Bottle and dropper

Have you been hearing about cleaning your face with oil yet? If not, you will soon. The Oil Cleansing Method is all the rage. If you’re new to the concept of cleaning your skin with oil this will sound like the most ludicrous, bizarre notion EVER. Because who puts oil on her face? Who??? Lots of people! Me, for one.  I am incredibly picky and vigilant about skincare. So when I say that my skin has never looked better since I started washing with oil, you’d better believe that it’s good stuff. We’re talking luminous angel skin. I haven’t cleaned my soap with soap in over a year.

You know your skin produces oil all the time, right? Oil isn’t bad. Oil is what keeps your skin looking dewy and fresh. But if the oil production goes into overdrive it can cause problems. It can combine with bacteria and dirt and cause zits and blackheads. But without oil you will start to look like a raisin. No girl wants to look like a raisin!

All the commercials and ads have convinced us that we must use cleansers to get rid of the oil! That only when all oil is gone will we have good skin. So we buy all these cleansers thinking that we must get our skin clean CLEAN CLEAN. But then our skin gets dried out. Skin doesn’t like to be dry, so it sends a signal that we must produce even more oil. So our face becomes oilier. And more oil attracts more grime.

Then we start throwing moisturizers in there because our skin is so dry after we wash it to death; moisturizers full of chemicals and all sorts of nasty things and pretty soon our faces are not happy. Our skin is a big fat mess. We need to find a happy medium.

That’s where oil comes in: oil actually cleans oil. Without getting too science-y, like dissolves like. We need nice, nourishing oils to get rid of the gross, dirty oils on our faces and to do it without stripping our skin bare.

I know you are feeling mighty skeptical right now but believe me when I tell you that washing with oil will make your skin look phenomenal. It will feel so lovely and healthy you won’t even be able to deal with it. I get compliments on my skin every single day. Not kidding. This is one of the big reasons why.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Get some washcloths. I like grey ones because I don’t want to have to worry about stains from my eye makeup.  Cleasing with oil will take every stitch of makeup off; even the most waterproof mascara ever. I bought a big stack of washcloths at Target for just a few dollars. You’ll only use them a couple of times before they need to be washed in very hot water. Don’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets.

Get some hot water. Let your faucet run til it’s nice and steamy or heat some up in the microwave. You want it hot but not hot enough to hurt you.

Make up your oil mixture.* You can’t just use any oil, silly! Most of the oils you’ll need can be bought at a health food store or maybe a grocery store with a fancy organic department. If you want to make it easy then just buy everything online (read the footnote below for more details).

The number one important oil to use is going to be castor oil. (When I make soap from scratch I always use castor oil because it makes nice big bubbles.) Castor oil has extra-great oil-removing properties and gets the yucky stuff from your pores. You’ll also need a companion oil. There are dozens of different kinds of oils: if you have oily skin jojoba, sunflower, and sweet almond are your best bets. Regular skin does well with grapeseed or Apricot Kernel Oil. Dry skin like mine prefers avocado or Extra-virgin Olive Oil (I’ve heard a lot of complaints about olive oil causing skin issues but I haven’t had any problems personally. If you have dry skin, try avocado oil first.) Tamanu oil is especially good if you’re prone to acne. It’s a spendy oil but is supposed to be fantastic.

Only mix a small amount at a time (maybe one ounce total). You might need to play around to find the right blend for your skin.

Get a little bottle; one of those travel sized bottles is perfect. Make sure it’s totally clean. A bunch of conditioner residue is not going to help. Depending on your skin type you’ll mix your oils up in various ratios depending on your skin type.

If your skin is oily, mix 2 parts castor oil with 1 part companion oil. For example: 2 Tablespoons of castor oil for 1 Tablespoon of almond oil.

If your skin is regular, mix castor oil and your companion oil in equal parts. For example: 2 Tablespoons of castor oil and 2 Tablespoons of apricot kernel oil.

If your skin is dry, mix 1 part castor oil to 2 parts carrier oil. For example: 1 Tablespoon castor oil to 2 Tablespoons avocado oil.

This is how to wash your face using oils: The first part will be the weirdest. You will take some of your oil mixture (about a quarter-sized amount) and rub it all over your dry face. No need to get your face wet first because we aren’t using soap. Just massage the oil all over your face for a minute or two. Make sure to rub your eyelashes because it will get rid of any trace of eye makeup in a snap. (Eye makeup remover is ancient history!)

Soak your washcloth in hot water (don’t burn yourself, for Pete’s sake!), wring it out, tip your head back slightly and lay the washcloth on your face. Leave it here until it starts to cool down. This is going to open up your pores and cut through the grime. Then gently wipe the oil from your face. I usually wipe my face off once, but you can do it again if you feel like it. Make sure to wipe under your eyes to get rid of any mascara, but be gentle!

Apply your moisturizer as soon as you’ve finished. I am still madly in love with my night-time syrum that I make with olive squalane (among other things). Yes, I wash my face with oil then apply more oil! My skin has never looked better. That’s saying a lot considering I’m 42. I also use the oil cleaning method every single solitary night. It truly pays off. Remember that your face is your calling card; treat it well!

Your skin might freak out a little during the first 1-2 weeks. Remember that it’s gotten used to having oil stripped away and has made your oil-producing factory wig out. Let your face have a week or two to settle down and get used to the new oil regimen. Just stick with it and try to resist using your old cleanser for a while. I think you’re really going to fall in love with your new glowing, velvet-y skin. Give it a try and tell me how you like it!


*So where do you get these oils? If you have a natural grocery store, that will probably be your best bet. My local H.E.B. has a big aisle that sells natural/health products and I can get most everything there. Sometimes sunflower seed and avocado oil can be found in the baking aisle by the vegetable oils (My local Costco carries Avocado oil in the baking aisle and it’s priced wonderfully.) Quite often you’ll find castor oil in the pharmacy department near stomach medicine. It is a big-time laxative (I drank a couple of spoonfuls of it once when I was enormously pregnant and trying to get labor started. Hoo-boy was that a crazy night in the bathroom!).
If you live in the middle of nowhere or just don’t feel like searching high and low, there are lots of places online that carry oils. I used to buy everything at Texas Natural Supply but they’ve been real jerks lately; Horrible, condescending customer service. Also, they wanted to charge me more for shipping than Brambleberry (which is located in Seattle) even though I only live 20 minutes away from them. So I recommend Brambleberry–my other favorite supplier.  I’ve been getting stuff from Brambleberry for almost ten years–their quality is excellent and their prices are reasonable.

