise worked in my case.   I know that I sure can get stuck in my wants at times and can’t see things working out someone else’s way.  With marriage, decisions are better when they aren’t just to satisfy one of the two, but when they are the desires of both.  That can’t always happen though and compromise is the next best mechanism to keeping peace.

Compromise should end as close as possible to the disagreement.  Compromise isn’t you get what you want and in three months I’m going to use this for some random thing I want as if it is my turn to get my way.  It’s more like I can handle you getting your way in this because how you feel about your way is much stronger than how I feel about my way.

That happened recently for my wife and I.  She wanted a different couch and always wanted a sectional.  I wanted to keep the couch that we had that was ripping in multiple places because at least when it ripped it was already that way.  A new couch would mean trying to keep it in good order and nice looking (for me).  When you have kids in the house, I would compare this to trying to keep the dogs from eating scraps that fall on the floor.

Anyway, I gave in.  We bought the couch and we moved it into our house.  Since it was a sectional there was a large space in the corner open where the couch was round.  I eyed it up and decided that it would be the perfect place for my guitar amp which is never conveniently around when I want to use it.  Hesitantly wondering if that would ever pass the “is a guitar amp appropriate for the living room test” I brought it up anyway.

Now I sit on a couch (comfy if I must add) and can pull a guitar out from behind it and turn the amp on and play.  It all turned out quite nice!

The living room is the perfect place for a guitar amp!
The living room is the perfect place for a guitar amp!


First Carving - Heart

My First Carving

**Disclaimer.  I am not sharing this work as something that is a great success but as a example of some things I learned.  I understand it isn’t quite museum worthy.

After a good amount of time had passed since acquiring my 5 piece chisel set, I finally decided to attempt my first carving.  I First Carving - Heartlearned a lot in the process and thought I would share that for anyone else who is thinking about trying their hand (or chisel) at wood carving.

First of all, it was not easy.  It is good that I didn’t expect it to be easy.  I made sure to attempt a shape that was fairly simple, without much for crevices or lines.  I choose a heart because if it turned out any bit worthy of keeping, I could give it to my wife.  The built-in stand idea was added as I carved which makes it a much nicer final piece.

So on to what I learned.  I learned that oak is probably not the best wood start out with.  Ok, I kind of assumed that before but I didn’t have much else available at the time.  It was difficult to work with and preferred to chip or crush as opposed to slice or carve.  I found that I was using way too much force to get through the wood and instead of the cool shavings you see in pictures I got little chips.

Since I never carved before I don’t know what kinds of tools are generally used or any comparison to the quality of the ones I have.  I had some sculpting chisels which didn’t stand a chance on the oak.  I had some regular chisels which I used but think they probably could have been sharper.  I assume there is no such thing as too sharp of a First Carving Toptool when it comes to carving.  I will be exploring some options for sharpening mine or possible obtaining some more quality ones.

I also learned that having something in place to hold your work still would be helpful.  I carved the heart out of a larger board that I then cut down so that I had something to hold onto while carving.  A nice clamp system would prove very helpful though.  In general my workbench lacks such a vise that I can use for hand work.

The biggest thing that I took away though was that it sure was fun.  Although I know it would take a long time to learn the techniques, it seems like something I could really enjoy expanding my capabilities in.  I watched videos that helped me figure out where to start and First Carving Sidepeople who were at the point of trying to show others had years and years of experience.  They create amazing works of art that look like something I would love to display in my house.   I respect those with the talent and think that their skill is probably over looked a bit.




Reclaimed Wood Wall Close

Reclaimed Wood Wall Finished

I am in the process of building a new workshop in my gReclaimed Wood Wallarage.  I am pretty much complete and wanted to show the finished part of my reclaimed wood wall.  The wood was from a local university wood shop and had just been sitting around.  I ripped the 10-12 inch wide boards to about 3 inches and made the pattern on the wall.

I don’t know what species of wood is all on the wall.  I tried to mix the light and dark to create a nice pattern.  The boards were secured with construction adhesive as well as 2 inch 16 gauge brads shot in with a nail gun.  I had to get them into the studs behind the wall for there to be any benefit as they just slip right out of the drywall.  I feel bad for whoever will want to take this wall down some day but with how pleased I am with the results I know it won’t be me.Reclaimed Wood Wall Close

The empty drywall area is where one of my workbench stations will go.  Can’t wait to do some work with this in the background.

