Company Chicken Salad

This favorite recipe is a ladies luncheon pleaser! I can’t believe I haven’t thought to share it here before now. I made a batch tonight to accompany my mother’s 73rd birthday lunch here at my house tomorrow! It’s a famous lunch item at our local 1850’s restaurant and one that I make each June for our homeschool mom’s luncheon. Someone always requests the recipe.

Crunchy Chicken Salad

  • 5 cups cooked chicken pieces
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 8 ounces sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 cup pineapple tidbits
  • 1 cup seedless grapes, halved

DRESSING:

  • 1 cup Miracle Whip
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 TBS sugar
  • 1 tsp. Lawry’s seasoned salt

GARNISH: optional

  • tomato or fresh fruit, such as cantaloupe
  1. Combine first 5 ingredients.
  2. In separate bowl combine dressing ingredients.
  3. Stir dressing into chicken mixture.
  4. Garnish and serve.

I cook a whole chicken in about two cups worth of broth in my crockpot for five hours on high…the meat is so tender and tasty that way. This salad is also delicious accompanied by my mom’s croissant recipe!

Hope you try it–it’s practically too easy to make considering how fantastic it looks and tastes!

ETA: I added pictures! The three lovelies in the photo here are my 4 year old, my mother–the birthday girl!, and my sister!

A Wonderful Week

I apologize for the dead air here on the blog last week…my only excuse? Too many other things vying for my attention–all good things, of course, excepting my daughter’s ear infection! (Please ignore the weird spacing of the pics in this post…I’ve been having such a hard time working with images on WordPress lately! They will not go where I want them to go!!!)

Monday

Monday morning began laid-back and kind of melancholy…we’d had big plans for homeschooling friends to come over for lunch and swimming, only to have the plans fall through Sunday b/c of my friend experiencing some dizzy spells…she’s 8 months pregnant, so we were really concerned. However, she called at 8:30 am and said she was good-to-go! So we ended up having a very joyful, exciting day with her and her three great kids. Pizza and fruit for lunch and ice cream sundaes for dessert, plenty of swimming, toad catching and playtime for all, and a great visit between us two moms! I’d been looking forward to that for a long while!

Alas, she had to leave…and the girls and I had to get to our small town library and turn in our reading time logs by the deadline. The Summer Reading Program–over already…

Tuesday

Woke 10 yo up at 5 a.m. so she could go gather cattle with her daddy–have I mentioned that late July and early August equal many pre-dawn wake-up calls for my cowboy husband as he and the rest of the ranchers round up all the cattle that have been enjoying summer grass and load them on cattle trucks or bring them back to the feedyards? Well, this is pure bliss for my older girls–a chance to ride horseback all day and spend quality time with daddy…

My oldest sister came over around 10:30 am, bringing my niece and nephew for some water-fun and lunch. We enjoyed chicken salad and zucchini quiche, etc, and a leisurely chat together which was long overdue!

That evening, we ran my husband over to the hay field so he could drop off his truck and trailer to his uncle…to be loaded with big bales of prairie hay…and then we ran on into the “city” to the farm store and to drop off our reading program booklets at the “city” library by the deadline!

We got home, fixed a (very) late supper, and oldest threw together a batch of sugar cookie dough to get a jump on chilling it for a cookie-baking marathon the next morning!

Wednesday

Wednesday began at 3:30 am for my 7 yo, being her turn to don jeans, boots and spurs and tag along to work with daddy…I don’t mind admitting that I wasted no time jumping back in bed after seeing them off!

Three or four hours later, I baked two pans of cherry dump cake for the cowboys’ dessert while my oldest painstakingly rolled out the cookie dough from the night before, shaping each treat with our butterfly cookie-cutter. The library’s summer reading program theme was “Bugs” this year, so she wanted to bring a plate of frosted butterflies to the children’s librarian. Aw…yes, very sweet! They turned out so pretty!

At 10 a.m. my husband’s boss called to let me know that the cowboys were finishing up and would be ready for lunch by 10:30! So we flew out the door with our desserts and made it to the pasture barely on time! They’d spent the morning gathering 1,400 head of cattle…about 15 cowboys/girls…and we enjoyed lunching under the shade trees out on the prairie! Brisket sandwiches, potato salad, pickles, trail mix, and cherry dump cake!

