Rotisserie Chicken and Homemade Bone Broth (in the crock pot)

Yesterday morning I put a whole chicken in the crockpot.  This is my favorite way to cook chicken.  If you've never cooked a whole chicken before, try this!  It's so easy, your house will smell delicious all day long and you will likely have meat for more than one meal.  
Rotisserie Chicken for the Crockpot
Rinse the chicken, remove the innards and pat it dry. 
Combine the following together in a bowl:
2 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika (or any paprika you might have)
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper 
Rub this mixture all over the bird, inside and out.
(At this point I usually quarter an onion and peel some garlic cloves and stick them inside the bird.) Put the bird breast-side down into the crockpot.  Do NOT add any water.
Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 8. 
After about six hours (on low), I scooped out half of the chicken to use for that night's meal (Chicken-broccoli casserole).  Here it is, cooling:
When it had cooled, I pulled the meat off the bones (Do NOT toss those bones!) and broke it apart with my fingers to make smaller pieces, then added it to our casserole and finished making dinner.  

When the casserole was in the oven, I turned off the crockpot and removed the other half of the chicken and did the same thing (usually I would do this in one fell swoop but I had to get the casserole in the oven).  Put that chicken in the fridge to use for a meal later on in the week.

Now.  For the stock: you can pull out the onions and garlic when you see them, or leave them in, and then dump all the bones back into the crockpot, add water to nearly fill the crockpot, and cook the bones for several hours (I usually cook them on low throughout that entire night and the following full day).  Then you've just made yourself some good bone broth which you can use anytime a recipe calls for chicken stock (or any other stock for that matter.)  I pour it through this fine strainer I have and into containers to stick in the freezer.


I used to be really faithful about writing birthday letters to my kids.  And then I stopped.  I am trying to get back into the habit mostly because my kids treasure the letters I have written.  I have them all in a book and they will pull them out and read them and are so delighted to read of the younger versions of themselves and their siblings.  So I begin again.


My dearest Adelia,

The story of you coming into our lives is one I treasure, because it almost didn't happen.  I was so afraid of all the what-ifs, and I had to take time to allow the truths of God's word to sink into my soul and chase away all my fears.  And He did, and we said yes.  And we brought home a failure-to-thrive baby that was you.  It would be another six months before you were officially adopted, but from the moment you were here, in our home and in our arms, you were ours.  Our hearts pretty nearly ached for all the love we had for you.

You were so tiny.  (We used to give you your baths in the bathroom sink; that's how tiny you were!)  The label failure-to-thrive that was given you at birth now astounds me when I think of it.  Because, my girl: you positively thrive.  You are full of life and passion and will and sass and oh, you are funny.  You have so much to say and so.many.questions.  You ask questions every two minutes.  You are noisy.  There is nothing quiet about you.  You do everything fully and loudly and with zeal.  You are generous.  You are friendly with every single person you meet.  You are the socialite of our whole family.  You are impulsive and you are strong and you are brave.  I see all of that in you, every single day, and I think of the grace of God who has fashioned you so; who took the tiny little you and flourished her into your eight-year-old self and all that you are.  He is so good.

(And this is the part you may want to skip over for the next few years, at least.  You'll think it's b-o-r-i-n-g.  ;)  But it belongs here.)  I have learned so much about being your mama.  I have learned that behind your tough exterior you hide your insecurities.  And behind your stubbornness is a need for grace and kindness.  God has patiently instructed me over and over in regard to you that kindness leads to repentance.  You respond well to silliness; to tickles and a gentle chiding of humor to smooth your furrowed brow.  You won't often initiate affection, but you need it and you want it.  You like your back scratched and me to pull you onto my lap and hug you and pull you beside me on the couch and read to you.  (You will grab my arm and try to tuck it around you-- which sometimes makes the turning of the pages difficult, but we work it out-- and you want the blanket over us, no matter what the season.)  I have also learned more practical ways of being your mama.  I have researched and learned (thank you, internet) how to take care of your curls and your beautiful brown skin.  There is so much I don't know and it is often a challenge but it is a part of the story of us, isn't it?

Eight.  These are the things you love at eight years old:  Tiger.  (Our cat.)  More often called Buddy from your mouth.  I often tease you that you're more excited to see the cat than you are me-- or anyone else, for that matter-- in the mornings. ;)

You love being read to.  I will agree to read to you-- one book, I'll say-- and you find the longest story on the shelf.  And about twelve others.  You are active, and like to do anything the boys do.

You have learned this year to sit and play independently, but never quietly.  You are generally singing at the top of your lungs or yelling loudly as you play throughout quiet times.