This is one of my most popular posts and I like to repost it every year in case you’ve got a houseful of bored (hence, annoying) kids and need to know how to keep them occupied without relying on TVs/vieogames/ipads to babysit them. This is a great way to keep everyone in the house quiet and entertained. It’s really the best thing that’s happened to our summers! We’ve added a few changes to the system as our kids have gotten older. I’ll mention those at the end of the post.

My kids started driving me crazy the day after school got out. There was the constant squabbling, playfighting, and watching each other play video games for hours on end ( I loathe that, but it’s just so peaceful while they do it, that it’s hard to crack down and turn it off). Some people go cold turkey and turn off all screens during the summer, but I think it should still be a fun time of year (especially since we really limit TV and video games during the school year). I just needed to figure out some sort of system.

My friend Amy and I escaped for lunch a few weeks ago. She told me about the system she uses in her house and a giant light bulb went off over my head. I took her idea and ran with it, expanding on it to fit our family’s needs.

This is how it works:

–Our house is divided into six stations (Art, Reading, Computer, Puzzles, Academics, and TV).

–Each station is in a different part of the house (or in separate parts of the same room) so there is very little annoying and teasing of siblings going on.

–Stations last for 45 minutes each (sometimes if we have other plans for the day we’ll only do stations for 20-30 minutes a piece). Then the kids rotate to the next station. Each child goes to all of the six stations every day, Monday through Friday. We usually begin in the late morning after everyone has done their chores. Since we live in Texas which is HOT in the summer, we usually spend the mornings playing outside (after chores!) and don’t waste precious cool time indoors.

–Everyone gets a chance to choose which station they would like to start with. Yes, they will all have a chance at every station, but you know how much siblings like to compete with each other. Currently we are picking popsicle sticks labelled with the kids’ names. I draw one and that child picks where they’d like to begin.

–It’s helpful to have a list of activities available at Academics and art. We have things listed like “work on handwriting”. The kids all tell me they want to improve their handwriting but they forget. Their are workbooks for the littles but the older kids can do it on their own; they just need a reminder. Some of the art things we have are kept in my craft closet and the kids tend to forget about them. Having all the choices on a list makes a good reminder.

Here are the details:

Art (at the kitchen table):
Everyone has a sketch book, so there are minimal amounts of loose paper floating around. All coloring and watercolor go on sketchbook pages. We also have Shrinky Dinks, pipe cleaners, Sculpey clay (for the older kids), Play-Doh (for the younger ones), and brand new sets of watercolors, crayons and markers. I stocked up on the fabulous coloring books that Dover Publishing carries. We also have an assortment of drawing “how-to” books and creativity-building exercises.


Puzzles (on a card table set up in the Mudroom): I bought ten new puzzles of all different skill levels. I also got one of those roll-up puzzle savers so the older kids can work on the same puzzle day after day. We also have Sudoko, crossword, and word-search books of different skill levels. My friend Amy and I will be swapping puzzles after a while to keep things fresh.


Academics (on the coffee table in the family room):
There is a real variety here since Jasper barely knows his letters and India is taking AP classes. Probably our favorite item is the Flashmaster. It’s a fantastic gizmo that quizzes kids on their addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. They can be timed or not timed, and the computer remembers which problems they got wrong. It’s been wonderful since my younger kids have never been required to learn their math facts very well. You can get Flashmaster on Amazon for $50.

We also have a Geography Globe from Oregon Scientific, the Phonics Firefly (perfect for helping the younger kids learn their letters and sounds), and some educational Leap Pad sets.


In this category we also have workbooks (the great kind sold at Costco that are full of worksheets), handwriting practice sheets and spelling word quizzes. I try to get items that the kids can do on their own so I don’t have to sit there all day. The older kids are working on assignments they were given at school to complete over the summer.


(in the Living Room which is where our bookcases are):
This is read-alone time. Every few days I rotate the supply of kids’ books so they always have something new to look at. Library books stay in here too. The older kids usually have a novel they’re reading. This is a perfect time for teens to work on their summer reading assignments for school.

The kids can play whatever they want without someone claiming that “she took my turn!”; I don’t really care what it is, whether it’s Webkinz or something educational (Finn has been doing a teach-yourself-German program). This is their entire computer time for the day. This would probably include Nintendo DS time, if you have those at your house.

TV (in the playroom where our only TV is):
This includes video games and DVDs. Whatever takes place on a TV, this is the time to do it. The best part of this system is that you don’t have children sitting around watching their siblings play games (one of my major pet peeves). Occasionally we’ll watch a movie as a family in the evening, but for the most part this is their entire allotment of video games and shows.

You could tailor the stations to suit your family better. If you all play instruments, you could do music time, for example. Or you could do an outdoor station. With our blazing summer temps, though, the kids stay indoors most of the day but we spend evenings playing outside or swimming. This system would work with a smaller family, too. For the last week India and York have been visiting their grandparents in Oregon and we’ve been rotating four kids around the six stations. It’s been fine.

We have been doing Stations for a couple of weeks now and it has been phenomenal! The kids never complain about being bored and they bug each other so much less. My house is actually quiet during the day! It’s a miracle!

Jasper doing summer stations

UPDATE: now that our kids are getting older, we’ve made a few changes. We’ve combined academics with spiritual stuff. The kids all have goal programs that they’ve been working on at church and this is a great time to accomplish the tasks they’ve set for themselves. We’ve also made a reading plan to for the scriptures this summer and having time during a station for this works a lot better than expecting tired kids to read at night.

We are accumulating a lot of instruments around our house, my new harp being the most popular. So now along with puzzles, we have the option to play an instrument during that station. Not all of the kids are interested in this, though, which is why I didn’t just add another station. My children are finally old enough to use the instruments unsupervised. I would never have done this when I had preschoolers. It would have caused way too much trouble.

I started out kind of shy. I always felt incredibly nervous in a situation with people I didn’t know. The thought of introducing myself was enough to make me run away in petrified fright. I am super outgoing once I meet someone but the idea of breaking the ice has always scared me silly.

At some point I realized that this was stupid. I guess I talked to enough people to realize that we all feel intimidated by meeting others for the first time. I also was “the new person” enough times to know that there are very few things as wonderful as being in a new place or sitting by a stranger and having someone reach out a hand of friendship*. At some point I decided I just need to put the scaredness behind me and say hello to strangers.

