Grandma’s Chicken Soupy Stew

This is my Mum's recipe and it is a family favorite with both the boys and even better it is frugal too as it uses up the chicken carcass for making the stock.  You could make it suitable for vegetarians by using vegetable stock and substituting the chicken.   If you do not have much chicken then a broth pack is a great way of bulking it out and I have to say I love adding pearl barley to mine. It reminds me of dinner round the table when I was growing up and there was always a fight for the extra dumplings! chicken soupy stew
5.0 from 4 reviews
Grandma's Chicken Soupy Stew
  • Chicken Carcass
  • Leftover roast chicken
  • Vegetables
  • Suet
  • Self raising flour
  1. Place the chicken carcass in a slow cooker and cover with boiling water.
  2. If you have any leek or carrot tops then add them too and cook on low overnight.
  3. Strain the liquid and if you want pick off any meat from the bones.
  4. Allow the stock to cool and remove fat from the top.
  5. Place the stock in to the slow cooker and add chopped up vegetables. This one had carrots, swede, parsnip, leeks and onions.
  6. Add chicken.
  7. Cook for 4 hours on high in a slow cooker or 8 hours on low.
  8. For the Dumplings (this makes 8)
  9. g of vegetable suet and 200g of self raising floor in a bowl.
  10. Make a well in the middle and add water, mixing with a butter knife until it comes together.
  11. Form loosely into 8 portions
  12. For a crispy top cook in the oven uncovered for 20 minutes.
  13. For a soft top leave on high in the slow cooker for 30 minutes.
Perfect for cold winter evenings.  I guarantee empty bowls for this meal!  It also freezes well and is great warmed up and you can blend the leftovers to make a smooth soup perfect for flasks. soupy stew This is our favourite winter warmer recipe and we are entering it in the competition.
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Something for the weekends

something for the weekend header Weekends are often busy, filled with things to do and places to go for most families, but I also want them to be a time where you can create as a family and make the most of each other.  With this in mind I have decided to run a weekly post on a friday featuring fun, fabulous and simple ideas for a creative family weekend. These will be seasonal ideas of simple things that you can fit into your frenetic family life along with homework, movies, birthday parties, shopping and everything else a busy parent does. I will give you a list of materials needed (most of which you will be able to find around the house or supermarket) and then some inspiration of what to do with them and hopefully help you fill your weekend with less #screenfree time. But I need your help with this.  I would like to know the type of things you would like to see.  Do you want arts and craft, cooking, baking, ideas for outdoor play or a selection of all? I do not want to make life more complicated but to encourage you to enjoy the simple things in life and slow down.  I want to encourage us all to put down our mobile phones and to be the change we want to see in our children. I am not looking to make life more busy, but to help you find a balance and inspiration.  I want to encourage our children to not reach for their screens at the first sign of boredom. So what do you think? Are you up for reestablishing the connection with your children, for being a child again and having some fun? Are you ready for something for the weekend?
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8 Tips for caring for school shoes

Shoes shoes are a real investment.  Mini has just had to have new ones as his feet had grown and they cost £42, thankfully we had a £40 voucher from Clarks to put towards them.  For Mini we really have to look to a shop like Clarks as he has wide feet and a high instep.  His current shoes are a 2.5 H width fitting.  When you pay that short of money for shoes it is essential that you look after them and I have to say I learned a lot about caring for leather shoes from my Dad and Granddad. caring for school shoes
  1. Add a name label, when you have paid for school shoes, you do not want to lose them! 
  2. Protect them before they are first worn with a protective waterproof spray and again on a regular basis.
  3. Never dry them over a radiator or heat source when wet, instead fill with crumpled newspaper of paper and allow to dry naturally.
  4. Get your children to take them off when they get home from school to air them out.
  5. Remove dirt as soon as possible, get in to the habit of giving them a wipe over each night with a damp cloth
  6. Clean on a regular basis with a leather cleaner.  I am an old-fashioned wax and brush girl, which I leave on for an hour to sink in before removing with a soft brush and rag.  Applying the wax with a brush gets it in to all the bumps and crevices.
  7. Liquid scuff polish is a great quick fix to keep shoes looking smart
  8. If shoes start to smell then a sprinkling of bicarbonate of soda in them overnight will deodorise them.
clarks shoes Mini really wanted the yellow and green trainers, but school shoes have to be black! I love the use of coloured laces to bring shoes and boots up to date and will be doing this with the boys shoes.    
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Update on my word of the year – Nurture

