A clever pun about a fish…


Hello, lovelies!!!

It’s Friday, usually a day of joy and excitement, but this one has been more of a day of stress and an ever-increasing list.  Boo. However, I do want to tell you about a wonderful fish dinner I made earlier in the week.  For those just joining us, you can read about my effort to take back dinner here.  I used tilapia, because I like it, and because (as I found out recently) you can buy individual frozen tilapia fillets in the freezer section of your grocery store.  Sweet!  For frozen tilapia, leave it frozen until you’re ready to use it, and then run it under cold water for a few minutes to thaw.  It doesn’t have to thaw completely; little fillets are pretty thin and cook up quickly.

Tilapia With Couscous and Peas

Start with a quick marinade.  In a plastic bag place your tilapia fillets (I used 4) and add: 2 cloves crushed garlic, salt and pepper, a little olive oil, and lemon juice, and let it sit for about 10 minutes.  Then saute it in butter about 3 minutes on each side until the fish is firm and flakes easily.  Easy, no?

For the couscous: I made a whole box of couscous so that I could use it for a salad later in the week.  Follow the box instructions, which usually amounts to putting the couscous in a bowl and adding boiling water.  Then cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes, followed by a fluff with a fork.  Kind of like rice, but different.  To pair with the fish, add a couple of tablespoons fresh chopped parsley and 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes with a little salt and pepper.  It makes a really nice side dish, filling, but not too heavy.

I used frozen peas and just cooked them according to the package directions.  All in all this meal takes about 20 minutes to prepare, and that includes the marinade.  Soooooo easy and delicious!  I always feel like I need to add more seafood into my diet, and this is a fantastic way to do it.

I’m spending the weekend cleaning and organizing my life.  It’s amazing how behind you get on housework when you start working away from home. Anyone have tips on the best way to get all of my crazy under control?

I hope you have a lovely weekend and stay tuned for a post about a couscous salad that will change your life.



Better a silly girl with a flower than a silly boy with a horse and a stick…

Pop Quiz!  Can you name the film from which comes the line that makes up today’s title?

Don’t look at me, I’m not telling!

I’m taking a break today from regaling you with my dinner victories to talk about a little craft project.  This project stemmed from an abundance of thin cardboard I happened to have on hand after a particularly large order of caps came through my shop, but any thin cardboard will work for this.   You’ll also need paint, a canvas or board, and hot glue.  Optional: wooden hearts or some other small shapes.

I cut my cardboard pieces into two different sized petal shapes and painted them all turquoise before curling them with my fingers and hot gluing them together in the shape of a flower.  I made two flowers and nested them together, securing with hot glue.  Then I added the wooden hearts, painted yellow to the center to finish it off.

I mounted the flower on the canvas, but it turned out to be much smaller than I had envisioned, and there was SOOOOOO much which space that I added a couple of stripes of paint to one edge.  The result, a simple yet lovely going away present for Emily as she headed back to school.

Pretty, no?  I still have a ton of these cardboard pieces left, so I might try some other things.  IMPORTANT NOTE!!!!  Never use your good craft or fabric scissors to cut cardboard.  The fibers will dull your scissors really fast and that’s never good.  I have a dedicated cardboard/chipboard/random paper scissors that are old and beat up.

Hope you’re having a lovely Wednesday!

PS.  If anyone is wondering what happened to the last two weeks of Emily’s column, I swear we’re working on it.  The last two installments of [Re]Working it will be up soon!!!!

The Case of the Missing Inspiration or, How I’m Kicking the Habit.

I am in a rut.  A food rut.

I can cook.  Really, I’m quite good at it, but somehow I find myself making the same seven or eight dinners all the time.  And honestly, how many times can a person make the world’s easiest from-scratch spaghetti sauce before it stops being impressive?  That’s what I make.  Spaghetti.  Crock pot meat.  Tacos.  And tacos? Not really even that much cooking.  It’s mostly chopping and putting things into bowls.  Woohoo.

It’s really very frustrating, but what can I do?  You make what you know and if you work all the time and are really good at making excuses, you find ways to never try anything new.  So there you go.

So I’ve decided to kick the habit of boring dinners.  Here’s what I’m going to do: a couple days every week until the end of September, I’m going to try a new recipe.  The winners will be added to the rotation, and the duds will be recycled, and who knows?!  I might get a dozen new recipes out of it.

I started last night with my first new meal

Apricot Glazed Pork Chops, Brown Rice Pilaf, and Steamed Broccoli.

Nothing special about the broccoli, just steamed and finished with a little salt and butter.