Everyone feels shy sometimes. Nearly all of us feel slightly bashful about initiating a conversation or meeting somebody new. I was surprised to find out that even my mother–the most outgoing person ever born on Planet Earth–feels shy sometimes.  Here’s what I have to say about shyness: get over it. All shyness will ever do is hold you back in life.

I’m sure some of you will swear that this isn’t the case, but I really feel like being shy is just another facet of being scared. Whether it’s being scared of rejection, or being scared of making a fool of yourself or being scared of simply trying something new, it all boils down to getting over yourself.  You aren’t the prettiest or the funniest or the smartest. So what? You’re still an interesting person and your views on things are just as good as the views as the person sitting next to you. So stop being a quiet little mouse.

I know, I know. It’s easier to just tell yourself that people won’t like you or you don’t know what to say. Here’s the secret: people don’t really rememeber what you say, especially if you’re in a crowd or busy place. Think about the last time you met someone. Do you remember the exact conversation you had with them? No? I can’t remember either. I pretty much just remember that the last person I met was interesting to talk to and that she had just moved here from out of state. That’s it. So don’t overanalyze what you say when you meet someone, just say something. Don’t try to hard to be funny or interesting. Trying too hard is a recipe for disaster. Being a good listener is the ticket.

So what do you say? How do you start? It’s just like jumping into a swimming pool. It’s best just to do it; the more you think about it, the more freaked out you’ll get.  Here’s a scenario that works pretty much anywhere that you might be sitting next to a stranger. This could be at a concert, at church, at a meeting, at a college lecture. This is what you do: turn to the person and say, “Hi, I’m [insert your name]”  Hold your hand out to shake if it’s appropriate (not so much in High School English). Then pay them a compliment of some sort (this is for women, I don’t know that this works the same way for men. Probably men might be a little weirded out if you tell them they have nice hair). Here are some examples:

I love your sweater.

That purse is so adorable.

Your eyes are the prettiest shade of gold.

That necklace is really cool.

Don’t go overboard and don’t start talking about yourself and how you hate your purse but your sister bought it for you so you have to use it anyway. Or how you have blue eyes just like your grandmother. It’s our natural nervous reaction to talk about ourselves. Fight it. Please, please fight it.

Next, ask them something about themselves and how it relates to the place where you are.

Have you been to a concert here before?

How do you think this class is going so far?

Do you come to blog conferences a lot?

WARNING: if you are meeting someone new at a place you’ve been going to forever, it can be a little tricky asking them if they’re new. It can seem really terrible if they’ve been going to the same church/yoga class/book club for three months and you just barely noticed them . It can really sting when someone asks you if you’re new and you aren’t. So try not to ask, “are you new here?” They may be, but if they aren’t it’s going to seem really awkward. If you honestly haven’t noticed, try a phrase like, “I don’t think we’ve officially met” This is especially good when you’ve seen the person around but you’ve both been too shy to make introductions.

After the person has answered this question, I find that admitting how nervous you were about the situation creates instant camaraderie and let’s them know that you are honest and they can relax around you. When people feel like they can be themselves around you then you will both feel a lot less shy.

“I was so nervous walking in here. Everyone seems like they know what they’re doing”

“I’ve never been to this club and I was so nervous about where to park”

“I always feel so awkward sitting next to a total stranger”

“I was so nervous that I might not be smart enough to come to this book club.”

The awesome thing is that when you admit something that you were nervous or scared about, the other person will agree or show some sort of empathy. Always. This is just the American way to communicate. If you don’t live in America, you can try this but I have no idea if it works. If you are shy in the U.S., though, give this a try. Admitting you were scared is a fantastic ice-breaker.

After this you should be able to come up with some things to say. Remember, though, to ask questions of the other person. Don’t just talk about yourself. It’s tacky and boring to the other person. If you suddenly find a lull in conversation, ask them about themselves: where they grew up, if they have kids/siblings, what they studied in college. I’m sure you can come up with something.

I still get butterflies when I have to introduce myself to a complete stranger. Due to my job at church, though, I pretty much have to. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a funk or if they don’t look like someone who might not be my type. I’ve come to realize that we all want to feel like we belong. It’s your job as a decent human to put that shyness away and try to be friendly. Seriously, being shy is lame. I’m speaking as a sometimes-shy person. Really, the title of this post shouldn’t be “how to not feel shy”. Because I don’t really know how to to just not feel shy. I still feel shy all the time. Really I want you to learn how to get over it and be friendly even when it’s scary and you’re not in the mood. So what if you don’t want to? You’re a grown-up, do it anyway!

If it helps you can repeat this saying that I made up for my chronically bashful children:

Be the first one to say “hi”,

Even if you’re feeling shy.


*To this day I will always remember and be grateful to Suzie Cavolloro who stood next to me in the lunch line at my new school in 11th grade. She introduced herself, asked if I wanted to sit next to her in the lunchroom (YES!!! There is no event as horribly intimidating as the first time you walk into the lunchroom at a new school), and even invited me to a party she was planning that weekend. Your kindness has stayed with me all these years, Suzie!


I’m wild about polka dots. I love them always, on everything. Polka dot nail art was the first thing I wanted to learn how to do when I started getting more into nail design a couple of years ago. I would read all these nail blogs and wonder how in the world the nail artists could make such perfect and uniform dots. It’s pretty impossible to do with a brush. And then I found the secret: dotting tools. These are plastic sticks, kind of like shortish pencils. On each end is a metal ball. There are different sized balls depending on how big you want your dots to be. They almost always come in a set of five with graduated sizes of tips

All you have to do is put a tiny bit of nail polish or acrylic paint on a palette or plate, then dip the dotting tool into the paint and tap it on your nail. It makes a perfectly round circle instantly. There is no swirling, no trying to match up both sides of the circle to make it look right. Just dip the tool in polish, then touch it to the nail. Really, that’s all there is to it. If it’s not the right size, just wipe it off and try again.

It really couldn’t be easier. It takes a smidge of practice to figure out what size dot you want and how to get consistent results, but honestly an eight-year-old could do this. It’s that simple.

All you have to do is make sure that you apply at least one layer of a topcoat when you’ve finished your dots.

A variation on the dot is an outline of a circle, which is what I’ve done on the pink nails in the photo collage above. It isn’t actually an outline of a circle at all, it just looks that way. I made a large dot, then added a smaller dot in the center of the main background nail polish. It only appears to be an outline; it’s actually a dot sandwich.