Then it was a rush back to town to make it to the library’s Summer Reading Program party at 1 p.m. A bug expert came to talk bugs with us, bringing many live critters and even baked larvae for the children to enjoy! Woo-hoo! (My daughter said it tasted like they were barbequed!) The exciting part is that my youngest won the grand prize drawing of an electronic toy called a Leapster!

After the party we stopped by Dairy Queen for a little ice cream and then we hustled over to the county fair to watch my niece participate in a dog agility course. She won!

Out to my folks’ house to water their flowers and tomatoes…as they’re gone on vacation!

Home in the 103 degree heat for the girls to swim and me and hubby to finish spray-painting the house! YES!

After this, we hopped in the car and headed to the “city” (hope I’m not confusing you all…we did two library programs this summer, the one in our “small town” and the one in the “city”) for their library’s end of summer reading party! It was a mini-carnival, and we really enjoyed seeing several of our homeschooling buddies there…after that was over, we dropped hubby off at the hay field to retrieve his hay-filled trailer and headed home. Another late supper and into bed!

Thursday

My 33rd birthday and 15th anniversary! (Thank you all so much! I got several lovely cards in the mail, as well as a slew of online greetings, you guys are the best!) My oldest got up early and crept into my room to give me a 35 minute back massage! I could start EVERY day off that good!

My 4 year old made me a banner…with 33 written backwards on the back of the Happy Birthday sign…TOO cute! And of course, I received several awesome home-made cards from the best girls in the world!

My oldest prepared breakfast and lunch and made me a two-layer white cake with frosting from scratch…

And my dh took us all out for supper to my favorite Mexican food restaurant and then to Hastings where we found great deals on two of our favorite movies–used–to watch with our birthday cake and ice cream!

My favorite gift? A gorgeous leather Bible cover from my oldest daughter…

Bedtime on this illustrious occasion? After midnight!

Friday

Well, Friday was spent keeping things quiet so my 7 yo could rest and recover from her ear infection. Thankfully I had an exceptional read handy, From a Distance, a new one by Tamera Alexander. Highly recommend this author, and especially this book, the first in her Timber Ridge Reflection series, it’s SO good!

My mother-in-law stopped by with one of my nieces bringing birthday/anniversary fun, we visited for an hour or so, and then I ran to town and out to mom and dad’s to water plants again, solo this time!

We ended the day with our weekly Family Movie Night, watching Tomato Sawyer and Huckleberry Larry’s Big River Rescue (which I won recently over at Veggie Tales Review!!). Great family movie!

Yes, the week was busy…but I could have eeked out some online time if the one time I tried our computer hadn’t frozen and refused to shut down and reboot. Didn’t have time to waste messing with it, so I just shrugged my shoulders and decided it could wait till this weekend!

Glad to be back, and I really enjoyed catching up on my blog-reading Saturday!

Ear Infection Notes

FYI, I’m mostly writing this post for my own retrieval, if (hopefully not!) at some future time I need a refresher course in what to do for earaches, etc. I’m notoriously forgetful…and it helps to catalog dates and health stuff here on the blog…

Thursday evening my 7 yo complained of having had an earache all day…and by night she was hurting so badly that this mama even relented and administered Tylenol for the pain. There’s no pain like that of an earache…except perhaps, a toothache. (When considering common childhood maladies, that is!) My dear girl couldn’t even bear for us to touch her jaw, ear or the area around her ear…and she’s a pretty tough cookie normally.

I keep Similiason on hand, a natural ear pain reliever that you warm up in your hand and then administer several drops in the ear…but it wasn’t giving a lasting relief. Last week she had a short lived earache, most likely “swimmer’s ear” and Similiason did the trick, but this week, it wasn’t helping enough. I tried the Hydrogen Peroxide treatment, to no avail. She had a pretty miserable night as the Tylenol wore off, despite the hot washcloths, elevating her head on pillows, etc, that we tried.

