Easy Listening

I’m in the midst of packing for tomorrow’s redeye back to Massachusetts, but I just had to write a quick post to share a couple links.  I’ve been trying to spend more time outside lately, which mostly consists of late-afternoon walks (occasionally runs) with Maddy in the stroller.  Having caught up on all my favorite podcasts, I’ve been delving into past episodes of This American Life, and a couple stories in particular have stood out.  They were both just innocently delightful, which is a nice change of pace.  I found myself retelling them to Johnny, but inadequately, because a hallmark of this show is that it’s usually unbelievable until you hear it for yourself.  Eventually I just made him listen for himself, and he liked them as much as I had.

I’m linking directly to the segments I loved, but in each case, the entire episode was worth listening to (though I think there’s a language warning on one segment, so don’t let the kids listen unsupervised).  Each segment is about 19 minutes long.

First, the tale of a young married couple of comedians who get the chance for their big break on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Listening to the two of them retell the story may be better than the story itself.

Next, a story about twelve kids and their father who went to great lengths to entertain them (and teach them life skills in the process!).

Enjoy – I guarantee you’ll be smiling at the end!


Picture Frame Headboard “Tutorial”


A couple people asked about the headboard that made a cameo in my curtains post, so I thought I’d share a few more pictures and some brief instructions.  We weren’t looking for anything fancy, but in an all-white bedroom, a splash of color was necessary.  It was created at the end of a very long week of moving, so there are no process shots.  Luckily, it has a pretty simple construction, and I’ve deigned to supplement with a diagram (art degree FTW).

First, here’s the overall effect:


There are two frames (each 20″ x 30″), and each needs one sheet of foam core board of the same size, and enough fabric and foam to cover the opening, with enough extra to wrap around.  You’ll also need a roll of duct tape, and if your frame doesn’t have fasteners to hold everything in, you’ll need small nails.


Next, here’s a man with very little patience for picture-taking in the bedroom.


Ahem.  Moving along… Here’s a diagram showing the construction, in a nutshell.  The foam and fabric gets wrapped around the foam core, and taped to the back.

new doc_1

You can see that there’s a little cushion here – just enough to look a little more polished and be comfortable enough to lean my head against.IMG_1131

Here’s a view of the back.  You can see that the whole thing is just duct-taped together and held in with nails.IMG_2165

The adhesive trifecta: duct tape, nails, and 3M Command strips.

Behold, the finished product!  We haven’t had any trouble with it budging off the wall (in fact, it was pretty difficult to take down for photos just now).  I already had the frames, which eliminated the biggest expense (though I think you could get very similar ones for 50% off at Hobby Lobby).  It only took a yard of fabric and foam from Joann’s, which was a pretty insignificant expense.  And, if we ever change our bedroom decor, swapping out the panels will be a simple process.IMG_2162

Five Recipes You Can’t Live Without

Linking up with Five Favorites and 7 in 7.

Before I was married, I often used to cook regular-sized batches of things and just eat the same dinner every night for a week.  That doesn’t exactly fly these days; not only does Johnny eat significantly more than I do, but he also isn’t quite on board with a meal plan that consists of one item.  Still, with working full-time, my priority is to have dinner done as quickly as possible, with as little effort as possible.  This also means that I usually forget to take photos, but that said, here are five recipes that fit the bill these days, starting with dessert (naturally).


Peanut Butter Mug Cake

I married a man who thrives on having dessert every night.  The advantage of this is that it’ll be really easy to figure out what to give up for Lent this year.  Until then, though, there are occasional nights when he wants something and the cookie jar is empty.  This mug cake recipe is a dream come true on those days, because it can be made with ingredients I always have on hand, in less than 10 minutes, and makes just enough for two people.

I was skeptical of the “mug cake” concept, partly because of the stigma of the microwave.  But this really works, even up to my standards.  I usually use natural peanut butter, a little less sugar than the recipe calls for, and sometimes I add chocolate chips.  A batch and a half is more than enough to split between two mugs or mason jars.


