Blogging since 2009, I'm a 1950s housewife to the bone and I love to share what I've learned with others. I'm a lifelong foodie, raised with Sunday dinners at my grandmother's and daily scratch cooking in my childhood kitchen. I'm a nerdy homeschooling mama of 3, and a wife of 17 years.

I drink tea when I knit and coffee when I do everything else.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day!
Day 1 - Skirt Steak w/ Chimichurri
Day 2 - Top Sirloin w/ Homemade Rub
Day 3 -
Rib Eye w/ Herbed Butter
Day 4 - Rosemary Chicken
Day 5 - Top Sirloin Gyros
Day 6 - Kansas City Style Pork Chops
Day 7 - Steak and Mushroom Kebabs
Day 8 - Dad's Hamurgers, 2.0
Day 9 - Top Sirloin w/ Mushrooms
Day 10 - Kid's Lunch
Day 11 - Chicken Souvlaki
Day 12 - S'mores Cones
Day 13 - Short Ribs

Kitchen & Sewing Skills!
Intro - Syllabus
Lesson 1 - Running & Whipstitch
Lesson 2 - Cookies

Onward and Upward


I’ve been blogging here for 8 years, and a year more than that before I bought this domain and I’ve loved it so much. Every time I almost quit blogging, either due to time constraints or moving on to other things, I always stop myself because I feel like so many opportunities and friendships started here, I’d hate to let it go.

However, over the last few years there has been less and less engagement on blogs in general and more on Instagram and YouTube. I’ve been creating content on those platforms more this year and not only is it a lot of fun, but there is far more engagement.

The plan from here is for the website to be redesigned into a reference website this summer, with homeschooling information and recipes that I point to from YouTube, with a more update-style blog instead of this content-driven blog.

There is so much content here, it amazing to me that I have not just written all these posts, but that I have made all these recipes! I am looking forward to going through it all and organizing it and deciding what to keep and what to let go of. Expect something new in a month or so, in the meantime, find me on YouTube at!

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Day 12 of 100 Days of Barbecue – S’mores Cones

California, Domestic, Uncategorized

When spaghetti and meatballs was requested, naturally I figured I’d just find a way to sneak in some barbecue. I’m pretty sure I figured it out actually. My plan was to make the sauce early in the day, as usual, and make the spaghetti shortly before we ate, also as usual and the meatballs are the part of the meal I’d do on the grill. My plan wasn’t to technically grill the meatballs really, but to cook them in my cast iron skillet on the grill. They’d get that smoky barbecue flavor, with no danger of falling though to the grill abyss. However, I’m a little freaked out about undercooked food. I like my steak with some pink, don’t get my wrong, but an undercooked meatball? Yuck! More importantly, my family may revolt on the whole 100 Days of Barbecue insanity if it resulted in gross meatballs. So I decided to precook the meatballs until I didn’t have to worry about them and theeeen put them in the skillet on the grill. I accidentally cooked them all the way through. Womp-womp. So, oh well? Overcooked meatballs are no good either, so I looked over my ‘desserts to grill’ list, and found these in the queue! Even better, I already had everything I needed!

The kids were all a little unsure about these since there was no marshmallow roasting going on, and as far as they are concerned that is a required step in s’more preparation. All I did was pour some mini marshmallows and chocolate chips in a sugar cone and wrap the whole situation up in tin foil. Then I put them on the grill for like 5 minutes. I didn’t even get the grill totally fired up because I only needed it to be hot enough to melt the chocolate and the marshmallow.



One of them was aaaaalmost on a little too long. It was in the middle and the marshmallows almost totally melted away. The other two were near perfect.

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Day 5 of 100 Days of Barbecue – Top Sirloin Gyros

California, Domestic, Uncategorized

I know better, I really do. Gyros are made with lamb, not beef. I know people make them with beef, but usually I would never be a part of such a travesty. However, I had already started preparing the sirloin, which was actually sliced very thin, when the suggestion came up and then we all very much wanted a gyro! I had already made the tzatziki, and we had enough pita bread, so that pretty much sealed the deal.

