He’s walking

…like a pro!

He took his first steps while we were in England so we’ve officially moved out of baby territory and into Toddlerville.

Here’s a little video I took this week of Rojo showing off his strut:

Next stop:


BIG (International-Sized) News!

Hill Top Chapel, Sheffield, UKI can’t shake the smile off my face from all of the excitement!

I know I shouldn’t be surprised when God, in his goodness, steps into our lives in big ways. But I am. After years of grace and mercy from Him, I still get taken aback when He moves in a way that only He can.

So here I am, still (completely and utterly) surprised that I’m writing this. I mean, is this all really happening?!

Here’s what’s up:

We are going to England!

Anthony and I have been praying through the last few years that God would grant us opportunities where we can best serve him with our gifts and it looks like He has provided an amazing chance to minister.

Anthony and I have been invited to explore the possibility of serving in Northern England for an initial 2 years after he graduates from seminary.

This “exploring” thing means that we’re heading to England for a 10-day Vision Trip in July to meet the established churches that are a part of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of England and Wales (EPCEW), get a taste (both literal and figurative) of the English culture, get to know and pray with the leaders of our host churches (Gateshead Presbyterian Church and Sheffield Presbyterian Church), and see if our family will “fit” while ministering there in a long-term context.

United Kingdom MapI’ve not been bashful about my love of English things in the past, so some of my excitement is because of the location but most of it is because this gives us both a chance to spread the gospel in a context that’s less-churched than our current one.

We want to tell people about the saving grace of Jesus Christ who don’t know the story.

We want to:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

That doesn’t mean ministry in places like The South isn’t necessary or worthwhile! We’ve spent the last 3 years in one of the most religious and most churched states in the United States and know the benefits that come with having a culture that embraces the general precepts contained in Scripture. I have a deep admiration for the ministers who have spent their lives faithfully ministering here and I’m extremely thankful that my earliest parenting years have been in a place where children are valued and respect and kindness is common.

All of this to say, we need prayers. Lots and lots of prayers. I’ve been returning to this favorite verse often as we prepare for this trip:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

It would mean so much if you’d join me in praying for these things:

Pray for God to reveal whether England is the mission field he wants us to serve in. We will be praying for God’s will throughout this process but it would mean so much to know that you were praying along with us! We want to serve God and glorify him with our gifts. We would love to serve him in Britain but we want to be sure that the choice is made with much prayer.

Pray for the church in Britain (and specifically the EPCEW Presbytery). Pray that they trust in the promises of God and that they are used to preach the gospel and disciple the saved.

Pray for safe travels for us. Also, please pray for Anthony’s Mother who has graciously volunteered to watch our children, Tamasin and Rowan, over her vacation while we are on this trip. In the meantime, we are in the middle of the passport application process; please pray that our passports will be received in time.

Pray for God to provide the means for us to go to Britain full-time. If this vision trip goes well, that’s the next step. We know God is generous and faithful to provide for his church and we’re praying that He will raise the funds needed to support our family on the mission field while we preach the gospel to the lost, help plant churches of growing Christians, and minister to the existing believers.

Also, if you want to take a look at the letter we’ve put together for our friends and family about the trip or print it out and pass them out, you can check it out here. AND if you want to donate to help off-set the costs of the tickets, we’ve put together a crowdfunding page.

I’m happy to answer any questions you may have, so let me know if you have any and thank you so much for your prayerful support!


A Few Family Videos

I’m just catching up on posting some of our family videos really quick before the clock strikes 12 on midnight tomorrow and I turn into a pumpkin (…forgive my humor, I’m on day 12 of a cold that descended on the house and it’s made me a little slap happy).

This is one of my new personal favorites. Tam is doing a 3-year-old’s rendition of Irish step dancing. We rented the Best of Riverdance from the local library and she requested it 5 times in one day.

This is Rowan enjoying his first solids. He really, really enjoyed it and has slurped up all the cereal we’ve fed him since:

Our weekly walk to the library normally includes Cat walking with us for the first block. My sister wanted to see how he does it, so I filmed it one time:

Hopefully, there’s more to come as I try to compile things over the next few days.

Happy New Year!!!

How We Made a Turducken

It started with a comment from my supervisor while we were discussing Thanksgiving plans, “I’ve always wanted to try one of those things, a turducken is what I think they call it.” Then, I mentioned it to Anthony, “Have you ever heard of a turducken?” “A what?!” he replied, already intrigued by the name. After that, there was 2 solid hours of Wikipedia reading and YouTube video watching and we had decided that this would be The Year of the Turducken.

With lots of pictures and videos, here’s what we did for our Christmas dinner:

Step 1:

Prep the stuffing. Since we needed the stuffing ready for when we pieced together the poultry, I went ahead and prepped the stuffing early in the day Christmas eve. I used this recipe since I can’t have white wheat or traditional sausage on my diet. Here’s everything that went in to it, minus the stock and salt and pepper:  Stuffing Ingredients
A short video of me introducing the stuffing ingredients:

Please forgive the lack of being “put together”. This is what I look like when I just wake up and have to cook things first thing. Traditionally, Anthony makes me coffee and toast while I stare at the wall for a half hour and slowly become human.