So the big question is where to buy your own set of dotting tools. I have some good news and some bad news: The good news is that there are a million sellers on ebay who offer sets of these for $2-3 (shipping included!). The bad news is that they’re mostly in China so it takes about two weeks to get them. That’s where I got mine and have been perfectly happy with them. Just search for “dotting tools” on ebay.

Dotting tools are really wonderful and can be used for all sorts of art projects where small polka dots are needed, not just on nails. I have an odd little hobby of painting teensy peg dolls and dotting tools are perfect for the details.

For such a cheap price, it’s a great idea to have a set of these in your drawer.


More than any other nail art question, I get asked how to paint roses on fingernails. Everyone assumes that since roses are so pretty, they must be incredibly difficult to make. Not so!  Making a straight line is about a million times harder! This tutorial will show you how to make a perfect rose garden on your fingernails using nail polish and acrylic paint.


There are only a couple of tools you’ll need: A fine, flat-tipped paint brush and a super-duper-fine pointy paint brush. I’ve bought a ton of paintbrushes over the years hoping to find one with an incredibly fine tip for doing detailed nail art. My favorite brushes so far have been from this set of 5 brushes by Martha Stewart that I got at Michaels. They’re for painting glass, of all things. Who cares what you use them for! They’re great (especially if you have a Michael’s Coupon). I really only use the two finest ones but the other three might come in handy for other things.

You’ll also need either nail polish or acrylic paint for the flowers (Yes, I’m telling you that you can use plain old acrylic paints that they sell at the craft store). For the base of the flower I usually use the same nail polish that I use for my other fingers so it will match perfectly. This yellow is gel polish (Angel Pro Gelly #20). For the darker-colored detail on my yellow roses I used Delta brand acrylic craft paint.

Step 1. Paint your nails. Make sure they’re nice and dry if you’re using traditional polish. If you’re using gel polish, cure them but don’t use the top coat.

Using a flat-tipped brush (this is the crappy brush from one of my kids’ watercolor paint sets), put a few blobby-looking circles on each nail. You don’t want these to be perfect circles; that looks weird.

Let the circles dry/cure completely.

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Step 2. Find a color about 3-4 shades lighter/darker than the flower base. On this nail I’ve used a medium pink so I could either use a pale pink or a really dark pink. I did a few flowers of each so you can see the different look of each one. Basically, though, if you have a pale flower base, you’ll use a darker color. If you have a dark flower (red, for example), you’ll use a pale color as the accent.

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To make the details in the rose you’ll use your super fine brush to make about two or three lines. One towards the top of the rose, one towards the bottom that kind of swirls into the middle. You don’t need to be really scientific about this. I promise that you will be kind of disappointed by your roses. It’s not until you do the leaves that they actually look like pretty flowers.

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Step 3. Rinse out your superfine brush and make some leaves. They need to look a little like teardrops.

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If you really want to go for broke you can add a darker shade of green to the top of every leaf.


Step 4. Apply a top coat. Acrylic paint flakes off very badly. Apply at least one layer of clear topcoat. Now get ready to enjoy all the compliments!


Everybody needs to know how to make a pie. It’s just one of those life skills that all Americans should have. Despite the saying, “easy as pie”, it’s actually kind of hard. Not hard, exactly, but complicated. I made this tutorial because I want to take the intimidation factor out of pie crust. Let’s face it, pie crust is the scariest part of pie-making.

Today I’m going to teach you how to make a double pie crust. That means it’s for a pie with a top and a bottom (like an Apple pie). You can also blind bake the crust. Blind baking means cooking the pie crust empty; you’d use this for a pie with a filling that won’t be baked in an oven: usually chilled pies like Chocolate Cream or Lemon Meringue. If you blind bake the crust you’ll only need half of the dough (because you’ll only need a bottom crust). Don’t half the recipe! Pie crust freezes beautifully so save the remaining dough for another time (just throw it in a ziploc and keep it in the freezer. Don’t forget to label it because you will have no idea what it is when you run across it in a few months.)

Here we go. Pie crust doesn’t have many ingredients: fat, water, salt and flour. I like to gussy mine up with a little sugar too. (The complete recipe is at the end of the post.)

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The salt and water are pretty straightforward. If your tap water tastes gross, use bottled. Either way it needs to be cold. Put it in a bowl with some ice cubes just to make sure. Flour needs to be all purpose. I like King Arthur the best.

Then there’s the fat.  There are a dozen types of fat that can be used in pie: butter, shortening, oil, lard and suet, among others. Butter, as you can guess, tastes the best. That’s kind of a no-brainer. An all-butter crust is phenomenal. But lard is unbeatable at making the texture flaky beyond belief. I like to use a combination of butter and lard. Here’s the thing: not just any lard will do. You don’t want the kind from the grocery store. It is disgusting. It smells like a barnyard and is hydrogenated to make it shelf-stable.

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The kind of lard you need is called leaf lard. No, it’s not made from leaves. It’s made from the fat around a pig’s kidneys. It doesn’t smell or taste weird. It’s just pure fatty loveliness. You’ll probably be able to find it from a small butcher shop or artisinal meat producer. Try the local farmer’s market. You’ll want to look for these clues: It must be refrigerated and non-hydrogenated. I buy it for $10 a jar and that makes about 4 pies worth.

If you can’t find leaf lard, don’t worry. All-butter crusts are amazing. Shortening and oil belong in the pantry. For the best pie splurge on butter and–if you find it–leaf lard.

If you’ve got a food processor, making piecrust is a million times easier than doing it by hand. If you are processor-less use a couple of forks to smash things up. Or you can use a pastry blender. I had one of these for several years and it totally does the job. Some cookbooks recommend using your hands. All the ingredients need to stay as cold as possible while pie-making. Nice warm hands do not keep butter cold. Use a tool.


Combine all your dry ingredients in the food processor and mix them up.

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Cut your butter up into slices. It should be cold. Drop the butter pieces into the flour mixture and try to keep them from sticking together.

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Pulse the butter for about 3 seconds and then add the lard. If you’re using all butter, keep going. We need to talk about what makes a good pie crust. It needs to be tender, it needs to taste good and it needs to be flaky. Butter is going to give it a great taste, but the lard is going to help with the texture. The less pie crust is processed, the flakier it will be. As the butter and lard melt, they’ll leave behind big air pockets; this is what causes flakiness.

If you’re making a pie that will bake in its crust like an Apple or Cherry pie, you’ll want butter pieces that are about the size of peas (and smaller). If you’re going to make a pie that’s filled afterwards like a Strawberry Pie, you don’t want the juice to leak into all the flakes and make it soggy. So you’ll want a not-as-flaky crust. To do this, make the pieces of butter and lard smaller. The mixture will look more like course sand.

