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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Chicken Broth

Chicken Bone Broth – Part Two

In Part One, I told you about the benefits to making your own chicken broth. Here’s a recap:

  • economical
  • healthy
  • healing properties

You’ve roasted the chickens and all (or most, it’s OK to leave some) the meat is off the bones. Now you are ready to make broth! Remember, this is just how I make broth. You don’t have to roast your chicken first. It’s important to remember that there is a difference in health benefits from chicken broth and chicken BONE broth. You want the nutrients and minerals that come from the bones. The broth you buy in the stores not only does NOT have this, they add all kinds of sodium, MSG, and preservatives. Due to my food allergies, I can’t risk buying it from the store. Once you get the hang of how easy this is… you won’t go back! Did you realize not all chicken broth is gluten free? This is!

Chicken Broth

Drop the bones back into the pot you cooked the chickens. There should be a gelatinous substance left in the pot. You can also put everything into a crock pot. Remember the innards you kept? (First step in Roasting Chickens.) Throw those in too. Fill the pot with water, add a Tablespoon or two of Apple Cider Vinegar (any acid will work – it draws the nutrients out of the bones) and cook on medium just until it starts to bubble. Turn it to low and simmer for 12 to 24 hours. For the last few hours add some veggies (completely optional). Some people have veggies in the whole time, but I’ve heard that onions can turn bitter after 8 hours.  Strain the broth and store in the fridge.  After it has cooled in the fridge, the fat rises to the top and hardens. I throw that part away. The broth can last in the fridge for up to ten days.

This is where I’m supposed to have a picture of the broth all done and strained – liquid gold… but we ate it all before I could take a picture.

Here’s a little secret most don’t realize – you can use the same bones to make more broth! Put all the bones BACK into the pot, cover with water and do the whole process again! However, I find that each batch will be a bit more watery, so I just do it twice, if that long. By this time, I’m ready to move on… but some people keep continual batches of stock brewing. I only use the second and third brewings for boiling rice or quinoa. I’ll immediately freeze this broth and label the bag accordingly.

What do you use the broth for? Anytime a recipe calls for it. But that’s just the start. I use broth  in place of water when cooking rice, quiona, or potatoes (as I just mentioned, this is usually the second-batch broth). For a quick lunch, I heat some broth and throw in some veggies, rice, or roasted chicken. It’s a great way to use up leftovers! Some people just drink it plain. I’m not there yet. I have to add something into my broth. What isn’t used after a few days, I store in freezer bags in two cup increments. Anytime I need some, I just thaw a bag enough to open it then heat the block of frozen broth on the stove until it’s liquid again. I haven’t had to buy broth at the store since I made my first stockpile. I probably have ten bags frozen now, with two birds ready to cook tomorrow.

The Empty Smile

Day One

I worked all day.

I met all needs.

I smiled.

I gave small commands.

I rubbed a back that tensed.

I tried.

There were no smiles.

Day two.

I worked all day.

I met all needs.

I gave small commands.

I rubbed a back that tensed.

I held a hand that was small and soft.

I kept smiling.

I looked into eyes that looked past me.

There was a smile.

It almost seemed empty.

Did you hear me? There was a smile!

I’ll take it.

Autism. A smile that looks empty is still a smile.

Sometimes the empty smiles mean oh-so-much more.

Yesterday I told you about how much The Smile impacted my day. The baby smiled at me. You know those baby smiles. They can melt an adult into a puddle in less than three seconds. But let’s be real… babies smile at faces. They smile when they are clothed and fed. They smile when they are gassy. Oh… but those smiles!!!! To hold a little wiggly bundle and smile at the bald head and then you see it… The Smile! My heart melts at just the memory. Ok – back to the baby that day. The baby has a brother. The brother has a different kind of smile. First, the obvious, there are teeth. And a gone are the chubby cheeks. The sparkle isn’t quite the same. In fact the smile looks… empty. You see, Brother has Autism. He looks at me – without looking at me. He talks – but not with words. He smiles – but it’s faraway, almost empty. But when he smiles, oh… he smiles. It probably won’t be a big grin. It won’t come with a snuggle or hug.  He might not even acknowledge he is smiling at me. But his smile… it might not melt me into a puddle, but it is worth the moon.

Then I think… how many times are my smiles empty? (ouch)

Yes, those smiles – the ones from brother – they really do mean so-much-more.

Keep building bridges. Keep Smiling. Even when it feels empty.