The Brown Rice Pilaf was probably the most complicated, and only because it took a little advanced planning.  You see, brown rice takes about 50 minutes to fully cook, and if you’re starting dinner when you get home at 6:30, it can take forever to get it on the table, at which point you’ll cave and order Chinese.  The pilaf also called for toasted walnuts, and the toasting process, which not lengthy, is also a step you can do ahead of time.

Knowing this, on Sunday afternoon, when I was baking for work, I went ahead and made the rice (1 cup dry), and toasted the walnuts in the oven at 400 degrees for about 6 minutes until they were golden and fragrant.  I toasted a cup of walnuts, half for the pilaf on Monday, and the other half for lunch later in the week.  If you plan your meals, you really can cut down on prep.

For dinner, reheat the rice and add 1/2 cups chopped toasted walnuts, 1 Tbs. chopped fresh dill, 1 Tbs butter, and a handful of dried cranberries (raisins would work too). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the Pork Chops: Heat a skillet on medium-high heat.  Add a splash of olive oil and your pork chops, cooking 6-8 minutes on each side, until done.  Remove the pork from the pan and add 1 Tbs aged (minimum 7 years aged!!!!!!) balsamic vinegar and 1 cup apricot preserves to the drippings. You want a glaze, but if it get’s too syrupy, add some water to thin it out a little.  Cook for a minute to combine and then add the pork chops back into the pan.  Turn them once and cook 1-2 minutes until coated.

Ah-maz-ing.  The rice is nutty and filling, the pork chops are sweet and savory and the broccoli adds delicious texture.  Dried cranberries and dill, who’dathunkit?

This meal was delicious and healthful and definitely makes it into my dinner rotation!

Happy Tuesday!!!!

PS. Observant readers will notice a new button the sidebar.  I recently read an article that said that technically, you’re supposed to gain permission from the original source before you pin anything to Pinterest.  I didn’t know that, but as a blanket statement, you are free to pin anything of mine, without asking.  Of course, I’d love for you to leave me a comment telling me you did!!!!

You Know What? Fine!

So, I’ve started a new job.  Not just now, a couple weeks ago.  One of the perks of having this job is that I have coworkers.  These are generally lovely people and they have this great tradition of eating lunch together every day at noon.  For someone who has been working by herself for 2 years and never had lunch with anyone, this is kind of a big deal.

At lunch, we talk about all kinds of things, and one day last week we were talking about cake.  I mentioned that I had made this super amazing chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting.

And I have.

And it’s soooooooo good.

However, this was not the first thing that I told them I’d made before, and one of the girls exclaimed, “You say you can make all kinds of things, but I’ve never seen them!”

So I made the cake this weekend, and brought it in today.

It was awesome.

Happy Monday!

Weekend Warriors…US Military

Happy Friday!

I know, I know, I’ve been terrible about posting, and this week’s [Re]Working it is not even up yet and everything is falling apart.

Still, it’s almost the weekend!

Today I want to salute the US Military.  In addition to being an amazing force of men and women who risk their lives every day in service to this country, they are also people who give up time with their friends and families, and the comforts of home while on deployment.  As you know, my brother is a US Marine, and I physically could not be more proud of him if I tried.

Deployments are long and they are difficult and it can be tricky to keep up morale in those times.  That’s why I think it’s AMAZING when deployed service members get to let loose a little and do something silly.

Cue Carly Rae Jepsen. Oh yes.

So this one goes out too all of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines.   You and your families are in my thoughts and prayers constantly.

Special thanks to my friend Stephanie for posting this on Facebook!

Have a lovely weekend!

The Bird and The Bee

The universe says, “HELLLLLOOOOOO!!!!”

It’s grey and overcast here, as it has been for a couple days, but on the bright side, it’s only about  70 degrees, which is just crazy for August.  But I’ll take it!

I met a cute boy yesterday.  More on that later if it turns into anything.  The real story here is what happened when I got home last night.  It was about 9 and when I opened my front door, my cat ran in the house, along with what I thought was a big moth.  Moths are inconvenient, and they eat up your clothes, so I was prepared to shoo it back outside.  Only it wasn’t a moth.

It was a bird.


There was a bird in my house

(Not my bird, but a bird – photo credit Debbie Milligan.  Click to see the original post)

In my efforts to get the bird to leave my dwelling, I left the front door open, and in flew all manner of insects, including the BIGGEST BEE I’VE EVER SEEN.  EVER.  And the bee was trying to kill itself by flying directly into the lights.  Just great.

