“F” this.

Fun.

Fried dough.

Friends.

Frisbee.

Fife.

Freedom.

I have another one for you:

Flabbergasted.

I am one flippin’ flabbergasted feminist, y’all.

I know, I know. The TIME Magazine annual poll on which word should be eliminated the following year is all in good fun (go to it here). It’s a way to say, “Gee, if I had a dime for every time I heard the word [insert word here] I’d be a billionaire!” So, I get it. I’m sick of hearing “sorry not sorry,” too. “Said no one ever” is high on the list of things that were recently overdone. The difference between those words (phrases, I guess) and the term “feminist,” which is currently winning this horrible poll with 49% of the vote, is that those are just fun, silly things to write on Instagram, or in the comments of your favorite blog, or on Facebook in response to eating too much pie (here’s an example: “I just ate too much pie” – said no one ever. #sorrynotsorry); “feminism” is, well, more meaningful. Love it or hate it, it has more meaning.

Feminist. I guess people are just sick of hearing it because it’s a buzzword. There are lots of people going back and forth on whether they are or are not feminists. There are lots of people saying we don’t need the term anymore. There are lots of other people saying, yes, yes we do. Unlike “sorry not sorry,” the term “feminist” has old and twisted roots. Look up “origin of the term ‘feminist'” and you’ll get 4,350,000 results on Google. Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists the first known use of the word in 1895. Here’s how the same dictionary defines the word: “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” But, the dictionary definition of a word is rarely the only definition. We have cultural definitions, too, and they are many and varied for this particular “f” word. Does being a feminist mean hating men? Or having hairy legs? Or burning bras? Does it mean leaving your kids in daycare 40 hours a week while you earn the big bucks? Does it mean you’re just one thing? I have a hard time believing “said no one ever” has the same implications, or the same gravitas.

Can you be a feminist and be a stay-at-home mom? Yes. Can you be a feminist and be a Republican? I think so. Can you be a feminist and wear conservative clothes? Surely. Can you be a feminist and be a man? Yup. Here’s why: there’s more than one way to be a feminist. And just like with everything involving humans, nobody agrees on what exactly feminists should be doing. You know, the nitty-gritty details. Let’s try this game with other groups: do all Christians agree with each other 100% of the time, all the time? No? But the ones who see value in it pursue their faith in the best way they know how.  Do all doctors agree with each other? Do all teachers? Are all Republicans alike? I trust that you see where I’m going with this.

Maybe we don’t know if we’re on Team Sandberg or Team Slaughter. Maybe we see the merits of both, or maybe we’re somewhere on the fringes, without much more than a whiff that something is amiss. But if we see value in women being treated fairly and with respect, especially in regards to their careers, their families, and their bodies, then I think we can consider ourselves feminists. I’ll shout that from the rooftops for the rest of my life. At a time when 49% percent of TIME readers think the word should be banned, I think it means the conversation (and the word!) is more relevant than ever.

I’m a feminist, and I think you should be, too. Maybe it’s annoying to say so. Sorry, not sorry.

no-sew tee-shirt craft. also, we had a baby.

I apologize for my extended absence, but I’ve been busy. Things have been a lot different with a newborn around. Changing diapers, pumping breastmilk, snuggling my baby…you know how it is with these things. I would rather have stared at my sleeping cherub’s face than craft. But things are changing. I miss doing the things that make me “me,” so I’m working on striking a balance.

I knew that I wanted to be a little creative today, but I didn’t want to make a big mess. I also had zero desire to lug the sewing machine out of its cobwebby hiding place. Did I mention I hate all my clothes these days? Enter today’s project: a no-sew tee-shirt refashioning (I hate the term “hack,” though I’m not sure why). I found the pattern here: http://wobisobi.blogspot.com/2012/07/no-sew-halter-3-diy.html.

Actually, the WobiSobi blog has tons of awesome tee ideas. Some are more complicated than others. You should definitely check it out.