The Smile

Exhaustion wraps itself around me like a blanket. For a mere few hours over the past two days I welcomed a newborn and toddler into my home and heart. There are things a mom never forgets: how to warm a bottle, change a diaper, wipe a runny nose, and swaddle a baby. There are things we forget quickly: the exhaustion, frustration of not being able to discern a cry, how hard it is to even find time to go the bathroom, and the intense gratification of a smile.

avery smile

Photo Credit Raeley.com

The moment the baby first smiled at me – I became a puddle – and it made the early morning babysitting worth every second of lost sleep. I pondered my reaction to The Smile all afternoon. The Smile possessed a magical quality that filled me with warmth. I felt connected.

No matter what I did, I carried The Smile with me.  When I bought groceries at the store, I took the memory of The Smile with me. When I did daily mundane tasks (ahem…laundry and dishes), I carried the memory of The Smile with me. When I volunteered at church, I took the memory of The Smile with me. I smiled at the clerk, my family, and the children every chance I could.You know what? They smiled back. The Smile connected us.

When the doorbell rang EARLY this morning, all I could think about was The Smile. The baby was asleep. Yes, I was tempted to wake a sleeping child just to see a smile. But as I said, there are some things you don’t ever forget. One of those is to never wake a sleeping baby… even to see The Smile.

Sometimes we try too hard to connect with people. Sometimes all it takes is a heartfelt smile. Sometimes building bridges is as simple as a smile.

I’m still pondering The Smile. You see, the toddler’s smile was an empty one. An empty smile? Yes, and I’ll tell you all about The Empty Smile tomorrow. But for now, I have the toddler to follow and the baby to cuddle. All while holding The Smile close to my heart.

Roasting Chickens

Chicken Bone Broth – Part One

There are many benefits to making your own chicken broth.
Not only is it economical, it is very healthy. I’m sure you’ve heard the old wives tales about chicken soup being good for a cold. There really is fact behind that statement. It’s not just any chicken broth that has healing properties. Chicken BONE broth is the type that heals. I first read about the health benefits at Divine Health. What I want to share with you is how my family makes bone broth. This will be a two part post. Part One tells you how I roast a chicken. Lots of people like to initially cook their chicken in a crock pot. I like the flavor of a roasted chicken better. Not to mention that I roast two chickens at a time and my crock pot barely holds one.

Why do I roast two chickens? Since I started doing this, we don’t buy lunch meat on a regular basis. Two chickens cost me less than $10 (that’s my goal, anyway)  and feeds us for one or two meals and several lunches. I just can’t say that about $10 worth of lunch meat. And have you read the extra ingredients in lunch meat??? Most are not even gluten free! (end rant… back to my two glorious chickens.) As soon as I pull the birds out of the oven, we eat part of one right away as a meal then use the rest of the meat in our lunches over the next few days. After several days if we have some left it becomes a quick meal (TACOS!!!!) or we throw it into the freezer.

Part One: Roasting the chicken

Roasting Chick1

  • Rinse your chicken(s) and remove any innards. (I save them for later.)
  • Place bird(s) in a pot.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper and give it a good rub with olive oil.
  • This is the part you can add your favorite tastes and make it your own. I personally like onion, celery, and rosemary.
  • I place the breast side down. I feel like it keeps them moist. You can really do it whatever way you want!
  • Put the pot in a preheated (350 degree) oven.
  • Roast the chickens: 20 minutes for each pound of the heaviest bird.
  • When the outside is golden brown, they are ready!

yummm chickens

At this point, I yell the magic words and my whole family comes running. “Chicken Skin!”
Yes… we eat (and thoroughly enjoy) the brown and crispy skin.
We eat most of one chicken for our main meal. Perfect for Sunday lunch after cooking all morning while we’re at church. There’s nothing better than opening the door after church and having the aroma greet you! Makes my mouth water!

Now it’s time to debone the chicken.  It’s not hard, but lots of people think it’s gross. I’ve taught my older kids how to debone the chicken. After you do it a few times, it becomes easy. Don’t let that part keep you from trying this!

Every few weeks we take a break from this and buy lunch meat (gluten free, of course!) to take a break. It only takes about a week before someone asks, “Mom, when are we going to have chicken again?” One of my kids calls it “REAL chicken.” Chicken breasts don’t even cut it for her. She does have a point… with the additives even in lunch meat, it’s not quite so real anymore.

If you have a favorite recipe for roasting your chickens, I would love to hear about it!

I Asked and Help Knocked On My Door

help knockedI asked for help. I realized I’m struggling to do it on my own. So I asked. And help came knocking on my door.

When I opened the door I felt vulnerable. Raw. Exposed.

But I opened the door-

And help walked in.

