Monday, September 15, 2014

In Case You're Hungry for Turducken . . .

. . . Well, then, you've come to the right place!

Several months ago, John and his good friend Marshall hatched a plan - yes, hatched - to roast a turducken. That would be a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey. You've got to wonder who came up with that idea in the first place.

(Just google it if you've never heard of it.)

(Every food blog has a recipe for it, so I won't bore you with the details. Not to mention the fact that Marshall did all the work for preparing the turducken so I'm not exactly sure how it's done.)

(This post may have an abundance of sentences with parentheses.)

(You've been warned.)

Finally, we got around to actually doing it and last Saturday we had the First Annual Turducken Meal at Toliver's House.

While Marshall did all the prep work for the meat, I did roast it in my oven.

It took about 7 hours for approximately 25 pounds of meat at 300 degrees. I left it covered with tinfoil until the last half hour or so.

It does help to have an industrial size Viking oven like ours. It also helps to have a strong husband because that thing is AWKWARD to get in and out of the oven.

Now, ladies, what crucial mistake is my husband making in the above picture??! No, it's not holding a giant carving knife next to my head. The mistake is that he's holding a damp, greasy knife right beside my newly straightened hair. It's a miracle he survived the day. I know all y'all ladies are with me on that one. Yes, "all y'all" is an acceptable colloquialism when you live in Texas. It's also a very simple way to pluralize your nouns.

Of course, back to the feast, it helps to have friends and family who are willing to try a new food and to bring side dishes (this was just the start!). . .

And who are also willing to completely clean the kitchen afterwards.

The latter point was not a requirement for the invitation, but I didn't argue when the ladies offered.

We had 21 turducken feasters total (thank God for husbands like mine who had the idea and ambition to build a giant dining room addition). My mom was at this table too, seated between my dad and husband, but for any of you who know my hard-working mother, you know she's rarely sitting down for any length of time.

My dad, the master mashed potato whipper
Ten of the turducken feasters were Tolivers. 

The table pictured below was probably the most entertaining table to sit at . . . if you ever have sat beside a toddler with a plastic blue elephant spoon that's been snacking all afternoon, you know it will be entertaining.

In case you're confused by my horrible sentence structure, it's the toddler, not the elephant spoon, who was snacking all afternoon. 

By the way, the kids all enjoyed the turducken - not that they had any choice about eating it. I'm one of those moms who have a "Eat it or go hungry" approach.

The turducken was very flavorful and moist with layers of stuffing in between the different meats. Delicious! (Thanks again, Marshall!) The pan drippings were wonderful and made a fabulous homemade gravy, if I do say so myself.

John, the master carver
Thanks again to all who came, cooked, worked, and cleaned. You're all welcome to come again as long as you help clean up.

And thanks, Paula, for letting me borrow many of your pictures!

Now, while I'm open to more creative ideas from my husband and his friends - and this idea turned out very well - you'll be glad to know that I put my foot down and said, "Absolutely not!" to John's next idea:


Have a fabulous Monday and may all your meals be delicious and raccoon-free.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The 7 Minute Life: TOS Review

Most people feel the need to prioritize, organize, and simplify. The 7 Minute Life is a company that has found a unique approach to this and The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner is one of the primary tools they use. This company works to increase your personal productivity and throughout the lengthy introduction it helps you focus on your purpose in life and expand from there. The 7 minute concept refers to you taking 7 minutes to organize and plan for each day.
Busy moms are certainly a demographic that need help with prioritizing, organizing, and simplifying. Since I'm in that crowd myself, I was excited to see how the 7 Minute Life Daily Planner would apply to me.

This basic chart below helps you understand the system a bit better. For visual learners especially, it helps clarify the process you need to go through to get to the point of simplifying your schedule, your to-do list, and your home.

Before you even get to the part where you fill out the planner, there is a lot of front matter that takes some serious, focused reading. This was a big struggle for me. Yes, I do a lot of reading that requires an approach like this; however, I felt that for this planner, they really needed to simplify the beginning!

A lot could have been said in fewer words and would have avoided the danger of getting bogged down in  dense paragraphs. This really kept me from getting to the planner part as quickly as I would have liked. I do understand what the author was trying to accomplish in explaining her philosophy before getting to the meat of the planner; however, I feel like it was rather counter-intuitive that it took hours - far more than 7 minutes - to get through the introductory material.

The planner is 270 pages and just a few of the main sections are:

  • Unfinished Work Tasks
  • Daily Progress
  • Monthly Progress Reports
  • Yearly, 90-Day, and Monthly Calendars
  • Much more!

One particularly creative feature that I appreciated was the "5 Before 11". It helps you prioritize your day and make sure the essentials are accomplished by 11 am. For me, if I can complete that "5 Before 11" task, that ensures that the absolutely most essential things are done - particularly on days when many things go awry. Take potty training, for example. (yes, I'm in the TRENCHES with that one right now)

"What can you do today to take a micro-action on a task that is still not done?" "Did I do what I said I would do today?" Questions like this help you focus on the little steps rather than getting overwhelmed by the big picture.

How to "Tweak" the Planner for Your Own Practical Purposes --

This is an important necessity because the planner really is designed for an individual who has a full-time career outside of the home. While there are many creative and effective features within the planner, it really required some creativity to make it workable in a homeschool setting. I'd love it if the author would come up with a planner specifically for moms! Here are some suggestions that work for adapting sections to your own use:

  • List of "honey dos" or a section for items your children need to accomplish
  • Prayer lists, particularly urgent, immediate items
  • Meal plans and grocery lists
  • Ongoing project lists - both short-term and long-term
  • Menu ideas for the future
  • Memory verses that you want to work on as a family or individually
  • Bible study in depth

On the last point, I found that since I'm currently reading through the Bible and I strive to stay on schedule, I always have a list of specific passages I want to study in-depth later. This planner enables me to keep track of those references more efficiently on a daily basis.