We are now two weeks in to January and I thought I would update you on how I am getting on with my word of the year and my intentions for 2014. nurture 600 Over on A Thrifty Mum, I have been documenting my decluttering efforts, which are going really well and I am pleased to say that slowly but surely I am simplifying our home and belongings.  I am learning that I also need to nurture the environment we live in making life easier for all of us.  With this in mind I have decided to get our tumble dryer repaired.  I haven't used the dryer for over a year as it has been broken and have found drying the washing such a chore this winter. With regards to nurturing myself I have appointments with numerous specialists to discuss my condition and I am also having regular blood tests to ensure that things do not get to the stage they did before Christmas.  I understand that by keeping on top of it I can really make an impact on all of my family.  So this really is key for us all. Sewing lessons also start again next week and I am really looking forward to spending time with a fab group of ladies and my sewing machine.  I started on Capturing Childhood Manual Overdrive e course this week too. Each lunch time I take Alvin out for a walk and it is doing me the world of good to get out of the house and experience some sunshine. MadDad and I are also making time to have movie nights together and enjoying our evening time together.  We have plans to have more lunches together and spend quality time together. I am also learning to say "no" to things.  I ask myself the question "will this nurture me and my family?" It is early in the year, but things are going well at the moment and by having a word to focu on it is really making me think and evaluate what I am doing. 3.
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#ScreenFree Update and our perfect day

  screen free prompts The boys have had their first week back at school this week and one of the things we are trying to do is reduce their reliance on screens and technology.  I have not thrown out all screens or even banned their use, but I have insisted on at least one screen free activity a day from the above list of prompts. We find screen free time much harder in these dark and cold winter days.  In the summer the boys first reaction after school is to get changed and go out to play outside. This month as part of our ambassador program Center Parcs asked us to think about our perfect day.  So we all sat down at dinner and discussed what we would like out of a day at Center Parcs and not surprisingly the main thing that came out of the discussion was more family time outside. Both the boys would love to do something action and adventure like aerial tree trekking or a Quad Bike Safari.  I am looking forward to board games on an evening and cycling together during the days.  When the boys are not on an action and adventure kick I know we ill be in the pool and I will have to drag my water babies out as they love being in the water. I might even get time to read a book whilst they are all in the pool.  You never know! So what would be your perfect day? I’m a Center Parcs Family Blogger and will be visiting Whinfell village with my family. If you want to enter to win a place as a wildcard winner just go to the challenge page to find out how
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Help me win some Winter Sun

The last time I visited the Canary Islands was in January 2001.  2000 had been a really bleak winter and my Father had died in an industrial accident and I really needed some winter sun, so Madad and I took a wonderful relaxing trip to the Canary Islands.

The Canary's really were the perfect place to capture some winter sun, make peace with the previous years happenings and reconnect with each other after a very stressful period.

Each January  Las Canteras Beach in the Canary Islands come alive with sand sculptures that reach 4 meters in height which are amazing and the 22 degree weather really makes looking at them just wonderful.

We enjoyed some amazing Canarian food when we last visited way before we had children and I remember spending plenty of time on the beach and around the pool reading (which isn't something that tends to happen now).

MaDad isn't really one for sitting and soaking up the sun, so we also hired a car to explore the Island and took a number of boat trips, in addition to jet skiing and parascending, yes we used to be pretty adventurous!

Well we have been given the chance to relive this holiday and you can help.  I have the opportunity to win a round trip ticket for 2 to Gran Canaria, accommodation at a 4 star hotel, and half board. I have shared the video on your Facebook page,  and I NEED YOU to share it with your followers.  I will only qualify once I  have reached 50 shares. The winner will be the contestant whose video has been shared the most by the 8th of January 2014 at 20.00GMT

So please go to my facebook page and share the video - Pretty please! 

