Monday, May 30, 2011

Making An Effort Monday

In an effort to make more of the things I love -- good food, pretty things, and organized spaces -- I bring you Making An Effort Monday!

Oh lordy.  Most of my efforts this past week have involved packing for a four-day trip to Mackinac Island.  As if packing for myself and my little monkey weren't enough, we were headed to a convention at the fancy-schmancy Grand Hotel, and we needed about four outfit changes a day, not to mention figuring out the logistics of bringing along enough stuff to keep her quiet and entertained during all the quiet moments and enough fresh food to keep her happy and full.  Le Sigh.

It was TOTALLY worth it, because we had a ball, and I will write all about it very soon, but in the meantime, here is what I created last week.  No new recipes, but bows and clips galore (I needed to accessorize my little one!).

I had to make a new white bow, because hers met the fate of hands covered in avocado.  Man, all those healthy fatty acids sure stain!
Then she needed something to zazz up a little striped outfit, so I whipped this up quickly:
Huh.  Maybe I shouldn't have taken a picture of white on white.  Whatever.  Here is how it looks in her hair:
I also made matching flowers for our matching outfits.  Shut up.  It's not lame when moms dress their kids like themselves.  Evidence:  *I* did it, meaning it is awesome.
I also made some fabric and ribbon rosettes.  I made this one for my dress for the banquet:
I made two for my niece and then forgot to take pictures of them OF COURSE.  You can kind of see them in this picture.  One has pearls in the center and one has a jewel in the center:
And I made an adorable white one for Josephine to wear to the banquet, but I cannot find it anywhere since I am not unpacked yet.  Here is a picture of her wearing it, but of course her hair is all messy.  But of course.

And that is that, folks.  Thanks for playing along.  Happy Monday and Happy Memorial Day!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Making An Effort Monday

In an effort to make more of the things I love -- good food, pretty things, and organized spaces -- I bring you Making An Effort Monday!

So, this week?  This week, my friends, was strikes and gutters.  It started out in a highly tragic manner when I tried this recipe that I got from Martha Stewart's website many moons ago:

Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans

1 cup dried pinto beans
1 jar (11 oz.) salsa (1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed) chopped
optional:  sour cream and fresh cilantro for serving

1.  In slow cooker, stir together beans, salsa, chiles, flour, and 1 cup water.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and arrange on top of bean mixture.  Scatter onion and bell pepper on top of chicken.
2.  Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours.
3.  Remove chicken, shred into large pieces, and return to stew.

Through NO FAULT OF MY OWN (maybe) this was horrible, horrible, terrible, waste of time, money, and energy.  Like, I ended up running to Wendy's at 8 PM to buy me and the hubs some spicy chicken sandwiches.  That bad.  But let's move on, because lord knows *I* have (*sobs*).

So, to restore my honor, I tried another new recipe tonight, once again from my Cooking with FRIENDS cookbook.

Spicy Moroccan Lentil Soup

1 1/4 cups lentils
1 1/2 cups canned whole tomatoes, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
4 medium scallions white and light green parts sliced thin (I skipped these because YUCK.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley (alas, I had to use dried)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (same thing here)
1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon paprika
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
5 cups cold water
Parley or cilantro leave for garnish

1.  Rinse and sort lentils then place them in a large soup pot.  Add all remaining ingredients (except garnish).  

That's a lot of spices

2.  Turn to medium heat and bring to boil.  Lower heat and simmer gently until the soup thickens and the flavors blend, or about one hour.
3.  Remove one cup of soup from pot and puree in a food processor or blender.  Return to pot.  Adjust seasonings if necessary.

Success!  Honor restored!  If people still said "Boo-yah," I'd be saying boo-yah right about now.

Happy Monday!

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 21st: Save the Date!

Oh yeah, by the way, did you hear judgement day is happening this Saturday? True story. And the guy who used a very sophisticated method to discover this MUST be right, because he has had a lot of practice, what with his published book 1994? about how the world would end in 1994 being such a big success (I couldn't make this stuff up, people).

So, there will be earthquakes all over the world, and the "unsaved" will be tortured until October 21st when the universe officially ends. Bummer.

