Monday, November 28, 2016

Beyond the Leftovers - Turkey Stock & Turkey Pot Pie

Thanksgiving is over.  It always seems surprising to me because of such build up to Thanksgiving and for all the work that goes into the one big meal.  It is definitely one of my favorite meals of the year, how can it not be with all those delicious dishes!

My favorite part of the big meal though?  The leftovers.

I’m sure that you all have been eating leftovers for several days like we have, but the leftovers will continue to go a lot farther in our house.

Let me explain.


Whenever we have a turkey – which is honestly only once a year – I want to make sure that I use up the turkey.  Not just the white meat on Thanksgiving, and some turkey sandwiches or a turkey and rice soup, which are all great things in their own right, but I also want to be able to use those leftovers during our very busy Christmas season and into the New Year.

One way that I have done that in the past is to put together turkey pot pie in a bag – literally just cut up turkey and gravy in a freezer bag.  Then when I want to make a pie, I only need to take the bag out of the freezer, let it thaw overnight put in a pie crust and then throw some frozen veggies in (my kids like green beans and peas).  Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and let it go until the crust is done and it is bubbling – super easy!

The other way that I really like to use up the turkey, though, is to make turkey stock. 

I love to make my own stock, I typically make veggie stock most of the time because onions carrots and celery are all pretty inexpensive to get at the store, much more so than purchasing those cartons of organic vegetable stock. 

But, I do love a good bone broth in the winter. 

Bone broth is incredibly healthy for you – especially during the winter time.  The minerals it contains are all immune boosting, which is important with all the germs going around.  It also contains healing compounds such as proline, glycine, collagen, and glutamine.  And the collagen in bone broth helps to heal your gut lining. (source)

See, definitely a great thing to have on hand during the winter!

Bone broth is incredibly simple to make – take leftover turkey bones (it is the turkey carcass, let's just accept that is what it is called), put in a very large stock pot (10qt or larger), cover with water, and simmer all.day.long.  The all day part is the most important.  You need to give the bones time to release all the great nutrients.

Once you have simmered the turkey, you can then let it cool overnight and then put into gallon size freezer bags to lay flat and freeze (then conveniently stack) to use for soups, stews, and chili throughout the winter. 

Today is the day that I plan to start my bone broth, typically I do it over the weekend, but we were busy putting up our tree, and I forgot to put it in.  So my house will smell delicious today!

What are some ways that you use up leftovers?  Do you make bone broth?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Hacks to Make Your Life Easier this Holiday Season

This is a sponsored post from U.S. Cellular.  All opinions are my own!

It is my most favorite time of year!  The holiday season - and I say holidays as anything that comes from the week of Thanksgiving right through New Years.  However, this time of year also tends to stress me out - a lot.

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My to-do list seems incredibly long right now, but knowing that I can utilize technology (like my iPhone) to make my life easier is something I am definitely excited about!


I am happy to have a reliable network through U.S. Cellular that makes these hacks a huge help during this very busy season.

Using Your Phone Camera to Alleviate Holiday Stress

Take a picture of where you parked your car - Do you do this?  It seems so easy, and definitely something I need to start doing.  I have definitely had many instances of when I forgot where my car was parked.

Scan or photograph passport, identification and itinerary - Save the images for offline access and e-mail them to your personal account.  It is always important to have extra copies of these important documents when you travel!

Take pictures of your fridge and pantry when grocery shopping - I love to make grocery lists, but I almost always forget to put something on the list.  Having a picture of what my fridge looks like helps me to remember when I need a condiment or other item that I may not always put on my list.

Other Features on your Smartphone to Simplify the Holiday Season

Charge your phone on airplane mode - My husband is notorious for not keeping his phone charged, and then needs it charged in very short periods of time.  Charging in airplane mode allows him to charge his phone faster by eliminating apps or services running in the background.

Track a master to-do list in the notes feature - While I love paper lists, it is so easy to misplace them, or for my kids to decide to turn them into their newest art creation, so keeping a list on my phone is wonderful.  Also, it helps when I am out and about looking at gifts to jot down ideas that I can think about later.

Use location based reminders - It is easy to forget to make a stop when I am out with the kids and running a bunch of errands.  But with the Reminders feature in iOS or Google Keep on Android you can set a notification to sound when you are a near a specific destination.  

What tricks do you use to make life easier during the holidays?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

On Creating a Simple Life

There are affiliate links in this post.  If you purchase something through one of these links I will receive a small commission - thank you for supporting Townsend House!