The process revealed much. Many things I didn’t want revealed. There is sometimes pain in revealing. (and a good bit of anxiety too!)

But we walked through it.

Together.

In the end, accomplishment, hope, and a new beginning stood before me.

All because I asked.

What did I ask? What did I need help with?

That will be revealed in time to you, my dear readers… all in due time! So stay tuned!  (OK… you can find a hint here.)

Words of Comfort

Holding Grandma’s Bible in my hands, I flip through it, looking for comfort in words that comforted her. This passage was marked. I find great comfort here.

Isaiah 55

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
hear me, that your soul may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations that do not know you will hasten to you,
because of the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendor.”

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way
and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
which will not be destroyed.”

Grandma was known for her laughter. Her nickname was Giggles. I think the hills and trees might also be laughing – with her.

When Goodbye is Forever

Cry

Hug

Remember

Death is not easy. It is not pleasant. It. Is. Hard.

Everyone deals with death in their own way.

Respect the mourning.

Don’t forget to breathe. Don’t forget to live.

We said “goodbye” this week to Grandma.

She smiled and went on.

Ahead of us.

To a place where there is no pain.

We will see her again.

So I guess… forever goodbyes are not always forever.

*This week I will be hugging instead of writing.*

Bella’s Back!

Reading is a favorite activity I have with my daughters. We love to share books. This is only a problem when we’re reading the same series. Since I’m the mom, I always win and get to read all books first! I’ll never forget when my teen daughter was reading one of the Bella books and could not stop giggling. I relived the book through her play-by-play recap of what part she’s reading. Today I’m sharing with you one of our all time favorite characters!

Enjoy this fun interview with author Janice Thompson, where she shares the story-behind-the-story regarding Bella’s return.

Janice, welcome! I’m really enjoyed the Weddings by Bella series and am excited to read the spin-off series.

1. Can you tell us more about why you decided to write it?

Sure! (Thanks for hosting me, by the way!) When I wrote Fools Rush In (book one in the Weddings by Bella series) I knew I had something special on my hands. The characters really resonated with me, but there was more. I felt as if I’d created a world of real, wonderful, wacky people. Sure, I’d breathed life into them on the page, but they seemed to take it from there, springing to life and moving the story forward as they willed. I wrapped up the series with Swinging on a Star and It Had to be You, but my readers weren’t satisfied! At least once a week I got a letter from a fan saying, “Are there more? Please keep this story going!” I sent several of those letters to my editor, and before long she agreed that we should, indeed, keep the story going! That’s how the Weddings by Design story began. I’m so relieved to have more to offer. Since Fools Rush In went free on kindle, it has been downloaded nearly 300,000 times. Crazy! So, I have many, many new readers, aching for more!

2. How are these stories similar to the novels in the Weddings by Bella series?

This is a wedding-themed series, just like the first, and loaded with fun, quirky mishaps on the way to the altar! Readers will experience the same “feel” of Galveston Island and my ever-present humor, which drives the stories forward.  I truly hope that readers pick up the first book in this new series and sigh with relief as they catch up with their favorite characters from the last series: Bella, D.J., Aunt Rosa, Uncle Laz, the three ladies from Splendora, Brock Benson, and so on. Here’s what the publisher had to say about the new series: With her contagious humor and cast of quirky characters, Janice Thompson gives readers more of the bridal business drama they want in a brand-new series all about those long-suffering people who make beautiful weddings happen. Readers are desperately waiting for more of Bella and this new series brings her back in a big way, while introducing new characters fans will love. Fans will laugh out loud as they experience this breezy and entertaining novel from a great storyteller.”

3. What sets this new series apart from the last one?

The Weddings by Design novels are told from the point of view of new characters. Book one, Picture Perfect, is about a wedding photographer named Hannah. Book two, The Icing on the Cake, is about a wedding cake designer named Scarlet. Book three, The Dream Dress, is about a dress designer named Gabi. Book four (yet unpublished) is about a wedding florist named Gina. Each of these ladies longs to work with the most fabulous wedding coordinator on the island—Bella (Rossi) Neeley, so everything loops back to Club Wed, just like the first series.

4. When does the new series release?

Book one, Picture Perfect, is already available on amazon. The kindle version will be ready for download on February 15th. (Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all!) I received my author copies last week, so autographed copies are available for purchase ($12) if readers are interested in that. They can email me at booksbyjanice@aol.com for more information.

5. Can you tell us about Picture Perfect, the first book in the series?

Ooo, I’d love to! The synopsis should answer any questions:

She’s trying to focus on her future. How can one man make everything feel so . . . fuzzy?

