Easiest chicken broth ever

With this method, there is no reason not to make your own chicken broth. It is so easy peasy and practically free that you would be crazy not to do it.

step 1 – In the morning, rinse a whole chicken put it in a large crockpot. Turn to low.

step 2 – 8-10 hours later or so, your chicken is ready for dinner. Remove the chicken from the crockpot and get the meat off the bones – very easy because it was slow-cooked. It practically falls off the bone. If you don’t want to eat it for dinner, save it for chicken salad or enchiladas.

step 3 – put all the bones, skin, scraps back into the crockpot. If you have any vegetable scraps, add them in – onion peels, carrot pieces, celery ends, etc. You can add some herbs too if you’d like. This is optional though. The only required part is the chicken scraps. You can even add in some clean egg shells for added calcium!

step 4 – add water to the crockpot until it’s nearly full. Add a splash of vinegar – this helps the calcium leach out of the bones.

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step 5 – turn on low for 24 hours.

step 6 – your broth is done! Strain it into mason jars or other containers and store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or freeze for months.

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The years are short

Have you ever heard the saying, “The days are long but the years are short”? This describes motherhood perfectly I think. There are days that are oh, so long. But then we look back and wonder where the time has gone!

My days are so long right now. I have a 3 month old, a 2 year old, a 3 year old, a 5 year old, a 5 ½ year old, and an 8 year old. Makes me tired just typing that out.

My mornings start at about 6am, and it’s off to the races – I’m on my feet all day long, it seems, running from here to there, wiping noses, changing diapers, making meals, cleaning messes, teaching children, and every few hours I actually get to sit down and nurse the baby. And then it’s back up and at em again, and sometimes it feels that the days will never end. I fall into bed around 10pm, knowing I’ll be up in a couple hours to nurse the baby.

But you know what I’ve learned over the past few years? The days turn into weeks, the weeks turn into months, the months turn into years, and then, they are so much bigger! That baby who is keeping me up at night right now will be learning his ABC’s before long. That 2 year old who gets into everything (and perhaps should be renamed Curious George) will be reading soon. That 5 year old who is tracking mud through the house will be graduating before I know it.

The days are long, but the years are so short.

So I will try to relish this season. Because that’s what it is, isn’t it?

“To everything there is a season…” (Eccl. 3:1).

The seasons come and go. No season lasts forever. They are always changing.

So, when I’m feeling weary and I think these days will NEVER END, I remind myself that this too shall pass. Enjoy the postives of this season, and know that the negatives will be over soon.

And all too soon, the season will be over,  never to return again.

And when they are all grown, I will reminisce on how wonderful it all was. And how I wish that for just one day, I could go back in time and wipe those little noses, and change those stinky diapers, and clean up their muddy messes.

3 years ago! how the time flies....

3 years ago! how the time flies….

Too much zucchini!

I stopped at a produce stand a few days ago to buy some peppers and tomatoes since our pepper plants aren’t producing anything and our tomatoes are all still green. After I paid, the cashier asked me if I’d like some free zucchini – apparently she’s got too much. I had to say, “NO!”.

We’ve got zucchini coming out of our ears. We’re eating it every day and still can’t keep up with it. We garden as a way to save money, and since I don’t want to waste anything, even if we are sick of it, I’ve come up with some creative ways to eat zucchini.

Our favorite is grilled – I chop into bite sized pieces along with bell peppers and Vidalia onions, cover in olive oil and sea salt and grill in a basket for about 30 minutes over medium high heat. They are delicious.

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Another is something we call “zusketti”. Remember how I told you we are grain free, which means no spaghetti. But… We use a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles. Add your favorite sauce, some meatballs if you like and voila! We can eat up about 8 small zucchini this way in one sitting!

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Zucchini boats- the possibilities are endless with this. We’ve had Mexican chicken, Italian sausage, philly cheesesteak, – you can fill them any way you’d like! Just mix together some meat, maybe some tomatoes, maybe cheese, some spices – whatever sounds good to you. Be sure the mix is fairly dry though- the zucchini is quite moist itself and you don’t want your boat to be swimming! You can find several actual recipes online if you like to stick to actual recipes. Search for zucchini boats or stuffed zucchini.

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Faux apple cobbler – as you can guess the main ingredient is zucchini! You have to peel it, remove the seedy part and then chop – use in place of apples in a cobbler recipe (or search for a real zucchini cobbler recipe if you don’t like subbing. It tastes remarkably like apple cobbler. Especially if you add some vanilla ice cream! I know it sounds weird. But its good. And remember, we’ve got zucchini coming out of our ears around here. I had to get creative.