Men Need to Create

It’s not that I don’t want to wash the dishes honey. It’s just that there are a lot of things I want to do more and the dishes just don’t get to me like they get to you. For today, I am convinced to bring value to your life. Forget the dishes, honey! You won’t care either when you see what I can make out of a small engine, trash can lids and the pile of wood I told you I would use some day. Um, by the way I am going to need to borrow the engine off your moped. So sit back, relax and grab the phone in case you smell smoke.

Men Need Time to Create

Men need time to be creative. I’ve met many guys who get really excited about making something. Whether it is building, brewing, fixing, coding, writing, designing or even just dreaming, the idea of what can be created by one’s hands is often a very exciting thought. Creative outlet is good for a man and often gives him a chance to feel as though he is contributing to something. Every man likes different things and some only find this outlet in a workshop while others may only find it in front of a piece of paper or canvas.

This desire to create should not be hindered. It is revitalizing and life giving. Many men express a desire for their career to give them this outlet. It is easy to envy those in a career where people get paid for what you enjoy as a hobby. You think about whether that is something you could get a job doing. It is probable that most men would love to run a successful business out of their garage making things that people think are cool and would pay for. Having work that gives a man personal satisfaction is very important and should be sought out as at least a hobby if not a career. Often, the flexibility of creating is better kept as a hobby to avoid adding pressures and deadlines. You would not want to spoil the creativity of a hobby by having to work within very tight guidelines that don’t allow you to be at all expressive.

How Do I Balance My Time to Create?

We think you should create but we also know that you need balance. That means that you should first fulfill your most important responsibilities. It is counter productive when a hobby or work takes over your life and causes things to suffer that are much more important. These could include your family, your health and your overall balance in life. Don’t let the revitalizing nature of creating become the very thing that drains you of your energy and happiness. Make sure that your time for creating is within moderation. If you can accomplish multiple things at once then go for it. You may be able to incorporate your family members in a project. This is a great way to connect with your children, especially if you have a very disconnected relationship already.

Take time and create. Let it help you be a more fulfilled man but also hold the reins so your life doesn’t get out of balance.



Day 3 and a half. Still fairly incapacitated. Apparently when you have the doctor perform a little magic that could be called permanent birth control for men, it keeps you fairly immobile for a few days. Nothing really hurts that bad but I am nonetheless very slow moving and stiff. The longer I am in any given position, the harder it is to switch to a new position. When all is said and done, it isn’t that bad, but I can say there are many other parts of my body that I would rather feel these discomforts.

As far as permanent birth control, it isn’t really true for us. We haven’t decided that we are done adding children to our family which currently has three. We have decided that we have already brought enough new children into the world and at this point would consider adding children who already exist and could use a loving home. I like to think a loving home is what we provide, yet am constantly reminded that my ability to love is so limited. This isn’t necessarily bad though. My limited ability to love helps me envision countless new levels I could grow too. I find that very exciting.

It is weird how good it feels to love. It is a satisfaction that I don’t find in anything else. You cannot match the feeling by any other accomplishments. Loving other people can easily make you question whether anything else really matters on earth. You cannot find that satisfaction in money, power, entertainment, activities, adventures, possessions or abilities. Nothing describes the feeling that comes from making an impact in the life of another.

Even more weird than how love makes us feel is how easy it is to love infrequently. Maybe it’s because we are scared of what the receiving end will do with it. The thing about love is that we can’t guarantee how it’s received. For us, it is a very fragile gift to give and it is painful when it is received an destroyed, received ungraciously or not received at all. The more often we experience that, the more likely we are to look for other things to satisfy us. To give love is to give a very personal gift and we may wonder why bother if we can’t guarantee it will be effective.

I recently learned how to play craps. I am not going to condone this practice as all I really learned was how to give money to an establishment that already has plenty. There is a certain thrill in it though and I enjoy it while I’m winning. While I was at the table, I would usually put down the minimum bet. This was five dollars where I played. There were people at the table who would put down fifty dollars compared to my five. They have the same odds of winning but more at stake. In the end, I would win five dollars to my five dollar bet if a seven or eleven was rolled. As happy as I was that I won, it would be easy to think that I should have put down fifty dollars like the other guy who has also doubled his money. Even further though, the guy who puts fifty down saying that the next roll will be two ones or two sixes will gain about thirty times his bet if he were to win.