Hannah McDermott has a successful photography studio. She’ll soon be featured in Texas Bride magazine. And she has a celebrity client whose Galveston ceremony will be her ticket to the top spot on wedding coordinator Bella Neeley’s list of recommended photographers. But it could all come crashing down around her because of one man: archrival and photographer extraordinaire Drew Kincaid.

As the competition between Hannah and Drew heats up, Hannah is surprised to find that it’s not the only thing getting more intense. She can’t get the handsome man out of her thoughts-or even out of her line of sight-and the job of her dreams is turning into a nightmare. Will everything she’s worked for slip out of her hands? And can she see past her pride to find a picture-perfect love?

6. How is the new series doing with readers so far?

Great! Folks who’ve read the book have already contacted me to say they love it! I’m also thrilled that Picture Perfect got a great Romantic Times review. . .four stars! Here’s what the reviewer had to say: “Fans of romantic comedies are in for a treat just in time for Valentine’s Day. Book one in the Weddings by Design series does not disappoint! Funny one-liners and absolutely lovable characters combine with just enough romantic tension to keep the pages turning at a brisk pace — but readers will want to slow down to savor this one.”

7. How are you kicking off the new series?

I’m hosting an online party! I’m calling this my “Bing & Bob” party and it will be held on the night of February 18th at 7:00 p.m. central time. These two funny fellas hold a special place in the heart of my characters and they will provide the entertainment at our gathering! This fun, interactive party will take place inside the “Bella’s Back” group on facebook. Join me for an interactive chat, video teasers, Bing Crosby music and giveaways! Some lucky reader/participant will win a free kindle fire! To be entered, you must join the Bella’s Back facebook group and attend the party. (i.e. “Must be present when your named is called.”)

For more information about the party, check out this video invitation.

Thanks for visiting with us, Janice! Looking forward to the new series!

STAY CONNECTED WITH THE AUTHOR:

Visit Janice’s Website

Connect with Janice on Facebook

Join the “Bella’s Back” Facebook group

Watch the Bing & Bob party video invitation

Check out the Bella’s Back Video on youtube

Read Fools Rush In (the first Bella book) for free on your kindle

One New Thing – Try Again

This week I’m going to try again. I’ve tried before. And failed. Tried again. And failed. Yeah, keep going… try – fail. try – fail. It’s time to try again.

Have you guessed it yet?

Exercise.

This week I’m going to try it a little differently. Last week I met Mark and Cathy Cornelison. You might remember Mark from Biggest Looser Season 13. He spoke at a women’s conference I attended last week. When I stopped by their table to chat, Cathy gave me a very simple, yet profound tip. The area we live in is covered with gorgeous trails. (She gave a specific number, but I didn’t take notes.) Just go for a walk.

Get Up, Get Out, Get Going! (Which was the theme of the conference!)

I think I can do that. Spend some time outside enjoying the beauty around me with the kids on a trail. Wow. That’s doable. That’s my One New Thing this week. What’s yours?

Afraid – Five Minute Friday

I am participating in a blog link-up, called Five Minute Friday over at Lisa-Jo’s site Lisa-Jo Baker – tales from a gypsy mama. There are a couple of rules, but basically you just write (no edits! *gulp*) about a specific topic for five full minutes and link back to her.

Afraid

GO

My husband just gave me a kiss goodbye, grabbed his breifcase and overnight bag and walked out the door. My weekend of alone-parenting begins. Girl time. I try to console myself with the fun and productive weekend I have planned, but my mind wanders to a place I don’t want it to go. A place of fear.

I think about the time he went out of town and was involved in a horrific four wheeler accident that could’ve ended with a broken neck, but thankfully only ended with a severely broken leg. (only????) The memories of that nightmarish time keeps my mind locked in a place of fear.

My mind continues to wander to another time when I went out of town with the kids… we almost lost my husband completely that time. Meningitis overtook his body and mind and he passed out. He was completely delirious and out of his mind. I flew home to find him in the hospital and completely unaware of who I was. For three days his mind was locked away as he fought through the sickness. It was beyond a nightmare.

So… sometimes I get a bit nervous when either one of us go out of town. I am afraid.

I can choose to live in that fear, hardly sleeping and filling my days with plenty of activities to keep the fear away…

OR

I can choose to pray. Deny the fear and hold onto to God’s peace. THEN I won’t be afraid.

When I am afraid I will trust in You. Psalms 56:3

STOP

Now it’s your turn… What makes you afraid?

Check what others are writing about at tales from a gypsy mama.

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