Fortuitously, I knew my dad was already headed my way, so after 20 minutes of being unable to do anything but enrage the suicidal bee, I waited until he got there and he killed the bee.  Then we trapped the bird in one room and eventually it landed on floor and I threw a tee shirt on it.  That’s right, a tee shirt.  No judging. My dad scooped it (the bird laced tee shirt) up and released it (the bird) out the door.  In the meantime, Stuart was LOSING HIS MIND trying to get the bird and ran out the door after it.  I’ll say this for Stuart though, when I lost the bird, he found it.  And tried to eat it. Definitely a memorable start to the week.

In honor of the grey and potentially rainy-ness of today, I’ve put together for your listen pleasure, my Rainy Day Playlist.

A Fine Frenzy – Almost Lover
Joshua Radin – I’d Rather Be With You
Vanessa Carlton – White Houses
Lady Antebellum – If I Knew Then
Sara Barellies – Gravity
Tegan & Sara – Where Does The Good Go?
The Band Perry – If I Die Young
Vanessa Carlton – Ordinary Day
The Script – I’m Yours
Jason Mraz – If It Kills Me
A Fine Frenzy – You Picked Me
Alexz Johnson – 2am
Band of Horses – The End’s Not Near
Dispatch – The General
Jim Brickman – By Heart
Rascal Flatts – Every Day
US Royalty – Where Are You Now

So there you go.  Here’s hoping this week is less eventful than last night.

Happy Monday!

Ode to a formidable woman….

In many ways, I owe Julia Child my life.

That sounds super weird, but there you have it.

English: American cook, author, and television...

My first interactions with Julia were really in passing.  I was vaguely aware of her as a child and occasionally watched her show on PBS in re-runs.  You see, I’m actually too young to have witnessed Julia first hand. I was 16 when Julia died and even younger than that when she retired to California.  I was brought to her through her writings, and others writing about her, and mostly (if not embarrassingly) through the writing of Julie Powell , of Julie & Julia fame.  Suddenly, I was catapulted into an obsession with the woman, the legend, stemming  from our shared gargantuan height and her love of all things French.

Plus, her dear friend and cookbook compatriot was Simone Beck, and my name is Simone….so it’s like we’re connected?

When I’m feeling particularly courageous in the kitchen, I attempt a recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  There is a chocolate cake that is absolutely to die for (you can read about that here).  Her recipes are often extraordinarily time-consuming, but at the end of them, you truly feel accomplished. It boggles my mind that this woman cooked like this all the time.

And writing a book!  I can’t imagine putting in the time an energy to do something like that.  Sometimes my laundry seems an insurmountable task, let alone writing a book.  In moments when I just can’t handle my life, I think of Julia and her life  and her books and that high-pitched way she said, “Bon Appétit!” and somehow, I feel better.  Stronger.  More powerful.

Julia would have been 100 years old yesterday.  Though she is gone, I’m not sure there will ever be a time when she is no longer with us.

Happy Thursday!

The Weekend, and Other Terrible Ideas…

This weekend I let myself get roped into being a chaperon for a middle and high school lock-in. Now if you’ve been living under a rock and you are unfamiliar with the concept of a lock-in, it’s a fairly simple one.  Our Youth Pastor, his pregnant wife, two interns, and I spent 15 hours with 43 middle and high schoolers, locked into our church.

Fun, yes?

Now, honestly, except for the part where I didn’t sleep and then went home and couldn’t sleep, it wasn’t that bad.  There were games and movies and junk food and a nerf war and the kids all had a really good time and that’s really what matters.

Of course, today, I feel very much like I’m going to die.

In that spirit, to cheer myself (and hopefully you!) up, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite things from Pinterest.  Oh Pinterest, how I love thee….

By the way, you can follow me on Pinterest if you’d like at pinterest.com/everygirl.

Whenever possible, the pictures link to the original posts, although some pins go nowhere…which I think is pretty weird.

easy to replicate pennant pillow. fun afternoon project!

Porch mat made from multi-colored wooden strips


Cupboard door serving tray


So there you have it! Just a few of the beautiful and amazing things I’ve seen on Pinterest!

Happy Monday!

Baby On Board.

A man in possession of a fortune is in want of a wife.  Jacob Marley was dead.  So was Hamlet’s father.  Elmer Gantry was drunk.  All mundane facts, all of which set up the story and without which the story makes no sense.  So begins my story.

I am not pregnant.  Not even a little.

Cover of Parenting

Somehow, though, I’ve been added to a list of people who are pregnant.  The mailing list from Hell.

