Cold Winter Fashion Statement

Bundle up! 

How’s that for a statement. And yes, you can fashion up if it makes you feel better.

Winterware 4 eml
It’s -10, I will be outside for 5 minutes and I am dressed to stay warm for 20 minutes

But while I have you here I will give you a few tips on thriving in weather below zero. My personal best was dressing for -52 degrees without the wind chill factored in. I stayed warm for a few hours in that weather but it doesn’t happen without some winter knowledge.

Remember rule #1. Stay warm! That’s it. Do what you need to do to stay warm for longer than you think you need to. Most other rules are subtitles under rule #1 by the way.

Winterware 6 eml I’m modeling my latest fleece lined wool pull-over here. You like it? It’s one of a kind. I designed it, I helped pick out the material and my wife made it. It’s warm with a long sleeved shirt underneath to +35 degrees. I put a thick fleece jacket under to inactively stay warm to +10 and actively warm to -10 degrees. I can put a down parka over to stay inactively  warm to -35.

I am wearing a wool stocking cap, wool fingerless gloves to push camera buttons and lined leather gloves which will keep me warm for 20 minutes at -10. The boots have a thinsulate lining good for 20 minutes at -10.

Oh, you noticed the blue jeans did you? I will stay warm in them for 20 minutes at -10. my wife would stay warm in them for two minutes. Her legs get cold quickly. Everything else freezes in sequence. If I was with her I would be part of that sequence.

Do you know how to stay warm in the clothes you have? Every day I see cold people with tennis shoes, no gloves or mitts, an unzipped expensive jacket and no headwear. They rush from the house to the car, then the car to the store and on to work exclaiming “It’s cold out there”. In my mind I’m thinking…well you know what I’m thinking.

So much for my fashion walk–up the freshly plowed driveway–but I’m warm for those 5 minutes at -10 degrees. As far as fashion; you have already concluded that I am like a farmer…out standing in his field!

Stay warm out there!



I’m in Chaage (yep, totally in charge)

snowbank from roof eml

Chaage: my young grandsons word for Charge

This morning seemed like a good time to shovel some snow off the roof. It’s knee deep up there and the skylights are covered. There is heat loss around a skylight, ice dams build up and any melting water backs up under the shingles and leaks into the house eventually. It was now eventually.

I found our huge snow scoop, leaned the ladder to the roof and up I went. There is quite a trick in getting on and off a ladder onto a tilted surface covered with two feet of snow and ice. What’s the worst that could happen? I swung a leg around the ladder and made it onto the roof safely while dragging the scoop. The riskiest part was over except for getting down. But, down is down and I can sometimes just jump off the roof into the snowbank…fun times. Who needs a ladder to get down?

I found the kitchen skylights, scooped lots of snow down the roof making paths with each push of snow off the roof. I was on the top side of skylight #2 when I must have done something wrong. My back went out with severe muscle spasms helping the lower vertebrae attempt to  go in different directions. I flopped down on my back in the snow as the spasms made my legs quit working. Trying to move made the spasms come back. It has been 10 years from the last back injury and my back is (was) stronger than ever so I didn’t see that coming.

I mean I really didn’t see that coming!

My first thought “this is quite a predicament”. My thought process began scrolling through the options. “Maybe I could roll off the roof? um no, Maybe roll to the ladder? No, I would roll over the skylight and There is a row of deep snow to roll through in front of the ladder. Maybe I could sit up and scoot to the ladder then drop into a snowbank? No, I would never get out of the snowbank and the cut-off bushes underneath could spear me. I don’t feel lucky today. Helicopter? How embarrassing.

I scooted (it hurt) downhill to the ladder, finally made it to a standing position, made it on to the ladder after 3 tries (that really hurt) and finally made it down very slowly one rung at a time (yep,ouch). I waded (over my knees) in the deep snow to the house (that hurt the most).