All I did to the meat was give it a little bath in olive oil with oregano and basil and a little garlic. I grilled it for about 10-15 minutes and once it had rested, I sliced it into strips and served it with fresh tomatoes, onions and tzatziki. So simple, and so good. I think the real recipe here is the tzatziki, though keep in mind that most people also use dill and I tend not to.

Beef Gyros with Tzatziki

thinly sliced top sirloin (or whatever other cut of beef you’d like)
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
3 cloves garlic, minced


For the tzatziki
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced very small
5 cloves garlic, minced

For the meat, I just whisked the oregano and basil into the oil and then placed the meat in the dish. There were so many pieces in the pack I had, so I flipped them over and made sure they were pretty evenly covered before I added the next one in. Then I sprinkled the garlic bits all over and mixed them all up a bit with a fork.


With the tzatziki the only ‘secret’ to it, is time. The earlier you make it in the day, the better it will be at dinner. A word of caution though, garlic gets stronger the longer it stands, so the next day it’ll be stronger (and in my opinion better), but the following day, it may be too strong for the average bear. ;)

If you like chunks of cucumber, you can go ahead and add them at the end. You really want to cut most of it really small and add all the juice from the cutting board as well. I often will take another 1/4 cucumber, peel it, and grate it on the smallest part of my grater to get some cucumber juice in there as well. The garlic, you can use the jarred minced garlic, or chop it yourself. If you’re using it from a jar, that liquid it’s floating in is good for flavor, so add a splash of that if you are so inclined.

Only 5 days into this project and I have so many fun ideas I can’t wait to try out!

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Positive Discipline Lesson Four, Part One

Kids, Uncategorized

Welcome to lesson four! I hope you are learning a lot along the way, judging from all the emails and messages I’ve been getting about this series, it seems that you are! That’s great, that’s why I started writing it. :)

Lesson four focuses first some ‘not so perfect parent tips’, a review of what we have gone over so far and then onto encouragement, making the connection between the challenges and life skills from lesson one and finally, routine charts. I am going over all but the routine charts in this post and addressing them separately. There are so many ways to go about them and they are really so important, so they get their own post. I will try to have it up mid-week.

The first part of encouragement deals with us! These are the ‘not so perfect parent tips that do not imply perfection’:

1. Model – This is all about striving to (really, honestly trying in this very moment) to be the kind of person you legitimately hope your children will become. This is an example from a good friend that does not read my blog. If you’re reading this and recognize this story, I know you still love me. ;) She was always, always telling her son that he had to put shoes on to go outside, but she had no issues running out to her car with no shoes or socks on and of course he saw her doing this regularly. Once when we were over visiting, he came outside barefoot and she said the mother’s mantra ‘how many times have I told him…’ and I couldn’ help but say ‘yeah, but look…’ and I pointed a her own bare feet. I choose this example because she is an amazing mother. She is devoted and puts the time and effort into really being the best mother she can be – and she didn’t realize how much more of an impact her silent actions had on her son’s behavior than her carefully chosen words.

2. Make Mistakes – If you magically never make mistakes, go ahead and make one! Show your children that every mistake made is a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow. Generally, we all spill stuff, break stuff, forget stuff…and each time we do we can either meet the moment with a ‘whoops, I probably shouldn’t have tried to close the door with my foot while carrying all these bags,next time I will make two trips’, or ‘ack, I overfilled the cup because I was focusing on talking to your brother instead of what I was doing, next time I will stop and pour the drink so I can pay full attention to it.’ Making a mistake makes you human. Sometimes our mistakes happen when our children can’t see them, like when they are brushing their teeth in the morning and I burn the toast. I could just toss the toast, put in more bread and ignore it. Instead, when they arrive in the kitchen, I tell them I burnt the toast because I got caught up in texting with my dad. Not only does showing your human mistakes help kids to see them all as opportunities to learn, it helps them connect to you as a normal person.

