Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Homemaking Party: 10 Ways with 10 Pounds of Chicken

Welcome to The Homemaking Party! Now that we're on to Fall, I'm thinking of all the cozy recipes I want to make this season! I tend to cook more frugally during the cooler weather months, as I can bake my bread and fix my soups without roasting to death in the Arkansas heat and humidity!

Last night, I had a hankering for chicken and gravy on mashed potatoes. This is a super frugal and filling meal idea inspired by my mom---a woman who can put together a tasty meal with literally anything in her kitchen. Using a homemade gravy, I can feed this to my family of 11 (including five teenagers!) for about $6.00 (with leftovers!)

One frugal cooking tip I've learned is that I don't usually have to use the exact cut of meat a recipe calls for. When I shop for meat, I usually look for the most bang for my buck---cutting up a full chuck roast for stew meat, using ground breakfast sausage for pizzas, etc. I've found that the best chicken option in my area is this 10 lb. bag of thigh and leg quarters that I can buy at Walmart for less than $5. After deboning, this yields about 9 cups of chicken---plenty for several meals! With a little extra work, I'm saving a lot of money by cooking, deboning, and freezing this meat every month. Plus, I have more than enough chicken stock for soups, gravies, and more, when I save the cooking liquid.

I start by pouring the bag of chicken into a large stock pot. (I'm pretty sure this one is 14 quarts.) I like to hold the bag over the pot and cut the bottom. This is the least messiest way I've found to handle this juicy mess! I fill the pot with water to cover about four inches over the chicken. Then I put the lid on and let it boil on the stove for at least 60 minutes.

After about 45 minutes, I poke the chicken thighs in a couple places with a long fork and let them continue cooking. When they run clear after poking, I know they're done. I remove each piece with a long fork and lay them in a pan to begin cooling. I use a slotted spoon to remove any large skin, fat, or chicken pieces floating in the water, and then ladle the broth into freezer containers. I let the containers sit on the counter for awhile to cool before putting the lids on and putting them away in the freezer for later meals.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, I begin deboning it. This really isn't as long a process as it might seem. I set the pan of cooked chicken to the left, put a pan in the middle for the bones and skin, and put a bowl on the right for the chicken. I often turn on an encouraging video or Bible recording to listen to while I do tasks like these to make them not seem so time consuming.

At this point, I would normally use some of the broth to make a gravy like this: homemade chicken gravy. I'd recommend at least a half cup of gravy per one cup of chicken. Weirdly, I was out of salt---who runs out of salt?? Ha! Even more weirdly, I happened to have two jars of turkey gravy in my cupboard. I don't really even remember why I bought them, but I was thankful because gravy without salt is...gross.

I measured out into a bowl the amount of chicken I thought my family would eat and poured the jarred gravy on top. Then I took a little broth in each and swished it around to get the last dregs of gravy and poured that in the bowl too. I stirred it all up and set it aside to top the mashed potatoes.

While the chicken was cooking, I had Lynzie peel about five pounds of potatoes. That's how much it takes to feed this crowd, usually. When we have leftover mashed potatoes, Lynzie forms them into patties, dips them in flour, and fries them in oil, salting and peppering both sides. This is another yummy recipe she learned from my mom and it's one of her favorite breakfast ideas.

After the potatoes were mashed, we had a delicious and filling dinner, followed by a Bible study prepared by Daddy. What a great night!

I actually mixed all nine cups of chicken with gravy last night so we had a whole pan of leftovers for tonight's dinner. Jamie and I planned to order a special Mexican dinner for ourselves, so I picked up another jar of gravy to mix in and the kids ate it on bread tonight as open-face hot sandwiches. However, like I said above, nine cups of chicken is enough for several recipes. Here are some other recipe ideas that use any kind of chicken:

Chicken Garden Salad -- Toss with seasoning and top a fresh vegetable salad

Chicken Salad Sandwiches -- Mix with mayonnaise and diced celery for a quick sandwich option.

Fiesta Burritos -- I like making these a couple days after I've served tacos because we often have leftover toppings in small quantities. Fill a tortilla with chicken, beans, cheese, or other favorite toppings and warm in the oven a few minutes. Then add tomatoes, lettuce, olives, salsa, sour cream, and more for a filling lunch idea.