What have you bet on love? Have you bet a lot and lost it? Have you bet with the odds against you and lost? Have you bet comfortably and received a little payback? Have you simply accepted low payback for low risk?

I would guess that most adults have gambled a bit on love and have lost enough that they have learned to maximize their odds instead of maximizing their payback. This is portrayed in their ability or desire to give to those in need. With many losses on the record, they choose to box their lives in and stick to things that they know will at least give some payback. If they have a nice house and nice TV they know they will be comfortable and enjoy the football game with great picture. The more they climb the work ladder the more they will be needed and the better they feel. The more money in the bank, the less they will need to rely on others and that will bring a certain level of comfort.

When I say they or talk about others though, I am also talking about myself. I do my best to minimize risk and maximize payout. This usually means I limit the return on my bet to make sure I don’t lose too much. I want to ask myself this question, though, and see if you may want to ask yourself the same thing.

What would it be like if I loved without thinking about the return?

Isn’t that what love is anyway? Isn’t it about the other person? Authentic love should be selfless. When I am trying to get something back for the love that I give, then it is not selfless and it will probably not be very fulfilling. I will never be able to minimize the risk to make love worth giving. But once I give up looking for a return on my investment I can give knowing that selfless love will be quite fulfilling. I can abandon all my other pursuits and pursue something that can really fulfill me without even needing to receive anything back.

Be a Good Dad and Still Have Time

If you have kids you know it is often difficult to find time for the things that you want to do. It is a good idea to still have some hobbies and to take time to do things you enjoy. It is also important to give your kids the attention they need. Here are some ways to make sure you can still have time for the things you want to do without feeling like you have to ignore your kids or your wife.


1. Stay up later
Are you a night person? Maybe you can make it an extra hour at the end of the day and still get enough sleep. If so, stay up a little later than everyone else in your house to work on a project or develop a hobby. Even if it is just spending a little time playing video games you know you need some alone time.

2. Wake up earlier
Maybe you are a morning person. This isn’t much different than staying up later other than putting your extra time on the beginning of your day. Program your coffee pot to help you get a kick start and enjoy the peace of the morning for some alone time.

3. Include your kids
If the activity you want to do is something your kids can do with you then this is a win for you in many ways. Allow them to participate with you to not only do something you enjoy but to spend quality time together. An added bonus is that your kids may even develop a similar interest as you which is a great thing. Doing an activity together can provide a great platform to talk to your kids about important things that they otherwise may not be interested in listening to you about.

4. Stick to the time you ask for
You may have to specifically ask for the amount of time you want and schedule it into your week. It may not be convenient and it may not make everyone happy, but you know that it is important. If you must resort to this then make sure to be respectful to the time you do get and not go over or abuse the time. If you are taking the time to do something specific then you should make sure to do that.

5. Don’t completely separate yourself
If your hobby or activity is one that you can do in the same room as your kids watching TV or doing their homework, then don’t run off and hide to do it. Maybe you will encounter some additionally distractions, but it will still give your kids the idea that they can have your attention when needed. It will also give them a better idea of what you enjoy doing and help them to see you enjoying yourself in a positive way.

6. Make sure to communicate what you really want
Make sure to communicate specific requests you have for the time you want. If you want the time uninterrupted then communicate that. If everyone is under the same understanding about your personal time it will work best and prevent resentment. How your free time plays out might not be important to you as long as you get it. If you do have specific requests though it is best to be make sure everyone understands.

7. Set your priorities
If you are working long hours at a job to maintain a high standard of living that is desired but not necessary, then your hobbies should be the first thing to suffer. Your kids aren’t choosing the standard of living for your family so don’t make them lose out because of it. If you can cut hours at work or find a job that provides more time and still gives enough income to support your family, you will probably be much happier and have more time. This is a big change, but you will probably never regret it.

A Dads Role

Men: If you have kids, then at some point you have probably wondered what your role as a dad supposed to be. Is it to make your kids into something specific? Is it to make your kids fit a certain specification? Is it to teach them certain values? Is it to teach them certain knowledge?

A dads role is so much like a coach or a teacher. Better yet, like the teacher you had in high school who was also your team’s coach after school. The one where off season you would stop in his classroom after school to visit and he’d have some treats to share with you. This kind of man makes youth want to be around because they feel accepted and cared about. As a dad, you need to love your children, you need to teach them in the ways of life and you need to coach them to become the best that they can be. Often this doesn’t seem like enough though.