3. Be accountable – A lot of parents tell their children that it is safe and the right thing to do, to be open and honest, but then when their children are honest, they are punished for whatever the infraction is that they confessed to. This is obviously not a productive way to teach children to be accountable, so borrowing from #1 (modeling), you need to be accountable as well. When you overreact to something, which of course you will from time to time (being human and all), admit it. Apologize. ‘Sorry, I totally overreacted earlier when you told me you broke (insert important thing here), I should have been a lot more level headed about it and I am proud of you for telling me and not trying to hide it.’ Or you’re late bringing your child somewhere, or you forgot to do something you said you’d do – whatever it is, own up to your part of it.

4. Self-control – Arguably the most important one to remember! You can’t model positive behaviour, be open about your mistakes and be accountable without self control. Just as you are teaching your children what they need to do in order to maintain self control, you need to find what you need to do to maintain yours. Some people need an afternoon out without their kids, some need a bubble bath alone at night, some need a Skype date with their friends. Whatever it is that helps you, make sure you make it a regular part of your life. Create your own little time-in space, a corner of your room maybe where you can just take some deep breaths and regain your calm. For me, it’s a little nook in my walk in closet that helps me refocus. I also go out with my husband on a kid-free date once a week.

This is the part of the book where you are asked to review the concept of asking vs telling. It is amazing the difference this makes in pretty much any family. When you go from being this untouchable boss-lady who barks demands at the children, to a relatable loving parent who asks her children with respect, you have a much different reaction from the children and over time, a much different relationship with them. I first touch on asking vs telling in lesson one, hop on over there to read that if you haven’t yet (or to refamiliarize yourself with it).

This recap goes on to review the challenges and future characteristics you wrote about in the first lesson and gives a couple more tips. Tone of voice and curiosity.

The tone of your voice affects every conversation you have – with everyone you speak to! Most adults try to be mindful of the tone of their voice when speaking with their spouses, their neighbors, and the random people they come across in a day be it the cashier at the grocery store or the person taking their lunch order because they know it will contribute to how they are received. They know if their tone of voice causes them to appear rude or bossy, they will not have a pleasant experience. Yet when it comes to their children, many people pay no mind to how they sound to them. It is all about having their children listen and conform to them, not about having a two-way conversation with them. This relates back to asking and telling because asking children curiosity questions in a rude or condescending tone is not going to get them to open up, it will have just the opposite effect.

Curiosity, real honestly, actual curiosity about your children’s feelings and opinions is necessary for curiosity questions to have any real meaning. This is an issue I have seen with parents when they start this system, or when they get into it as a way to create change in their children only and not as a lifestyle for their family. If you are asking your children all the ‘right’ questions, but you are just waiting for them to give you the answers you want or are expecting, there really is no point in asking the questions. It’s not a useless, mindless exercise in speaking. This has so much more to do with fostering a positive relationship with your children. So when you are asking a curiosity question, either something as simple as ‘what can happen when you jump on the couch?’ or something as in depth as ‘what made you feel like it was ok to hit your sister?’, it is important to not have a response in mind. You’re asking your child a question and you are legitimately curious about their response. This is the best way to get an honest response from our child and then from there, build a course of action together with them, to help them solve their problem.

This lesson goes onto review the concepts of mistaken goals from lesson three. It then delves into how we are all making choices that began in our own childhoods that influence our behavior as well. There is a suggested exercise, where you recall something that your parents did that made you feel encouraged and something they did that made you feel discouraged. How did these events affect your life positively or negatively? We need to look very closely in our own lives to try to find the difference between praise and encouragement because praise is not as good for you as encouragement.