The worst part is, there were SOOOO many things left on my life list, and so little time to do it all. Never fear, dear readers! I did a marathon "life list" de-cluttering session (I flat-out REFUSE to call it a bucket list. And don't you DARE say "Get busy livin' or get busy dyin' when you read this! I implore you!). 

Now, I couldn't manage everything, seeing as I only started three days ago, but I accomplished a considerable amount. Here is the evidence:

Become fluent in Italian. I had two years of Italian classes when I was at the University of Michigan, so I had the basics, but it has been a long time since I flexed the old muscles. Good thing I am AWESOME and my brain is like a sponge. DONE. Oh, and I highly recommend THIS book. Tee hee.

Write my memoirs. That was INTENSE, y'all. I'm really happy with the cover art, though.

Oh, I threw in a novel while I was at it. My real goal was to write a best-selling novel, but I don't really have much time to measure its success. So far, it's sold 200,000 copies. Is that good for two days?

Climb Mount Everest. Here I am coming back down, pumping my fists in victory. God, I didn't even break a sweat. I feel bad about leaving my sherpa behind, but he was slowing me down, and I only had a few days to get shit done!

Run with the bulls.  I asked Jeremy to take a wide shot so you could see the bulls, too, but he said I was way too pretty to not take a close-up.  Oh, that guy.

Donate money to have a Children's Hospital named after me. Now, this was really important to me. Thankfully, when I asked Jeremy if we had a few mill lying around, he said, "No sweat, my pet. That's totally in our monthly budget." BOOM. Hospital. The outside is a little plain, as you can see, but man, you should see the inside!

I mean, it will all get burned up tomorrow, but the satisfaction will be mine for all of eternity.  

I can just see it now, me and the big guy, sitting around and chit-chatting about our pasts. I'll say to him, "It's a fine place you've got here," and he'll say, "So glad you like it, Veronica. Say, I heard around the water cooler that there was a Veronica Marcetti Dimick Children's Hospital? Bravo!"

"Grazie. That means 'thank you' in Italian. Did you now I was fluent? And I hate to be a stickler, but since I am a woman, it would be 'Brava,' but thanks for the sentiment. Your heart was in the right place."

"Wow, I can see why you ended up here, and not you-know-where. How are you enjoying yourself?" he will say.

"Oh, man, I LOVE it here. You know, I have always been a cold person, so this place is the bee's-freakin'-KNEES, dude! I hate harps, anyway!" I'll laugh.

"Don't we all?  Don't we all?" Satan will laugh.

Then he'll put his arm around me and we'll saunter off into the sunset.

Aaaaaaannnnnnnnddddddd SCENE.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Can't Think of a Title Either. Just Roll with It.

Do you want to know how super-advanced I am?  I have been blogging IN MY HEAD.  Awesome, right?  In my about-to-fall asleep moments, I compose a hilarious blog post, and my tired brain says, No worries, Ver, you will TOTALLY remember every detail of this when you wake up.  Sleeeep, mama, SSSLLLEEEEEEEEEEEPPPP.  Spoiler alert:  I do NOT.  Then I curse myself.  Then I check Blogger to see if maybe the words magically transferred to the computer through the power of my superior brain and published themselves.  Turns out, no.

Without getting into too many details (for two reasons: 1. I'm sure many of you don't care a lick about the topic, and 2. this is a topic many people tend to be Judgey McJudgertons about, and I don't have the energy to defend my parenting choices), there have been some major sleep and schedule changes for the wee one, and it has changed my own schedule like whoa, and I am having trouble functioning.  Also, I got another book to review, and it is SIX HUNDRED PAGES.  Good thing I am loving it, but I will be reading and then look up and it's one AM and I'm like, Ver, you moron!!  SLEEP.  Then I write a blog post in my head as I fall asleep.  Circle of life.

ANYway, I opened my drafts this morning and saw that for some reason, I had been saving a bunch of youtube videos I love, and I was going to slap them all together in a post and be like Look!  Videos!  Watch them!  Aren't you happy now?  YOU'RE WELCOME.  Then I realized that was slightly lame.