Here I sit with a thousand thoughts. You do it too whenever life throws a curve. We are reduced to what matters most with what we can do. Over half of my time is  spent managing back pain and pangs so far. When did I become so self absorbed? This has got to stop…ouch. My back just made a joke, “I’m Back” (not funny!)

So much of life we do not see coming. We are not in control ultimately. We are like my very young grandson who loves walking around the house saying “I’m in chaage” (sounds like it’s spelled) to anyone who would ask him to do something.

Meanwhile, here I sit, in complete chaage of my life. 

I am reminded of the Proverb “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Our Doings sure make us think we are in control don’t they? Sometimes God reminds us of how much we cannot do and how much we are not in chaage.


Phone rings “How are you doing? I’m fine, got everything under control here Dear (shes away on a trip). I’m in Chaage!


Old Seasonings Die Hard

Jerkey seasonings ed emlOur brains are truly wonderful. They constantly gather information, categorize it under hundreds of headings and constantly crosscheck it as relevant or irrelevant even while simple conversations are going on.

I have been looking into making my own venison jerky for years, I guess, without even knowing it. When my brother (who makes great jerky) mentioned that most people have enough seasonings in their pantry to make a ton of good jerky, several of my brains catalogue files came together in special session and realigned my priorities while I was sleeping (I guess). I could use up all our seasonings for a worthy cause!

After much rigamarole, wrangling funds and allowing a friend to give me about 40 pounds of venison he or his wife didn’t want to cook; I somehow ended up with a great dehydrator, top of the line jerky shooter and a nice vacuum sealer. 15 pounds of venison was thawing as the UPS guy braved last weeks -60 below wind chills and our blown in driveway to deliver these hot items. “Blasted Superbowl” he muttered. Huh; “I’m not the only one” I thought.

All triggered by something someone said. Scary huh? It’s too bad I didn’t pay a little more attention to a recipe but my brain doesn’t really pay much attention to some of the finer details. I put some of everything in and a lot of a few of them as they would soon expire. I now have 15 lbs of venison reduced to some of the best jerky on the planet with some brilliant aftertaste (it might be the ghost pepper got away from me??)

My wife and daughter say the spices could be cut down by 80% and refuse to participate in the sacred superbowl snack till you drop event tonight. I think they are miffed that I didn’t do this much earlier in life and feel neglected, but I promised to make it up to them. I have 25 more pounds of venison to soak up the rest of the old seasonings.

Hey, it’s still cheaper than buying a ticket and going to the game.


(ME) Seriously, this jerky is really good! (Daughter) keep telling yourself that!



Leaning Into Life

Dad used to say to me when I was quite young, “Lean into your work son”. 6 AM morning chores on the farm before school. I wasn’t even awake. I have a lifetime of leaning. What and who we lean on becomes apparent and important.


My wife gave me a card 8 years ago that said “Good for one day of fishing with me”. I might have treated it a bit like a gift card where you can buy several things at various times whenever the case of whims come. She seemed to be OK with that, after all, We raised a family on adventure and faith.

Snow fun 2009
Family fun in the snow

I’m not sure how many gazillion factors enter into having a wonderful life. We can live vivaciously, map out adventures and do all the things paperbound experts recommend; but it may not translate into having a great life. If love were currency we would be rich.

She doesn’t  love fishing. She loves me. I don’t think for a minute she was won over by my looks or charm over the last 44+ years . Love was a decision on her part. An equal decision on mine as well. Together we have leaned into life, leaned into each other and leaned into following Jesus. 

Jobs and money: We are not lucky. We have been downsized, outsourced, eliminated, laid off, and flooded out of town. Our middle daughter was born with Spina Bifida. 35 surgeries, life flighted, several times coin flipping on live or die in E.R. We care for her 24/7 these days. Love is a decision with action and follow through. Lean into life. Lean into loving God and each other. Take pictures in the rain, fog and when the sun shines.