I still believe in praising my children, but I will admit that I am far more mindful of the words I use when I do it! The major differences are really just about positive judgement vs pointing out something positive. So to use a classic example of a child getting a good grade, saying ‘good girl’ or ‘I like the way you did that’ are actually judgements. They are positive judgements, but really no judgement is good for our kids. Instead, saying something like ‘you really worked as hard as you could’, or better yet asking them ‘how does getting this grade make you feel?’, are encouraging statements. For some, this is a silly distinction however, when you really look at it, it makes good sense. If you’re telling your child that you like that she got an A on an assignment, you’re inadvertently telling her that you will not like it if she gets a B or a C. Happily telling your child that you can tell they did their very best tells them that if they do their very best and get an A you will feel the same way about them as if they did their very best and got a C. Does that make sense?

The image used in Positive Discipline to help show the difference in an iceberg. Icebergs seem large above the water, but they are much larger under the water. The top part of the iceberg, the part you can see is the praise, while the much larger part of the iceberg, the part under water, is the foundation of it all – that is the encouragement.

Praise is like candy and should be used sparingly.

Encouragement helps children develop a deep belief in themselves.

So now that we have recapped the first few lessons and learned a little more about encouragement, it’s time to make the connection between the challenges and life skills we started off with in lesson one. It’s not surprise that the challenge example they use in this book is ‘back talk’, since it is something many parents struggle with. Many other parenting challenges stem from the same place back talk comes from, so it is a great example for us to jump off from. Really, it’s about self control, right? We want our children to have the self control to not snap at us (or anyone else, really) when they are upset or do not agree. However, when a 5 year old or a 10 year old or even a 15 year old loses their cool and back talks, what are we teaching them about self control when we ‘back talk back’? Snapping at your child for snapping at you is about as counterproductive as hitting a child for hitting someone else! It’s kind of crazy, really!

A lot of the ‘back talking back’ that comes from parents escalates the situation far beyond where it should be. I experienced this quite a bit as a child. If I did something that upset my mother, I’d often be told I was grounded for the rest of the school year – even if this infraction happened in February or March, for example. First of all, it takes having a civil conversation out of the equation and it escalates something minor into a major issue. The other end of this situation of course is that eventually she’d realize that it was an inappropriate punishment but instead of coming to me and telling me she recognized her mistake, something that would allow both of us to learn from it, she’d ignore it. Come April, I’d ask to go somewhere or have someone over and she’d allow it with no mention at all about being previously grounded for months.

So instead of escalating the situation, we need to connect with out children more in those vulnerable moments than ever.

Escalating / Counterproductive
*Don’t talk to me that way!
*Go to your room and don’t come out until you can behave!
*You’re grounded for a month.
*How can you talk to me like that after all I do for you?
*You just lost all of your privileges.
*Maybe boarding school will teach you some respect!
*How far do you think you will go with that smart mouth?
*You will be respectful, even if I have to beat it into you!
Connecting / Productive
*Hmm. I wonder what I did that upset you so much.
*Wow! You are really angry / sad / upset.
*I need to take a moment to myself so I can talk to you respectfully.
*I need a hug after that, please come find me when you are ready.
*What do you think would help us right now? Should we put this on the family meeting agenda? Would you like some time alone or a quiet activity together?
*I can tell you are very upset. Do you want to tell me more?
*Listen without speaking, say ‘hmmm’ when you feel the need to speak while they are talking.
*Do you know that I really love you right now?

The second part of this lesson is routine charts! Routines are very important not just for young children but really for everyone. They are especially important for children because as a child learns their routines they are able to do more for themselves and that builds wonderful confidence! I am aiming to have the second part of this post all about routine charts up on the blog mid-week!


Positive Discipline Lesson Two

Kids, Uncategorized

I’m happy that we had such a great response to last week’s Positive Discipline post, on the first lesson. While the first lesson focused on what we want for our children and what it takes to accomplish those goals, this lesson revolves around what positive discipline really is and introduces being kind and firm and positive time outs. I’ll say now that this is one of the few bits of positive disciple that I alter a little. I have been doing ‘time ins’ with my kids for years and personally, I feel that it does a better job than a time out. Having said that, the positive discipline positive time outs are a far better alternative to the typical time outs kids tend to be put in.

