My mother-in-law’s tuna salad

My mother-in-law’s tuna salad

RM’s mother is lionized in his family for her tuna salad recipe.  Whenever we visit her home in Topeka over these many years, the meal on the first night of our stay was always tuna salad with a side of applesauce.  The meal is flawless for guests arriving from a long road trip, like the eight hours the drive takes for us from the Fort, because she could make it ahead, prepare the quantity needed for the number of her guests (it scales up and down easily), chill it in the refrigerator and then just wait for her guests to finally arrive.

This trip from the Fort to Topeka varies for us dependent on age of the travelers, construction, distractions, speed, start time, road conditions, amount of liquid consumed and other delays on the open road.  My mother-in-law never really knew when we would show up in her driveway but she was always ready with tuna salad.

The tuna salad works also for arriving road warriors because after being cramped in a car all day nobody is very hungry especially due to the quantity of sugary and salty car snacks purchased and consumed along the way and just general inertia.  A light protein salad just works for us Kansans born with mayonnaise in our veins.  Plus it is a tradition.  There is nothing spicy in this dish either so you don’t have to worry about acid reflux in the middle of the night just look out for the second-hand smoke from Grandpa’s cigar.

So on our recent return trip from Topeka after visiting Dave’s parents, RM was reminiscing about the tuna salad and he was missing it.  His parents have downsized now and are living in an apartment.  Dave’s mother doesn’t cook anymore. It’s been a while since he tasted her tuna salad.

So, today, as RM was feeling down from allergies and the last heat wave of 2017, I whipped us up a batch of tuna salad for lunch.  I even mixed and served it in the same metal bowl his Mom always used when preparing this salad.  Somehow that bowl makes it taste better.  I think it’s because it gets super cold in the refrigerator before serving.

So, here is the recipe so that it might live on in your family’s recipe box too.   If you don’t like tuna just substitute chicken, salmon or ham.

Sally’s Tuna Salad for 4

  • 1 can of top grade tuna drained and flaked — I use Merinos
  • Small 7 ounce package of pasta — I like the La Moderna small shell pasta boiled and drained
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs diced
  • 1 rib of celery diced with the celery leaves
  • handful of basil and chives chopped – Sally used dried but I like fresh from the garden
  • 2 T brown mustard – Sally used yellow
  • 1/4 cup of Hellman’s mayonnaise or to taste
  • 2 T sweet relish
  • lots of salt and pepper – the right amount of salt makes the dish
  • a squeeze of lemon (this is my addition)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl,  mix by hand with spoon, taste for seasoning, and then chill it thoroughly  in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (the day before is better).

Serve with fresh tomatoes, apple sauce and crackers. Iced coffee compliments it well. Hope you like it as much as RM remembers.

Stylish Stud Earrings DIY

Stylish Stud Earrings DIY

Crafting is therapeutic. I love to create things.  Are we not all born with the desire to create something? Crafting creates connections with others.  Crafting can be frustrating and tries our patience, tests our resiliency,  requires problem-solving skills (these DIYs never go like they should from the pictures) and practice with lesser used tactile skills.  I have always enjoyed crafting but now that I am an empty nester, I have more time to enjoy the process.  There is no rush or time restrictions as I dabble with jewelry making, paper crafting, cake decorating and more.

Here is my design for stylish stud earrings.  You will need a package of studs.  I liked the ones from Amazon called cone spike nail heads.  You will also need the posts and safety backs in gold to match found at where else?  Amazon. 

I used chipboard (a heavy cardboard) and gorilla glue to adhere everything together. You will also need a push-pin, utility knife and needle nose pliers.

Cut out the chipboard using a utility knife to fit snugly in the back of the stud.  Use a push-pin to make a small hole to push the back post through.  Use super glue to glue the chipboard to the back.

Using the needle nose pliers, gently bend the triangles down to hold the back to the stud. Add a safety back and you are done. Below are the finished pairs. Wear them proudly like the stud you are!


An intentional family

An intentional family

Families do not become strong unintentionally.  It takes intentional planning of activities that create memories for your family to share.  For example, many of you posted pictures recently in social media of your family’s first day of school traditions. Creating these important traditions takes time and commitment by everyone in the family. Rituals and traditions provide the family glue.  These traditions are intentional, repeated, consistent and coordinated and are significant to family members.  In most families, traditions are created, changed and blended over time.

What is your family glue?  When I was a little girl, my family always had a large Sunday meal after church in our home in Kansas.  We set the table with our best dishes and all of us helped wash the dishes afterwards (no automated dishwasher on Main Street).  My mother fried chicken or prepared a roast with all the fixings. There was a lot of food. We always sat down at the dining room table all together.  Sometimes, my parents invited family friends to join us. These meals lasted more than an hour sometimes two depending on the conversation.


In our home, RM grills homemade pizza most Friday nights.  We usually have my egg rolls on Christmas eve but this ritual is now changing with a new tradition of traveling together instead of gathering at our home on Ashland like we have in the past.  At Easter, we always had an egg hunt in the yard.  At birthdays, I baked the cake but RM decorated it. We all love our Kansas Jayhawks and basketball. Many families traditionally have a door frame where they keep rough pencil lines marking off the height of their kiddos as they age.  There is probably an app for this now.

Do you have a tradition of watching certain movies together as a family?  Jaws, Christmas Vacation, and Jurassic Park are some of ours.  For several years, we had the tradition of going together to a newly released movie in the afternoon of a major holiday like the 4th of July,  Thanksgiving or Christmas.

The start of school is always a stressful time for families.  And this year in particular there is stress on families due to the assault on south Texas by Hurricane Harvey. Sticking together, with the help of family glue, may be the best path forward.  And of course, time.

Traditions can have a calming effect on both parents and children.  Research shows that they produce many other positive benefits, like improving family cohesion, fostering stability and promoting social development in children. Our hearts go out to our friends and families in south Texas and know we are thinking about you and doing our best to support you through the coming weeks and months.


“A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But in our little village of Anatevka, 
you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, 
trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy. 
You may ask, why do we stay up there if it’s so dangerous? 
We stay because Anatevka is our home… And how do we keep our balance? 
That I can tell you in one word… Tradition.”