I’m planning on making a Lemon Pie, so I want the fat pieces to be pretty small. This is how it looks after the fat has been processed with the flour. There are a few pieces that are the size of small peas but most of the mixture is pretty fine.

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Next you’ll take your little bowl of ice water. Add a tsp. of canola oil to it and whisk it up as well as you can. Add 6 Tbs. of water/oil mixture and process it in five 1-second pulses.

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The crust is going to look pretty dry. The way you’ll know if you’ve added enough water is to take a small handful of crust and press it together. If it smooshes together and makes a fingerprint, you’re all set! If it’s still too dry to come together add more water/oil mixture–1 Tbs at a time.

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Once your dough is the right consistency, takeout of the food processor and separate it into two equal sections. Squish each half together until it forms a disk. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap

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Chill the pie crust dough in the fridge for at least half an hour. You can keep it there for a couple of days, if needed.

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If you won’t be needing a second pie shell, freeze the extra disc of dough. Keep it in the plastic wrap and slip it into a ziploc. It should last for a month or two.

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Now you’ll need your next batch of equipment: a rolling pin, a pie plate (I like Pyrex the best) and something to roll out the crust between. I recommend parchment paper or these super awesome bags designed just for that purpose. You can find them at fancy kitchen shops or online. I bought mine here and it was $5. I’m so in love with this pie crust bag!

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Whether you use parchment or a pie crust bag, the pie crust will be a smidge sticky when it gets warm. I recommend sprinkling some flour on your parchment or tossing some in the pie crust bag.

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To figure out how wide you need to roll your pie crust, measure across the top of the pie plate and add a couple of inches. When it’s the right size, peel off the top piece of parchment/pie bag then place it back on lightly. Now flip over the crust and peel off the bottom piece of parchment.

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As gracefully as you can, flip the crust upside down as you are placing it in the pie plate. You need to be as quick as a wink to get it right but you can do it.

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Ease the pie crust into the bottom and sides of the pie plate ever so gently. This stuff is incredibly fragile; try not to poke a hole in it!

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You’ll probably have a big flap of crust hanging over the edges. I like to keep this quite long and fold it under to make the crust edges nice and thick (I freely admit it–crust is my favorite part of the pie!). If you do need to trim it, clean off a pair of scissors and cut the crust with those. It’s much easier than trying to use a knife. You won’t need to cut your crust any shorter than this:

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If you’re making a pie with a top crust you’ll roll the top out, fill the pie and lay on the top piece.

Bend the remaining edges under once or twice. Now you’ll shape your pie edges. There are lots of different patterns but let’s do a plain old scallop. If you’ve got any fingernails at all, they’ll poke right through the dough, so I always use my bent fingers like so:



If you’ll be blind baking your crust you’ll need to bend the crust over the lip of the pan just a bit. This will hold the edge of the crust in place while it bakes. Sometimes the crust will slouch down in the pan; bending it over the rim a tiny amount will help solve that problem.

If your crust hasn’t got any filling in it, you’ll need to poke some holes in it to keep bubbles from forming. A fork is just dandy for this.

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Once your crust looks perfect you’ll need to put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes. A crust made with butter tends to puff up when it bakes and if it’s not throughly chilled when it goes into the oven, the edges and designs (if there are any) will swell up and not look as pretty. Make sure when you put it into the freezer not to smack it on the top of the ice maker. Arrrrgh.

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When you’re about to take your pic crust out of the freezer, preheat your oven to 375°. It’s very, very helpful to keep something in the pie shell as it’s baking to keep the crust from slouching down the edges, as I mentioned before. You can find all sorts of pie weights and things like that sold in stores but this is what I like to do: Use a heat-proof bag; the kind used for baking a chicken or turkey.

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Fill it with rice and use the twist tie to keep it shut. Nestle it into the pie crust.

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Bake the pie crust for 15-20 minutes then remove the bag of rice (use a hot pad! That sucker will be hot!) Continue to bake the crust until it’s golden brown on the bottom. Probably another 15 minutes. Cool the crust and load it up with your favorite pie filling!

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I’ve tried lots of recipes and this one from is my favorite. If you don’t have leaf lard just use all butter.

2 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup leaf lard
6-8 Tbs ice water
1 tsp. canola oil

Mix dry ingredients together in a food processor. Add butter and lard and process til butter is the size of small peas. In a small bowl whisk water and canola. Pour 6 Tbs water/oil over flour mixture. Process for short pulses until dough barely starts to come together. It is wet enough when it can be pressed or squeezed and it holds its shape.

Seperate dough into two equal sized disks. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for at least half an hour. Remove from fridge and roll into shape. Line pie plate with dough, add weights/rice and bake at 375°  for 15-20 minutes. Remove rice/pie weights and bake until crust is golden brown on bottom (another 15-20 minutes). Remove from oven and let cool before filling.

how to make bacon

For years I cooked bacon on the stove because that’s the way my mom and grandma always did it. When I went to college my roommate, Heidi, showed me how to cook it a better way. Technically, it’s baking your bacon. If you only make a couple of slices at a time, cooking bacon in a frying pan makes sense. If you use half a package or more, making bacon in your oven is the easiest and fastest way to do it. No splattering grease all over your stovetop; no flipping bacon halfway through; no cooking six pieces at a time because that’s all the room you have in your frying pan. Once you start making bacon in your oven you’ll never go back.

All you’ll need is bacon, a baking sheet with sides, and tin foil (I guess it’s technically aluminum but tin is a lot quicker to say).

First you’ll want to preheat your oven to 400°. The get out your baking sheet. Here’s mine. It’s pretty grody. I’ve made bacon in this thing probably 500 times. Maybe even a thousand. I’ve had this pan for almost two decades and we eat bacon at least once a week; you do the math. You don’t have to line the pan with tin foil but using it means you don’t have to scrub the pan when you’re done. Why clean things when you don’t have to?


Open your pack of bacon and lay the strips out. I happen to know that with my size of pan and a pack of Kirkland bacon from Costco (YUM!), I have to overlap the pieces a smidge to get them all to fit.