You like playing Barbies, jumping on the trampoline, and pestering your siblings.  (Ahem.  The last of which we're working on, constantly.)  You love drama and sometimes when things are mellow I think you like to go stir something up just to create some action.  ;)

You love to swim, and when the sun is out, you will talk incessantly about swimming.  (Nevermind that you don't actually know how to swim.  Yet.  No matter.  You will learn because you love the water.)

You love to ride your bike but you'll groan if we're going for a walk or a hike because that's just not moving fast enough for you, I think.  ;)

You always wish you are about ten years older than you are, because you think that with age comes a phone, a tablet, a computer, and keys to a car.  (One of your favorite questions is, "When I'm ____ (fill in the blank with any age), will I get a phone?"  You haven't yet figured out that the answer is always no.  ;)  Along all the gadgets you want at that magic age, you will also want all the trips to McDonalds you can squish in (ew!) and any movies you want to see, and swimming whenever you want.  ;)

You LOVE sour cream.  Sheesh, girl.  We always have to watch you when there's sour cream on the table because you would pile it on and eat it all up!  Sour cream is your love language.  Well, that and jam.  And burritos.  Casa.  And breads of any kind.

You are really good with numbers but have struggled to learn to read, and I know this is frustrating for you.  I keep telling you that you will learn in your own time, and some things have come easily to you (learning to ride a bike, for instance, or chatting with anyone you meet) have been more challenging for your brothers and sisters.  In the meantime, we'll keep reading to you and eventually you'll get there and will forget there was a day when you didn't know how.  :)  You like school because you want to do what "the big kids" are doing, but you like short lessons and need lots of assistance to keep you on task, because you're easily distracted and will often get up and go do something else.

You love to be "in the know" and want to be the first one to know what we're having for dinner (so that you can announce it to everyone else), or where we're going (so that you can inform everyone).

You revere your older brother Isaac and you love trying to make all the other kids laugh.  You also know how to laugh at yourself, which is a gift in itself.

My prayers for you are for a tender heart; one that is responsive to our instruction and to the ways of God, and for kindness.  I also pray that God will hone your passion, your strength and will to be used mightily for His purposes.

You are a delight, my girl.  Beautiful and abounding with life.

Happy birthday to you,
Love, your mama

My job*

*One of my plans for the blog this year is to repost some older posts from the archives.  I've been writing here since 2006, so there's a lot of material there, and it's fun for me to re-read posts from those years, too.  :)  The post below was originally posted back in April of 2006.


I love being a wife and a mother. I find such delight in these roles, and in these being my “only” roles (true, I wear other hats at times, but primarily, this is it!)

Yesterday I was at a church prayer meeting and two other women were talking about how crazy their weeks had been, how they had been running around all over the place and how busy/tired/stressed they were. They turned to me and asked how I was doing, and I just shrugged and said cheerfully, “Well, we haven’t been running around at all this week. Not busy; just hanging out at home every day!” One of the women chuckled at that, and commented, “Right. You’re not busy. A mother of three little children.” She was giving me credit for this job of mine.

I don’t need credit. I get it every day, many times a day.

For instance, yesterday: Ella and Isaac were arguing over 3 small photo albums they both wanted to look at. I asked them to come to me and reminded them that God wants us to be peacemakers, and how do they think they could best do that right now? There was silence. The argument had stopped, but no solutions were coming to their little minds. So I gave them one: I asked my 2-year old son (who was clutching to all 3 albums) to choose one of the albums to share with his older sister. He did so, and she took it. However, as they walked away, I overheard my daughter (4) happily say, “You know what? You can have all 3 of them! I’ll sit next to you and look at them with you, though.” There were tears in my eyes, because I knew she was being a peacemaker. I went to her, hugged her, and told her so. And as I walked away, I heard my son praise her, too: “Good job being a peacemaker!”

And I thought (for about the zillionth time) about how wonderful it is that I get to do this, that for some this ‘job’ of mine seems exhausting and taxing (and it can be, at times) but overall it is just GOOD. This job as mommy is not wearing me down, I’m thriving. I delight in it. What an incredible blessing that this is what I get to do! Thank you, Heavenly Father!

Reviving a Sourdough Starter (from the freezer)

A couple of weeks ago I made the decision to take my sourdough starter out of the freezer.

What I didn't fully realize was that in doing so, I was basically adding a part-time job onto my already quite busy schedule.  (It actually takes a bit of work to revive a starter!)  I followed the directions from this post from King Arthur Flour: Putting Your Sourdough Starter on Hold (which also covers "Bringing Your Sourdough Back to Life"  :))

It sat in my oven with the light on for days looking like this:
As I watched it carefully for signs of life (read: bubbles), like this:

So that I could get to do this,
(Helpful resource: this video called How to Make Sourdough Bread, and using the recipe found within the video.)