Anywho, I got the sausage browned, the onions, apples, and onion cooked, the bread dried in the oven and Anthony chopped and muddled the sage, parsley, and thyme. Here’s what that looked like:

Stuffing being made

The finished stuffing:

Stuffing Mixed and Raw

Step 2:

Prep the duck. Some turduckens are organized with a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey but ours was organized duck inside a chicken inside a turkey since that’s what we’d read was recommended for “beginners”. It has to do with the fact that the duck is finished at a lower temp than the chicken and turkey so it’s a little easier to get an even cooking from all the poultry and, if you’re not a seasoned butcher, if you mess up on prepping the duck then you can just use the duck breasts and spare meat as the inner layer without messing up the presentation.

As you can see, our chicken was on the big side. And this is when we realized that this would be a HUGE turducken.

Birds on the counter

Raw DuckAnd so it begins:

Anthony de-boned the duck and he also removed the skin since we’d heard the skin is super fatty and never cooks through well.

A timelapse of the process:

The duck completed (hurray!):

De-boned raw duck

After we shot this video, Anthony removed the skin and we kept the meat in a separate bowl.

Step 3:

Prepare the chicken . Now that Anthony had some experience with de-boning a bird, he got to work on the chicken. This time, we kept the skin on.
Raw Chicken

Step 4:

Prepare the Turkey . The turkey required a bit more precision since it’s VITAL that you don’t cut through the skin. We took a few pictures of the turkey…. and realized that this was a HUGE turkey!
Raw TurkeyHere’s the timelapse (I helped consult a little in this one. I’m the one in the Shakespeare shirt):

Step 5:

Stuff the turkey … turning it into a turducken!
Meat and stuffing ready for layeringThis is the “fun” part. We got to layer the stuffing and meat in a semi-organized fashion. You do this before stitching it up. We didn’t video any of this, but we did take pictures of each layer.

Layer 1: Turkey – We sliced the breasts lengthwise and the thighs to provide more crevices for stuffing because I LOVE stuffing.

Un stuffed raw turkey  Stuffed turkey

Layer 2: Chicken – we set the chicken on top of the stuffed turkey and then stuffed the chicken.
Stuffed chickenLayer 3: Duck – We set the duck breasts and meat on top of the stuffed chicken and then stuffed all around the duck.
duck on the turducken Layer 4: MORE stuffing!!!!
Behold the giant mass of stuffing and poultry!
Stuffed duck

Step 6:

Sew up the turducken. We took that giant mass of meat and stuffing and wrapped it up, stitching it with butcher string and metal laces to create the look of the turducken.

sewed up raw turducken
It’s very sneaky.

It looks like a turkey, but it’s filled with solid meat and dressing. Very, very sneaky.

Confession: the stitching job wasn’t the greatest and we might have layer too much stuffing in. You can see from this shot that our poor turkey couldn’t handle all the stress and bits came out the back.

exploding turduckenOh well. It doesn’t mess with the flavor, so we left it like this.

Step 7:

Season the turducken. After it sat for many hours in the fridge, I seasoned it with olive oil, sage, thyme, lemon, paprika, salt, and pepper before covering it with some foil and putting it in the oven.

seasoned turducken

Step 7:

Bake the turducken. I baked the turducken covered at 225* for 7 hours and then for 4 more hours uncovered. We had a 25 lb. turducken and guesstimated based on several searches I’d done about approximate times.

I woke up to a bit of a fiasco when we realized that the roasting pan we used was waaaaaay too shallow for the dish and it had been dripping over the edge of the roaster, out of the oven, and onto the floor for hours. I didn’t take pictures of any of that since I didn’t think anyone but me would appreciate photos of my husband scrubbing the turducken juices off the floor.

Afterwards, we let the turducken sit for another hour covered, allowing the parts to meld before cutting. This part was crucial and we’re glad we didn’t skimp on it.

Step 8:

Transfer to serving dish and enjoy!

Bask in the glory of that beautiful creation!

baked turduckenAfter what amounted to several days of work and research, we took a few moments to just stare at it before removing the legs and wings, slicing, and tasting it.

Turducken with no legs or wings

I have no arms and no legs!

Here’s our video of our first slice:

Look at all the tasty layers. And not a bone in sight — It’s solid meat and stuffing!

sliced turducken

A few final notes:
– It was a tasy dish and worth the effort. It made SO MUCH food that I’m sure we’ll be eating turducken for the next week and I’m still going to freeze some.
– The turkey was a bit dry, so we’re definitely going to cook it for less time next time around and we’re going to pay closer attention to the meat thermometer readings to help prevent this.
– Since we had to use turkey sausage and fresh herbs instead of pork sausage like usual, the stuffing was less flavorful that we like it. Next time, we’re going to salt each layer, and try a different stuffing recipe. It was still good, just not as great as we want it. That said, the seasoning on the top as on point.
– Definitely use a deeper roasting pan! The mess we had to clean up was no fun and could have been easily remedied with a deeper pan.
– We might go with a small turkey and chicken next time. I don’t think we were thinking about cook time and quantity when we bought the turkey, in fact, I’m pretty sure we bought the turkey for something and just had it in our freezer. Next time, we’ll be more purposeful about the size of the bird.

All-in-all, it was a great experience that we enjoyed. making the turducken together was fun and getting to enjoy the fruit of our labor on Christmas was worth the effort and waiting. We will definitely do it again and hope to involve our kids a bit more as they get older.

Because, seriously… look at how awesome this is:

final table