DSC04189Sunset COFA Fish Camp>Goin fishn...confessions by Gary Fultz>Best fishing tackle for Ice Pike By Gary Fultz

Above all, no matter what life has thrown at you. Cut out time for adventure. Choose to love and stay on the road no matter how slippery the conditions get in tough times. I have a picture of that road…You might relate, especially if you have bald tires, a loose steering wheel and two wheel drive. “Jesus Take The Wheel”


frosty morning 046
One frosty morning drive

I still remember mom leaning into me, put her frail arms loosely around me and in my ear I heard what would become her last words to me “Hows my boy?” At her funeral we sang her favorite song “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus”.  Mom had learned to lean well.

Leaning Proverb:Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

Lean well my friend!



A Good Morning From Northern Wisconsin

My morning reading, prayer and meditation time was interrupted when I looked out the window. My first thought as if a voice whispered in my ear… “you can share this with the world”. My second thought “I only have my sleep shorts on. 99 seconds later my camera was on a tripod and I was taking a picture outside.

Being a follower of Jesus, I am sharing a few moments of my quiet time with the author of the universe with you.

january 6 sunrise eml
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psm :118 24


Dress for success in 2019

James and Tim eml.jpg

This little guy is dressed for success; at least for cold weather activities. He outlasted his brothers in single digit wind chills. He scored a 10 in fun with Grandpa and dad 4 wheeling and riding behind in the sled with his mature adults doing donuts in the snow covered fields sometimes tipping the sled. While his brothers are cold and going to the house he is yelling “more…more.” This little guy is dressed right and not only that he kept all his clothes on (which is hard for the very young).

In comparison; there are CEO’s, wall street guru’s, Music icons and hollywood stars that may spend millions on the right clothes but never obtain such success. Well at least in the joys of life category.

Sledding fun
Tim and Boys 3eml.jpg
Some 2019 ideas:

For the cold outdoors: Bundle up, keep your mitts on and hood up.  For a job interview: Dress at least as nice as the person interviewing you. For this coming weeks date night (you do this right?) dress well enough so your date is proud to be seen with you (yes, your spouse). Sunday mornings: Put some nice clothes on and get the family to church. For grocery shopping: Give the rest of us a break if you were the guy in lime green dinosaur PJ’s the other day! And, no, it wasn’t me video taping you for utube!

Just a thought: I actually believe that dressing up nicely for writing out your 2019 goals for the year will better prepare each of us for success.

So, bundle up and get ready for a successful outing into 2019. At least keep your gloves on and hood up through January and we will go on from there.

From our house in northern Wisconsin to yours…Have a Happy New Year!

Our House eml
Pictures taken 12/31/18 between snow storms



Baste for impressive Grilling…wherever

I’m an outdoor guy to give some context, and we eat well! this is what works for me.

After you gather some salad dressings, extra seasonings, a splash of soy sauce, seasonings and mustard, do a taste test. Make sure it’s a little spicier than you like (Hmm…needs some ghost pepper? Um, no)

Marinade that steak

This is your marinade and basting sauce. This is key. Now grill and baste to your perfection. Mine is medium well and the meat is still limber and tender.

Baste those steaks eml

Baste and flip, Baste and Flip. Get a glaze going. Medium well as pictured. Also check out the miners mix seasonings. They are my personal favorite and no preservatives.

Let some of these basted meat pictures convince you. Thanks for reading, but try this yourself if you feel there could be more to your meat.

Click on a picture for a slide show.

As you can tell, I am an outdoor guy. I believe in making the best food possible with what you have, and we have some of the best meals in the great outdoors. Amen


Adventure and Fear: The Hunt and Haunt

Confessions of an adrenaline junkie

I have this….um; weakness, bent, brash drive and pure happenstance existence to dive into the unknown. At least it’s unknown to me and usually those (un)lucky enough to be along. Consider these true and unembellished snippets.