Dumpling Soup -- Save the cooking broth in the fridge for this one! Pour 8-10 cups of broth into a pot and salt as desired. Begin warming the broth while you mix up a dumpling batter. Mix 2 c. flour, 4 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 c. milk or water. Once the broth is boiling, drop the batter by spoonfuls into the boiling broth. It will only take a few minutes to cook the dumplings. If you want to add meat or vegetables like potatoes, carrots, or an onion, do so before dropping the dumplings in.

Chicken Pot Pie -- Mix chicken with gravy and frozen mixed vegetables. Pour into a dish and cover with biscuit batter. You can use a pre-made mix like Bisquick, refrigerated biscuits in a roll, or make a homemade batter like this one at Harvest Lane Cottage. You can add a little extra milk to make it runnier and easier to pour on your chicken mixture.

Or use the chicken in any of these recipes from my archives:

Chicken Ranch Omelet

Simple Chicken Alfredo

Thanks so much for stopping by The Homemaking Party! Hope you're having a lovely week so far!
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Saturday, September 14, 2019

A Tea Party with My Girls and a Pretty Flower Craft

Earlier this year, Jamie and I took a 21st anniversary trip to England. It was so fun to show him around some of my favorite places. We visited Bath and Winchester---which you all know are old favorites of mine; and Salisbury, which was new to us both. Along the way, I picked up a few fun things to enjoy in a summertime tea party with my girls. God has blessed us with five fabulous daughters---I'm so thankful! 

I'd been saving this pretty jar of Sarahbeth's Orange Apricot Marmalade since receiving it from a dear family friend in the Spring. My name is Sarah Elizabeth so this was a special gift in a couple of ways. I'd also saved out three pretty tea cup and saucer sets from some things my Mom gave me and passed them down to my three youngest girls who'd not yet received their own set from me. This one with the pretty wild blossoms went to Brenna, my six year old.

Our party gave me the chance to use some gifts I'd received over the year, like this hot air balloon teapot and wildflower pot from Jamie. My mom gave me the flowered dish, and Jamie picked up this delicious summer tea blend from Gillards in Bath. It smells just like a strawberry Starburst---ha!

I made several  yummy tea treats like this Victoria Sponge and some small scones and sandwiches. Jamie had bought me a tin of shortbread cookies at Marks and Spencer in Winchester so I served them from the top of the tier. I also took the opportunity to use some of the vintage cutlery my great grandmother saved for me and shared some of my memories of her with the girls during our chat time. 

I also made my signature Cucumber Flowers---a family favorite! 

After we snacked and chatted, I shared a little flower craft with the girls. 

After cutting tissue paper squares, I showed them out to wrap them around the end of a pencil to form a flower bud.

We drew branches on a sheet of cardstock paper and glued the buds to the branches.

I made a special memory branch and had each of the girls write their names on it. Now it's hanging in my library. I love it!

The season is changing and summer will probably be gone by this time next week. (Oh Lord, please!! Ha!) I'm happy we made some fun memories over the season!

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Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Homemaking Party: Slowing Down a Little...Finally!

Hello friends! Welcome to The Homemaking Party! It's roasty, toasty, hot and humid in NW Arkansas today but I'm hanging out in our well air conditioned library tonight and feelin' fine! Ha! Life is finally slowing down a bit for me and I feel like I want to stay close to home and do homey things. We are starting school July 9, since we've been off since April, and I'm just feeling really excited to be back in our comfortable routine of home life. I traveled to Oregon in April and England in May (I know, still no photos up...sorry!) and then there's been summer camps and missions trips and...whew!

These three guys are in Honduras this week, ministering at an orphanage and at a school. From the pictures I'm seeing come over Facebook and IG, they're having a great time and really enjoying those sweet Honduran kids!

Lynzie has been house sitting for the youth pastors who took the kids to Honduras and Selah stayed with a friend last night so it was just me and the four littles this morning. We decided to have a little adventure. We went to Walmart to buy lunch (my kids think Lunchables are gold since I buy them so rarely!) and then made a library stop.

After library time, we headed for the park. They rode bikes, took walks (hikes!), played baseball, and laid around panting from the heat. We had an early picnic lunch and then went home for a long nap!

My kids love an opportunity to use a lunch box...one of those cool things like riding on a school bus that public schoolers get to do. Ha! Here Brenna is dreaming about what's inside her box. We were out so early but I wouldn't let them eat until 11. Next time we'll pack breakfast instead!