I think that a lot of people think living simply means easy.  And that is not the case at all.  It seems like every choice towards “simple living” is complicated, and causes us to go against the flow of everyday life in Western Culture.



I’m getting ahead of myself though.  Let’s first decide what simple living is.  Defined by Tsh Oxenreider from the art of simple:

Simple Living is living holistically with your life’s purpose.

Seems easy enough, right?  No?  I hope you are also saying no, because whenever I see this definition, no matter how much I agree with it, I can’t seem to wrap my head around it!


That isn’t always the way it works though.  Often times the most important first step is to realize and document what is most important to you.

For me that is my faith and my family. 

Somehow, all the “other stuff” seems to get in the way all the time.  I don’t want to fall behind, I want to do all the things, I want to see everything happen immediately, I don’t want to wait.  There is something about this consumerist culture that I live in (consuming either products or information) that I can’t get enough of.  Even though I can easily de-clutter my house and have very few possessions, I am still always looking for more more more when it comes to information and strategies to better myself, my life, my family, my faith.

It is overwhelming. 

I talked a little last week how I failed miserably at my #write31days challenge this year.  I wanted to write about overcoming overwhelm, but instead caused myself to get sick, and more overwhelmed in the process.


I don’t want to live my life like that!  No one does, yet it is so easy for it to start happening, isn’t it?  It seems like life takes on a life of its own, and I am helpless to fight against it.  Instead of telling my life what to do, I get swept up in all.the.things.


When I saw that Tsh was going to do a mini video e-course on the steps she takes in order to live a simple life, I knew that I had to jump on that as soon as I could.  Any type of encouragement that I can get is an amazing amount of encouragement at this point.


I would love for you to join me in this FREE – did I mention that before – video e-course designed to help you not feel so overwhelmed, and instead move towards your goals for simple living.


I need to tell you that Tsh is amazing when it comes to her encouragement.  When she talks about simple living, she knows that is different for everyone.  I know that sometimes people think that simple living is moving to a farm, and making everything from scratch; or simple living is selling all your possessions, becoming a minimalist and moving into a tiny home.  That isn’t the case, you can certainly live in a 4000sf home and still live a simple life, it is all about your attitude, and your goals for your life.


What is one area of your life that you would love to simplify, but haven’t found the tools you need to do so?

The Art of Simple

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Take Your Health to the Next Level with Nature Made®

This post was sponsored by Nature Made® as a part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central.

I am not a doctor - please talk to your own doctor before starting any vitamin/supplement regimen.

The past month has been one long sickness in our family!  It seems like no matter what, one of the kids has a cold.  Of course, we are moving into the colder months here in Maine, and that is a common occurrence.

I knew that I needed to step up our vitamin routine to try and get us back on track, me especially.  A sick mama is no fun to be around, and it certainly isn’t fun being sick!


It has been unseasonably warm in Maine this fall, but now that the cold fall is setting in, and winter is just around the corner, getting back into our winter health routine was important.

Nature Made® has a variety of vitamins, minerals and supplements (VMS) to help support nutritional gaps with your health goals in mind ranging from Digestive Support, Heart Health & Function, Energy Metabolism, Women’s Health and much more!†

One of the vitamins that I started taking last winter was D3.  Living in Maine, we don’t get enough vitamin D, especially during the winter, so after discussing it with my Dr. I started to take a supplement.  It has helped improve my mood and energy level in the winter months. 


Because we have all been sick, I was feeling run down, and realized I haven’t been taking my D3 lately – instead utilizing the sun.  But, since we haven’t been getting out in the sun lately, the vitamin is back in my morning supplement routine.

Nature Made® is the #1 Pharmacist Recommended brand for many key dietary supplement categories*

Since we haven’t been into our normal winter supplement routine, I realized that a trip to Walmart was in order.  I love how easy it is to get all the Nature Made® Vitamins and Supplements that I need while getting all of the other normal groceries and day to day items.  The everyday low prices at Walmart make it easy to stock up. 


One stop shopping is incredibly important when you are going on those errands with three children!

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*Based on the 2016 U.S. News & World Report – Pharmacy Times Survey.

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Amazing and Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe

I am a stay at home mom and we homeschool, because of that, I think it should be incredibly easy to get a healthy, homemade, amazing meal on the table each night.  For some reason, it is not easy.  While I do tend to make most of my meals from scratch, I realized that having to start dinner at 3pm in order to eat by 6pm was not working.