Baci di Ricotta


I first came across this recipe when I read Feast over the summer.  Little doughnuts that use up the end of a container of ricotta that’s always left after you make lasagna?  Sign me up.  I normally have a big aversion to deep-frying anything, but these are small enough not to need much oil.  It’s a quick recipe, which is an advantage since they’re best served very fresh.  I made them for Valentine’s Day, and it took me under 20 minutes start to finish.


Man-Pleasing Chicken

I didn’t come up with the name for this one, but it was certainly true in our house.  Six ingredients total, and two of them are salt and pepper.  We almost always have chicken thighs in the freezer, thanks to Costco, and if I remember to take them out of the freezer before I leave, this recipe is even quicker.  No marinading is necessary, but the flavor is outstanding.


Easy Parmesan Chicken


Another short ingredient list, another hit.  Chicken, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, and bread crumbs.  The mayonnaise is unexpected but really makes the meat moist.  I made this with chicken thighs (someone prefers them to breasts), and it turned out very well.  The only recommendation I have is to take the chicken out of the pan right away because the mayo seems to melt, leaving a fair bit of oil in the pan.


Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza

IMG_2143This is a new favorite, thanks to the Cooks Illustrated cookbook I got as a wedding shower gift (the link above is to the same recipe on Brown Eyed Baker).  It takes a few hours, so it’s not a weeknight recipe, but it’s not difficult (just a few minutes of work every hour or so).  We often have leftover sauce of some kind, which eliminates some work.  We don’t have a round cake pan, so I make it in a cast-iron skillet.

Blinded by the night


Last weekend, I finally got the chance to unpack my long (thanks to weather delays)-awaited sewing machine, and oh, it fulfills all of my hopes and dreams.  It came just in time to deliver us from some very bright nights of sleep.  Between a yard full of ice, street lights, and a full moon, our bedroom was practically bright enough to read in, even with the lights out.  Enter the sewing machine and a trip to this heaven on earth.  I instagrammed some of the silks I found there, but left with a somewhat more practical piece of curtaining.  Nothing better than non-stretch, vertical stripes to get acquainted with my machine.


It wasn’t nearly complicated enough to make a tutorial, so I’ll spare you the play-by-play.  Iron, pin, hem, repeat.  I got heavy lining, which I cut to fit each panel, and sewed both layers together.  My machine was a champ, even through lots of layers (rolled hems with linings, meeting at corners).  Until.  Second panel, last hem, 48″ between me and a done project.  The bobbin thread jammed, I managed to reload it incorrectly (first time with a front-loading bobbin…), and then the needle snapped.  I still haven’t found that tip.


It’s in there somewhere….waiting.

Two overpriced curtain rods later, and our room is much improved.  The splash of color is nice during the day (you can see the reflection of our headboard in the mirror below), and the light-blocking properties are much appreciated at night.


I was pretty pleased with the results, given that I made this up as I went along.  The hidden back tabs were particularly genius, if I do say so.IMG_2119

The only thing that perplexes me is that occasionally, my bobbin thread seems to pick up grease somewhere.  You can see below what happened to my white thread.  It doesn’t happen all the time (obviously), so I’m not sure whether it’ll work itself out with time.  Any thoughts?

And now, for the big before-and-after shot.  Predictably, it’s hard to get a clear photo in a (semi-)dark room, but I think these give a pretty accurate depiction of our results.  The proof is in the pudding, though: I slept until after 8:00 on both Saturday and Sunday.Processed

Happy birthday, HV!

Oh hey, I guess it’s NFP Awareness Week.  Today also happens to be the 45th birthday of Humanae Vitae, which is an occasion for either this cake or this one.

Once you’ve got your baby cake, take a few minutes and read this great article about translation problems with Humanae Vitae and how the common translation imposes a stricter standard of motive than was intended.  It’s a little lengthy and technical, but worth getting through.  It goes beyond the question of what constitutes “responsible parenthood.”  There’s also the fact that unless you’re someone’s spouse, confessor, or spiritual director, their motives – grave or not – don’t really concern you.