Our Rose of Sharon bush is in full bloom and hosting all kinds of neat insects and birds. We mainly have these orange not-actually-ladybugs, hummingbirds, zillions of bees, and several kinds of butterflies. Our road is so quiet so I love to stand out on the porch and just listen to the bush buzzing. It's at least nine feet tall and at least that wide and just full of probably a hundred or more different creatures at a time. I think I'll make it the focus of a nature study when we start back to school.

Well friends, hope all is well in your worlds! Thanks for stopping by The Homemaking Party!

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A Band-Aid Box Story Craft

Hello Friends! Welcome to the Homemaking Party! 
This week, Lynzie is away from home until Friday and the teens are at teen camp---which means it's just me and the four littles during the days! Wow, such a different dynamic! 
We're doing some fun crafts and things this week and I thought I'd share one with you all.

Years ago, (like 15 or more) I was at a yard sale and found all these metal Band-Aid boxes for sale. I instantly remembered a craft I did as a four year old in Kindergarten and knew I had to grab them so I could do this project with my littles. Those littles are now almost grown but, thankfully, I've got another group of littles who are still little enough to enjoy this!
My mom had some rolls of register tape at a later yard sale so I snatched them up and all these supplies have been hiding away for a really long time. Today was their day!

When I was in Kindergarten at Heppner Elementary School in Heppner, Oregon, my teacher, Ms. Webber, led us in making Band-Aid box stories. This was about 1984 and Johnson & Johnson was still selling Band-Aids in metal boxes in "those days". I posted a teaser on my social media today and a friend joked that those lethal metal boxes were designed to sell more Band-Aids. That cracked me up...but really, now they're in paper boxes, so there's always the risk of a nasty paper cut! Genius moves on their part...hahaha!

Anyway, back to the story... So, as you can see, super trendy tiny me wrote a story about Rainbow Brite and her horse, Starlight. 

The kids loved seeing and hearing my story and thought I was just as adorable as I really was... But then they were ready to get started on their own stories!
Some of the kids chose to cover the outside of their boxes first. I had a huge box of decorative paper to choose from, but everyone went with solid colors and decided to decorate them on their own with drawings and coloring.

Some of the kids chose to write out their stories on register tape first. These two wrote stories about Doctor Who, their newest obsession.

Kynthia wrote a story about Leia from Star Wars. Once they were done with their stories, they rolled them up and fit them perfectly into the little boxes.

Here's Avalon's finished story, along with a matching TARDIS box. Very cool.

This was a super fun, easy, and creative craft. I'm so glad we recreated one of my favorite Kindergarten memories! Perhaps you'll find some vintage Band-Aid boxes at a yard sale and make one of your own, too!

Thanks for stopping by the Homemaking Party! Have a great week!

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Field Trips to the Joplin History Museum, the Titanic Exhibit, and a Farm!

Hello Friends! Wow, well this has really been a week of getting out of the house---and it's only just begun! I spent Monday getting my hair done, getting groceries, and doing several other errands. Tuesday night, we took the kids to the Joplin History and Mineral Museum for a special exhibit. The museum is hosting a small Titanic exhibit through Saturday so we made the quick trip north to check it out. 

We'd never been to this museum and were pleasantly surprised about all the cool things there were to see. Joplin has a (literally!) rich mining history and many minerals and machines were on display in this small museum. Here's Liam explaining to me that this amazing "cave" we were in was probably a real life mine at one time and once the people moved on to another mine, they turned this one into a museum! Ha! The displays really were very well done---but were housed inside an unassuming very much twentieth century building. I just let him believe what he wanted to, though...

Afterward, we took the kids to Wendy's and treated them to dinner and Frostys. Most of the kids had never had a Frosty so it was a life-changing experience...

This morning we got up bright and early to visit a local farm. The dear people at this farm put a TON of work, time, and money into hosting our group of about 100 homeschool parents and students! The kids learned a lot about running a farm and taking care of horses. It was a great experience for them!

I spent most of the morning with the two littlest girls as everyone was divided into groups by age. Kynthia seemed to take to the horses easily and really enjoyed grooming them.

It was a cool and windy day---just right for me...but I guess I'm not really a Southern girl, now am I? 