So here’s what I did the next morning…I looked up ear infections in my favorite child health book: Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child, A Practical A-Z Reference of Natural and Conventional Treatments For Infants and Children. I’ve blogged about this book before, if you want a bit more on why I’m sold on it as my #1 resource, follow this link.

While reading all their great suggestions, I was acutely aware that it was Friday. Why do children succumb to illness on Fridays, as a rule? Maybe clinics have them wired that way, so that moms, like me–who really resist taking their children into the doctors for every little boo-boo–will panick about the looming weekend, a potential trip to the ER, etc, ETC! Of course, I wondered if she could possibly have a teensy tick in her ear, or some other DANG-ER-OUS affliction since, as a rule, none of our children have ever had a proclivity toward recurrent ear infections.

However, I survived ear pain in childhood with nary a trip to the doctor, so I figured we would try to weather this storm at home. So hard!

ACUPRESSURE

In my smart medicine book, there is a very detailed section with a diagram of all the acupressure points on a child, and how to help them fight off various ailments by applying pressure to those places…so we really gave it a shot. And you know, it worked! I applied pressure to the “four gates” and the pressure points for common colds, and it put my daughter into a relaxed, sleepy mode. She napped after each session and would awake feeling somewhat better, until she stood up to go to the bathroom and shook things up again. I did the acupressure four or five times throughout the day…the point being to promote drainage of the lymph glands. For more info, by the Smart Medicine author, follow this link!

GARLIC CAPSULES and other supplements

The Smart Medicine book recommended garlic capsules, which I happened to have, so I started giving them to 7 yo…she wasn’t into chewing or eating anything due to the extreme pain, but I convinced her to take some of the Standard Process supplements I keep on hand for building up her immune defenses… namely, Allerplex and a Multi-Immune product put out by Nutri-West. I used my food-chopper to reduce a handful of Multi-Immune tablets to powder and gave her a half teaspoon of powder mixed in applesauce four times that day. She hates swallowing pills, so I emptied the Allerplex capsule into her applesauce as well.

If my pastor’s wife were reading this, she’d be sure to tell you how well a garlic clove taped into your ear helps with cold and flu symptoms…but with my daughter, there was no way we could even touch her ear, much less tape something to it!

KEEP DRINKING

One thing about my 7 yo, is that she is wonderful about drinking a lot when she is sick. I just kept a cup with a lid and a straw at her couch/bedside throughout the day and night and she kept drinking it dry. Her favorite beverage is Sunny D.

PAIN RELIEF

I really drag my feet when it comes to giving Tylenol or Motrin…b/c of all the studies showing how hard it is on children’s systems…so when my mother-in-law suggested we put a steaming hot washcloth inside a sandwich baggie and have 7 yo lie down on it, we loved the idea…and it brought such relief to my daughter, not to mention, probably helped promote drainage…

She had a great night’s sleep and woke up Saturday feeling 100%!

And this mama is SO relieved!

I think I’ve mentioned here before that we’ve had MD’s tell us that antibiotics are over-prescribed for ear infections, which can cause a whole host of new problems…one RN even told me over the phone that having an eardrum burst isn’t that big of a deal. Yeah, my eyebrows raised a bunch on that one! My Smart Medicine book claims what I’ve read elsewhere, that studies have been done within groups of children with ear infections, in which one group was given antibiotics and another group placebos. Both groups had the same rate of getting back to good health. And recently, our MD told me that when his younger children began getting recurrent ear infections, instead of going the tube route, he simply got them a temporary hearing aid…and in time they outgrew their problems. He followed this info up with the fact that fewer and fewer MD’s are recommending tubes nowadays, instead they are going the hearing aid route as he did. Interesting…don’t you wish the medical community would quit experimenting on our children?

Anyhow. I know many of you have had to go the tube route…and that your children are very sensitive to ear infections, and my heart goes out to you. This simplified way of treating earaches worked for us, probably because we’ve not been plagued by die-hard infections…I can’t imagine having to watch your child go through that kind of pain on a regular basis. I may play stern when it comes to conventional treatments, but when push comes to shove, if I can’t find the CAUSE of the infection, and no relief is in sight, then you bet I’m going to try meds, tubes, surgery, etc. And I’d thank God for modern technology.