The first time I noticed it, I got some kind of baby magazine.  No biggie, sometimes I get mail from AARP, too.  Direct mail isn’t 100% effective, and I get that.  Plus, as a young professional, I’m often mistaken for someone in a different station in life.  Cool beans, no problem.

Then the deluge hit.

Now I’m getting Parenting Magazine, and Babytalk Magazine.  I get coupons and stroller reviews.  Today I got an offer from Shutterfly for some percentage off of baby announcements. (Also, if you are pregnant, shoot me an e-mail.  I’ll gladly pass along my coupon code!)

And it’s not just my mail.  I get e-mails, two, three, six a day offering me Bradley classes, and discounts on diapers.  All of this is inconvenient, but it’s also the price of living in the digital world.  People send you stuff you don’t want.  It happens.  Stop complaining.

Then something really weird happened.  I got an e-mail that started out with the words, “Dear Simone, Now that you’re 11 weeks along….”

This has to end.  It’s starting to get creepy.

I called the magazines to cancel my subscription, but I don’t know how to get off this mailing list.  It’s driving me nuts.  I get mail almost everyday.  As if my biological clock wasn’t ticking loud enough.

I read an article recently about how some companies track your buying habits and can identify major life events before you even know about them (you can read it here).  Only, I haven’t been shopping for pregnancy tests or baby clothes or folate, so honestly, I’m at a loss.

So I’m wondering: was there a time when mass marketing got it really wrong?  I’d love to hear your stories!

Happy Thursday!

Pssht…I could do that….

GOOD MORNING!!!!!!!!!!

Too early for that?  Sorry.  Let me try again

*good morning*

Better?  Good.

I hope you had a lovely weekend.  As you may have read on Friday, Emily and I were supposed to have a crafting weekend but since she bailed on me  couldn’t make it, I crafted alone.  I finished two projects and got materials for two more, and all in all, I think it went quite well.  The project I want to share with you today is a tee-shirt scarf/necklace thingy.  It has some interesting origins, kind of a right place, right time, deal.  Obviously, I just finished my Tee Shirt Quilt, and I had leftover tee-shirt pieces from the project. Then, I was trolling around Pinterest one day and I saw this:

Blue Ocean Fabric Necklace

Pretty, no?  It’s lovely, but the link goes to an Etsy store, and not a tutorial (Click the photo to see the original posting).  I didn’t really want to buy one, when I was sure I could make one just as easy, so I did.  There you go. Now, the original necklace is just made of soft jersey, not tee shirts, so it’s a little different.

I started with the bottom parts of 4 different tee shirts.  Because my shirts are different brands/sizes/colors/materials, they have different stretch capacities, and didn’t all turn out the same length. I like it a lot, but  if it bugs you, make sure you use identical shirts.  Also, I only had the bottom third or so of the shirt to use, but if you’re starting from scratch, you can use the entire torso from under arm to hem.  Just don’t actually use the hem, it won’t work.  I collected my shirts, creating a nice color palette.

Then, using sharp fabric scissors, I cut the shirts into 1″ ribbons but left them whole, so that I had loops.  Don’t cut up the sides of the shirt, no bueno.

PS: Now is as good a time as any to talk about scissors.  Having a good sharp pair of scissors that you use for fabric is essential.  You should never NEVER cut paper with your fabric scissors, because the fibers in the paper will dull your blades.  If you find that your scissors aren’t cutting as well as they used to be, don’t get new ones, just get them sharpened.  Fabric stores have periodic scissor and knife sharpening events and it’s inexpensive.  My local Joann’s is having one this week, but check with your local craft or sewing supply store to find out when they have these kinds of events.  Or, if you live in/close to a large city, you may have a full-time sharpening shop.  Do some research.  Trust me, it’s easier and cheaper to get your scissors sharpened than to buy new ones.

I made the ribbons into yarn by tugging on them.  When you pull, they’ll curl up on themselves as if by magic.  It’s actually pretty cool….

I gathered them all together and braided them a little.  Because the pieces are loops, and not straight, if you braid it on one side, it braids on the other. Embrace it!  I secured the braids with masking tape until I was ready for them and then hot glued a spare piece of shirt to hold the braids.  Yes hot glue, I already had it out for another project and I didn’t feel like sewing it!  Don’t judge me.  If you’re a purist, you could certainly do a few stitches to secure.  I might even do that at some point in the future.

Et Voila! Scarf, or necklace, or whatever.  All in all, it probably took me about half an hour, and mostly that because I had to figure out the placement of the braids.  I’m psyched for the arrival of cool fall days when I can add this to my accessories wardrobe!

Happy Monday!