All these sweeties are such a joy to take places. They're obedient and respectful and very thankful and appreciative. Tomorrow we're going to visit a friend who was injured and had surgery and hasn't been able to attend church for a couple months. After that, we've got our Good Friday service, Easter activity day on Saturday, Easter Sunday...and then two of the boys and I are headed to Oregon for a week! More on that later...but is anyone else feeling as busy as me this week? Ha!! Oh well, it's a blessing to have fun things to do and fun people to do them with!

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Daddy's Homeschool Chemistry Lessons

Good Morning! Welcome to The Homemaking Party!
Just want to put up a THANK YOU to everyone who left such sweet comments on my update post last week. You were all so sweet and encouraging! I'm feeling really motivated and encouraged to get back to the heart of blogging and building my community of blogging friends!

Last weekend, Daddy started something new in our homeschool---Chemistry! Jamie works much more than full time, week after week, serves as a board member and in worship ministry at our church, and still makes time to be present in the lives of his nine children. I'm so thankful!!

He doesn't usually do planned out lessons with the kids, but when we recently discussed the serious lack of advanced science in our homeschool, he really stepped up to the plate. I'm good with nature study discussions and activities pertaining to whatever we're doing outside on a given day, but I was a Chemistry drop-out in high school and have never felt like I could (or should!) teach these higher level science subjects.

About a year ago, a friend told me about a new curriculum she was trying out called The Good and the Beautiful. It sounded like a pretty wholesome thing so I decided to check it out. Ha! The day I went to the site, they were offering a one-day free printable of their entire brand new Chemistry course! Woo Hoo! I printed it out and put it in a pretty binder...and handed it over to Jamie. Ha!!

Our first lesson was a general overview of Chemistry and featured an experiment where we caused marker colors to separate out on wet coffee filters.

We first guessed what would happen when we got four different colors wet...then we drew those colored circles on coffee filters and put just the tips into water to see what would happen.

The colors spread out and separated into different shades...and even some surprise colors!

Everyone got in on the lesson---from me and Lynzie, the grown ladies of the house, to Kynthia and Brenna, who are six and seven and not yet doing formal lessons. I figured I'd get in on this teaching and then I'd feel better about reteaching it to the youngers when they're in high school.

Once the kids' filters were dry and they'd recorded all their observations, they stored their pretty colored filters in a notebook. We're looking forward to Saturday morning when Jamie will have lesson number two ready to go through. It's days like these that reinforce that homeschooling (and any family learning opportunities, really) is more about the time spent and the memories made than any intelligence gained. I'm thankful!

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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

I Miss Blogging...and Other Mixed Up Thoughts of the Day

How do you feel about change? Some people love it when the old goes out and the new comes in. My husband is like that. He's always ready to jump into the next technological advancement and he's great when it comes to trying new things.

Me, not so much. The Beatles and the Bible tell us there's a time for everything and that circumstances change, but that doesn't mean I have to like it! If there's one thing I've learned about change though, it's that life would get pretty stagnant without it.

My life started going a different direction a couple years ago and part of that was reflected on this blog. I used to post several times a week and was working with many big name brands. But, you know, that started to get really tedious and pretty soon I'd lost my voice as a blogger. More and more, I had to be the person the brands wanted me to be, and the blog wasn't really mine anymore. I decided to let that go and my plan was to go back to blogging about Jesus and antiques, but that hasn't really happened, has it? I've struggled with bouncing back from that change.

Deeper things have gone on in these two years---things that are big enough to actually require a grieving process. Many of you know we lost a baby in October. I'm about six weeks from the due date of that baby and life is getting reeeeally tough to handle as that time draws closer. I'm ok. I'm getting through it with the love and support of my husband and kids and a couple close friends, but I've got to lean in to feelings of anger, jealousy, and so much sadness, that I don't really want to face.

Happy changes can still bring a time of mourning. That's a new concept to me, but it's so true. Lynzie graduated last April---almost a year ago---and I've been struggling to keep the joy in our homeschool. I'll write more on that later---that one needs a whole post of it's own---but the grief I'm dealing with, even with her still at home, sort of blindsided me.

I'm taking on some new ministry responsibilities in my church---which has brought up some questions for me about identity and callings. While I'm excited about what's ahead, there are some identity things I have to lay down in order to take this road God's got me on...and that's hard.

Why am I writing out these disjointed thoughts? I used to share heart stuff here, back in the days before the sponsored posts took over my life, and I'd like to get back to that. I miss my blogging friends and community. I feel God bringing something new to this blog. I'm looking forward to seeing what it is!

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