Peace, Thanks, & the World’s Best Mashed Potato Recipe


Whew, this post is heavy and delicious. Lets start with some philosophy, then we will cook.

I never had the choice to stay home with my babies. Both of my husband and I had to work and both of us were under-employed for years (even though we had college degrees). If we wanted to eat and keep the lights on we both had to work. We didn’t even have a car payment, or a huge rent. That was really hard and I struggled a lot with it. I did my very best to be a good mother taking as much leave as I could, pumping milk for them, and ultimately becoming a teacher so I could be with them. But I am proud that I did my best.


I wish I had a picture of me nursing my babies like this. This is Tasha Tudor taken by her friend Nell Dorr. Nursing my children is my best life accomplishment and the thing I am most proud of since it was a bumpy journey!
We didn’t live in our Victorian house until our kids were older. Part of me is glad: all the stairs, open heaters and electrical sockets, holes in the floor, splinters and balconies without railings are very dangerous for little ones. We had smaller houses that were a lot easier to corral toddlers in.

The darker side of having to work outside the home is you still have your home to care for and your children when you are done with your job. You can be mad about it (like I was for a long time), continually angry that you have to do all these things! But this just leads to extreme resentment, fighting, and hatred. Or you can figure out a way to make it work.

I love teaching because I get to be a mom all day. I always wanted a large family but my husband and I went through secondary infertility. At least if I have to go to work I can do something that I truly love!
Play kitchen in our butler’s pantry. I just adore this. My favorite house when I was young had a play kitchen in the breakfast room. It made my heart so happy every time my kids played in it.
Yes, McDonald’s for dinner in front of the TV and done. Some days are just like that! Here I am in my favorite dress and “Amy Pond Dr. Who boots;” Doc Marten Triumph 1914s.


First, every time I see my decluttered and reasonably clean house, my peaceful family with full tummies of healthy food all pitching in to clean the kitchen, and my dear sweet husband doing something for us I am thankful for two things. One is the advice early in marriage that your husband will become what your tongue says. If you put him down he will be low, unwilling to help, resentful and unmotivated. If you bring him up he will love to help you and work along-side you. (But don’t expect him to read your mind!) I am so thankful to have a helper and partner in crime!

My awesome husband is three stories :0 up in the air repairing a roof leak on a tiny flat roof!

The second thing involved me finding a book called “Sink Reflections” by Marla Cilley at a La Leche Meeting and realizing I was holding wisdom! Here is what I have learned from her over the years. She now has a YouTube channel! I am so thankful for her.


Why I Am Thankful for FlyLady

1. Thankful for Love.   By finally seeing chores through the eyes of love and not as a martyr I am able to love my family instead of resenting them. My attitude towards keeping house hurts those I love when I don’t practice loving myself. My love for my family shines brighter because I show love by caring for them and our home, not just saying it. My house now makes me so happy! I no longer beat myself up over my old home’s to-do list (it is never-ending). She is a work in progress, like me!

“Oh, am I in your chair?”


Food is love, so is housework.

2. Thankful for Peace.   The peace I have now in my home is priceless. My anxiety is lower than it has ever been. Contrasting a typical morning without my flylady routines in place and one than runs by itself when my routines are in place stuns me. I had no idea it could really be THAT good. There is no more frantic clock-watching, yelling, crying, trying to find shoes, keys, bags, etc. I simply get up and go right through my routines, having laid out and prepped the night before in only 15 minutes!


3. Thankful for Creativity   Since my house now “runs itself” my mind is free. As a creative person this is a blessing. I still want to make my home wonderful and take pride, but now my focus is not on everything that is wrong, but on everything that I can do to create magic. The best part though is the calmness I experience in my mind when I go to my studio. I now give myself time to create, even if the house isn’t perfect. I am free to live my life and use my brain for good, creative building of things. Here are some pictures of my beloved studio with its curved bank of windows.



4. Thankful to go on because Life Happens.   FlyLady makes it easy to hop right back up and get back on the wagon. If I get sick, or whatever, my house is no longer hours away from being clean. I can just spend time doing a quick pupa (put up and put away) and then my weekly home blessing. I don’t beat myself up for messes, or for stumbling.

5. Thankful for no Clutter.   Flylady says, “You can’t organize clutter!” Clutter has stolen peace and time from me and my family many times, but I no longer allow it. I am definitely not a minimalist, but I have chosen to live purposefully. I also stopped letting clutter come in (which was probably my biggest problem). Now, when I look around I feel happy. I don’t have the anxiety that comes with clutter. I kicked it out the door!

Goodbye clutter! Hello beauty!




This is after we got everything straightened out in our house. When we moved in to our Victorian the kitchen was almost non-functioning, there was a major plumbing leak in the ceiling, it took 8 loads to do our laundry in the tiny washer-dryer and the downstairs had essentially no heat. There is a gas heater in the kitchen though. I was so relieved when everything got finally sorted out.
We pretty much lived in the kitchen the first couple of winters. The heat downstairs had a lot of problems. There is an open flame heater here so we were there too. When we finally got everything smoothed out I went on major decluttering and organizing missions thanks to guidance from FlyLady.


6. Thankful for my Family.   My kids are loving themselves and understanding that it does take everyone in the family to help “make the ship go!” We all chuck in and get things done instead of me feeling sorry for myself and being Cinderella. When they are responsible for more, they appreciate you more.

I painted this in celebration of our kitchen being finally functioning with my dream gas stove. My kids love chocolate chip cookies and we have made many batches over the years.
My illustration from my book “The Secret of Sterling House.” I love it when my kids (pictured on the left) have friends over to play.

Now let’s cook! I learned to make these mashed potatoes years ago and they are the most-asked for food every year by my family for our Thanksgiving dinner!


Big Martha’s Mashed Potatoes

3/4 bag of yukon gold potatoes, cleaned and cubed
8 oz cream cheese
1 stick butter
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes in a big pot until cooked. Drain. While still hot transfer to a large bowl. Cut up the butter and cream cheese and let soften in hot potatoes.

With a hand mixer mix ingredients, then add the milk and cream, salt and pepper. Serve warm. Makes a lot. Lol

We typically use lots of spoons while taste testing for the salt part. Lol Also one year Josh mixed them so long the starches in the potatoes made it form into a gluey ball! You dont need to mix and mix. 🙂 we also leave the skins on the potatoes but its a personal preference.

You can make these a lot healthier and less rich by subbing in neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese, cutting the butter down to 1/2 a stick, and omitting the whipping cream. They are still delicious! You can also add garlic powder to taste if you want!

Our lovey dining room with the famous mashed potatoes in a bowl on the table. Let’s feast!

Happy Thanksgiving!
With love and mashed potatoes to you from Kansas Street,


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