Sunday, April 11, 2010

Blog has moved...

My blog has moved to: Sumners in Scotland. Please come visit me there.

In order to simplify my life right now, I have combined my two blogs. All future posts for ContemplativeMom (menu plans, book reviews, thoughts on motherhood, etc.) will now be posted over at our family blog, Sumners in Scotland. Hope to see you there.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


This year I am adopting a theme of simplicity. My focus is to simplify my life, and that of my family, to lower the demands I accept on myself and my time. One of the things I have finally admitted I needed to simplify was my blogging world.

I originally set up a second blog, Contemplative Mom, as a separate place for all my thoughts and activities as a woman, wife and mother. But in this new year, I find that I don't have time and energy to keep up both blogs. The family blog seems more important right now, to keep our friends and family involved in our lives as we are "across the pond."

All that being said, I am closing my Contemplative Mom blog for now and will be moving any future posts that would have been on it (menu plans, book reviews, thoughts on motherhood, etc.) over to our family blog, Sumners in Scotland. Please come visit me there.

Happy Blogging.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

We are working on a new budget for the year. Food is always a big part of our spending and we are considering ways to cut this area even more in the new year. I'll let you know more as we figure things out.

This week my hubby and I are going out to dinner alone together for the first time since we moved to Aberdeen almost five months ago. I am so excited about a quiet dinner without competing with the kids for attention.

And to this week's food plan...

Menu for this week:
  • Tuesday -- Salmon with asparagus - rolled over from Valentine's Day; my hubby and I were both sick and didn't want to waste our special dinner on lesser appetites.
  • Wednesday -- Out for dinner alone with hubby (the kids will get to eat leftovers)
  • Friday -- Tikka Masala or Korma
Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Afraid of a Chicken?

For most of my adult life, I have been 'afraid' of trying to cook a whole chicken. As a kid, I remember watching my mom skin and cut chicken; I remember thinking that I was never going to do that myself. Crazy, I know!

Never say never! Having moved to Scotland earlier this year, with a higher cost of living, I am working on new ways to lower our food costs. And guess what ... whole chickens are less expensive.

Maybe you are like me and have never tried to tackle a whole chicken. Well, I'm hear to share my experience. It may encourage you to try it for yourself.

I was initially inspired by this recipe, Crock Pot Rotisserie Style Chicken, but had to make a few adjustments to fit my needs. I have now cooked chicken five or six times and have gained some level of confidence.

My crock pot is only 3.5 liters (about 3.75 quarts), so I needed a much smaller chicken than this recipe called for. Our local store carries 1.55 kilogram (3.4 pound) chickens at a great price, especially if I buy more than one. I normally cook one right away and freeze the other for a future date.

I pull out my chicken and all the ingredients, and after mixing the spices in my extra shaker, I prepare to tackle the chicken.

Some people are much more picky about skinning their chicken. I don't like the idea of cooking the chicken in its skin all day, but I am not going to spend much time getting every bit of skin off.

I give myself about 5 minutes, and quickly remove all I can with a pair of scissors and a sharp knife. I skin the breast and the back first, then work on the legs if I still have time. I rarely skin the wings; it just never seems worth the effort.

You will also want to make sure you remove any innards and the neck that may be inside the chicken. Some stores put this stuff back in the chicken so you can use it. The chickens I buy normally only have the neck (though I did find a tail in the last one ... weird).

This chicken is ready to go into the crock pot. I put it in with the breast up so I can sprinkle and rub in the spices. The legs are still up so I can stuff it and turn it over for cooking.

I normally stuff one small onion (cut in quarters or eighths) and two or three peeled garlic cloves.

The chicken is cooked with the breast down, to keep the meat as moist as possible. For a chicken this size, I normally cook it about 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high.

I don't have any "finished product" pictures because the chicken literally fell off the bone. It makes for easy serving and de-boning, but doesn't look pretty for pictures.

My family loves eating this chicken with rice and veggies. And even with this small chicken, there is always enough left for a few wraps for lunch and at least one other dinner recipe later in the week. I normally plan for some kind of soup or maybe chicken enchiladas to use up the rest.

A few more hints ... it is easiest to de-bone the chicken as soon as possible after cooking, although I have also refrigerated the leftovers and waited until the following day because of time constraints. If you do the latter, you will need to warm the chicken before trying to remove the bones.

The last two times I followed Keeper of the Home's lead and made broth with the left-overs. I even started a bag in our freezer for veggie scraps (carrot skins, onion ends, celery leaves, etc) to use in my broth. Making broth takes a little more work, but is especially good when I am making a soup with the remaining chicken. If I'm not using it right away, I simply freeze it in jars and save it for another time. It thaws quickly and easily in the microwave.

So that was my journey of how I overcame my fear of chickens! Hope you are inspired by my story, or at least amused by my irrational fear!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Another week begins! This week we celebrate my hubby's birthday and Valentine's Day, so I have a few special meals planned. Hopefully, next week we will have the opportunity to go out alone together to celebrate.

Menu for this week:
  • Monday -- Bee Rocks with veggies or salad - This new recipe is a roll over from last week.
  • Tuesday -- Chicken Enchiladas
  • Wednesday -- Yellow Thai Curry
  • Thursday -- Jacket Potatoes (with cheese and broccoli)
  • Friday -- Meatloaf, oven roasted potatoes & broccoli
  • Saturday -- Teriyaki Chicken and Rice

  • Sunday -- Salmon, asparagus
Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Reckless and Careless Speech

Words That Heal - Chapter 4: "Don't Give It a Thought!"

"Reckless words pierce like a sword,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing"

(Proverbs 12:18)

It is so easy to be careless with our words. And too often those words hurt the people around us. I can't even count the number of times I have regretted hastily spoken words, and even worse, really hurt someone by being careless and reckless.

Mayhall talks about some of the times in life when we tend to be careless, including exaggeration and flattery. One of these examples that most captured my attention was when we casually give surface answers to deep problems and hurts, such as when someone is hurting and we rattle off reasons for pain and suffering.

Most of the time we are better off keeping our mouth shut and ask for wisdom for the right words and timing to speak. "I am convinced that daily, perhaps hourly, we need to ask God to help us bite our tongue... to help us think before we speak." We need to pray for quick sensitivity to the Spirit's leading.

"Lord, forgive me for my careless, reckless words. Show me where I have hurt those around me, and help me be quick to repent. Set a guard over my mouth. Keep me for speaking shallow cliches when people are hurting. Teach me to be silent until you give me words of wisdom that bring healing."

I am currently reading Words That Hurt, Words That Heal by Carole Mayhall.
Check out the other posts in this series.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Reading List for 2010

Revised 01 FEB 2010

For 2010, I have again set a goal of reading 25 books. Last year I only made it through about 12, so this will be a big step up for me.

Below you will find a list of what I am currently reading and the books that I have finished reading. I will be updating this list throughout the year.

~ Currently reading:
~ Finished (most recent at the top):
  1. Words That Hurt, Words That Heal by Carole Mayhall.
  2. * check out my thoughts about this book.

~ Book Reviews