You know what is NOT lame?  Writing about how you don't write and then sharing videos of your VERY OWN BABY.  That is the opposite of lame.  So, check it:

(It turns out you can't rotate videos on youtube.  Lesson learned)

Man, that is one cute baby.

Thanks for humoring me, all!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Making An Effort Monday

In an effort to make more of the things I love -- good food, pretty things, and organized spaces -- I bring you Making An Effort Monday!

After the rave reviews from Jeremy on my last bacon-wrapped chicken creation, I decided to 'speriment again with the lovely combo, and this is what I landed on.  I was less-than-creative with the name, however.  Oh well.


Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (defrosted)
Turkey bacon (three slices per breast)
Feta cheese
Greek dressing

1.  Flatten your defrosted chicken breasts.  I use the flat side of the meat tenderizer so they don't turn to pulp.  If you have especially splattery chicken, lay a piece of saran wrap over the chicken then bang away.
2.  Rub a very small amount of Greek dressing on the chicken (like, the size of a penny).  I love Kraft Extra Virgin Olive Oil Greek Vinaigrette (yum), but I'm sure any Greek dressing will do.

3.  Spread some feta on the chicken.

4.  Wrap the chicken into a tight little tube, then lay three pieces of bacon on top and wrap the ends under on both sides.  Viola!

5.  Toss in a greased pan.  I cooked them about 40 minutes on 450, but my oven is strange.  Whatever you do for chicken should work, then just make sure the juices are running clear when you cut into it.  
6.  Switch oven to broil for a few minutes to crisp up the bacon.  Again, depending on how crispy you want your bacon, do as you please.  I did about 3 minutes.

 I know, not very creative in the side dish department.  So sue me.

YUM!  Jeremy called it excellent.  I thought it was pretty dang good myself.

There you have it folks!  Brag about your own efforts in the comments, and if you try the recipe, let me know!  Happy Monday!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Making An Effort Monday

In an effort to make more of the things I love -- good food, pretty things, and organized spaces -- I bring you Making An Effort Monday!

I've never made Chicken and Dumplings before, and GET THIS: I've never even EATEN it before.  I know, weird, right?  Many, many moons ago, my mom gave me a "Quick Cooking" magazine of some sort, and I pulled out a few recipes, one being Quick Chicken and Dumplings, but I was never brave enough to try it.  The other day I was making a grocery list and told Jeremy to go through my recipes binders to see if there were any new recipes he wanted me to try, and he landed on this.  I complied because I am an AWESOME person.


So, the recipe.  I have no idea how this compares to other Chicken and Dumpling recipes, but here is what I did.

Quick Chicken and Dumplings

4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup sliced celery (I skipped this, because NO CELERY.  NO.  GROSS.  NEVER.)
1/2 cup sliced carrots (I probably use more than this.  I love carrots.)
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon dried parsley 
3 cups cubed cooked chicken breast

For the dumplings:
2 cups Bisquick
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
dash ground nutmeg
2/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

1.  in a 5-quart dutch oven or kettle, combine broth, celery, carrots, bay leaf, and parsley.  Bring to boil.
2.  For dumplings, combine Bisquick, thyme, and nutmeg.  Stir in milk and parsley until just moistened.  Drop by tablespoons onto boiling broth.
3.  Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes; cover and cook 10 minutes longer.  With a slotted spoon, remove dumplings to a serving dish; keep warm.
4.  Bring broth to boil.  Reduce heat; add chicken and heat through.  Remove bay leaf.  Spoon over dumplings.


Is this even what Chicken and Dumplings is supposed to look like?  I desperately wanted to do a Google Image search for pictures to see if this was right.  But I didn't.  I'm plucky like that.  But DON'T tell me if this is NOT what it was supposed to look like, okay? I may be plucky, but I'm still sensitive.

Anyway, Jeremy said it was good, and his mom used to make it all the time, so he knows the basic concept of the dish.  But of course, like I've mentioned before, Jeremy is not the best food critic because he wants to keep the food coming and is likely afraid of repurcussions if he gave something a bad review.  At any rate, I liked it as well.  I liked it enough to put it in the regular rotation!  Bravo, Chicken and Dumplings!

