Friday, February 27, 2015

Grandma Olga's Fresh, Hot, Homemade Tortilla Recipe (more or less)

(Post contains affiliate link, click for full disclosure)

Back in 1995 when our Chief Travel Correspondent was only about five months old, her great grandmother Olga came to stay with us for a bit. I can't remember how it was decided, only that she "liked to clean". I think it was maybe "compelled to clean".  Nevertheless our windowsills were, in fact, spotless for the weeks of her visit.

Homemade tortillas:

In addition to keeping the windowsills squeaky clean, she showed me how to make tortillas. This was early internet days - no looking it up on youtube. Cooking blogs were not a dime a dozen and in fact did not exist to my knowledge.

Of course, the Chief Travel Correspondent has asked for the recipe. So here it will stay for safe keeping, the measurements (and even some of the ingredients) perhaps not even close to Olga's original recipe since I tend to change things up over the years. Her instructions, however, I remember as clear as day:

Mix flour and salt together. Work in oil and butter into flour and salt mixture by hand.

Olga told me that it should look, "like little peas". It never looked much like peas to me, but I figure the point is that the shortening is evenly distributed throughout, with no giant clumps anywhere.

Homemade Flour Tortilla Recipe: Do Try This at Home

Next add in the boiling water.  It's great if you have "asbestos fingers" and can begin to hand mix right after you pour in the water, but if not, just stir until it's cool enough to handle.  Then mix together and knead.

For ten minutes.  Everything from here on out took "ten minutes" according to Olga. Everything.

Olga told me that you had to be able to get the sides of the mixing bowl clean using the ball of dough.  She was not raised by her mother, and the aunt that raised her demanded the sides of the bowl be spic and span, otherwise she would be scolded for not being clean enough.

My guess is that it had more to do with the consistency of the dough than it did whether or not the bowl got cleaned during the cooking, but who really knows.

Let the dough rest for ten minutes.  It can be covered in the bowl...but I thought it looked prettier this way for the picture:

Tortilla Dough from Scratch: Do Try This at Home

You may notice there's a bottle of olive oil back there.  Olga used "manteca"...otherwise known as lard.  On a good day, I use half expeller pressed olive oil and half organic butter.  If I've really thrown my diet out the window, I just use butter.

Next, roll the dough into balls, around golf ball sized.

Roll tortilla into golf ball sized balls: Do Try This at Home

Put a little dimple in the middle of each ball.  You can kind of cup it in your hand and fold it in on itself to make the dimple:

Butter and tortilla dough for homemade tortillas: Do Try This at Home

After the dough rests again "about 10 minutes", you're ready to roll them out into small circles:

Homemade tortilla recipe, fresh and hot!

Cook both sides on a griddle until they are lightly golden brown:

Flour tortillas from scratch:

Or...I just use one of these to flatten and then transfer to a griddle.  It flattens and cooks at the same time:

Chef Pro Tortilla and Flat Bread Maker (link to Amazon)

One last note - Olga added a pinch of baking powder to hers.  I omit the baking powder because 1) I like a flatter, thinner almost transparent tortilla and 2) I've always been able to taste the baking powder.  But throw in a pinch if you feel so inclined!

Home Made Flour Tortillas

  • 4 cups organic
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup
    cold pressed canola or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup
    organic butter
  • 1 1/3 cup
    hot water
Cooking Directions:

Mix flour and salt together.  Work in oil and butter until the mixture looks like "little peas". Pour in almost-boiling-hot water. Knead for ten minutes. Let rest, covered, for ten minutes. Roll into golf ball sized balls. Let rest for ten minutes. Roll out with rolling pin or press, and cook on each side until delicious! 

From scratch tortillas (as opposed to the "scratch made" kind you can buy at the store): htttp://

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

They Start As Girls: Picture Books With Strong Female Characters

(Contains affiliate links)

It always happens the same way: I return a book just a month or two too late, or I lose one lousy book out of 23, and suddenly a trip to the library doesn't seem quite as fun.

So we've been hanging out with our books at home lately.