That said, I’m sure glad to have this bout behind us!

The Magic of Eating Outside

Up over the ridges ran the blue of wild lilac like spreading smoke; manzanita and chaparral put on their creamy blooms; even the redwoods spread fresh fans of green, and far below all over the valley floor the fruit blossoms waved in soft airs. Jays laced the air with blue; quail drummed in the woods; every window of the farmhouse was flung open, and the dooryard table was spread three times a day, with birds to do the sweeping away of crumbs, and oak and pear tree shadows lying green upon the checked red cloth.” –Kathleen Norris, Shining Windows

The above, taken from one of my favorite old-timey authors, makes me want to move outdoors…until I look at the temperature! Doesn’t she paint a portrait of country charm? “Every window of the farmhouse flung open…the dooryard table spread three times a day…”

It heartens a woman’s soul, I think, to create beautiful vistas and welcoming surroundings. Different spaces to vary one’s living hours add excitement to everyday fare. I call it: Making the most of Summertime!

Our home place is abundant with potential. I’m always seeing it, yes, through my rose-colored glasses…because our property is far from *arrived*! But 90% of any project’s enthusiasm is in the planning, right?

I walk out the back porch door, face south–toward the garden and chicken house…and visualize the stone patio I want there under the trees someday, our old rope hammock stretched out at one end and a limestone slab picnic table beckoning us to enjoy the shady western evenings and the sun disappearing behind our big hill.

I see the big gnarly tree overhanging the garden and a “someday” tire swing full of laughing children (future grandkids?) with adults lounging nearby in lawn chairs around a fire pit.

Over behind the deck, between the outdoor corn stove and the sandpile, I want two Adirondack chairs situated around a low table, the perfect place for a husband and wife to meet at day’s end to catch up on each others’ news while the children and pups play. Or likewise, for two moms to sit and chat, little ones at their feet.

To have an old rectangular wooden table, a sturdy one with scads of character, to keep out during the summertime, under the Maple trees, bedecked with homespun and picnic basket and a flurry of mismatched flea market chairs–this has long been a wish of mine. I think we have one such table, maybe not so sturdy, buried in the back of one of the old sheds on this place…

I love outdoor restaurants. Adore picnics. Love finding the perfect park in our travels at which to grill or assemble sandwiches…to be perfect, it must have a pond with ducks to feed–over a bridge, of course. These parks abound, friends. You’d be surprised.

We don’t abound in special outdoor corners at our place yet, other than the “someday” ones painted in Outdoor Picnic with Salami Sandwichesmy heart. No bridges, ponds or ducks, or arbors or stone patios or Andirondack chairs. *Smile* For now, we spread out the old quilt or dust off the large flat rock uphill…and simple though it may be, the magic happens. A little shade, some freshly stirring air, a basket of treats, good company…good times.

Outdoors…the perfect gathering place. (Weather permitting, that is!)

***Btw, the first picture in this post is of my paternal grandma and her sisters eating apples***

Speaking of Milk…

The best kept secret on milk must be shared here! Okay, maybe I’m the only one in the dark on this.

Hubby had a Braum’s ice cream craving last night…so while in the restaurant, we moseyed over to check out the price of their milk. Only $3.15 a gallon compared to the over $4 that our local grocery store is charging! Wow.

But even better, they advertise on their dairy cabinets that their dairy cows are not given antibiotics or growth hormones, etc…basically this is organic milk! (I’m not claiming that it is, can’t remember the exact details…but still very impressive!)

A while back I chatted with our nutritionist, aka, applied kinesiologist, about wanting to find a local dairy from which to buy raw milk…one with a more natural approach to production. Dr. T said that they are really hard to find because they, for the most part, already have a full clientèle and no one is talking/sharing! She’s been sworn to secrecy as to their source of organic milk, b/c the dairy farmer doesn’t need the headache of more rules and regs and more customers than he can keep happy.

But now I’ve got Braum’s!