There are so many amazing and easy crock pot recipes out there.  There are entire blogs dedicated to freezer cooking, and all of the wonderful dishes that they can have for dinner by making them ahead of time.  Unfortunately, I can’t seem to make those freezer meals work for me.  Either I don’t typically buy the ingredients, or I don’t have a Saturday to dedicate to making freezer meals.


I love to make chicken in the crock pot though – most specifically chicken tacos.  However, my kids were getting kind of sick of it (how can you be sick of tacos?!), but they still wanted chicken.  I can only bake a chicken so many ways, so I thought I would try for a sweet and sour chicken recipe with rice.


This is an incredibly easy recipe, so easy I don’t think it even qualifies as a recipe.

Easy Sweet & Sour Chicken and Rice

2-3 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breast (you can also use thighs)
1 12oz bottle of Heinz chili sauce
1 20oz can of Dole pineapple chunks

Put the chicken in the crock pot, add salt/pepper/garlic powder to your liking.  Add chili sauce and pineapple chunks (I drain most of the liquid).  Set your crock pot to low for 8 hours, shred chicken with two forks.  Cook some brown rice and serve over the rice.


This is a knockoff of another recipe I make around Christmas time – sweet and sour kielbasa.  Instead of the pineapple I usually use a jar of grape jelly.


For this particular day I also added a bag of frozen peppers and onions.  I always like to have these on hand because they are perfect to throw in the crock pot with chili or chicken to add something extra.  I think if you steamed some snow peas and broccoli and added it to the dish, it would be delicious!


What are some easy  meals that you make during the week?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Why I Stopped Knitting plus an Amazing Book!

I honestly don’t know what happened this year.  I started out the year ready to get so many knitting projects finished, and I was excited.  But, then the baby became a teething running toddler, and finding pockets of time to knit became a thing of the past.

I turned around and it was November.

How the heck did that happen?!  But, here we are, in November, and I am realizing the Christmas knitting that I diligently planned out in May (slow knitter here!) was not coming along as I wanted.  I had a couple of productive weeks where I finished up a few projects that were sitting around, and then I just stopped. 

Hello, my name is Heather and I haven’t knit a stitch in months.

Incredibly sad, but apparently it is the stage I am in right now.  

How I lost and then found my love of knitting and an amazing book recommendation

All that to say, I started knitting a new hat this week.  I use this pattern because it is free, and really easy to alter.  It is just a basic rib pattern, and works really well in the winter for my kids.

I think that my biggest problem is that I think I have more time than I actually have.  Even though we all have 168 hours in a week, I try and convince myself I actually have 186…and every time it doesn’t work out...surprise surprise.

While I would love to say that I am going to have some amazing hand knit items for Christmas this year, I think that it might be time to step back and not put that pressure on myself.

I started knitting again right after I got married, and it was so relaxing and fun.  I didn’t have children and I had all the time in the world.  Now, after three children, I still love to knit, but I don’t find as much time, or I don’t prioritize as much time, to knitting as I once did, yet I still write out knitting goals like I do have all the time in the world. 

It made me lose my love of knitting a little bit.

Instead of being happy about the free moments I was able to do a couple rows here and there, I became sad and angry that I couldn’t get more done.  I want to get back to that happiness of knitting, because it is something that I dearly love.  And so I had to give myself permission to not knit for a while, and to not feel bad about it.

How I lost and then found my love of knitting and an amazing book recommendation

I would still love to make all three of my kiddos hats this fall, and that probably is manageable, but it won’t be manageable if I am also trying to knit scarves, mitts and toys for Christmas as well. 

As for my reading, well reading is a bit easier for me to have time for – I still spend a good deal of time nursing, and cuddling children, and reading on the kindle app on my phone is an amazing technological advance that I will continue to take full advantage of.

How I lost and then found my love of knitting and an amazing book recommendation

The book that I am devouring right now is Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.  It is exactly what my soul needs right now, and I can’t wait to finish the book.  I thought from the title that maybe it wouldn’t work for me – I have long discovered I cannot do anything perfectly; but the book starts out talking about work, and how we can throw ourselves so much into work that we tend to then overcompensate in other areas of our life. 

I can definitely relate to this.  I have been putting so much time and energy into my blog, something that I can see results from, that I often will spend so much time working on it, that I can’t see everything else right in front of me.  I keep thinking “I just need to do x, and then I can relax.”  The problem is that x keeps changing, and relaxing never seems to happen.