But since I'm still participating in the Womens Lives Campaign, by Blogher, SheKnows Media, and Public Radio International (PRI), I figured why not make this book post about strong female characters in children's picture books?

And what GREAT TIMING too, because it happens that the Women's Lives story for today is (partially) about a book!!  Why YES, I am very impressed with myself thankyouvermuch.  After all, good timing is so rare.

Plus, it's a photography book which means I love it double!!!  Lynsey Addario is one of the world's few women war photgraphers.

Her pictures are absolutely amazing, and you can see them here!

So that's what I'll be reading soon.  Meanwhile, here are a couple of books I've read to my daughters. And I read them to my boy too when he was little, because a boy needs to know that girls can be brave and strong too.

Plus...he enjoyed them.

Extra Yarn

A girl finds a magical ball of yarn.  What she does with it is pretty amazing!  The story is fanciful, she is brave, and the pictures are gorgeous. A great combo all around.

Wordless Wednesday {Mustache}

Monday, February 16, 2015

In Which the Tortilla Recipe Gets Tabled Once Again (in favor of a giveaway and some cute baby pictures)

I LOVE Zulily because just look at this kid - doesn't she look too sweet to have just flashed our entire neighborhood, darting through the front yard bare naked in a mad dash toward our busy street?

Toddler outfits

So here's the thing: I was just about to put up the poor, doomed tortilla recipe once more when I received an email from Zulilly saying that this very brand that mistakenly makes her look so sweet is NOW ON SALE!

Not only that, but Zulily is SO reasonably priced that I accidentally bought two of this same exact dress without realizing it.  So...I'm giving one away.

And if you feel like clicking around Zulilly while the contest is running, this is my affiliate link (meaning I get a 10% finders fee if you were to actually buy anything).

Zulily Dress Giveaway

The dress is by Free Planet and is a size 3T!

great dresses on sale

Zulily dress giveaway

Summer outfits

Now does this honestly look like someone who would streak through the front yard giggling maniacally?

Ok...maybe it does.

children's clothing

So anyway, on to the giveaway folks!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Open in USA only.
Have fun and good luck everyone!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Staph and an Altered Cigar Box

If you happened to see my home renovations post on Mrs. Muffintop, you will know that in order to stay out of the workers' way, our Head of Security and Head of Demolition have been landing us luxurious vacation spots in various emergency rooms and doctors' offices in and around the city.

Not to be outdone by her sister and stepbrother, our Editor in Chief kindly took over for last weekend.  I'll spare the gory details in order to spare her oft guarded privacy, but suffice it to say that it involved an ambulance.

Then yesterday we were right back at the hospital. I rushed the Security Officer there for his fifth outbreak of staph since late December.  Unlike when he got the 24 stitches in his forehead (only click here if you're not easily grossed out), I spared everybody the picture.

You're welcome.

I was in the middle of bringing you my late-ex-grandmother-in-law Olga's delicious tortilla recipe when the Head of Security brought his rather aggressive staph infection to my attention.

The point is...I'm done for.  And I figured it was easier to post pictures of a altered cigar box than to try and finish up a fairly complicated recipe.  Enjoy!

Altered Cigar Box - first layer of scrapbooking paper: Do Try This at Home

Crackle Paint on Altered Cigar Box: Do Try This at Home

Altered Cigar Box - sealed: Do Try This at Home

Always let a toddler help:

Toddler helps alter cigar box: Do Try This at Home

Why did I bring it outside this time to photograph?  I don't know.

Altered cigar box with embellishments

Finished, and ready for the toddler to destroy!  She's already managed to pop off some of the little baubles from the front.

Almost Steam Punk Cigar Box: Do Try This at Home

So anyway...tortilla recipe coming soon.  

Altered Cigar Box: Do Try This at Home

Monday, February 09, 2015

Stalking and Women's Lives

I recently had my blog reviewed by someone who hated it.  He was condescending in general, and called my blog "annoying".

He did, however, offer me this bit of insight: Do Try This at Home is a Mommy-Blog. And here I hadn't been able to figure out my niche: I had really hoped it was a Humor-Blog.