Once your oven has reached 400°, place the bacon on the bottom shelf for 15-20 minutes.
bacon in oven
I like my bacon really crispy and that takes 18 minutes in my oven (I told you I make it a lot!). Your oven might be different or you might be one of those odd people who likes floppy bacon. Check the bacon after 15 minutes and go from there. (Oh man, I’m completely salivating and about to lick my monitor!)

cooked bacon in pan

While the bacon’s cooking get a plate out and line it with a couple of sheets of paper towels. When the bacon comes out of the oven, you’ll remove the slices with tongs and put them on the plate to drain. I do a second layer of paper towels on top of the first and finish laying out the bacon. I use a couple more paper towels on top of that and let it drain for a few minutes.

yummy bacon

After the bacon has been eaten (usually within 30 seconds), I put all the greasy paper towels on top of the tin foil, then roll the whole thing up and throw it in the garbage. No need to find a can to drain the bacon grease into.

Now you know the easy way to make bacon. So what are you waiting for?





For so many years our family never had lice. I though we were somehow immune. Foolish, foolish me. My seven-year-old brought it home toward the end of the last school year and was kind enough to give it to everyone in the house. We battled it off and on all summer and into the fall and finally–FINALLY–we are lice-free. We tried pretty much everything to get rid of it and I’m here to tell you everything I learned about how to kill the lice without killing yourself. Seriously, some days after picking the nits on six kids, committing suicide seemed pretty tempting. (Totally kidding! But if your kids have had lice you know what I’m talking about.)

First of all, I hope you never need this post. When I have friends who smugly tell me that they’ve never had lice I kind of wish they would get it just so they know I’m not a total whiny-baby. It really is that bad. But I would never be so cruel as to actually wish it on someone. That would be too, too mean.

If your kids don’t have lice, yay for you! I hope they never do. But if you live someplace warm your days are numbered. I don’t know what it is about warm places but lice really seem to love it a lot more. If you are reading this post because you just found a louse in your child’s hair (or your own! Yuuuck!) or even worse, if the school nurse just did, please take a deep breath.  When I found a louse in my hair I felt like setting my head on fire and running screaming down the street. Do not do this! Fight the instinct! Lice are actually not a big deal. I know they seem like a big deal. You’re talking about live bugs! In your hair! Sucking your blood! It’s like a mini horror movie. But lice are not the end of the world. Nobody is going to die of the bubonic plague. You won’t get some horrid disease. It’s just embarassing. But you’re in good company. Most moms I know have been down the Lice Road and have nothing but empathy for you. But they still don’t want your kids coming around theirs. Nothing personal.

So, you’ve just found a louse. Your first instinct is to go get some lice shampoo at the drugstore and that’s that, right? Au contraire. Lice shampoo is only about 10-20% effective. There are now lice that are completely resistant to traditional lice shampoos. We happen to have a Brazilian strain here in Texas that chemicals don’t seem to effect. Isn’t that lovely?

The first weapon in your anti-lice arsenal is this: a Licemeister comb. The traditional lice combs are completely worthless. You need a comb with strong metal teeth that are incredibly close together. These are usually not carried at Walgreens or CVS but hopefully those dullards will get with the program and start carrying them (although they do carry them online. How dumb is that? Like you’re just supposed to live with lice for ten days while you’re waiting for the comb to arrive!). If you live in the Austin area they can be found at People’s Pharmacy. Or you can do a search here to find one locally. The combs are about $15 and completely worth it. Every parent needs one of these!

There are essentially three phases of lice: eggs (called nits), babies (called instars. Which is way too pleasant of a name. They ought to be called Baby Death Suckers or something similarly alarming), and full-grown revolting adult lice.

The good news is that lice can’t jump. The bad news is, well, everything else. Lice are sneaky bugs that move really fast. While they won’t jump from head to head, they can run from head to head pretty quickly. We all know not to share hairbrushes or hats. That’s good advice. Sleepovers are a really common place to pick up lice. All those lousy heads sleeping right next to each other . . . . My head is itching just thinking about it.

A nit looks like a super teensy little grain of rice. The one way to tell the difference between a nit and a regular old hair flaky is that a nit is really hard to get off the hair shaft. Like, almost impossible. You can get them off with the Licemeister or your fingernails or you can do what one of my friends does: she just pulls the individual hair out. If you’ve got a big infestation your child will probably not be too thrilled about that. Nits are usually found around the back of the head near the neck or behind the ears. Grown up lice live towards the crown.

If you’ve found a nit, you’ll want to check for live lice. This is my preferred method: Get your licemeister, a white bowl filled with warm water (the bowl doesn’t have to be white but that’s easiest for spotting lice) and a bunch of paper towels. I never let my kids touch my iphone or ipad but I let them have a turn playing games while I’m on lice patrol. (Because of this whenever I hear the sounds for Arabella’s favorite game “Where’s my Water” I automatically get the heebie-jeebies. It’s my Pavlovian reaction since she never plays the game any other time.)

Brush the hair thoroughly. (Keep your hair brushes in the freezer during your infestation. Lice can’t live in frozen temps.) Pin up all the hair except for a section at the back of the head.


Starting right next to the scalp, pull the lice comb through a small section of hair.

After each pass through a section of hair, rinse the comb in the bowl of water. You may see some lice on the comb and that’s horrifying and depressing and strangely satisfying all at the same time. But they’ll come off the comb once you swizzle it around in the water. See all those teensy black dots? Those are baby lice. They’re like the tiniest little back grains of rice.

After you’ve rinsed off the comb, wipe it on a paper towel. The licemeister comes with a pick to clean out the tines, but I usually save that til the end. The white paper towel is an excellent way to see what’s come out of your child’s head. Repeat this across the loose section of hair then take another section from the hair clip. Repeat until you’ve gone through all the hair. Heaven help you if you’ve got daughters with long curly hair. If you have boys, lucky you. It’s about a million times easier. A nice buzz cut is a good idea too. Just make sure you pop the clippers in the freezer when you’re done.


Please don’t be in denial. If you see something suspicious, just treat it. Lice isn’t like a cough where most likely it will go away. It’s only going to get worse.

Now that you’ve found some lice you’ll probably want to do a search on the internet to find a method of curing it. We’ve already talked about the lice shampoo. Forget about that. My doctor recommended a new prescription shampoo that costs $195. That’s totally out of my budget but maybe you’re OK with that. If so, go talk to your doctor.