Zucchini chips- we use a dehydrator for this – they get nice and crunchy. If you have a dehydrator, give it a try.

Oven fried zucchini coated with almond flour and parmesan cheese. Slice zucchini thinly, coat in egg and then almond flour/parmesan cheese mix. Bake on parchment paper for 30-40 mins at 350.

 

Zucchini bread with almond flour – again, we’re grain free so we have to use almond flour. Zucchini bread has always been a winner around here, whether its made with whole wheat flour or almond flour. Tons of recipes online! Some with chocolate chips or cocoa powder added that sound delicious! Sadly though, my oldest is allergic to chocolate – sad face. Check out http://www.paleogrubs.com for a lot of grain free options.

Use it as filler for meatloaf or meatballs. Shred it, salt it, and then squeeze all the moisture out with paper towels before adding to the other ingredients.

And lastly, you can shred it and freeze in a single layer to keep for future use. Add to soups and sauces later in the winter when fresh produce is out of season.

(Hubby says I sound like Bubba on Forrest Gump talking about shrimp! lol)

Do you have any ideas to contribute? I’d love to hear them!

Small talk

Do you like small talk? I like it for some situations when I want to keep someone at a distance and not really reveal anything about myself.

But I hate it among good friends and church family.

I completely understand why we do it with a stranger on the airplane or with our boss or someone we just met 2 minutes ago. Safe subjects like the weather, football teams, shopping bargains, and such are good conversations for those relationships. They keep the distance “safe”.

But with our church family?  I’m so tired of having conversations with my sisters in Christ that are truly meaningless in the realm of eternity.

Let’s talk about important and real things. Let’s get beyond the surface, and truly get to know our church family. Let’s talk about things of real importance and encourage one another, and talk about our real issues in life.

Here’s some conversation starters if, like me, you’re challenged in this area.

  • Where have you seen the Lord at work lately?
  • What’s the Lord been teaching you recently?
  • Have you had any obvious answers to prayer recently?
  • What have you been reading? How has it impressed you?
  • Where in the Bible have you been reading lately? What impact has it had on you?
  • How can I pray for you?

 

Don’t you actually long for people to know you? To truly know you and love you and care about what’s going on in your life? I do. But small talk will never get us to that level of relationship.

So, next time I see you, please don’t talk to me about the weather. Unless I don’t know you – then the weather will be just fine to discuss.

Why a vacation with 6 small children is not actually a vacation

 

So, the definition of a vacation is a “period of time that a person spends away from home for the purpose of relaxation”. This does look relaxing doesn’t it….

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We just got back today from a 3 night vacation at the Carolina coast. And um….it definitely was not relaxing. Why? Because we have 6 small children.

 

So here’s the top 5 reasons why a vacation with small children is anything but a vacation:

 

  1. Packing for 6 children is a nightmare. Practically a logistical impossibility. Clothes, pajamas, toothbrushes, swim suits, shoes, diapers, pull ups, baby monitor, swaddle blanket, baby swing and on and on…. And not only did I have to pack clothes and shoes, but also all the food we would need for 3 meals a day plus snacks. We have allergy issues in our family, so dining out is not much of an option. Our van was loaded down with food – I don’t think I realized we ate quite that much until I saw it boxed up and then all of it eaten in 3 days.
  2. Babies do not sleep well in new places. At least mine never do. I was up…. Wait for it….. 8 TIMES one night with the 3 month old. 8 times in about 8 hours. And on that note, toddlers don’t sleep well in new places either. The little flower fell out of her bed once in the middle of her nap, she woke up in the middle of the night scared and screaming one night, and she took FOREVER to calm down and go to sleep each night.
  3. 6 children + ocean = drowning risk = stressed parents. I felt like a hawk trying to keep my eyes on them. And since one of them is a little baby, there were times that I had to go back in the house with the baby and my dear husband had to watch the remaining 5 himself. Stressful! And 2 days before we left, I had read about a friend of a friend whose 3 year old daughter had just drowned. So we were doubly cautious on this trip.
  4. Sand is the reason I would never want to live at the beach. There was sand encrusted on their scalps, sand up their noses, sand in every nook and cranny. Baths were time intensive searches for remaining sand particles.
  5. Car ride. With little ones. Little ones who cry. When one would finally give up and go to sleep, another started it up and woke everyone up. We’ve considered taking earplugs from now on. Not to mention that potty breaks are all too common. We’re not amateurs though – we carry the little green potty in the van at all times for quick pit stops.So why do we do it? Because although it is SO  much work for us as the parents, seeing the joy on their faces and knowing we’re building memories that last a lifetime makes it all worth it.IMG_2198 

    All in all, we had a great time. And we will look forward to doing it again next year.