But, whether this is a Mommy-Blog or a Humor-Blog, some things are worth getting serious about, which is why I was SO excited to have been invited by Blogher - SheKnows Media, and Public Radio International to join the Women's Lives campaign!

Condescending-guy-who-reviewed-my-blog-last-week said it was useless, and it looked like just a way to get free stuff.

Well.  What can I say?  I actually like running giveaways every so often.

But mostly I like to make people laugh.  I feel like it's my main reason to be on the internet in the first place: to make someone's day a little better with a laugh.  Because, to totally twist around and misquote Ella Fitzgerald and whoever all else sang it...what else can you do most of the time in this crazy life but just laugh to keep from crying?

So when I got the invite for for Women's Lives I thought: it's worth stopping laughing long enough to talk about women's issues and our place in the news.

And so...I'm here to talk stalking:

For one thing, ONE in FIVE women are stalked, which I think is pretty unbelieveable.

My Stalking Story and Women's Lives Matter

And one of them was me.  Of course...because with odds like that, why wouldn't it be?

It took me about two years to be able to write about the stalking, because I had this irrational fear that despite the fact that only bloggers read blogs back then, the stalker might see my post and remember to terrorize me.

So I waited two years.  And now, a few years later for the Women's Lives campaign, I'm posting it again:

Being stalked takes a very long time and most of it is excruciatingly boring to everyone except the recipient of the stalking.  So here is the short version:

Basically an acquaintance, a racquetball buddy of my ex-husband, called me from out of the blue to say he was separated and getting a divorce. He had moved into my apartment complex.  He only called a couple times a day at first, but then he started to call a lot.  A lot, a lot, a lot.  The messages he left on my machine got more and more urgent - he HAD to talk to me.

The calls started to come at less and less socially acceptable times of day. I would leave for an hour and come home to 14 calls on my caller ID at any time of day or night.

Apparently my ex-husband had engaged in some locker room talk with Racquetball-Ball-Buddy-Turned-Stalker-Guy.  I don't blame my ex-husband; women do that stuff too.  

I could tell Raquetball-Guy-Turned-Stalker knew more than he should about my body because he accidentally left a long, detailed message on my answering machine in which he THOUGHT he had hung up and was just talking to whoever was in the room with him. 

But my answering machine was recording the whole conversation, personal anatomical details and all.

I felt extremely exposed during all of this, because the apartment complex had a public walkway that went right past my bedroom window. So when he called the next time at 3:00 AM, I waited for the ringing to end, called my brother, and burst into tears.  

My brother told me to call the police.

"But what do I tell them?" I asked. 

"Tell them you're a woman at home alone with her child and you're terrified because this guy won't stop calling."

"Oh!!!  I'm terrified!" I replied incredulously.

Well that was certainly news to me, but it explained my sudden tears.

My brother assured me that the police would have had weirder calls that night, and that if they didn't feel it was worthy of their time, they would tell me so.

The police came, a man and a woman.  They were kind and reassuring. I've been told that isn't always the case, and that stalking is not always taken seriously, but the officers who came to my apartment calmed me, and exuded nothing but confidence and professionalism.

As I was explaining the situation to them, Stalker-Guy called, but I did not pick up the phone. They told me that if I felt comfortable, I should answer and tell him to stop calling. I decided to wait until morning, because talking to stalker-guy-who-lived-in-my-apartment-building-and-had-easy-access-to-my-bedroom-window seemed way too scary to do at night.

When I answered the phone the next time I told him never to call me again, EVER. And my tone of voice was, as my dad would say, "the way you talk to a dog". 

And then my boyfriend called him and left him a message in the tone of voice that I imagine was, "the way you talk to a guy who's terrifying your girlfriend." My cousin called and repeated the message, just for good measure.

And thankfully, I never heard from him again, except my son was in the same homeroom as his kid a year later.  And they were assigned a project together, but it was an in-school assignment and I did not have to interact with Stalker-Guy at all.

The moral of my story is that you can be all kinds of careful on blogs and Facebook and all OVER the internet and STILL pick up a random stalker from real life. 

woman calls for help

Due to the internet, the incidence of stalking have really skyrocketed since my experience, as Stephanie Dolce explains here.