You’ll find lots of natural cures like mayonnaise, olive oil and tea tree oil. While tea tree oil is somewhat effective as a lice deterrent, it’s not going to get rid of the lice that are already living on your kids’ heads.  As for mayo and olive oil, they simply don’t work. I’ve soaked my kids’ heads with olive oil, wrapped them in plastic wrap all day, then rinsed off after 12 hours. There were still live lice after all that. Olive oil might smother some lice but all it takes is one pregnant louse to ruin your sanity. I have eight people’s heads to try out methods on (six kids plus mine and my husbands. Yes, we’ve all had it at one time!), so when I say something works or doesn’t work, remember that I’ve had to kill a lot of lice.  A lot.

After bewailing my pestilence-filled life over the interwebs, one of my favorite bloggers came to the rescue. Karen from SuburbanCorrespondent shared the news that changed my life. There is a sure-fire way to cure lice and all you need are a few bottles of Cetaphil cleanser and a blow dryer. Yes, Cetaphil cleanser. Not the lotion. You want the Gentle Cleanser for all skin types. It’s about $8-12 per bottle.

Cetaphil for lice

The cetaphil treatment is actually patented. You can read all about it here. basically it’s 95% effective and the best part is that there isn’t the massive laundry overhaul that normal treatment requires (although I do that anyway since it can’t hurt. If you want to wash everything I high recommend using a laundry mat where you can get everything clean in one two hour period) and there is no nit-picking required (unless your kids go to school at a place with a no-nit policy).

Please go to the official website to read about the details of the treatment (yes, you first have to check a box saying you promise to read the directions completely). But here is the gyst: in an orderly fashion squirt an entire bottle of Cetaphil on your child’s head. it’s got to cover absolutely every hair. The first time I did this treatment I really skimped on Ada’s head because she has short-ish hair and it’s not terribly thick. It seemed like all the hair was saturated with Cetaphil even though I’d only used about a third of a bottle. Sure enough when I went to blow dry her hair, there were several areas that hadn’t gotten any Cetaphil on them. If you’re going to all this trouble, please follow the directions exactly! Consider this your #1 most important job!

Once the hair is throughly saturated with Cetaphil, use a comb to remove as much as possible. If your kids have fine hair you can even use the Licemeister. Wipe the excess Cetaphil on the towel. You’ll probably see little lice getting combed out. Die, lice, die!

Now comes the most trying part. You have to blow dry the Cetaphil-covered hair. The reason this method works is that the lice are essential trapped and smothered. They are not killed by the chemicals in the Cetaphil so there is no danger of building up resistance like lice previously have with the over-the-counter shampoos. And unlike mayo or olive oil, the lice are trapped and all air is cut off. There is no stopping a louse that wants to run for it when it’s merely covered with oil.

The problem with the blow-dry is that it takes forever. Like at least half an hour. My kids and I both sit down while I do it or my legs will start to get tired after a while. But it must be done. Once the hair is dry, send your kids to bed (it’s got to stay on overnight so do it in the evening) and rinse it all out in the morning.

This process must be repeated once a week, three times. Due to the louse’s life-cycle, three times one week apart is necessary. It’s a pain, yes. But so is starting the whole process over again. Commit to three weeks or you’ll regret it. I know after the second week you’re going to feel like the third week is overkill. It’s not. Just do it.

I would like to bear my testimony that the Cetaphil method really does work. I pity you if you have lice but there is help (besides shaving your kids bald or never leaving the house). May the lice gods smile on you!

If there is someone living in your house who has long hair (you, perhaps?) it’s just a matter of time until you get a clogged drain in your shower or tub. It’s the kind of problem that develops slowly until one day you rinse out your shampoo and realize the water is covering your ankles. Not good. Your first reaction might be to bug your husband to fix it or to grab a bottle of Drano. Stop!  This is a really easy problem to fix that you can do all by yourself with no nasty chemicals. Since it’s How-To Tuesday I’ll show you how! This whole job takes less than ten minutes.

There is really only one tool you need to fix this: an auger. It’s sometimes called a plumber’s snake. Basically it’s a long, flexible metal tube with a corkscrew-type thing on the end. It attaches to a plastic handle. The idea behind an auger is that you feed the metal hose into a pipe and twist it around a whole bunch. It will screw into the hair/lint/banana peel that is clogging your pipe and it can be pulled right out. Most of the time it works flawlessly. Anybody who has indoor plumbing needs an auger. They can unplug showers, toilets and even dryer ducts inside the wall (remind me to tell you sometime about the glob of lint as big as my head that we got out of the dryer vent!) Augers are cheap and I’d recommend buying one that’s at least 15′.

Any time you’re dealing with bthroom stuff you should wear rubber gloves. The stuff that comes out of the pipes is nasty! (I wasn’t wearing gloves to feed the auger down the drain but I was absolutely wearing them when I pulled it out!)

There are several different types of stoppers at the bottom of your tub. I’m not going to go into how they’re removed because it’s usually not necessary.  Just lift the stopper high enough to feed the auger down the drain. It might need a little help getting in. I had to jiggle and force mine past the stopper.


Feed the auger down until it stops. It usually won’t be too far. Then you’ll tighten the screw that holds the auger in place.


Hold on to the auger and twirl the handle so it screws the end into the glob of yuck down in the drain.


Now you’ll pull the auger out. It may take some tugging, especially if the clog is big. But if you got the auger in, you can get it out. And when it comes out it should be pulling something incredibly disgusting with it. Ewwww!

Put the clog in an old plastic grocery bag after you dry heave a few times. Then throw it away. Far away. Turn on the faucet and see how the water is draining. Does it go down a lot better? If it still seems slow, you can repeat the process again.

Pat yourself on the back. Wasn’t that easy?

How to Make Pizza

September 19, 2012 · 4 comments

in How-To, Recipes, Yum

homemade pizza

Our family, like many others, eats pizza a lot. It gets expensive but who can resist a nice hot meal that you don’t have to leave the house for? Eventually I decided to learn to make it myself. It’s so crazy easy (and cheap!) that we haven’t ordered out for pizza in forever. This tutorial will show you how to make delicious pizza crust and sauce. It takes about an hour and fifteen minutes from start to finish (but most of that is waiting for the dough to rise). That’s probably as long as you’d wait for pizza delivery on a Friday night! You’ll be surprised how easy this pizza is and how fantastic it tastes. It’s pretty hard to screw up, so don’t be afraid!

