It finally feels a little like spring and less like winter. After speaking at a Wesleyan Church yesterday (more on our ecumenical ministry opportunities later), Ryan and I headed up to the Twin Cities (St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota). Since Sunday was beautiful we took advantage of the lovely day and visited Minnehaha Falls. We then walked along the Minnehaha Creek, down to the mighty Mississippi. Well, it is the Mississippi River but since we could obviously (if you look at the picture) see across it, it isn’t the widest point. Anyway, it was a beautiful day to be out enjoying the weather and getting to visit with Ryan’s brother.After our walk, we had a delicious dinner at the 112 Eatery filled with new things to try and enjoy. And we ended the evening with a fire in the backyard. This was complete with good conversation, apple pie and ice cream. It was a wonderfully warm day and now we’re looking forward to another couple of lovely days here in the Twin Cities.
Tam Tam slams are one of our favorite things to introduce to family and friends. They tend to go over a bit better than vegemite. Although it is widely known that I enjoy vegemite on toast and I wish more people shared in my love for this tasty, salty treat. But this post isn’t about vegemite so back to the delicious Tim Tam. Monday I posted about the Tim Tam Taste Test. And after the taste test we, of course, had to celebrate by experiencing the Tim Tam Slam.The Tim Tam Slam is done by using a Tim Tam as a straw to drink hot chocolate (or your other hot beverage of choice) and the liquid makes the biscuit deliciously melty and gooey. Ryan has his directions down pat and always cracks me up when he uses the words “structural integrity”. I’ve documented the process below for your future Tim Tam Slam enjoyment.1. Hold the Tim Tam and take small bites out of opposite corners.
2. Put one bitten end of the Tim Tam in the hot chocolate and suck the liquid in through the other end.3. Once you feel the structural integrity of the biscuit start to collapse then “slam” the biscuit into your mouth. 4. Enjoy! These Tim Tam Slams have made such fun memories on many of our stops. I’m glad that Tim Tam Slams have made their way into a few homes as a favorite dessert treat. Ryan and I will continue sharing the love until our box of Australian Tim Tams is empty.
Tim Tams are delicious Australian biscuits (cookies) made by the Arnotts company. I was first introduced to these in Papua New Guinea by Australians who love them. And then coming back to the US I found that you could buy Tim Tams here. While they use to have only a limited distribution, these yummy cookies can now be bought at World Market, Target and Walmart. They are made by Pepperidge Farms (an Arnotts sister company) and the question was raised whether or not the US version was as good as the Australian version. Could we even tell the difference?Ryan brought back boxes of Tim Tams from his last Australia trip (it was a good use of his second free checked bag:-) so all we had to do was buy a pack here in America. The Australian biscuit is pictured on the left and the US version on the right. They look very similar, have similar ingredients (although the US version has a little more sugar) and on first examination, we didn’t know if anyone would even be able to tell the difference.So the idea was to try a quarter of each cookie without knowing if you were eating the US or Australian version. 6 of us did the test. And the final results were two of the testers (the youngest two) chose the American version while the other 4 all chose the Australian biscuit. There was a lot of thinking as well as discussion afterwards on what differences we could or couldn’t taste. One tester could taste the difference in sugar content. Another thought they tasted pretty much the same. I personally think the chocolate was very similar but the texture of the cookie insides were what made the difference for me. I found the US inside wafers were a little more porous and flaky while the Australian version was just a touch denser. Enough to taste a difference.The final result is that the original from Australia are indeed better. If you were offered a choice, the Australian version should be your pick. However, the US version does a passably good job if you can’t make it to Australia and they will still make a delicious Tim Tam Slam (pictures and directions coming soon!). This was a fun test and I would be happy to add some more tests to our data set in the future. However, I am convinced that the Australian Tim Tams would continue to win.
