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

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Personal Goals for 2010

I know it is already February, but I wanted to post my goals for 2010.

Most of my goals for this year are to re-establish habits and disciplines in my life that have been sorely neglected in the stress of our transition to Scotland. Looking back, the move might have been less stressful if I had better maintained these habits, but in the chaos I let them go. 20/20 hind sight... maybe I will actually learn from this mistake.

So here are my goals for 2010:
  • intensely guard my daily time with God - I have allowed life to interrupt this quiet time too often lately. God is calling me back to quiet waters. I need to be vigilant about my time in his presence

  • regular health routine - This goal is really my catch-all for the numerous areas that contribute to my physical health and energy level. Exercising at least three times a week. Eating better. Sleeping better (as much as a mother with two little kids really can).

  • read 25 books - With kids, it has become increasingly difficult to set aside reading time, but this is an important way for me to feel like more than just a mother. Last year I only read 12 books (besides that myriad of children's books I read every day).
I hope to check in every month or two and post about any progress I make toward these goals.

Happy New Year!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Can it be Monday already? This has been a hard week for our family. My two-year-old has been running a scary high fever for days and no one seems to know what is causing it. All we can do is treat the fever and wait for new symptoms to reveal what this is, or for her to feel better. I'm hoping for the latter.

I have some food related posts floating around in my head, but no time to get them "down on paper." Hopefully this week will be a little less stressful.

Menu for this week:
  • Wednesday -- Red Thai Curry
  • Thursday -- Chicken Enchiladas
  • Friday -- Bee Rocks with veggies or salad - This new recipe is a roll over from last week.
  • Saturday -- Teriyaki Chicken and Rice

  • Sunday -- Beef Roast in crock pot
Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Yes, another week has passed and I have still not managed to post anything but the weekly menu. After being away for a month, I am finding it very challenging to start posting again. But slowly I am beginning to think "I could post about that" during my daily life, so that must be a good sign. Maybe this week I will find my muse.

Until then, the family must eat, so I will create a meal plan to being peace and food to my household. On the topic of food, we loved the Refried Beans from last week. I messed with the recipe a little and have a few more tweaks that I'd like to try, but this is one of our new favorites. I'll have to post my version of this recipe soon.

Menu for this week:
  • Tuesday -- Chili and Cornbread - rolled over from last week. I never got this made. I can hardly wait to make the cornbread.
  • Wednesday -- Chicken Lentil Soup
  • Friday -- Bee Rocks with veggies or salad - I just found this recipe this week and wanted to try it.
  • Saturday -- Red Thai Curry

  • Sunday -- Sausage and Mushroom Pasta

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This is the first time in my married life that we really don't have the option of eating out or just grabbing a bite somewhere. First, we don't have the money in our budget right now. Second, we don't have a car to go grab something. Third, there is nothing "fast" near us.

I have to come to terms with the fact that I have to cook every night. I find I'm not very excited about this idea. Menu planning is so important in our current life situation where we no longer have access to the convenience of grabbing a burger (or more often, a sub sandwich) or stopping by the store on the way home from work. Everything has to be planned and food has to be prepared every night.

I also am struggling with energy right now. By the time dinner time rolls around, I have no desire to make anything. But I am learning that if I plan ahead we all survive the evenings a little better. If I prep for dinner in the morning when I have a little more energy, or throw something in the crock pot, we get a nice dinner and I have very little work required in the tired evening hours.

Menu for this week:
  • Monday -- Chicken Enchiladas
  • Tuesday -- Jacket Potatoes with cheese and broccoli
  • Wednesday -- Crock Pot Rotisserie Style Chicken - this has become one of my husband's favorites; he also loves having leftover chicken for great wraps or sandwiches the next day.
  • Thursday -- Refried Bean and Beef Burritos - this will be my first time trying this refried bean recipe. I hope the family likes it ... refried beans are really expensive here.
  • Friday -- Beef Roast with oven roasted potatoes
  • Saturday -- Chicken Lentil Soup

  • Sunday -- Chili and Cornbread - I am excited about having corn bread again. A friend here told me where I could find something resembling "corn meal" (as we call it in the States); it should make good corn bread.

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Back online ...

Due to circumstances completely out of our control, we were without internet connectivity for almost three weeks over the holidays. Sorry, no posts or updates on the blog!

Well, we are back online and I have too many posts to catch up on. You will have to be patient as I work to get back into the swing of blogging.

Hope you all had a happy Christmas and wonderful Hogmanay (the Scots word for the last day of the year).