Do you have a Braum’s in your area? Psst, a dozen eggs there was $1.43! (Cheep!)

Little Miracles

I think contentment is cultivated. I believe that joy and peace are a by-product of resting in faith, waiting on God…in the little things even more so than the big things. It’s the little things that happen constantly, so what better training ground for the “big” things, right?

Certain unpleasant happenings will always come our way…but we can choose not to react, or get bent out of shape, or waste time worrying and fretting over how to handle the latest glitch to mar our lot in life. How much better, rather, to wait and see how the Lord wants to work? He’ll never let you down!

Here are a few “for instances”…

God gave it back to me…

When my b&sil’s house burned down, we helped all we could but it never seemed like enough, you know? Our savings accounts have never been fat, so what we did give may have looked like little, but it came from our hearts. At the time, I’d really been ministered to by my Point of Grace CD, How You Live, the album I raved about here on the blog, that dh slipped in my Christmas stocking? Well, I was deeply moved to get it out of my CD deck one day when I stopped by their “new” rental. I loved that CD, but felt like my sil needed its message of hope and peace more than I did at that point. Knowing that she isn’t a Christian music fan had me second-guessing–I almost felt like I was throwing my CD away…I still haven’t heard from her whether she even listened to it, or thought about it twice after I gave it to her…but that’s okay. I could have chosen to get upset, to wonder why I’d given it, or whatever, but honestly, I acted on something stronger than your average impulse, so it was okay.

A couple months went by and I almost ordered a new CD twice, but held back. We needed the money for other things. Guess what God did for me? He gave me a new one. My hubby came home from work and handed me the day’s mail, which included a packet from our local Christian radio station. He’d been the winning caller on the exact Point of Grace CD that I’d given away! Can anyone say AWESOME?!? I missed that CD so much, and God knew. He knew! He cares about the little things. And he let dh be the gift-bearer–twice!

God’s into Pool Pumps

A few years ago our in-laws gave us one of those 12 foot by 3 foot inflatable pools, the kind that come with a pump to circulate the water. We set it up a couple of weeks ago, and our girls enjoyed seven days of water play–spending HOURS each afternoon and coming in sun-browned and *exhilarausted*! Well, almost a week ago, the pump on the pool quit working! Within two days the pool turned green! Horrors! We only got a week in it and after checking the price of replacing this particular pump ($60!!) we were trying to remain hopeful that daddy could work a miracle and FIX. THE. PUMP.

So we drained the pool, hubby and I scrubbed it out and we refilled it. That was this past Sunday night. Meanwhile, I had a pool pump on my ebay watch page…and I was thinking, if dh can’t fix that pump, we’re wasting a 1,000 gallons of water and I’m not exactly thrilled about having to scrub this pool out yet again!

He took the pump apart, fixed a broken washer, and hooked it back up to the pool again. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Okay. I hadn’t really let myself be anxious about it. These things happen, but man. To have a nice pool one week…that’s like torture, to-have and then not-to-have. The next day my mother-in-law called and found out about our dilemma. Guess what? She still had the pump to her old pool, which had been tossed last summer after the sun and weather damaged it. She brought it right over, along with more chlorine pellets and we’re back in business. Just like that. Only went four days without our water fun–three days actually, b/c we spent Monday afternoon at the lake!

Milk for the “babies”…

This last example is humbling to admit…but who cares, right? I haven’t gotten used to hubby being on half-pay yet–fyi, during the summer, he puts in half the hours at his “real” job, so that he can catch up on saddle and leather projects here at home. Problem is, he’s been spending more time catching up on “fix-it” projects than paying “leather projects”…so anyway, I overspent (not to the point of overdraft–thank God!). Our daughter had a birthday and birthday meals with family over get expensive, our Saturn hasn’t been running reliably so gas expenses have been hugely noticeable…anyway, we’re basically making one week’s worth of groceries stretch to two. Which really isn’t a hardship, b/c I have a full pantry, and beef/chicken in the freezer etc. My hubby joked with me when we stopped at the grocery store for ten gallons of drinking water only (when you live out of town you make the most of your grocery stops!) that you know you’re pathetic when you feel rich because the water jugs are full!