Here's a video - click the link - to learn more about this unique planner.

Price: Spiral Planner (7.3" x 8.5") - $24.95
Age: adults, although I think some older teens would benefit from this as well.

Read more 7 Minute Life reviews at the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Mondays Are Still For Miscellany

Well, happy Monday to you too! How many of you can say that you started your Monday by playing in a treehouse?

Or should I say, having recess. Ahem.

1. Blogging Break? Well, I wouldn't officially say that, but two factors have come into play: one, my phone had to be replaced and still isn't fully restored with the apps and such, so that means I'm down one device. And two, my laptop has decided to stop charging and blogging is nearly impossible when you only have paper and pen.

2. Sarcasm? Who, me? Apparently I should be more careful in my use of sarcasm. Someone read my article over at Fruitful Families - the one about "No Time to Read the Bible" - and thought I meant there really is a book of Hezekiah in the Bible. I'm afraid she actually spent time researching where the book of Hezekiah was located.

And thus my point is justified for why we should spend more time reading ALL of Scripture. You know, so you can recognize when someone quotes from a book of the Bible that doesn't exist.

3. Cooking for Lots of Folks Perhaps you've noticed we have a lot of mouths to feed around our house. Combine that with a love for homemade potpie and what do you get?

Yes, the need to increase the size of pan you use. This is technically called a hotel pan. I call it a "John got it free at the Boutique and it's the perfect size for our hungry family" pan. Catchy, don't you think? (And if you're wondering, it took four single pie crusts to cover that monster)

4. Recipe, Schmecipe Some of you have asked for my homemade potpie recipe. I used to use an actual recipe for chicken potpie. And then real life hit. Here's the general idea: Combine cooked turkey, chicken, or beef (diced) with whatever vegetables happen to be available. Make a white sauce or brown sauce from scratch (people on the Food Network call that a roux, I believe) and pour that over meat and vegetables. If it's chicken or turkey, I'll sometimes add cheddar cheese. Slap a pie crust on top (here's a great recipe) and call it a meal.

5. Toddlers and Pets My two year old is sweet and adorable and lots of fun to have around . . .

But she is really a terrible photography subject 99% of the time. 

Ask her to hold a kitten and things quickly go bad. Ask her to give Prince a hug and she's quickly yelling "No, Prince! Don't lick!" Some children (and kittens and dogs) should really learn to be more cooperative with their blogging mothers.

6. Six Flags over Texas? Not while there is still breath in my body.

My sweet, wonderful (but entirely too daring) husband found a great deal on season tickets for the family. Actually, not the whole family, just him and the older kids. Why would my husband not purchase a Six Flags season ticket for his beloved wife?

Simple. He knows that I don't like:

  • Water (unless I'm drinking it or showering in it)
  • Crowds
  • Standing in line in the hot sun
  • Heights
  • Fast, scary rides
  • Fun

So yesterday afternoon I stayed home and kept the home fires burning - aka I kept the little ones and we sat in the air conditioning and read books. And John and my dad and the older six kids showed a certain measure of craziness and went to Six Flags over Texas.

Also known as, Scary Place of Insanity. Maybe I'm the only one who calls it that.

(My six olders with my dad)

John finds my perfectly reasonable fears to be rather hilarious.
So he texts me pictures like this --

And I texted him this picture --

Safely on terra firma.

Notice that she's perfectly happy without her feet swinging 280 feet above the ground. A girl after her mother's heart.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Annie Henry and the Secret Mission: Chapter Book Review

Annie Henry and the Secret Mission by Susan Olasky from P & R Publishing is part of the Annie Henry series. Olasky brings history to life in this book - part of her "Adventures in the American Revolution" series.

Plot: Annie is a slightly rebellious and very adventurous girl. She is one of the daughters of Patrick Henry. Her mother has a mental illness and Annie is rarely allowed to see her, a fact which is a trial to Annie. Annie runs away from home once or twice, forgetting how much trouble she gets into when she comes home again. The book ends with mixed emotions and leaves the reader wondering what will happen in the next book. Her father, Patrick Henry, has an important mission with the Revolutionary War coming and Annie wants to help him!

Feedback from my 10 year old daughter: I really liked this story and it kept my attention! However, the illustrations on the front cover did not appeal to me very much. The artwork didn't seem very well done and the proportions weren't quite right. Somehow the colors didn't seem realistic. The girl's face had gray areas which were probably supposed to be shadows, but they just looked like a man's whiskers.

The book itself was very true to historical facts. I liked how the prologue gave the true account of Patrick Henry and his family. This is the first in the series. Annie Henry is a young girl growing up as the American Revolution is just beginning. Her personality is kind of wild and she wants to do things her own way - she's not concerned if it's polite or not. Annie only wants to see things her way. Her older brothers are always teasing her! She enjoys riding her horse and wants to help her father and her older sister, but often ends up being more trouble than help. Annie's mother is sick - and that really did happen. She had a mental illness.

The book was a really fast read - the author does a good job of drawing you into the story. One time Annie felt really cold, wet, and tired, and I almost started feeling the same way myself.

Overall Thoughts: What a great way to introduce your child to an important part of American history. Olasky has several books in the Annie Henry series and they will be a great addition to your home library.


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