The easiest way to make pizza is with a food processor. I use my food processor pretty much every day. I love this thing! It’s possible to make the crust in a mixer or even–how quaint!–by hand. But it takes about 90 seconds in a processor. Here’s what you’ll need to make two medium (but very filling) pizzas:

pizza stuff collage

First you’ll start the crust. It can rise while you’re getting everything else ready. Here are the ingredients:

1/2 cup hot water
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (rapid rise is also OK). Check the expiration date!!!
4  cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/4 cups room temp water
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

In a two-cup measuring cup you’ll put 1/2 cup of hot tap water. Not steaming, just really warm. Stir the yeast into it. This is called proofing and it’s going to wake up your yeast. If your yeast is good it will start to look clumpy and have several bubbles on the surface after about five minutes. If it just sits there looking pretty much the same then you’d better go get some different yeast; your pizza will be a failure if your yeast is no good!

yeast in measuring cup

While your yeast is proofing, put the flour, salt, sugar, and garlic powder into the food processor and give it a whirl.(If you don’t have a processor, do the same steps but in your mixer with the paddle attachment.) If you’re a fan of whole wheat, you can substitute half of the bread flour in this recipe for whole wheat flour.

Once your yeast has come alive (5-10 minutes) you’re going to take the measuring cup and add enough warmish water to fill up the cup to the 1 3/4 cup mark. (That means you’ll be adding 1 1/4 cups of water to what you already have.) Then you’ll add 2 Tbs. of olive oil to the same measuring cup. It won’t mix up very well; not a big deal. You’re going to pour it all into the food processor anyway.

While the processor is going, pour the measuring cup full of yeast/oil/water into the flour mixture. It should combine into a dough within about 30 seconds. Keep processing it for another minute. That’s it!

pizza dough


Liberally sprinkle some flour onto your kitchen counter and dump your dough out. Knead it for about 30 seconds, just until it’s smooth.

kneading pizza


Spray a bowl with Pam and place your dough inside. It’s going to rise in here. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out. It should rise til it’s about doubled in size, somewhere between 45-60 minutes. Putting it somewhere warm (not over 115°!) will speed things up.

dough rising

While your dough is rising, rinse out the food processor and make the sauce. You’ll need:

1 can of diced tomatoes
3/4 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp dried basil
2 cloves of garlic, minced

Drain the can of tomatoes and dump it in the food processor. Put in all the other ingredients and process till it’s smooth.

diced tomatoes

I bought my Zyliss garlic press about twenty years ago and it’s still going strong. I’ve gotten other brands of garlic presses over the years but none is as good as my trusty little Zyliss. Every time I use it (probably five times a week. I adore garlic.) I think, “I love you, little garlic press!”

Once your dough has risen, you’ll need to preheat the oven to 500°. My oven takes a good 15 minutes to get that hot.

Now is the time to shape your pizza. Forget tossing it in the air or things like that (unless you really want to. If you have sons I promise they will try it). Here is the easiest way to get a nice flat crust: get a sheet of parchment paper. (If you don’t have any, go get some. For real. You need it.) Take a blob of dough. My kids all like to do their own pizzas; they don’t need much dough, maybe about the size of a Clementine orange. If the dough sticks to your fingers, dip it in flour first. Now start in the center and use your fingertips to push it into a big circular shape.

pushing pizza dough

Then gently pull and stretch the crust until it’s pretty thin, except for a thicker section around the edge. This pizza dough bakes up really thick so it’s almost impossible to get too thin. I happen to like really thick crust.

stretching dough


If you end up with extra dough–and you might since this recipe is enough for our family with a couple of pieces to spare–you can make an extra pizza to eat later. This pizza crust is much heartier than the crust from most pizza places. I can barely eat two pieces without feeling stuffed.  You can also freeze the leftover dough in a ziploc bag. Just let it defrost next time you want pizza and you’ll be all set. You can freeze any leftover sauce too.

Once your crust is the right size, you’ll prick it all over with a fork. This keeps giant air bubbles from forming.

fork pizza


Now slather the whole thing with olive oil. If you don’t have a pastry brush just use your fingers. It’s good for your skin!

olive oil pizza


Put the pizza sauce in a bowl and spoon it onto the pizza. I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes so I go easy on it; my husband loves tomatoes so he likes it really heavy on sauce. Yet another reason why we usually make our own individual pizzas. Sometimes we’ll splash some BBQ sauce over the top or skip tomato sauce altogether and make some alfredo sauce. For those times when we feel like we need to gain a few pounds.

sauce on pizza

Topping time! This is all up to you. For sure start with some shredded mozzarella. I love pepperoni and black olives. Mister likes pepperoni and pineapple (weird). Sometimes I’ll put on some spinach and mushrooms. Use whatever you want; that’s the joy of DIY pizza! Just remember that your pizza will puff up a lot more than a commercial pizza does; your toppings will seem a lot sparser after the pizza’s cooked. So put on more stuff than you think you need. Here are York and Jasper’s pizzas:

uncooked pizza

To bake your pizza you can use a pizza stone if you have one. Or you can get some thick terra cotta tiles from Home Depot ($1.50 each!) and use those instead. They tend to break after a couple of uses but who really cares since they’re so cheap.But for either of those methods you’ll need a way to get the pizza in and out of the oven. That means you’ll need a pizza peel which is basically a giant spatula with a long handle, like what you see at pizza restaurants. Pizza is incredibly floppy and really, really difficult to get into an oven (especially one that is 500°) without dropping half the toppings onto the floor.

You can use a cookie sheet, but if you’ve got a houseful of people who’ve made their own little pizzas, you’re going to encounter some mishaps trying to get the raw pizzas onto the baking sheet. Plus the crust just doesn’t get as crispy on the bottom.

I recommend putting the pizza and the parchment straight into the oven. Yep, just set the parchment paper straight onto the oven rack. The crust is almost as good as when using a baking stone. There isn’t the ordeal of trying to remove around a floppy, unbaked pizza. The pizza doesn’t get stuck to the baking stone (a common problem) and it’s pretty headache-free. I have tried every method of pizza cooking and removal and this is the easiest!*  The paper will brown but it’s not going to catch on fire or anything.

pizza in oven

If you’re baking a small pizza check it after five minutes. Unless you’re baking a super gigantic pizza it shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to cook. Just leave it in til the crust is dark golden brown.

When it comes time to take the pizza out of the oven, slide the oven whole rack out. This is one hot oven and it’s super easy to burn yourself. Have a cookie sheet in one hand and using a spatula, push the pizza toward the cookie sheet. The browned parchment is very brittle and it’ll just rip if you try to pull on it. Use the cookie sheet as a giant spatula to put the parchment/pizza on the counter or a cooling rack for a couple of minutes.

parchment pizza


Once the cheese is cool enough not to burn the roof of your mouth, slice it up and enjoy!

pizza plate