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Fingerprint Thank you cards – Robins

We are working on reducing the boys reliance on technology and we decided to make fingerprint thank you cards for part of our #ScreenFree time. robin fingerprint cards I think that it is really important for the boys to say thank you for the gifts they receive and as a family we love to give and receive hand made cards.  I try to make sure that what we do is something that the boys can do all by themselves and they loved this activity. Materials
    1. Cardstock or blank white cards like these 100 Pack of White Square Card and Envelopes
    2. Paint (we used tempura, but any will do)
    3. Fine tip black pen
The boys turn white card in to cards by folding them in half. finger The they painted a finger with brown paint and made fingerprints on a card to represent the Robin's body. They washed their hands and by the time they returned to the table the brown paint was dry, so they painted the tip of the little finger red for the Robins red breasts. They then added the birds beaks and feet with a fine tipped pen. tongue of concentration Maxi wrote thank you on the front of his cards (note the tongue of concentration), whereas Mini wanted to have lots of Robins on the front of his cards. robin fingerprint card Do your children send thank you cards out after christmas or when they receive gifts?
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40 Things I have learned

  1. I am a the cat's pyjamas
  2. You can not have a champagne lifestyle on a larger income
  3. Less is more
  4. You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream - C.S Lewis
  5. Sew a little love into every stitch
  6. That life is not a one way journey, you can make turns and even go backwards if you chose.
  7. Being wonky is good
  8. The sum is greater than the parts
  9. Fairy lights are for all year round, not just christmas
  10. Family is EVERYTHING
  11. Most things can be healed by spending time with children
  12. That I am not the only person in the world to have a stationery and washi tape addiction
  13. Creativity is like a muscle
  14. Happiness is not perfection, it is learning to look past the imperfect
  15. That it is acceptable to get satisfaction from hanging washing on the line
  16. Not much beats slipping between freshly laundered better, other than being joined there by the ones you love.
  17. The secret to good Yorkshire puddings is an extra egg.
  18. That having gift vouchers means that there will be nothing you want from that shop and not having them means you are longing for something!
  19. I am not defined by my broad Northern accent.
  20. Being polite costs nothing and gives so much.  Always say please and thank you.
  21. My best has to be good enough
  22. In order to make life better for woman, I have to raise feminist boys.
  23. There is unbound joy in finding money in old bags and coat pockets
  24. A pot of tea solves a lot of life's woes
  25. Tea tastes better served in china cups
  26. I would rather spend more on paper straws then drink from plastic ones
  27. I have to be the person I want my children to become
  28. Kindness costs nothing, starts with me and needs to be an intention I make everyday and I should always give more than necessary
  29. That now is my happy ever after
  30. There is something wonderful to be found in a family button tin
  31. Life is too short and unpredictable to not live in the present. Yes life is a grind, but I am not being worn down, I am being polished!
  32. No balls in the house is a good rule
  33. Where there is love there is life
  34. That I light the way for my children by the bridges I burn
  35. Accidents happen
  36. Buy quality and only buy once
  37. Given enough glue sticks and glitter I could rule the world
  38. There is no way to be a perfect mother, but I am the right mum for my boys
  39. That if I can not change a situation then I have to change my thoughts about it.
  40. We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
Blatantly copied from Housewife Confidential and kept for my 40th Birthday, well actually I turned 40 on December 20th, but with illness and a superb family christmas I forgot to post this!
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A month of #ScreenFree prompts and activities

screenFreww If your children are anything like mine they might have slipped back in to the habit of reaching for screens first over this festive period.  Both the boys now have an Ipod, which seems permanently attached to their hands and I really have felt the need to look at ways to encourage them away from their reliance on technology.  I find that this is only really an issue over the dark winter months as during the lighter nights their first reaction is to play outside with their friends. So over January I am going to be giving you (and them) a screen free activity each day on The Mum in The Mad House facebook page.  Come and join us and let me know if the prompts are working fo0r you and your children. Yesterday we worked on our words for the year and Mini's was Harmony as he is going to look at improving his temper and to try and not fight with Maxi! harmony Maxi's word was Creative as he understands that he needs to be more creative in life and not look to technology all the time. creative Maxi initially had issues with doing this activity, but it seems he just has problems with failure to transition from one activity to another.  Once he started this task he really enjoyed it and had so much fun.  I am hoping by having a word to focus on we can light that spark of imagination again and be a little more #ScreenFree.    
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My word for 2014 – Nurture