Start with a tee. I wish I used one that was a bit bigger, as a little flow would have been nice.

Start with a tee. I wish I used one that was a bit bigger, as a little flow would have been nice.

Make cuts as recommended.  The instructions were very easy to follow.

Make cuts as recommended. The instructions were very easy to follow.

Final step before putting it on!

Final step before putting it on!

Finished! I was done in about 10 minutes, start to finish.

Final product! I was done in about 10 minutes, start to finish.

Things that would make this better: if I’d used a larger shirt, if I didn’t need a bra, and if I’d used chalk to plan my cuts (I just eyeballed it). It was a fun, free (I already had the shirt), and quick project. I’d recommend doing something similar if you’ve got a big ol’ tee-shirt somewhere that’s dying to be worn again.

Oh, and because she’s just so sweet:

My two loves!

My two loves!

I’d love to see other tee-shirt change-ups that you’ve done!

the nesting instinct

You hear about it often. The nesting instinct is supposedly the sudden urge a pregnant woman gets to spruce up her house and get it ready for the arrival of a new little one.

For me, it’s the urge to make my house look less crappy before visitors come charging up my driveway to meet the new baby. Sure, I scrubbed the shower the other day while I was bathing. Yeah, I recently bought Swiffer wet pads for the first time. Yes,  dozens of dust bunny families have been vacuumed up from my bedroom floor within the past week, and aye, we rearranged the porch in a burst of 11pm energy on the holiday weekend. But I assure you, this is not to prepare for baby’s arrival. This is to prepare for everyone else’s arrival. You know, just in case.

But that second bedroom upstairs…that IS for the baby. You and I both know that a baby doesn’t care what color the walls are, or how much work you put into arranging the books just so, or whether or not the colors in the curtains match the colors in the bedding. They don’t care about your new chair or your new lighting or your new everything else that’s new. With that said, I have to admit that I do care, at least a little, about all those things.  So…on to the conclusion to our nursery saga!

What began in December as a quick project has finally come to an end as of sometime last week. The demolition, the building, the painting, the repainting, the trim, the furniture, the last-minute book hanger project thing…it’s all DONE. Phew. It only took like 5 or 6 months, right? From this:

IMG_0966To this:

aaaaaaaand done!

aaaaaaaand done!

With LOTS AND LOTS of help along the way!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

fun (disgusting) fact

I’m just keeping it real, here.

I just realized that it’s been a full month since my last post. If I want to keep my readers happy I’m really going to have to step up my game! But also, I realized that last month’s post was that really tasty chili. The chili that, as of this morning, is still residing in my fridge.

Yeah, that’s right. I still have some month-old chili leftovers.

I’m not proud.

In the words of Rafiki, “It is time.” Besides, I really need that container back.

results: recipe #2

Wow. I am terrible at keeping up with my own blog challenge. So, I wanted to do one every week, and here I am…the last week into February, and I’ve only cooked my second recipe. Blame it on the puppet show.

This week’s recipe was from The Good Housekeeping Christmas Cookbook, which Pete and I received as a Christmas gift this past year from my parents. It’s a really cool party-planning cookbook, and it’s filled with lots of practical advice for entertaining over the holidays. There are pages and pages of recipes, plus tips on pretty decorating, buying Christmas trees, deboning salmon…the list goes on. This particular dish is one that I was surprised to find in a Christmas cookbook. I figured I was going to have to make a dessert (and there are plenty of yummy-sounding recipes to try!), but I happened upon this chili recipe nestled in the “Christmas Brunch” section. I never would have thought of chili at Christmas, but what a great idea!

IMG_1805

Quick review:

Difficulty: Very easy

Total Time: 6 hours in a slow cooker. I did 1.5 hours on the stove instead.