I don't really know that I have a better moral to the story now that so many years have passed.  But I do know that the Women's Lives project is a good one, and that Stephanie Dolce's idea of support for women who have been or are being stalked is also a good idea.

Thanks for taking a break from the general silliness to consider this very serious issue.  Two great semi-related stories that you may want to check out from PRI include:

A Dating Site That Gives Women More Control

This Member of Congress Has a Plan to Curtail Revenge Porn

I originally posted My Stalking Story here.

Photography from Dollar Photo Club.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

And That's Why Pinterest is Like Crack: A Valentine's Day Post (aka: All I Ever Want to do is Everything)

At least, I assume Pinterest is like just like crack.  I've never actually tried crack, but I know it's addicting.  And therefore, it's practically the exact same thing as Pinterest.

One of my bigger problems in life is that I want to do everything all at the same time. Son in the ER with a raging staph infection? Great time to teach myself to crochet!

There is almost nothing that I'm not at least a little interested in except maybe tennis and golf.

aleph bet bingo
Sorry for the rotten quality - forgot to check my settings after the camera got back from the shop!
So that's why when I got the email from my toddlers class that they would be handing out Valentines, my first instinct was to hand make them and do a photo shoot, dress her in red either holding a giant heart or tossing heart shaped something or anothers into the air.

Oh it was beautiful in my mind!!!

But then I remembered that my boy has to bathe in bleach three times a week and wash with antimicrobial two times a week and my husband is sick and my step daughter is trying to move out and blah blah blah blah blah...

And even though I could probably redo the Elmo costume to be a GREAT valentine costume, I just decided to just do this:

And of course, I made these for the teachers.  Because...I never know when to stop:

(Here's where you can get the printable.  I just layered with vellum and card stock.)

I even let the kid help make her own Valentines!  

Ok, I let her help on the envelopes, and the insides of the cards.  But still, that's not bad for a recovering perfectionist with a hell-bent-on-destruction toddler "helping":

washi tape valentines

Valentine cards using washi tape

valentine envelopes with washi

Heart washi handmade by toddler

I STILL want to do almost every single project I've ever seen on Pinterest.

I'd look for a support group...but I still want to learn how to crochet a hat first.

(Mom, Dad, and anyone else who has never's my Pinterest right here!  Apologies for being an enabler.)

Toddler assisted valentines

Friday, February 06, 2015

Tweets I Could'a Twitted

I LOVE Twitter!  I've met such funny and interesting people there.  But I have trouble finding time for it.

And even though I have a semi-decent handful of followers...I don't think anybody but my friend Ernesto reads my tweets anyway.

So I thought I would just save myself some time and hassle and put a couple tweets right here.

Also, my camera is in the shop.  None of these pictures are mine.  They all came from Upsplash.  I don't have to give them credit, apparently.  I could just slap them up and pretend all this gorgeousness was mine.  But why would I?

The Tweets:

That time I griped out my toddler for being mean to her imaginary playmate #MeanMomOfTheYearAwardGoesToMe


"Well, cats can't talk.  That might be one reason he's not answering you." #ThingsMomsOfToddlersSay

cat talks to toddlers

Not a half bad Tweet, right? Click here to Tweet!


I'd love to write one of those organization blogs - great excuse for so many office supplies!  But I just found a pair of clean socks in my toothpaste drawer.  #IMightNotBeQualified

pretty office supplies

Me, "Trying to bake with a 2 year old is like trying to...(shakes head, at a loss for words)"
17 year old, "Trying to do anything else with a two year old?" 


"Don't wipe your apricot on the window!" #ThingsMomsOfToddlersSay


You know your husband shops for an army when it's your child's turn to bring an UNOPENED snack for the entire class and you don't even have to go to the grocery store.  #StopByAnyTime #We'llFeedYou

cherries, really pretty ones

"If you don't stop throwing bags of sugar on the floor, it's going to make bugs come!" #ThingsMomsOfToddlersSay

Here's one last picture, just because it's pretty, and just 'cause I can:

carnival ferries wheel


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