I've been paying pretty close attention to my starter, trying to study it and figure out the best feeding/rising/baking schedule and system for our lifestyle.  I've baked sourdough three times (6 loaves total) within the past two weeks.  We all LOVE it. 

However, now my starter is in the fridge on an I'll-feed-it-weekly (and maybe bake once a week or once every-other week) schedule, because I don't really have time to babysit it each day.  ;)

I am still bummed that while the sourdough tastes delicious and I think it looks right, it doesn't have the same rise as the other breads I've baked.  I keep tweaking it trying to change my feeding/rise times in order to get a nice rounded loaf top, but... all to no avail.  I intend to perfect it, though.  And I'm open to any tips for those of you who have any!  :)

Other posts on bread and bread-making:
Adventures in Sourdough Bread-Baking (from two years ago)
Fall Deliciousness

Favorite books, MOVIES and songs of 2015 (Part 2)

my favorite books movies and songsNow that I've told you our favorite books of 2015, I'm here to tell you our favorite family movies of the year.  Sunday nights is our Family Night, and every other week we watch a movie together.  (The weeks we aren't watching a movie, we're having game night.)

Finding a movie that all of us will enjoy is a bit tricky.  Fortunately, our kids have watched very little when it comes to movies, so over the course of the last few years, we've been able to catch everyone up on some of the animated movies they didn't see when they were new to everyone else.  This approach proved really handy for us, because we had a plethora of movies that were age-appropriate for our younger kids, but still new to our older kids.

But now that we've covered any of those we care to see (my kids really liked Toy Story 3) and have already watched episodes of Little House on the Prairie, and covered our favorite musicals (Fiddler on the Roof and The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins, all viewed numerous times), movies I loved as a child (The Parent Trap, anyone?), books-we-had-read-that-were-made-into-a-movie (From Charlotte's Web to Heidi to Where the Red Fern Grows to Pollyanna and everything in between), things were a little sketchy for awhile.

What else is there that is age-appropriate?  Our kids range in ages from 6 to 14, girls and boys, and not everyone wants to watch animated movies all the time (least of all me.  I really really really don't like animated movies).

So.  Here are a few we discovered:

Newsies: I remember watching this and liking it when I was younger, so I read some reviews and then we all watched it.  Aaaand: my kids LOVE this movie.  Maybe it's the dancing and the singing or the story itself: orphaned boys selling newspapers in New York City who end up organizing a strike against the newspaper bigwigs.  Apparently it's all rather exciting. We watched it all together the first time and they've watched it several times since. 

McFarland USA: I was actually pretty reluctant to see this movie because, well: Kevin Costner.  However, after about the sixth person had told me it was a great family movie we decided to watch it.  Mark and I watched it first and then we all saw it together and it's really a great story, and the kids really enjoyed it.   

Chariots of Fire: A classic.  That scene- running on the beach with the music?  Goosebumps.  Love.  We had read biographies of Eric Liddell, so it was fun for the kids to see this story played out.

Man From Snowy River: While there is some swearing (thankfully my kids aren't super familiar with swear words so most of that goes right on over their heads), some brawls between the hands on the ranch, and a tense father-daughter relationship,  the scenes are beautiful (it's filmed in Australia), and the story is winsome: a young man whose father has just died goes to work on the ranch to save money so that he can keep his father's land.  He is hard-working and honest, and of course he falls in love with the rancher's daughter.

Narnia:  We have read through the books twice, now.  And while our older two (14 & 12) have watched this, our younger three had not.  Our littlest (6) did cover her eyes a few times and we fast-forwarded one scary scene (our older kids are very diligent at alerting us, "There's a scary part coming up!")  But overall this is a good adaptation of the book.  Lucy is my favorite.  

We also watched The Nativity Story in December and really enjoyed it.  I think it will become a December tradition. 

Aaaaand.... now it's YOUR turn!  What are some movies you would recommend for family viewing? 

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A wife and mommy-in-the-making*

*One of my plans for the blog this year is to repost some older posts from the archives.  I've been writing here since 2006, so there's a lot of material there, and it's fun for me to re-read posts from those years, too.  :)

My four-year old daughter is a wife and mommy in-the-making. Not much makes me happier. Two things happened over the weekend to remind me of this:

We were all in the van, on our way to the Good Friday service, and from the back, this:

"When I get bigger I get to be a mommy!" (this said joyfully)

Mark and I smiled, and I turned back to smile at our daughter and said, "That's right, honey. You do! What made you think of that right now?"

She said, "I was just thinking it!"

Me: "That's a really fun thought, sweetheart. You are going to be such a wonderful mommy someday."

