I am still waiting for you, autumnal weather

I’ve been yearning for fall weather — just like I always do this time of year — so over the weekend I tried to conjure up some cooler weather by making Mrs. Happy Homemaker’s Beef Stew for dinner. It purports to be the Best Beef Stew Ever, and it is pretty terrific. It has a nice flavor and the beef was really tender, but I felt like the potatoes were working overtime to make up the bulk of the dish. Next time I’ll add a few more carrots and maybe also some red wine in place of some of the water.

I started the stew in the slow cooker around 10:30am and didn’t have to touch it again until dinnertime. I need to remember to put the slow cooker to use more frequently on the weekends. It helped us have a super-relaxed Sunday.

Monday: Chicken and dumplings
Yesterday’s beef stew was tasty, but it didn’t quite convince fall to make an appearance. Maybe Rachael Ray’s chicken and dumplings will do the trick.

Tuesday: Breakfast for dinner
Breakfast for dinner is generally a very basic affair. This week, though, I’m going to make a hashbrown casserole a la Cracker Barrel.

Wednesday: Spaghetti
I’m going to let you in on a secret: I already don’t want spaghetti for dinner on Wednesday. But I had pasta and sauce in the pantry, so we’re going to use it. By golly.

Thursday: Poppyseed chicken casserole
I used to make a lot of recipes that called for cream-of-something soups. I’ve mostly stopped making them, but there will never be a day when Poppyseed Chicken isn’t in my recipe box.

Friday: Pizza

What’s your favorite slow cooker recipe?

Want more menus? Check out Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie.com.

This week in homeschooling: Malaria, Marie Curie and math tests

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I’ve been battling both a headstrong 7.75-year-old as well as a vague but pervading sense of ennui or malaise or some-other-French-term-for-the-blahs this week. Maybe it’s because we’ve spent so much time talking about Napoleon.

Anyway, here’s a bit of what les enfants did this week in school.

Language Arts


We finally finished “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” this week, and we celebrated by watching the movie. The kids (especially Poppy) were not pleased that there were a lot of differences between the book and the movie. They petitioned me to start “Order of the Phoenix” immediately, but I’m sticking to the One Potter Every Year timeline. We’ll see you next year, Hogwarts!

(And when I say “we,” I obviously mean “I.” Because Poppy got all seven books for her birthday. I put the ones we haven’t read yet away, but she’s already re-read “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”)

Pete is reading a biography of Marie Curie for his assigned reading. I’m not sure what our next read-aloud will be, but I’m open to suggestions. As long as your suggestion isn’t “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”


Pete started WriteShop B this year. He’s a very reluctant writer. It isn’t that he doesn’t want to create a story, it’s that he doesn’t want to physically take pencil to paper. That hasn’t been a huge problem with WriteShop, though, because the book he’s on has him dictating a lot of the work to me. Today he did his first writing assignment — a letter to his Papa — and we took turns writing the sentences.

After about a year of complaining about doing her writing, Poppy is finally just sitting down with her notebook and her writing book and getting the work done.


Both kids had math tests today. Poppy got an 87 on hers. After a full hour of telling me why he DID NOT and COULD NOT do his test, Pete finally finished it and got an 86. The reluctance wasn’t because he doesn’t know how to do the work or even because it’s difficult for him. It was just because he’d rather be doing something else, so he’s spent a lot of time whining and a little time actually looking at the paper.


malariamustardWe finished talking about Napoleon and the Louisiana Purchase this week. Malaria in St. Domingue (now Haiti) played a role in making Napoleon decide he’d had enough of trying to extend his empire into North America, so our project today was supposed to be trying out some old-timey malaria remedies, like slathering mustard on our persons. Poppy and Pete weren’t keen to do that, though, so they subjected a PlayMobil guy to an ice bath, wrapped him in a blanket and covered him with “hot” bricks to make him sweat his fever away and applied a mustard poultice to his little plastic chest. I am pleased to report that he recovered.