Brag about your own efforts in the comments section.  I THRIVE on comments.  Seriously.  So leave some.  On every post.  Do it.  DO IT.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Sad and Scary Truth

When I got pregnant, I had no qualms at all about "ruining my body," like some people might. I was severely unhappy with my body before I got pregnant, and though I knew it technically could get worse, it was hard to imagine that actually happening.  

What I never imagined, however, was the state my body would be in 8 months after giving birth. I expected stretch marks (check!) and stretched-out skin on my stomach (check!), but this? This is bad.  

I lost all the baby weight (very quickly, actually), which is weird, because I've spent the last eight years trying unsuccessfully to lose weight. In fact, according to the scale, I've lost all the baby weight PLUS another 20 pounds, but I don't think you can count it as losing the baby weight if NONE came out of my stomach. Yeah. My body never got the memo that I am NO LONGER PREGNANT and therefore the extra stomach space is no longer necessary.

I have lost weight in places I had resigned myself to NEVER losing weight in, like my legs  And my love handles? POOF! Gone! But my stomach? Guh. I see a lot of people glancing down and getting that look on their face like, should I congratulate her on being pregnant again? Or is she just fat? before they quickly look away and look embarrassed and nervous.  

And since I have lost weight in my legs, it makes my round, protruding stomach even more obvious. You know that awesome movie So I Married an Axe Murderer where the dad tells the kid his head is so big it's like an orange on a toothpick? Well, my gut is like an orange with two toothpicks for legs.  

Yeah, those are my feet at the bottom, and YES, they are different sizes. My pregnancy was rough, alright? BACK OFF!

This is not an exaggeration.  

I still look roughly three months pregnant, which for some people would be no big deal. But do you REMEMBER the horror that was me pregnant? I have not. At 12 weeks, when some women don't even know they are pregnant, and most people I know are still keeping the pregnancy a secret, I looked like THIS:


The worst part might be that I have tried to remedy the situation, to no avail. This is where it gets scary, people. I got sick of sit-ups doing nothing, so one night I did THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY sit-ups. Yeah, that's one hundred more than two hundred, and then another fifty. Get this: I felt nothing. No burn. No pain. Not even the next day! What this obviously means is that all my muscles melted away into fat, and doing those sit-ups wasn't flexing my muscles, it was just squeezing fat up against other fat. Based on my extensive knowledge of exercise physiology, I am going to go ahead and say this is NOT an effective exercise.

So, three things:
1.  Body: I hate you.
2.  Universe: Why?
3.  Readers: Does anyone know how to regrow muscle?  Preferably for free, with no surgery, and little-to-no hard work. Thanks. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Book Review: Girl in Translation

Amazing, inspiring, moving, intense, breathtaking -- there are not enough adjectives for this book. It might sound like I am exaggerating, but Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok is one of the best books I have read in years.

Want to read more?  Click HERE.  Tee-hee.  I am such a tease.  Head on over to BlogHer to read my review and many others (well, you can read the others, I GUESS, but do NOT tell me if you like someone else's better.  Got it?  Good.  Love you.)

Link to my review:

Link to all reviews for Girl in Translation:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Last Night

I was actually starting a Making An Effort Monday post when I turned on the TV and saw the news.  I furiously poked Jeremy to wake him up, and just silently pointed at the headline on the screen: BREAKING NEWS: OSAMA BIN LADEN HAS BEEN KILLED.  Neither one of us said a word for about fifteen minutes.

I know this will be one of those flashbulb memories.  Like 9/11.  Like Columbine.  Like the official declaration of war on Iraq.  I will always remember this moment.

I know the world is not fixed now. I know I will still have to take off my shoes at the airport and have my shampoo confiscated.  While it feels superbly unnatural to feel glad that someone is dead, I do.  I cried when President Obama made the official announcement.  Last night was completely surreal, and I have quite the surreal-moment hangover.

It feels wrong to talk about recipes, so I won't today.  
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