It is also out of place to form opinions about others based solely on how many or few children they have, since these virtues and the lack of them are oftentimes hidden from outsiders. The Church is a Mother who lovingly guides her children and exhorts them to fulfill their manifold responsibilities correctly and with the right priorities.

To put it another way (and link to another great article), keep your eyes on your own work.  It depresses me in advance to imagine that at some point in the future I’ll be judged at the grocery store for having 3 kids, and then judged at church for only having 3 kids.  I’m just not good enough at snappy comebacks to deal with that.

Anyway, happy birthday, HV.  Glad you’re here; sorry you were right.

Growing Pains (a laundry query)

Last night, I got home to find that Johnny had done all the laundry.  Never one to complain, I was happily folding things when I realized that he had tossed in the hand-wash shirts that were – in my mind but nowhere else – separated from everything else.  “Never put bras in the dryer,” I had remembered to tell him, but not, “Keep track of which of my thrift store finds have silk in them and don’t put them in the machine.”  Overall, they looked okay, but curiously, the armpit areas of both shirts came out like you can see in the photo below.  They definitely didn’t look like that going in, though there was undoubtedly some invisible residue there.



Any suggestions for fixing them?  Like I said, they’re both thrift store finds, so it’s not the end of the world if they’re beyond help.

7 Quick Takes after a looooong hiatus

— 1 —

So, what brings me back to the ol’ blog after many moons away?  Getting married couldn’t do it, apparently, but this recipe can.  I picked up Feast on a recent library trip, and among the many recipes I bookmarked were these Baci di Ricotta (Kisses of Ricotta).  I usually shy away from deep frying anything at home, but I figured that if not on the Fourth of July, when?  Total time from pulling the bowl out to turning off the stove was about 15 minutes; it really couldn’t have been easier.  And the results – oh the results.  They were every bit as good as you’d think.  We’ll definitely be making these again.


— 2 —

Lumen Fidei

Thanks to having to work today, I’m halfway through the hot-off-the-presses encyclical.  My Facebook feed has been full of quotes posted by other people, so I’m looking forward to getting to the second half.  I’ve underlined large portions, but here’s one thing that I particularly liked:

Faith by it’s very nature demands renouncing the immediate possession which sight would appear to offer; it is an invitation to turn to the source of the light, while respecting the mystery of a countenance which will unveil itself personally in it’s own good time. (13)

— 3 —

After getting my first order from Twice, I’m totally sold.  It’s like someone was paid to curate a collection of clothes from my favorite stores, and then marked them down 80%.  I got this skirt, and after the “$10 off first order” offer (click above to get it) plus a 20% off code that I found via google, I paid considerably less than the price on the page (including shipping).  I may never buy new clothes again.

— 4 —


On a whim, I drove downtown tonight to catch some fireworks.  After many years of trying, I finally figured out how to take decent firework photos.  Unfortunately, I didn’t end up with a great view (hence the tree in the foreground), and the show itself ended up being kind of lame.  That photo above is what they passed off as the grand finale.  Color me unimpressed.

— 5 —


Our local grocery store has been undergoing renovations for the last several months, which is probably long overdue but meant that for a long time, I literally had to go down every aisle to find what I need.  One of the big changes is the addition of bulk bins (probably in response to our new Whole Foods and its Wall of Lentils).  Chocolate covered banana chips?  Yes please.  Ginger candy for $5 a pound?  I’m there.  Of course, this is just in time for us to move across the country, but you better believe I’m stocking up before we leave.

— 6 —

Tomorrow we’re celebrating the Fourth (transferred) by hosting friends from out-of-town.  I’m looking forward to grilling, finally wearing a swimsuit I’ve owned for a full year and never worn, and relaxing a little bit.  Also, I might make another batch of ricotta mini doughnuts.  America.

— 7 —

Gratuitous wedding photo for filler!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!