Poppy has been saying for the past several years that she wants to be a baker when she grows up. So I picked 10 recipes of varying difficulty from a baking cookbook for kids and told her to work her way through them. This morning she made Peanut Butter Kiss cookies all by herself, and they are delicious. Now I just need to teach her about the Cleaning Up After Yourself portion of the craft.

How was your week?

Wanna read more about homeschooling? Check out the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers weekly linky thing!

7 classic ’90s films to watch on Family Movie Night

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lilpopWaaaaay back in May, I told you that we were going to be having Family Movie Nights at ButterscotchSundae headquarters. I shared with you a list of family-friendly sports movies, and I was so excited about our plan! I was so far down the path, I’d started weighing the pros and cons of buying my own popcorn popper.

And then, alas, it was summer.

We skipped Family Movie Night over and over and over again, and on the weeks that weren’t skipped we watched things like “Hotel Transylvania” and “The Descendants.” But now it’s finally my turn to choose again! So pop some corn and tear open your SnoCaps as I present to you: A selection of my favorite family films from that most glorious age of cinema, 1990s.

Home Alone (1990)

Home AloneIs “Home Alone” a great movie about child abandonment and endangerment, or is it the greatest movie about child abandonment and endangerment? That’s hard to say, but it certainly has to be the slapstickiest. Twelve-year-old me found this one to be a laugh-a-minute riot.

“Home Alone” is available as a digital rental or purchase from Amazon.

Hook (1991)

hook“Hook” is a weird twist on “Peter Pan,” in which Peter grows up to be a total square, Jimmy Buffett is a pirate, Violet Crawley is Wendy and someone has named their child Rufio and he responds by going all “Beyond Thunderdome” meets a troll doll.

I suggest this one with a caveat: My kids love “Peter Pan,” and they did not like “Hook” at all. Your kids are probably more reasonable.

“Hook” is available on Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video.

My Girl (1991)

mygirlMacauley Culkin was the boy king of the early ’90s, wasn’t he? I remember this movie as a delightful romp that suddenly shocked the tears right out of my ducts. I was 13, though, so I probably stuck the popcorn bucket over my head to hide my tears.

“My Girl” is available as a digital rental or purchase from Amazon.

Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

mrsdoubtfireAs much as I loved “Mrs. Doubtfire” when I was a kid, I was a little hesitant to include it in my list. It’s kind of a creepy story, and it would probably be a viral sensation if it happened in real life. Regardless, it’s Robin Williams and he’s equal parts manic and charming, so it made the list despite being pretty darn weird.

“Mrs. Doubtfire” is available as a digital rental or purchase from Amazon.

Free Willy (1993)

freewillyI’m a sucker for a sentimental tale of human-animal friendship, so of course “Free Willy” is on the list. My brother was a jaded, world-weary 10-year-old the first time we saw it, and I remember hearing him gasp at that final leap to freedom.

I can only hope my children will be equally as awed.

Free Willy” is available as a digital rental or purchase from Amazon.

Fly Away Home (1997)

flyawaySpeaking of animal-kid buddy movies…

I’m generally not a fan of birds, but “Fly Away Home” stars the always-adorable Little Anna Paquin, a scruffily bearded Jeff Daniels and Dana Delaney of “Animaniacs” theme song fame. The plot — about healing and family — is sweet, too boot. I’m not sure Poppy and Pete will be into it, but I plan to give it a shot.

Fly Away Home” is available for free streaming via Prime and as a digital rental or purchase and Amazon.

Matilda (1996)

matildaThis adaptation stays true to Roald Dahl’s dark and sometimes-scary humor. Be warned that, as with pretty much every Dahl story I’ve read, a lot of the adults in this story are truly despicable. In the end, though, kindness and gentle hearts win the day and the rotten folks get their comeuppance.

And also, parts of it are uproariously funny.

Matilda” is available as a digital purchase as Amazon.

The most important issue, though, is what are the pros and cons of owning a popcorn machine?

Fresh, delicious popcorn all the time.

Rockford thinks I’m not serious about this.

So. What’s your favorite ’90s movie? And why should Rockford definitely get me a popcorn maker for my birthday?