Satisfaction Level: 4/5

Click here for a link to the recipe, which is found on page 169 of the cookbook, or easily searched for on the internet. It’s Good Housekeeping’s Slow-Cooker Chipotle Beef Chili. The recipe is the same online and in the book, except in the book the amount has been halved. For example, I only used two cans of beans (rather than four) and I only needed one pot to cook it in!

Finely chopped onion, green bell pepper, garlic, and a chipotle pepper in adobo.

Finely chopped onion, green bell pepper, garlic, and a chipotle pepper in adobo.

I did make some changes to the recipe while I was cooking. All were made out of necessity. First, I ran out of cumin. Instead of the full tablespoon, I was only able to get a little more than a half tablespoon. Additionally, it’s a slow-cooker recipe. I was running late this morning, leaving myself only enough time to brush my teeth and hair and fly out the door. This chili was tonight’s dinner plan, so when I got home I had to figure out how to make it in waaaay less time than the recipe suggests (6.5 hours in a slow cooker). I used my trusty  cast iron casserole (I’ve been told it’s not a true Dutch oven, but why I’m not sure…) on the stove for about an hour and a half instead.

Such a pretty piece of cookware!

Such a pretty piece of cookware!

I also found a really yummy corn bread recipe on Allrecipes.com that I whipped up while the chili was cooking. I’m glad I did–it was the perfect complement! You can find that recipe by clicking here. It was easy and took a little more than a half hour to bake. The two were ready within a few minutes of each other! Of course, the chili could have cooked forever, so there was really no rush with that.

Finished product with cornbread on the side. Mmm.

Finished product with cornbread on the side. Mmm.

I give it a 4/5 mostly because of my own lack of foresight. The fact that I ran out of cumin was disappointing, and definitely affected the flavor. It could have used at least a whole extra tablespoon more. Additionally, because the chili didn’t cook for as long as the recipe suggested, the meat was still a little chewy. If it had a chance to cook for 6.5 hours, I bet it would have melted in our mouths. Of course, none of that stopped us from eating up lots of it!

Last bite.

Last bite.

I think this could easily translate into a vegetarian recipe. Just take out the meat! If you want a little more substance, a nice firm tofu would be a good replacement, but I really don’t think this chili even needs it. The sauce and beans were tasty thanks to the chipotle flavor, and there was plenty of “stuff” in it (beans, onion, peppers, etc.) that it felt full even without the addition of the beef.

I would definitely call this experiment more of a success than the last one, but it might help that I’ve made chili lots of times before, just not this particular recipe (I never even knew what chipotle peppers in adobo were…in case you don’t either, here’s a link).

And now for something completely different:

IMG_1802There’s a bunch of sheetrock in my living room, awaiting its destiny: new walls in the baby’s room! Progress, y’all.

results: recipe #1

IMG_1732

Stuffed baked leeks, from Gourmet’s Menu Cookbook

Well, nearly a week after my previous post, Pete and I actually made the stuffed leeks! A quick review:

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Total Time: 45-50 minutes

Satisfaction Level: 3/5

The scoop: this was a fairly straightforward recipe. I made the rice filling in a Pampered Chef microwave rice cooker  (one of my favorite kitchen gadgets) by throwing brown rice, two beef bouillon cubes, some olive oil, and a chopped onion into the cooker and zapping it for a half hour. I guess I’m a study in  contradiction, because I don’t mind using the microwave to cook rice in a plastic container, but I’ve been trying to stop using shampoo because of all the chemicals. You pick your battles, I guess.

I love this rice cooker.

I love this rice cooker.

Per the recipe’s instructions, we boiled the leeks for one minute before popping the middles out and stuffing them with the rice and onions. For the record, the rice filling was delicious! After sautéing the leeks to brown them a bit, I gently arranged them in a baking dish and covered them with some tomato sauce.

Leeks are much more difficult to stuff than peppers or tomatoes. They're so much skinnier!

Leeks are much more difficult to stuff than peppers or tomatoes. They’re so much skinnier!

The end result, after boiling, sautéing, and baking :

Did I mention we made baked chicken and broccoli to go with the leeks?