Today we embark on our cross-country road trip. There are a few different reasons for this trip but the main two reasons are connecting with current, potential and future supporters and also attending a week long training in North Carolina. The training is a spiritual emphasis week which should prove both challenging and refreshing. We will be traveling as far north as the Twin Cities in Minnesota, as far east as Ridge Haven in North Carolina and as far south as Gulfport, Mississippi. I know that our drive up to the Twin Cities isn’t pictured on the map but this isn’t our exact route. I just wanted to give you all an idea of how much driving we’re going to be doing in the next 50 days. If you’re somewhere close to our route and we haven’t touched base, give us a shout out. We’d love to try and get together with you!
Tonight we are staying in Las Vegas and this is especially exciting because we get to try out the Beerhaus which is a new restaurant on the strip and my cousin is the chef! We get to enjoy his food at family gatherings and he’s the one that is credited with cooking the perfect brussels sprouts that got Ryan hooked:-) The Beerhaus (which had a great write-up on usatoday.com) is a bar that serves food so no brussels sprouts tonight but we’re looking forward to the beer and brats! This is a great way to start a road trip.
We had two speaking engagements yesterday and are looking forward to one more on Wednesday. If you’re in the Sacramento area, please join us at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church for a potluck missions night at 6pm. Bring a dish for the potluck, and listen to Ryan and I share more about Australia.This weekend we spoke twice, first in Bakersfield and then in Fresno. We had the opportunity to speak to an adult Sunday school class, as well as share a meal with some people who are quickly becoming special friends in Bakersfield. After that, we got on the road and arrived to a delicious Australian spread.We provided the TimTams but our host, whom I love dearly, made all sorts of amazing Australian deliciousness. Meat pies, sausage rolls and fairy bread, just to highlight a few items. And then for dessert we had the TimTams, of course, but also sticky date pudding, a white chocolate rolled cake and even a beautiful banana, caramel pavlova. Although I didn’t partake in the banana dessert, others thought it was delightful.This was a fun evening of sharing food, visiting and answering questions about our vision and heart for Australia. Ryan and I love gathering people around us who are already proving to be a foundational part of our ministry, whether through prayer, finances or the many other ways people have chosen to come alongside us.
Yesterday Ryan surprised me with more than just a trip to the Washington State Capitol. You can see that picture if you follow me on Instagram (joycandee). He warned me that it was a bit of a drive and I was slightly worried after we spent some time rambling around Aberdeen, driving by Kurt Cobain’s childhood home and the bridge where Kurt Cobain drew a lot of his musical inspiration from. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but Aberdeen was definitely more of a treat for Ryan.However, once I figured out that he had booked a place in Astoria, I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful drive and even laughed as we got to sing along to a little Cindy Lauper that was serendipitously on the radio.For those of you not familiar, Astoria is a little town on the Oregon coasts where the Goonies was set and filmed. It also boasts the location where Clark Gable began his acting career and also a few places where outdoor scenes from Kindergarten Cop were shot. I’m sure there are a few other noteworthy things but since I really shamelessly love The Goonies, this was just a fun place to be if only for one night.We drove by some of the places you can see from the movie. However, the Goonie house is privately owned and tucked away on a hillside that is currently closed to traffic. But we still got to see the jail and walked by the intersection that is highlighted during the police chase in the opening credits of the film. Recognize the car? That’s the one (if not the actual car then the same style) the Fratelli brothers were driving.As much as I enjoy the Goonies, the highlight of the day was time with my husband in the beautiful, romantic hotel. He chose very well. We enjoyed the amazing views, the welcome complete with a wine and cheese bar, the relaxing sounds of the Columbia River, a bubble bath including complementary champagne, fluffy white bathrobes and a cozy fire. We just stayed in, ordered pizza (after all it was Ryan’s anniversary too) and played games all evening.This beautiful view is what we woke up to. I’m so blessed by my husband who took the time to plan something special even in our busy season of travel, moving towards Australia and support raising. We’ve known each other 3 years, been married 2 years and I’m excited to see where the future takes us.