My word for 2013 was Joy, or more specifically Choosing Joy.  I focused on looking past the negatives and choosing to find joy in all I see, do and make.  It wasn't always easy, but the more I did it, the easier it became and I actually found that I started to do it automatically without thinking about it.
We have been truly blessed in 2013 with some fantastic family experiences, but there has also been some real challenges.  I hope that I have dealt with them mostly with dignity and also learned from the experiences.  I have certainly learned who my true friends are, but I have also learned that I need to let go and just make the most of everyday.
This year I want to concentrate on Nurture.
verb: nurture; 3rd person present: nurtures; past tense: nurtured; past participle:nurtured; gerund or present participle: nurturing
  1. 1.
    care for and protect (someone or something) while they are growing.
    "Jarrett was nurtured by his parents in a close-knit family"
    synonyms: bring up, care for, provide for, take care of, attend to, look after, rear,support, raise, foster, parent, mother, tend; More
    antonyms: neglect, hinder
    • help or encourage the development of.
      "my father nurtured my love of art"
    • cherish (a hope, belief, or ambition).
      "for a long time she had nurtured the dream of buying a shop"
noun: nurture
  1. 1.
    the action or process of nurturing someone or something.
    "the nurture of children"
    synonyms: encouragement, promotion, fostering, development, cultivation,boosting, furtherance, advancement More
    • upbringing, education, and environment, contrasted with inborn characteristics as an influence on or determinant of personality.
      "we are all what nature and nurture have made us"
      synonyms: upbringing, bringing up, care, fostering, tending, rearing, raising,training, education More
      antonyms: nature, innate disposition, inherited characteristics
I need to nurture myself a little more and focus on finding answers to the ongoing health issues I suffer from and find ways that I can support my body and soul with my condition and be a little gentler on myself.  But I also want to extend this to all the other areas of my life too.
I am going to continue to learn new skills and keep up my sewing lessons on a weekly basis and also the Saturday workshops now and then.  I also want to work on my photography skills and have joined the Manual Overdrive course with Capturing Childhood.  I have found that learning new things nourishes me and enables me to be a better person and give more to my family.
I am going to spend time supporting my children, tending to their changing needs as they grow up. I want to find ways to encourage them to be less reliant on electronics and to nurture their other talents.  I want to make spending more time outside a priority and have fun as a family.  I want to nurture their life skills.  I want us to cook, bake, make and create together.
I am going to give more time to my marriage.  I have loved having MadDad around during this festive season and realise that we need to spend some more time with just the two of us.  We had lunch together on my birthday and it was a rare treat that we both loved and we decided that we are going to make more time for each other.  Maybe not date nights (as it is hard to get people to look after the boys), but why not meet for lunch more often or watch a movie together.  My marriage is important to me and worth spending time and energy on to nurture it.
I also want to nurture my career. More on this to come!
Finally, I am also going to nurture our Finance, but there is much more on this on A Thrifty Mum, where my word of the year financially is PRUDENCE.
So each quarter when I produce my seasonal manifesto's I will use Nurture to help me focus on my tasks, hopes and plans and update on the previous quarterly goals and aims.
I find that my having a one word that sums up my goals and plans for the year it makes me much more focused and I use it as a visual reminder.  I print it out to remind me of what I am looking to achieve.
Cass also told me that Ruth at Dorky Mum does a word of the year too and she is much more eloquent that I, so hop on over to read more about her word.  I also completed Susannah Conway’s Unravelling the Year workbook after reading about it on her blog and it really helped me reflect on 2013 and put 2014 in to perspective.
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