So we ran out of milk. I do keep nonfat instant dry milk around to cook with, so we HAVE milk, you understand. It’s just not that palatable for a couple of my milk drinkers. So guess what!? My parents are headed out of town for a while, and they brought over their perishables! Part of which was over a half gallon of milk! We can make that last till the next paycheck, easily! Also among the goodies were fresh veggies, several of which were on my internal wish list!

**Please don’t feel shocked or badly for us, if I could have hubby home half days forever I’d gladly get by on half the pay. Summer is my favorite time of year b/c of his time at home with us. It’s totally my fault that we have found ourselves strapped this month…I just wanted to share how you can take a dismal situation and not let it ruffle you. And then watch God provide. Yes, even when *you* got yourself into this mess in the first place!

If we didn’t have the hard times, we wouldn’t know or realize or appreciate what God can do.

His mercy and grace ever astound me. What has He done for you lately? I’d love to hear your testimonies of His goodness…

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together…Psalm 34:3

Baby Bunnies

My 4 year old (she just had a birthday, btw!) found something very special nestled under some leaves and cottonwood tree fluff. Right out in the open where they could accidentally get stomped was a nest of 12 baby bunnies! One escaped the hatch as we clicked away.

Sad update…my 10 year old went to check on them and a HUGE black snake caught her by surprise…feet away. She ran for her daddy, which is what all able-bodied females should do when confronted by such a threat to wee small furry friends…and Daddy shot snake dead. But there were only eight bunnies left in the hole. No, we didn’t perform an autopsy to see if he’d done the dastardly, but that would have been a neat science lesson.

This second picture shows the little escapee on the far left, straight across to the right is their hidey-hole. Can you believe it’s there? Good camo, mom rabbit, but what happened to burrows way down deep? Is that just stuff for storybooks?

Moral of the story? You never know what surprises God has for you in the underfoot muck of life. Look for miracles in the ordinary and you might actually find some. And watch out for snakes. They seem to appear after every miracle. To make you doubt His goodness?

Never!

Dressers in the Kitchen

Last night I put the last coat of polyurethane on my dresser project. First time I’ve ever tackled a refinishing project like this, and I’m so impressed! Now to find the perfect handles!

I’m so excited to have this dresser done. Wish I had a before pic for you, just imagine it painted a black paint/stain with gaudy gold-plated handles. As I worked on this baby, I fell in love. Each scrape of the putty knife sliding old paint away revealing wavy grains–each rubbing with steel wool and fine sandpaper heightened my anticipation to get the job done! I mused about where I’d place this antique that my husband’s grandfather built in his young adulthood.

I love antique dressers more than anything else furniture-wise. Especially the ones up on pedestal legs. I can’t bear to waste them on clothing storage! This dresser’s former glory was as winter gear storage on our back porch, right next to the kitchen entryway. One drawer for gloves, another for hats, yet another for coveralls, etc. That was fine then, but…

It’s got too much of *me* in it now to subject it to my family’s daily abuses! (Sorry, fam!) When the light bulb moment came I about spilled my can of stain/varnish. MY KITCHEN! Perfect place to put the microwave–at head height, no more bending over punching in times and start buttons.

Other pluses–Plenty of huge drawers to hold my generic brand George Foreman grill, and my Pampered Chef mini-4-in-one-loaf pan–both items have been hogging space on an end counter b/c they’re too large for my other kitchen drawers (or maybe it’s because my other kitchen drawers are already fully occupied!). So now they’ll be out of sight! I plan on using one of the smaller top drawers for my great-aunt’s silver, tablecloths, placemats and cloth napkins. Which will in turn give me more space in the hallway linen closet for the girls’ puzzles! I have a zillion cookbooks, they’ll go spine-side up in one of the drawers so I can grab the ones I want easily and not forfeit any more counterspace to all my favorites!

So tell me, do you like my “kitchen dresser” or do you think I’m crazy for putting a microwave atop something so stately!?

What pieces of furniture are your favorite and why? Got any stray dressers you could put to practical use while showpiecing them, or maybe you do already?