What have you tried and what is your child learning from these methods? Are you a yeller? Do you stand over your kids and scold them? Positive disciple recommends another role playing activity in this lesson where you have another adult stand on a chair and reprimand or scold you from above and then assess how it made you feel. Most people do not even need to do this exercise to understand that they are going to feel pretty crummy about themselves with someone towering over them and telling them how wrong they are. Think about other methods of punishment you use. Grounding? Time outs? Taking away privileges or things? None of these will help you accomplish your goals from last week. Remember them? My examples were self discipline, communication skills, problem solving skills, respect for self and others and self motivation. Our children will never learn these things from being punished.

For many, this was their example of parenting so it naturally feels like what they should do. Especially when, in the short term, these learned behaviors work. They don’t work in very positive ways, mind you. You may get your child to stop the behavior you don’t want through punishment or temporarily getting positive behavior through rewards. However, punishments are damaging in the long term because they teach one of three things. Positive discipline calls them the 3 Rs; rebellion, revenge and retreat (comes in two forms; low self esteem and sneakiness).

Rebellion – “They can’t make me. I’ll do what I want.”
Revenge – “I’ll get even and hurt back, even if it hurts me”
Retreat; Low Self Esteem – “I must be a bad person”
Retreat; Sneaky – “I just won’t get caught next time”

Typical time outs are another good example, imagine if as an adult your spouse or boss was upset with you and first either raised their voice at your or lectured you and then sent you to another room to ‘think about what you did’. This would not be a positive experience for anyone – child or adult. A better way to teach self-regulation is to create a ‘time in’ or what positive disciple calls a positive time out. Essentially, you work with your child to create a calming, happy place for them to go when they need to get away and deal with their emotions. One of my children has a loft bed and for her, climbing up there and being with her most treasured stuffed animals is the best way to snap back into a good mood. My youngest has a strategy for when she gets very upset that includes a playhouse teepee and her favorite Wild Kratts toys. Every child can have their own comforting space to cool off, recollect themselves and move on. We also have activities like stringing large wooden beads on shoelaces, tracing activities, Legos and other things that help them refocus their energy. When you suggest a time in, it works best to ask your child if it would help them to go to their time in space, or asking if they would like you to go with them.

Maya Angelou has a great quote that works very well with parenting, ‘Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.’ With that in mind, accepting that you need to change your behavior is a good thing, and accepting that it is going to take a while to change your thinking is key to a smooth transition.

A lot of people have a hard time with not punishing because society has really programmed us to believe that negative behavior needs punishment. There is a misguided and very wrong belief that children who are not punished will never learn and will become dysfunctional adults, when really it turns out that it’s the kids who are punished that end up having problems later in life because instead of learning what to do (or what not to do) they just learn how to take their punishments. Most people don’t realize that kids are constantly making decisions and are learning through their punishments and of course through all their experiences. These decisions are made as children over the years and then as teens and then as adults, these decisions will always affect them.

There are five basic criteria for positive discipline:
1. Is it respectful? (Kind and firm at the same time).
2. Does it help children feel belonging and significance?
3. Is it effective long term?
4. Does it teach valuable social and life skills for good character?
5. Does it invite children to discover how capable they are and to use their own power constructively?

When you are first learning to change your behavior it can be very hard to remember what the right choice is! It helps to just remember you want to be as kind and firm as possible and above all else, remember that your children carry all these lessons with them throughout their lives. We want to build them up and help them to be well adjusted and happy adults. It comes down to being kind and firm. Many parents run into problems when they are kind but not firm or firm but not kind. It really takes a combination of the two.