I am only about 25% of the way into the book, but so far I am nodding my head every time I read a new paragraph.  Definitely recommend it!


What are you working on creatively?  Do you have any amazing book recommendations?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

{31 Days} Epic Failure and What to do to Fix It

There are affiliate links in this blog post.  If you purchase something after clicking one of these links I will receive a small commission.  Thank you for supporting Townsend House!

Brilliant Tools for Simple Living in a Complicated World



This is my fifth year participating in the #write31days challenge.  When I first started, I thought it would be a great way for me to get to know other bloggers, and it worked.  I loved the community and the encouragement, and I also loved the challenge of writing for 31 days straight.


Brilliant tools to help you grow your blog work smarter and manage time

When I was preparing for the challenge this year, I could not pin down a topic.

It seemed like life was going at warp speed, and before I knew it, it was September 30th, and I hadn’t come up with a topic.

At that moment, I knew that I wanted to write about overcoming overwhelm.

Why?  Well, because I was so overwhelmed, it seemed natural to want to write about overcoming it.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have any idea of how to do this in the month of October.  Well, I did have a few ideas, and it all started out well enough.

Then my kids got sick, and then I got sick.  I haven’t been really sick in a good couple years – which is absolutely lucky, I know that.

Brilliant tools to help you grow your blog work smarter and manage time

I think one of the reasons that I hadn’t been sick besides colds over the past couple of years was because I had made peace with my schedule and removed what wasn't necessary.  I was able to not being stressed or overwhelmed.  So, when my body started to become stressed again, and I felt life getting a bit out of control, of course I got sick.

I thought I would be able to persevere and get through the challenge, writing about my experiences, however, I’m sure you have noticed, that was not the case.  Instead, I wrote a few posts about how I am not very successful at overcoming overwhelm.

Finally, the week before Lucy’s birthday, I said enough.  I was sick, had vertigo, and could not talk.  I realized I needed a break.


Taking a break in the blogging world seems like such a difficult thing.  I think that it is difficult because we are all always connected, always trying to put out new content, always trying to be in community with our readers, trying to share interesting and valuable information online.

What happens?  Essentially, burn out happens.

You push so hard, I push so hard, that I end up back where I was a couple years ago, and all I need is a little bit of breathing room.

I ended up allowing myself to take a break.  Not an easy task for someone who is trying to build build build, but it was necessary.  I wasn’t helping anyone, certainly not myself, and that is a main reason that I blog.

Simple living in a complicated world – yet my world was very complicated, and I was doing nothing to simplify it.

I am constantly striving for balance in my home, but realized that my blog was taking on a life of its own.  This is a good thing since I am trying to build this online business, however, it is also a bad thing if I am unable to balance everything else I have on my plate (most notably homeschooling and the activities my kids are involved in).

Being an introvert it is easy for me to just want to shut out everything and hide.  But, obviously that isn’t an option.

I realized that in order for me to do better with balance, I needed to work smarter and not harder.  I also needed to take some time to think about my goals for this blog, what is my long term vision, and why do I continue to write even when I am stressed?

The Genius Blogger’s Toolkit came at the right time for me as far as blogging goes.  I realized that I was trying to do too many things, too many things with my blog, too many things in life, and I needed to prioritize. 

For business, bundle has been an amazing tool for me.  Showing me some of the problems that I have, while giving me concrete steps to take in order to improve.  I love being a blogger, working for myself, but sometimes self gets in the way, and I just need someone to tell me what to do.  This bundle is helping me learn that.

Now, there are a lot of things that I am doing for my personal side as well, finding balance and not being overwhelmed going into our busy season is something I definitely need to work hard on, and it is not easy, but it is worth it.  I hope to be sharing some of those steps over the next several weeks. 

Brilliant tools to help you grow your blog work smarter and manage time

As for now, I am sorry that I was unable to finish this challenge, but I think that I learned a good lesson in that sometimes I can’t push through, sometimes I really do need to take a step back and look at the big picture. 

If you are a blogger or content creator, I definitely recommend picking up this amazing bundle – over 60 resources at 98% off.  If you are looking to make one part of your life – your blog – less overwhelming, I definitely recommend this amazing resource.  Today is the last day this bundle will be available – don’t let it pass you by!

How do you overcome overwhelm in blogging or in life?  Do you ever continue pushing through without stepping back to breathe?