A teenager and I rescued a drowning man about to hit a cascading rapids after seven inches of rain fell the night before. The very large man couldn’t swim, his canoe had rolled and we didn’t know if our canoe would sink in the roiling waters. (the teen screamed and yelled the whole time that we were crazy). We barely escaped with our lives. We had nightmares for a very long time. I was not afraid at the time.

Numerous times I have driven bear from our campsites in the BWCA including getting our food back from one in the middle of the night. The word crazy was the most spoken word the rest of the trip. I had nightmares for a long time. The “what if’s” haunted me. I was not afraid of this huge bear at the time.

BWCA 2011 June 1 084
55 feet is really high

I dove off rock cliffs 55′ high (swan dives only). I beat my record of a 9′ high dive into a pool. You guessed it. In my dreams I land on my back or break too soon underwater and break my back. We were 17 portages and 30 miles into the wilderness. I was not afraid to Jump over the lone tree below the cliff to get to the deep water at the time.

Steep Rocks
A really tough portage over the rocks and thru the woods

I have led groups through harsh woods with no trail looking for the ultimate lake very few humans have ever seen, much less fished. Anyone wearing shorts will never do so again. I have a nephew who put on his rain pants for protection. He ended up shredding his pants so bad he looked like a giant bass lure with a rubber skirt.

I have led winter trips into the wilderness on snowshoes and skis. One time we tried to find a trout lake through the woods by moonlight. We weren’t lost, just a little off as our compasses read different directions from the large amount of iron ore in the rocks around us. We found the lake the next day. It was a wonderful stroll through waist deep snow below zero by moonlight until panic came over a couple guys.  We tramped the snow with the snowshoes, made a fire, a meal and slept under the stars in the snow. It was really great! I do not ever remember being afraid.

The coldest time was with a group of teenagers at -38 (F). It warmed to zero before we came out with no lives lost. Good times! I have stories and dreams on this one also.

Funny story at -30 (f) below zero in the wilderness: Someone brought tin cups to drink out of. Our lips froze to the edge of the cup with steaming hot drink in it. above the liquid line was frost. Below was very hot steam. We had to tip up the cup gently to thaw out our lips off the cup to drink. It was a learning curve to live with half frozen burt lips. OK, not so funny at the time. But, I was not afraid.

“Would you help me lead a group into the wilderness?” I asked my boss (this was after another harrowing incident). His answer took me back. “Do I look like I want to die? crazy things always happen wherever you go. He was right.

Day Trip
Yes, the water disappeared and we had to bushwack another 3/4 mile through a bog and a burnt off area this last trip. We found the lake! Another person vowed to never wear shorts again. 

What is it about adventure,  risk taking or just being me? My oldest daughter takes after me. When she got married in college she joined a roofing crew while her husband waited tables at a nice restaurant. The other day she texts my wife”I broke my leg in a couple places” My wife messaged back what any normal mom would, “which one?” Daughter: “the other one”.  Is it really a family thing? Is this genetic?

Yes, there have been accidents. Several emergency life threatening incidents. In 2000 my wife and I were with three other couples when the 100mph straight line winds hit. With huge trees snapping off 20-30 feet  around us and the tops blowing fifty plus fet before hitting the ground, we were at the mercy of God. Literally. We were there on horseshoe lake eating lunch and in less than a minutes time hugging small cedars and wondering if we would survive. But I was not afraid. The stories on our lake alone are harrowing. See more here.

No one seems to mention that the lightning storm that night was probably more dangerous with strikes averaging one per second, sometimes several per second and short lulls in between. This was an all night storm and extremely dangerous. We laid on ground pads, life jackets and all our clothes to keep us from electricity traveling through the ground hunting us. I knew real fear for the first time.

Several trips passed and a buddy and I launched our canoe to tackle high waves. They were much higher than we thought. We made it around the bend in front of high rock cliffs and tipped into icy waters (Ice off a few days before). The waves washed us clinging to our packs and canoe against the rock face. They crashed us up the face almost 10 feet and down again being battered by the canoe. We worked our way around the face shoving off with our feet and were helped by the rest of the group up to safety.

