Monday, October 10, 2011

Making An Effort Monday: Making Up for My Absence with ALL KINDS OF THINGS

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!  It's not a huge effort, but it's an effort nonetheless!

I know, I know. I had a rough past two weeks, what with starting back at the college after a month-long break (!) and taking on a new class. When I choose which classes to teach every quarter, I always think, Oh, wouldn't that be delightful to teach a class I have never taught before? Yeah, if by "delightful" you mean OVERWHELMING AMOUNTS OF WORK. Add that to the fact that I decided I simply MUST make a long list of changes to the class I teach all the time (Comp II), because only a few changes would not do. I was INSPIRED this quarter, dammit, and I was going to shake things up! 

PLUS, I had a whole new schedule, which was harder for me to get used to than Josephine, shockingly. Since I teach Monday nights now, I would get home, eat, stare at Josephine in the video monitor (JEREMY! Did she move? Like, did she make a "MY MOTHER ABANDONED ME!" movement?), and all of a sudden it would be midnight, and I was like, EHH, I'll do a Making An Effort Monday next week. Pinky Swear.

SO, to make up for it, I did all kinds of crazy stuff this week. First of all, I made a cell phone case because my Droid is Josephine's absolute favorite toy. Not only is it annoying to have her send texts that read "zdfngieo5tewgtflhkgna," but it is pretty embarrassing when she moves gadgets to places where I actually wanted them but had no idea how to do it myself. That and the scratches and whatnot, but mostly for the embarrassment, if I'm being honest.

I just took two minky scraps from her dinosaur and two faux leather scraps from the soles of shoes I made for Josephine (more to come on that later) and made myself a little rectangle. BOOM. Done.
We also had to give up the ghost on our old barricade system around our stairs (SADS). It was mostly sad because the current system was FREE, due to the kindness of my friend Heather, who lent us her play yard, and we just snapped off a few pieces and made an "L" shape around our stupid stairs that do not have a place to put a gate. When we finally realized our only option was to put a gate a few steps up, I added a GENIUS safety system in case she falls down the stairs.
Totally safe, right? To accomplish this level of safety, I cut up an old fitted sheet that had a hole in it, sewed the pieces together, and shoved it full of poly-fill. Bravo, self.

Before you call CPS, please know that she is a regular stairs champion these days, especially since my mother taught her how to push herself down the stairs on her stomach, which quickly escalated to her sliding down on her butt while she laughed hysterically. Also, I was pretty convinced that once she climbed up there and realized she couldn't get past this gate (unlike our old "system"), she would get bored and stay off and the stairs, and I was SO RIGHT. She went up a few times the first day, like once the second, and she hasn't been up since. WINNING.
This project also taught me that the only reason MoJo had shunned all previous cat beds we offered him was because they were not large enough for his highness. Oh well, a cheap project that serves TWO purposes. Bonus.

I also had plans to try a new recipe from The Pioneer Woman this week, but as I was reviewing the recipe at 5 PM, I realized I was missing a crucial ingredient. It would have taken half an hour to go get the missing ingredient and get back home, which would have put dinner a half an hour late, and Josephine is rather fond of her evening routine. That is to say, if her dinner is late, she screams like a banshee. 

Since I already had boneless skinless chicken breasts defrosted, I improvised this little ditty, which garnered rave reviews from Jeremy (and my stomach). I like to call this number "There's a Lasagna in My Chicken!" Here's the recipe:

There's a Lasagna in My Chicken!

Boneless skinless chicken breasts, defrosted 
Low-fat cottage cheese 
Low-fat shredded mozzarella 
Frozen spinach, cooked and squeezed 
Fresh basil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
2. Lay your chicken breasts out, cover with saran wrap, and pound with the flat side of a meat tenderizer until desired thinness (I make mine as thin as possible).
3. Spoon a thin layer of marinara over the chicken, followed by a thin layer of cottage cheese (maybe a little less than 2 Tablespoons?), a layer of spinach (as much or as little as you want, depending on your preferences and how packed the chicken already is; if there is too much inside, it will be impossible to roll up), and a sprinkling of mozzarella.
4. Roll those suckers up as tight as possible, place in a baking dish ("seam" down), and top with a tiny dollop of marinara and a sprinkle of mozzarella (some people apparently tie things like this up with string to keep them together, but I am too lazy and easily annoyed to do so). I added a sprinkling of fresh basil I had given a rough chop, but that's optional, and dried basil would do the trick as well.
5. Bake for 20 minutes (give or take, depending on how thick or thin your chicken is -- just stick a knife in to make sure there is no pink and the juices run clear), and serve!
I would have given you a close-up shot, but I dropped my chicken on top of Jeremy's while trying to get them on plates, and they got all not-pretty. 

I opted for a side of whole grain pasta and a side salad, while Jeremy opted for a large piece of chicken and a large serving of pasta. I can only do so much, people.

And finally ... the pièce de résistance ... I made Josephine the dress I have had in my head for more months than I care to admit.

It has pleats, and sleeves (puffy sleeves at that!), and buttons! I have never done ANY of that before, and I did it ALL!

I call it the Pleats and Puffs dress. I took pictures of every step, so I could make a tutorial for this dress, but I'm not gonna lie -- that takes a L-O-N-G time, so I figured first I would see if anyone was interested. Leave a comment if you would want a tutorial on how I made this dress, and I will get crackin'.

That's it, folks. Brag about your efforts in the comments! Compliment me on my mighty feats of awesomeness! Stifle the urge to tell me my "gate-halfway-up-the-stairs-pillow-at-the-bottom" system is unsafe!

Happy Monday!


  1. Two things.
    Thing 1.) I would love to get a nonsensical text from Josephine.
    Thing 2.) I'm with you and tend to pound the living daylights out of my chicken breasts until they are appropriately thin. But this weekend, I was at the grocery store and found chicken breasts that were already sliced thinner than the regular kind. It was life changing moment for me. They cooked faster and a lot less went to waste (I can almost never eat a whole giant chicken breast).

  2. The dress is SO SO SO CUTE! Way to go!

  3. We have similarly difficult-to-gate stairs, and as soon as my youngest starts crawling (which is likely any day now) I am sure they are going to be the bane of my existence.

    Made my way here via Temerity Jane, enjoyed what I read, and noticed you're local. I'll definitely be back to read more :)

  4. Yesterday, using Jeremy's phone, she called "*" and "aaaaa." Are either of those you?
    And regarding thing 2 ... we don't have trouble eating a whole chicken breast over in these parts ... sad but true!

  5. Thanks, M! Jeremy wants her to be a dress girl (like someone I know!) :)

  6. Yes ... stairs. Dear Lord, STAIRS!!!

    Glad you came over here via TJ. And I love local readers! :)


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