Did I mention we made baked chicken and broccoli to go with the leeks? Leek in the foreground. It looks like a giant piece of pasta. I can assure you: it didn’t taste like a giant piece of pasta.

 They looked great and smelled amazing! I was so looking forward to that first bite. But then I took that bite, and realized, “Maybe I don’t like leeks?” I think it might have been because they were still quite firm, even after ten minutes in the oven. I think if they’d been cooked longer I would have liked them a lot more. It felt a bit like biting into a raw onion filled with rice. It wasn’t terrible, but it just wasn’t amazing, either. Additionally, I gave these leeks more care and attention than I typically give to side dishes. I suppose if it was the main course  I wouldn’t have been too annoyed, but I can’t imagine a dinky little leek being the main event, even for a vegetarian meal. Thus, the 3/5 satisfaction rating above. Good, not great.

What will my next recipe be? I don’t know, but today is a great day to try another new one out. We have our third snow day of the year (I think it’s the third…), so it leaves me with plenty of time to find a new recipe for which we have all the necessary ingredients!

It’s too bad about the snow, though, because we have lots of rehearsing to do at work for our upcoming Little Gingerbread Man puppet show, which will be debuting this Saturday. I’ll be sure to post some pics of the “sets” I designed–I think they’re pretty cute.

Have you cooked anything new lately? Tell me about it!

Would you like the recipe for these baked leeks? Check out my previous post for details!

finished curtains and a recipe challenge!

First, remember that kitchen curtain post? I finally got my act together and sewed ’em up today! I found out this morning that the library would be closed for the day (snooowwww!), so I figured there was no better time to finish a project that had been hanging over my head.

I think it does add that certain something I was looking for.

I think it does add that certain something I was looking for. I’m going to go ahead and call this a success. For some reason I couldn’t get the editing to be what I wanted it to be in this picture. I can assure you that the curtains are much brighter than they appear here.

In other news, I’ve embarked on my very first BLOG CHALLENGE!

Not long ago, I was cutting a mango and just happened to look across the counter. I noticed all my cookbooks, and suddenly saw them with new eyes: there were some books there that I’d never even opened! And that’s when the challenge started to take shape…

So, here’s the plan: every week, I’ll post one new recipe that I’ve tried to make from a cookbook that I’ve either never used, or have used very little. I have a lot of cookbooks that don’t get much use, so I think this challenge will be going on for a while. Additionally, I’ve invited a few friends to join me in the challenge! I look forward to seeing what everyone makes–we’re all so different, but food has that unique quality of unification, I think.

Don’t forget to follow this blog to keep up to date with how the challenge is going, not to mention get a few new recipe ideas for your own kitchen. If you’re interested in participating leave a comment below.

My plan for this evening is to use a cookbook I bought at Baldface Books in Dover, NH about five or six years ago. It’s Gourmet’s Menu Cookbook, from 1978. I was mostly intrigued because it has some gross-sounding foods (like calves brains fritters), and I figured it would be a fun conversation piece more than anything else. Because it’s a menu cookbook, it includes sample menus for different types of gatherings along with recipes for all the items. I was not only weirded out by some of the recipes a few years ago, but severely intimidated by them; they seemed really, really difficult.

We bought a couple of leeks the other day because for the first time in weeks they actually looked pretty good, but I didn’t know what I’d do with them. This morning I decided to crack this puppy open and see what it told me about leeks. I’m happy to report that I found a very tasty-sounding recipe, and we’ll be trying it out tonight!

A cookbook I've never once made a recipe from.

A cookbook I’ve never once made a recipe from.

IMG_1703

From page 441 of Gourmet’s Menu Cookbook.

I’m going to give it a whirl, and it doesn’t sound too hard. Of course, we’re only making two leeks instead of 12, so it’ll require some adjustment. Still, I have high hopes for this gourmet meal! Wish me luck. 🙂