We lost gear and much body heat. If we had made it further into the lake we would not have survived. Again I knew fear, but not so much from the waves or the cold. I did not know that a person could drown with their life jacket on and their head above water. Every breath we took was full of wind blown water droplets collecting in our lungs. It did not take us long to realize this would kill us in a short period of time given the conditions. Of all the dreams that haunt me, this is the big one. It’s bigger than the time my brother and I put a pickup through the ice…(another story, another time).

Maybe fear is healthy, but it is also haunting. Fear stalks when there is a lull in the action. In my case I need fear. I now have it but didn’t like the way it came. It is ironic that I have the most fear at a time when I am most competent to lead wilderness trips.

I will not try to conquer fear but rather harness it for wisdom sake. I am way more careful, alert to potential danger, knowledgeable of dangerous situations and better at calculating risk and knowing what the worst possible outcome could be. I like to think I am older and wiser (no one has come forward to confirm or deny this yet). I do have some advice out of this. We have talked about this around the camp fire!

Storie telling time email
The fun and the serious talks need to happen. They will. Great times, when done right!

1) Don’t let fear stop an adventure. Let common sense do it.

2) Listen to advice from the group before jumping. You may not know your limitations.

3) become aware of your surroundings, animal signs, weather, food usage, anyone limping or complaining of something wrong (headache is possible dehydration or sunburnt eyes from water glare).

4) Never lead a group alone. Have another competent person along who can lead.

5) Be aware of group dynamics and know how to influence them for the better. If you can’t do this you should not be the leader of a group.

6) Learn to be the servant of the group. You cook great food (they should cook as well), You set the bar on cleanliness and obeying the environmental rules. Respect, model respect and you are then qualified to teach respect for each other and the environment.

7) Don’t take life and death risks unless saving someone. Be willing to die trying or give out a disclaimer beforehand that you won’t.

8) Be ready to stand before God if you do die. Think of it as the ultimate preparation. It’s actually not a “just in case” deal as we will all die sometime. Just saying, be ready for anything…including fear for the first time.

Be careful out there. Don’t do what I did. Learn from me what not to do! Now I just have calm and safe trips…(ya right..I heard that!)



Experimental Grilling

Steaks marinated, basted,grilled
Yes I did. I put all that stuff on these steaks a few hours before grilling and brushed it on while grilling. Yes, it was good.

Do you realize how many seasonings are in some of our dressings ment for salads? Forget the salad only idea. I know a restaurant that bastes it’s grilled chicken with french dressing as a base. People come far and wide for this chicken. Obviously there is a little more to it but it’s a good start. Trust me, even the start works.

Our evening meal cooked on the screen porch er..grilled, was a hit. It was another experiment of course as all my cooking is. Well, never the same twice. have a peek!

Sirloin Sauce eml
I turned the marinade into a basting sauce.
Sirloin 3eml.jpg
Fresh corn and sirloin from grass fed beef fattened on sugar bet tailings…sorry folks but most restaurant food pales in comparison except for the chefs turned loose in the kitchen.

This last year my wife and I picked up an infrared grill for these kind of occasions.

sirloin 4eml
Grill and serve. Corn in the husk stays hot until the husks are removed. A great screen porch or outdoor picnic meal.

Sometimes I put a combination of veggies in a grilling dish with a little olive oil applied before hand. It’s good. For fun I have put some large precooked shrimp in with the veggies. It’s good! Quarter some half baked potatoes, skin on and baste them with a buttered garlic and chipotle seasoning as they grill. Eat the skins and all. Again…Really good.

Above all. Experiment people! Use good veggies and meats.  load up on the spices (go to miners mix and get some with no preservatives in them). You will thank me.

My last tip. Try grilling, basting, using marinades and so on with a little spiced cooking oil. Maybe it’s just me who likes spice? Didn’t think so. Is it just me who likes adventure? didn’t think so.