Validate your child’s feelings; ‘I know you want to keep watching this video, and it’s time to go’
Show understanding; ‘I know you’d like to have ice cream before dinner, and dinner comes first’
Redirection; ‘You don’t feel like doing your chores, and we can do them together’
Agreement in advance; ‘I know you don’t feel like doing school work right now, and what was our agreement?’
Provide a choice; ‘You don’t feel like getting up right now, and it’s time to get ready. Do you want cereal or toast?’ (providing a choice goes over very, very well in our house and we use this strategy multiple times every day)

We also need to remember that children are not simply mini adults! It’s so sad when kids are punished for things they cannot control, behaviors that are perfectly healthy and normal for their age. It is normal and healthy for toddlers to repeatedly test boundaries – even the same one hundreds of times! The ability to know right from wrong, to regulate their emotions, and be rational do not full develop until we are well into our 20s!

Things to remember:
No punishment
No permissiveness
No rewards
No praise this is the second bit of PD I do not agree with, I shower my children with honest praise
No pampering (through rescuing or fixing)
No punitive time outs / grounding
No taking away privileges as punishment

Positive discipline is never humiliating; no blame, shame or pain.

Permissiveness not only teaches children that love means having others take care of them and give them what they want, it also teaches them that they are not capable and can’t deal with disappointment.

There are PDF worksheets and tool cards you can buy from the site, and I highly recommend you do. I was inspired by this system to make my own set of tool cards to share with you, modifying the few things I feel differently about. I hope you like them and use them! I made myself a laminated set and put it on a binder ring to hang it around the house to help remind me. I have also made some reminder posters to help with new concepts and keep everyone on track! I will finish them up on Saturday and post an update so you can print them out and use them.

Here is the link to the Reminder Cards I made!

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Merry Christmas!!!


I am pausing mid-Christmas vacation to announce fantastic news! My delightful husband got me a shiny (and more importantly fast) new laptop for Christmas so I can edit photos and blog and actually get stuff done without having to use his laptop or desktop. Hooray!

There has been so much Christmas crafting and baking going on around here, so many fun things in the works for the coming weeks and months and some exciting news in the near(ish) future (no, I’m not pregnant).

In the meantime, here’s a parade of photos from our Christmas celebrations so far!


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Ch Ch Ch Changes!!


I wasn’t going to give a heads up post because I didn’t think it was necessary but you are all so sweet with your comments and emails and questions, so here is a really quick note. :)

The blog is undergoing some changes right now! I’m very excited to finish up and show it all off at some point next week.

Don’t worry, I have not disappeared! Back before you know it, I swear. :D


Let the Birthdays Begin!

Crafty, Domestic, Uncategorized

One of the reasons I’m blogging again, as I think I’ve mentioned, is that I want to make something for every occasion and I think blogging about it adds some more pressure to do it. Right now, I’m 8 months pregnant with wee one #3, and basically on lock down. All I’m supposed to be allowed to do is take my oldest to school and back, but I can’t take #2 with me so she stays home with the husband machine. This leaves A LOT of time for knitting, and I’ve been soaking it up!

The first FOs of the year were actually left over Christmas gifts, which I suppose is not at all surprising. :P I made my first pair of Jaywalkers for my dear friend Gill, who loves them to the point of not being able to wear them. Sigh, if they don’t get worn at least they’re appreciated.

Gill’s Christmas Jaywalkers

They took about 1 and a half hanks of Lorna’s Laces in Vera (that I picked up from my fave local and online yarn shop, Red Bird Knits). I should have enough left over to make a pair in a toddler size, but I wont get to that till I’ve done some more birthday knitting. She got these last weekend, but her beau only got a sneak peak at his gift because I wasn’t finished yet!

Andrew’s Christmas Pirate Mitts

These, I know he’ll wear. He’s got an issue with wearing hats and mitts and scarves, lest they cramp his style. Ovbs, these will not, they are simply too rad. The pattern is from Hello Yarn and is only minimally fiddly. As soon as you wrap your head around white squares = black stitches, you’ll be just fine.

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