And that was that. But I have thought of it several times since. I can't tell you how delighted I am that my sweet little girl is excited to "get to be a mommy" someday! :)
Then yesterday we came home from church and ate a light lunch (more like a snack) before naps, because we were scheduled to be at my moms for lunch at 1:30. The boys went to sleep, and my husband passed through the kitchen (where my daughter and I were) and mentioned, "Boy, I am hungry, though..." I turned to do something at the table and my little girl comes up to me, holding a tupperware from the fridge, and says, "Mommy. This is chicken. Do you know if there is rice in here, too?" And I said, (not knowing where this was going yet), "Um, no, sweetie. That's just chicken." I watched her then turn, walk over to the fridge and pull out another tupperware. She said to me, pleased with herself, "I found the rice!" And then I asked her, "What are you doing, honey?" And she said, very matter-of-factly, "Daddy just said he was hungry. I'm just going to cook him some lunch." And she set both containers near the microwave. I told her that was so sweet of her to be taking such good care of her daddy, and then reminded her that we were having lunch at Grandma's house and that daddy would just have to wait a bit!

I was touched by her service and her industriousness: she saw a need and was moving to meet it. I am so grateful for these things I see in her! :)

Valentine's Day buckets: a tradition


Yesterday morning I announced to the kids at the breakfast table that: Hooray! It's February (!) which means we're two weeks from Valentine's Day.

It's not that I particularly love Valentine's Day, but I do appreciate an excuse to celebrate.  And when the whole idea is to express love- and most often through cards and notes?  Well, that's right up our alley.  :)  Everyone at my house loves to make cards and notes.


These seven buckets--- one for each of us-- are now hanging on our fireplace mantel to be filled over the next couple of weeks with notes, cards, or treats (or any other such small thing that may fit in these buckets). 

I recently purchased a few sheets of Valentine's-Day-themed-paper at our local scrapbooking store-- (the large sheet beneath the bin in the photo above is my favorite-- all sorts of tiny messages that I cut out that the kids will love to get their hands on) and then just some other pink and red papers with hearts and sprinkled donuts. :)  I tucked some blue and yellow and white little scraps in there, too, just in case the boys are completely adverse to all the pink.  ;) 

I filled a little bin with some card-making supplies (scrapbook paper scraps, heart stickers, scissors and glue) and set it in the living room in a visible spot so that we all have easy access to make a card and slip it into someone's bucket. 

Hooray for cute bins all filled up with cheery notes to one another!  I love this kind of thing!  :)  

Any Valentine's Day traditions you do with your kids?

Previous Valentine's Day posts here on the blog: 
Valentine's Day, 2013- in which I get little gifts for the kids, bring Mark goodies on his route, and made heart-shaped pretzels.
Happy Valentine's Day (2011)- in which I make heart-shaped yogurt coffee cake for breakfast and we make treats.  :)
Valentine's Day recap (2008)- in which I make heart-shaped everything for the kids and plan a fancy dinner for just Mark and I.

Book recommendation: Maggie Bright

[Eeee!  (that's me, squealing).  I love recommending good books, and I can't wait to tell you about the book I just finished.]

The book is called Maggie Bright.  This is the cover:

I picked this book up blindly off the library shelves, and I am so delighted to have discovered this story and this new-to-me author, Tracy Groot.

In this novel we're introduced to Clare, a young woman who has just inherited a boat.  When a vicar from America is discovered prowling on her boat, Clare is puzzled.  What could he have been looking for?  She searches the boat herself and comes up empty, but cannot seem to put the incident out of her mind. Clare is intrigued enough to find out, and when she goes to question the imprisoned vicar, she finds herself in the middle of a Scotland Yard investigation.

At the same time, the British army is in full retreat and heading to the beaches of Dunkirk.

The story line bounces between a group of British soldiers trying to get to Dunkirk safely and Clare's discoveries of the secrets held on her boat, as well as the people she meets along the way. (A retired schoolteacher who is a boarder on Clare's boat, another American who comes to the vicar's rescue, and the two detectives who are determined that the hidden documents on Clare's boat don't fall into enemy hands.) 

Groot's characters are full of personality and the dialogue is excellent, with bits of humor scattered throughout.  It's also a powerful story of the British people propelled to action as time runs out on the shores of Dunkirk and every available ship, boat or sailing vessel is sent to rescue the soldiers.

This was an excellent book.  (You know it's a good historical fiction book when it makes you want to check out other books on the topic and learn more!  And: all of Tracy Groot's other books.  ;)) 

As I was reading, I recalled a picture book I read with the kids years ago covering this very topic, called The Little Ships.

I put it on hold again at the library to remind my kids of this remarkable piece of history.  I also handed Maggie Bright to Ella (14) and told her she'd love it (she did), and now Mark is reading it.

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