It’s Australia Day in Australia, tomorrow in the US (the 26th). Australia day marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson in New South Wales. It also commemorates the raising of the Flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip. Evidently Australians celebrate by eating lamb and watching fireworks, so Ryan will be at a bbq today joining in the celebration, enjoying some delicious meat and beautiful fireworks.
Yesterday was a beautiful day to get pampered. I wish I’d taken a picture of all the ladies after we’d been spoiled and styled. There were lots of great products to try and it was fun to hang out all afternoon, enjoy interesting conversations, snack on yummy food and visit with the ladies (and couple of guys:-) at the salon.This the me in full make-up but you can’t really tell because I was inside of a machine that uses a blacklight to show what’s underneath your skin. We had a Dermelogica instructor come, do consultations and use this machine to show us where we have problem areas. I was happy to hear that my skin is pretty healthy (only my eyes looked a bit dehydrated- so I drank a bunch of water right away:-). We talked about it and I think my nice skin can be attributed to wearing sunscreen everyday since high school. I guess I’ll keep it up!In addition to the facials, we enjoyed paraffin hand waxes. Thanks to this my hands are super smooth and my nails look beautiful too. There were also hair styles, makeup, eyelash extensions and all sorts of other fun pampering activities.
I’m so thankful for the people who helped make this event possible. To Deserie who opened her salon and made herself and her products available. To all the other ladies who spend the day with us, helping with treatments and taking payments to help support our work in Australia. And to everyone who participated in all the awesome conversations about Australia and all sorts of other topics too. What a great way to spend the afternoon!
My husband is a wonderful man. He grew up in small town Wisconsin and this has been a big part of what has shaped him into the man he is today. Pardeeville is only a city in motto. As the “City of Lakes” it boasts about 2,100 people now but was even smaller when Ryan was young. Here are a few more reasons why I love my husband, the Pardeeville Edition.
#50- His unabashed love of pizza.
Pizza is a part of my husband’s DNA. He loves his pizza and despite his ever expanding tastes, pizza is still his favorite food. Dominick’s pizza is a Pardeeville standard. It’s been around since the late 1980s and I’m sure Ryan has eaten more than his weight multiple times over in Dominick’s pizza. Whenever we’re in town, this is one of the first meals that we eat.#51- His sense of exploration and adventure.
This is the Fox River and it’s just one of the places where Ryan spent a lot of his growing up years. The town was small and safe so Ryan roamed through the streets, the cemetery, the woods and around the lakes with his friends, brothers and sometimes alone. Pardeeville was where he first tried on his sense of adventure and even now he still loves being outdoors and exploring.#52- His small town love.
Ryan is definitely Pardeeville Proud but it’s not just Pardeeville, he loves the small town life, memories and sense of community. He’s pretty realistic and doesn’t romanticize it but his love of the small town life is going to come in pretty handy for us in Australia. He understands what it is like to grow up in and live in a small town. He loves visiting his parent’s home and he’s looking forward to small town life in Australia.#53- His love of SNOW!
Although the snow didn’t come until after Christmas, Ryan was super excited when it did start snowing. This picture is of the accumulation in just the last couple of hours along the same street where Ryan grew up. The midwest antifreeze has seeped a bit out of Ryan’s veins, however, he still loves the snow and almost everything that goes along with it. I’m thankful that despite his love of snow, he’s willing to give up more frequent snow trips to live and be where God is calling him even if it might mean going years without the snow.
I really do love Ryan and after a few trips out to Pardeeville, I also understand a bit more of his history and what makes him tick. All the more reasons why I love my husband.
A long walk around the big lake in Pardeeville. We saw lots of geese who haven’t felt the need to leave for the winter.Christmas cookie decorating with the family. Many cookies were consumed during the process. The wreaths were my favorite.Christmas Eve service in Rio. It was a beautiful reminder of the reason we celebrate with carols, scripture and of course, candles. Singing, “Silent night, Holy night, Son of God, loves pure light…”