    But now I need a vacation. A relaxing vacation.

Why grain-free? Or could be called more accurately, the end of our battle with Eczema.

When our oldest daughter was 2, she started getting eczema on her ankle. We encouraged her to not scratch (but she was 2…) and we used thick lotions and creams to try to moisturize. Well, she kept scratching it open (she was 2….) and the creams weren’t helping, so we went to the family doc to get some cortisone cream. It helped a little for a short time. But over the next year, it got worse. And then it was behind her knees too. And on her wrists.

We went to a dermatologist. He gave us the following suggestions: change laundry detergent, vacuum room daily, get dust mite cover for bed and pillow, get air filter for her room, only use a special prescription soap. The reason? Because eczema is caused by something she’s coming into contact with. It’s detergent, soap, shampoo, dust mites, carpet, etc.  And of course she was prescribed a stronger cortisone cream to apply 2 weeks on, 1 week off.

Well, we did it all for a year. And her eczema kept getting worse! Now it covered probably about 50% of her body. Some of her areas were bleeding and open because of scratching. We dealt with staph infections because prolonged open sores on the body gives a likelihood of staph infection. She couldn’t sit down comfortably – she would stand at the table to color. She couldn’t sleep well at night because of the intense itching. It was so sad. We felt helpless.

By this time she was 5. We had been battling for 3 years, with nothing working, and the problem getting worse.

I finally decided to do my own research (why did I not do it sooner?) and although the dermatologist and family doctor had assured me that diet had NOTHING to do with it, I saw some articles and research that showed otherwise. So we ordered a blood test to test for food allergies. It tested for 20 of the most common food allergies and it showed she was allergic to 15 of them. Wheat, rice, corn, oats, beans, chocolate, and pork to name a few. We made a drastic change in our diet and cut out everything she was allergic too – we told ourselves it was only for a month to see what improvement it would give, if any. And then we’d go back to our normal diet. Because we can’t stick to that kind of restriction! (what in the world would we eat!???)

Well, a month later, her skin was drastically better. We hadn’t seen improvement in so long, and then to see her start to heal was amazing! She could sit down again. She could sleep a whole night. She could play outside and have fun.

Now we’re 2 years into this drastic diet change. Her skin is in such great shape. And I’ve adapted to cooking meals with no grains!

She still has a couple small areas that are itchy and red, but oh, if you could see a before/after picture. You’d be amazed too.

So, that’s why we’re grain free.

Maybe you don’t have any eczema issues in your family, but if you’re dealing with ongoing health issues, I encourage you to look into food related causes. I firmly believe that food allergies/intolerances are contributing to a whole lot of our country’s health problems.

Do you have kids or do you have children?

Do you know what kids are? They are baby goats. Here are some characteristics of goats. They are mischievous, prancing around, not a care in the world beyond fulfilling their own desires. They react spontaneously with no thought to the future. They live outside, eating anything they find and climbing on anything above ground level. And have you ever smelled a kid? Yuck.

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What are children? They are a blessing. Psalm 127:3-5 –

Lo, Children are an heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

I don’t think anyone would call “kids” a blessing – especially if they live in your house. Maybe this is why so many couples, even Christians, are severely limiting their family size – they are afraid that they may give birth to a kid. Although they are cute, they are destructive, full of potential to ruin everything! A nuisance, a hassle. I certainly don’t want any kids living in my home. Livestock belongs outside in the pasture.

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But children? Now children have the potential to exhibit some of the characteristics of God – they can grow in patience, goodness, love, joy, peace and so on. They can become orderly, and kind, developing their self-control. They can bring joy to your life and to all those they encounter. They have the potential to spread the gospel and minister to the hurting on this earth.

To take this a step further? Look at Matthew 25:

31-33: When the Son of man shall come in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit up on the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.

41-43: Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was a hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

So if you want your children to act like goats and grow up to be goats, then go ahead and call them “kids”.

But I personally have no kids. I have 6 children who live in our home, and they bring us joy everyday.

So, I’ll ask again, do you have kids or do you have children?