Do you struggle thinking there has to be more to it? Possibly you are assuming that if you do everything perfect (which you won’t…trust me) then your children will turn out exactly how you expect them. Newsflash: You can’t program your children! They will never be exactly what you want. If they were, they would be very unhappy.

Your role is easy. The task is not. No matter how hard you try, a child has their own free will in the end and you have to stay focused simply on what is your role instead of what is the outcome. Men want to think about the end result and dads can easily spend way too much time trying to create the end result instead of focusing on the role they play in getting there. If we stay focused on our roles instead of our goals then discouragement won’t have as strong a grip on us through the process of raising our kids. Do you claim that you will love your child no matter how they turn out? Then the love, teaching and coaching you give them will show that to them without having to say a word. Do you focus all your energy on trying to make them to some exact specifications? Then they will simply hear that they are never good enough.

Your role as a dad is one of the most important relational aspects in the world. Focus on being the one who loves, coaches and teaches instead of demands. Have fun with your kids along the way. When it’s time to be serious, be serious. Don’t let the results or the anticipated results stop you from doing your best at the role you’ve been given. And remember, no matter how hard you try to be the one and only role in your child’s life, they will have many others. It’s best not to compete but to be the best at the role you have.

A Playful Dad

Would your kids say that you are a playful dad?

After a long hard day at the office, in the mill, or on the road we often don’t feel we have much left to give. In fact, we think after all of our hard work it might be about time for someone to serve us. That may be true. Do you really want your kids learning from you that they should expect to be served? That is what they will see you do and that is what they will also learn to do. Kids are very good at monkey see, monkey do. You are teaching your kids things when you don’t even realize they are paying attention.

I know this is hard to accept, but the most important thing you need to do when you get home from a long day of work is to start your second and most important job. Being a dad. Good news is that this job should be fun. If it isn’t than you have some learning to do. Being a dad has many tasks but one of the most important ones is to play with your kids. If you don’t regularly play with them then you are missing out on a very important aspect of your relationship. Playing with them provides many benefits.

Benefits of Playing With Your Kids

There are many healthy benefits that come as a result of play time with your kids.

Playing is Fun - The time should be enjoyable to both you and them. You can do many different activities. We will list some ideas later. You can do something that you both enjoy. Ok, maybe it won’t always be your cup of tea. You’ll have to watch the same High School Musical movie again that you just watched last week. Just like you will ask your kids to help out in the garden which is fun for you but a chore to them.

Playing Builds Trust - Playing with your kids tells them that you think they are important. It also gives you a chance to do activities that are new to them or that they normally could not do without you. This is a chance to show them that you are there to support them and will keep them safe. You should find ways to play that challenge them in new ways.

Playing Keeps you Young - Your kids want you to stay young. They don’t care about your age, but they do care about your ability to stay vibrantly involved in their lives. Just like they want you to have time for them, they want you to get up off the couch and do cart wheels with them. No shame, no laziness and no excuses! Get up and participate. The more you play, the easy it will be. Choosing active activities will help you stay in better shape and teach your kids to stay active as well.

Ideas for Playing With Your Kids

Here is a list of things that you can do with your kids that should be fun for the both of you. If an activity looks like a chore, then it is up to you to make it fun!

  • Play a sport
  • Wrestle
  • Play twister
  • Go for a walk
  • Go for a run
  • Play on a swingset
  • Go to the lake
  • Go bowling
  • Wander the mall
  • Cook a meal
  • Build something
  • Play dress up
  • Paper, rock, scissors
  • Declare a thumb war
  • Play video games
  • Wash the car
  • Go swimming
  • Go for a ride
  • Go camping
  • Fly a kite
  • Look for critters
  • Plant a seed
  • Walk the dog
  • Watch a movie
  • Race around the house
  • Find somewhere to volunteer
  • Draw a picture
  • Surprise your wife
  • Bring them to visit your work
  • Make a fort
  • Go fishing
  • Read a book
  • Pretend to be superheros
  • Make a campfire
  • Do each other’s hair
  • Go to a sporting event
  • Sit on the front porch
  • Find a science experiment
  • Visit a relative
  • Practice words from a foreign language
  • Talk about your faith
  • Take pictures
  • Make a movie

And those are just the start of the possibilities