Next Step: when you get a fun combination of great foods, have a grilling party. share. Get to know your neighbors better. Have fun experimenting! And oh ya, put some of these berries pictured below over ice cream to celebrate.

Strawberries our plants eml

I love God, my wife, family, country, hunting ,fishing, cooking, grilling and really good food. Maybe not always in that order. I Hope this blog gave you a new idea or push to experiment. Life is shorter, make it count!

your comments are very welcome

Biscuits and Gravy Tweaks

It’s the little details that change “good” to “great”, especially in preparing and serving  food. I have some Biscuit and Gravy tips for you to try on the trail or in the kitchen.

I am off work today so I thought I would recreate a great BWCA camp breakfast in the comfort of our own kitchen. Pay attention to a few details for a great meal. Here goes!

B&G Sausages1) Seasonings and Sausage selection: Try a “HOT” flavored tube sausage. The seasonings have had time to work through the sausage. Temper the flavor with a regular sausage if you must.   Use a chipotle seasoning and some crushed garlic for extra flavor and kick if needed. The sausage will come with Red Pepper for taste and heat.

For those needing an exact step by step  recipe, I am not very helpful. Just follow a recipe and shake some extra seasonings in after tasting. Black pepper is a must! Remember, these are tips to add to your recipe.

B&G Sausage and flour2) Soak up and caramelize the extra oils. The grease fried off the sausage has all the flavor. Sometimes I add a couple glugs of olive oil when browning the sausage. To merge in the oil and grease, put in enough flour to soak up the grease and keep browning. The gummy mixture will caramelize a bit and turn brown (do not burn) for better taste as well as texture. Immediately add your gravy base and milk (or water depending on your base) and stir.. Burnt gravy is unfit for bear or coon raiding camp!

I have a couple of possible suggestions for making your gravy base. Both work well if you want more then a white peppered paste. Please want more!

B&G secret base
Use an “Our Family” cream of mushroom base
Use a “Southeastern mills” prepackaged base




Mix and stir until you get the right consistency. I use milk for thinning out and a flour and water paste for thickening or just adding bulk to the gravy.

B&G recipe3) Time to make biscuits. Choose wisely. Actually how you make the biscuit is more important than any single recipe. I have used a complete pancake mix and water on a wilderness camp site with tinfoil (makeshift reflector oven) as my greased pan in front of the fire. It works and tastes good.

A couple of biscuit tips: A) Use flour to give it “break-apart” layers. Make the biscuit dough and set the lump of well mixed dough on a flat surface dusted with flour. sprinkle flour on top and flatten to 3/4 to 1″ thick. Fold over, squish down again with another sprinkle of flour. fold over again and flatten to 1″ (this is an important tip). Cut out biscuits with a cutter or a glass to the dimension you desire.

B) Thickness is important. I like 1″  biscuit dough because after baking they come apart 4 ways because of the flour sprinkled between the layers. When they are baked, only the outside is crispy and brown with a large area of flaky white biscuit. Thin biscuits tend to become little frisbees very quickly if not watched in the oven.

B&G biscuts and gravy

4) Bake the biscuits and taste test, with the gravy, the poorest looking biscuit. Add ghost pepper if they are still not spicy enough (You will need a towel to wipe the sweat off your forehead if you add ghost pepper).

5) Finally: Make more then you can share so there is some left for you. The gravy and biscuits pictured will not make it very far and the guys usually polish off the biscuits first with gravy or butter and jelly. Somehow I know I will see gravy piled up on the plates hash browns and eggs as well as the biscuits (that’s just not right!).  I made a pot of gravy and three pans of biscuits for our church men’s breakfast tomorrow morning. Fun times!

Yep…not working today, Just puttering and experimenting in the kitchen. An unusual post for me. hope you try it sometime. Let me know your tweaks!


PS…I might let you know how the steaks turned out another time…

Steaks marinated, basted,grilled