Stovetop Pork Chops

To counter the depressing tone of my previous post, I give to you the recipe for stovetop pork chops. EP Dude and I started with a Jacques Pepin recipe and tweaked it to something that works for us when we don't have oodles of time to cook dinner but still want something tasty and not take-out.


4 trimmed boneless chops
~1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
~1/2 Cup Italian Seasoned bread crumbs
~4 shakes dried Oregano
~2-3 tsps Dinosaur BBQ Cajun Foreplay rub (or spices of your choice)
~2-3 tsps fresh ground pepper
~1-2 tsps Kosher salt
1 large egg
Canola Oil

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Over medium heat, pour just enough oil into a 10" non-stick skillet to cover the bottom. If your stove is anything like mine, it will take a bit of time for the skillet to come to temperature, giving you enough time to prep the chops.

Combine the flour, bread crumbs, oregano, rub (or spices of your choice), pepper, and salt into a bowl.

Beat the egg in another bowl.

Dip the chops into the egg and then the breading mixture one at a time and set them aside until the skillet heats to temp (which for me is when a couple flakes of breading sizzle in the oil).

Arrange the breaded chops into the skillet. They should cook for about 6 minutes per side, depending on their thickness. I time it out by washing up the cutting board and dishes from prepping them while they cook on the first side, then flip them and prep the sides while the other side cooks.

When I flip the chops, I make sure that whichever side or end was on the outside of the skillet now rests closer to the middle, to made sure they cook evenly.

When the chops are golden brown on both sides, remove them from the heat and place in an oven-safe glass dish. Put them in the oven until the side dishes are ready This will make sure that they are cooked through and keep them warm.

For tonight's dinner, I made a side of summer veggies right in the same skillet in which I cooked the chops. The recipe for this is from the Betty Crocker cookbook.

Add about 1-2 tablespoons of oil to the already-hot skillet and turn the heat to medium-high.

Start with one zucchini (sliced 1/4" thick), one summer squash(sliced 1/4" thick), and about one cup of sliced mushrooms.

When the skillet is hot enough, toss them all in and stir frequently for 4-5 minutes

When they look like this:

add one cup of grape tomatoes.

Sprinkle with chives and some garlic powder, and let simmer (still stirring frequenly) for another 2-3 minutes.

Time to plate up!

Oh, I also made a box of Toasted Pine Nut couscous. Yes, from a box.

Who do you think I am? Martha Stewart?

All Shook Up

We've been doing some things differently at the House of Whimsy this past week.

Last week EP Dude and I made the decision to attend Mass at a different parish. It wasn't an easy decision but we are very happy that we did. The parish we had been attending since our wedding is no longer recognizable. We started going there because the ones in our own town were, quite frankly, dreadful. We thought we had found a parish home, something that is very important to us, especially me.

As an Army brat, I moved around a lot growing up. It was always a huge comfort to me that no matter where we went, the Mass would be there. We were always involved in the different parishes, whether in youth groups, choir, lectoring, religious education, etc.

At the parish we just left, I wanted to become involved, but before I felt comfortable enough to do so, things changed. The wonderful priests were replaced. The nun who took over the parish kept interjected herself into the liturgy and even started giving homilies. Scores of parishioners were alienated and left, but for some reason EP Dude and I hung on. I think I just didn't want to let go, to give up. This place that once felt so right was gone.

So, last week we went to a different parish, one that hadn't undergone a similar transformation. (Those parishes are becoming few and far between these days, sadly.)

For the first time in a long time, I was calm on Sunday morning. I wasn't worried about having to hear questionable messages or lay homilies. I was able to focus on the Mass.

Unfortunately, EP Dude didn't quite have the same experience, since it was his turn to wrangle Wee Ninja Girl and she was especially cranky that morning.

Actually, we're all kind of cranky. I came down with some kind of sinus infection on Friday night, EP Dude had it (to a much lesser extent) on Saturday, and WNG was a bit under the weather herself until Sunday. I think we went through two whole boxes of tissues.

The Single Nap Experiment with Wee Ninja Girl went better than expected. On top of her runny nose, she's apparently teething or hitting a growth spurt or just being a total poophead or something, because she was extra cranky this weekend. Still, we're getting the hang of her new sleep schedule. We may be able to put her to bed at 7:30pm rather than 8:30pm, since she's been sleeping in until 9 or 9:30 every morning.

I cannot express the extent to which my life will improve if Wee Ninja Girl starts going to bed at 7:30pm.

We keep a strict bedtime routine with WNG, so she knows what is coming and doesn't freak out when we lay her in her crib. EP Dude brings her up and starts getting her in her night diaper and pajamas, and I follow a few minutes later carrying all the stuff that she scattered about the house during the afternoon and evening. Once she's ready, she nurses (the only time she breastfeeds at all), we brush her teeth, turn out the lights and she goes to sleep. We've been doing this for months and it's worked like a charm.

Sunday night, WNG threw an absolute fit when I tried to nurse her. Clawing, screaming, kicking, the whole shebang. She kept making the teeth-brushing sound (ch-ch-ch-) and trying to throw herself off the bed. EP Dude and I figured that since she was a bit under the weather, that we'd let her brush her teeth first JUST THIS ONCE and then nurse her and put her to bed. She didn't go down easily, but we blamed that on her stuffed nose.

Monday night, same thing. After brushing her teeth and kicking myself for giving in the night before, I settled down to nurse her. Except she wouldn't latch. In fact, she didn't even want to be on my lap. So, I put her in her bed where she fussed for two minutes and fell asleep.

So yeah. It wasn't the cold or the teething. She just didn't want to nurse anymore. Ouch.

I always planned on weaning her around 12 months of age, since she's eating such a variety of food and loves cow's milk, but it just felt so harsh. WNG cut out the other feedings on her own as she ate more "people food" so it's logical that she decided when to stop it altogether.

I knew it was coming. Her nighttime nursing only lasted about five minutes total and she spent most of the time goofing around. It's like slowly peeling the bandaid to make it hurt less, but then ripping it off when it's still good and stuck. (There is your lame analogy of the day, folks. Enjoy.)

So why do I feel so utterly rejected? It's silly of me, but I just can't help it. I actually cried a little bit last night.

I'm such a baby. And my baby is not such a baby.


Okay, I'm totally depressed now. I'm going to go eat some oatmeal raisin cookies I made yesterday and watch another episode of Doc Martin on Netflix. I highly recommend the show, unless you don't like British stuff, because while it is hilarious, it's also very, very British.

P.S. I've even found some time to crochet, but since it's a gift for the next family birthday, I won't post the pattern until after it's been received. But, rest assured, I will post the pattern! (I know you've all been wallowing in despair at my lack of pattern posing. Admit it.)


Are you there, blog? It's me, Jess...

Hi there.

I am still alive.

Tired, but alive.

Busy as all get out, but alive.

Last week, EP Dude and I celebrated our second anniversary. We decided to celebrate early so his aweseomer than awesome parents could watch Wee Ninja Girl, allowing us to dine *gasp!* alone. Our actual anniversary was Tuesday, the 15th, but we went out to dinner on the previous Saturday. Nothing too fancy, just dinner and dessert at Carrabbas and then home early enough to play a couple hours worth of The Secret of Monkey Island. It was our gift to each other.

It was much more relaxing than our anniversary last year, which actually provides a lovely segway into our second celebration we had last week.

Wednesday, the 16th, was Wee Ninja Girl's first birthday!

Thus, our very first anniversary was spent in the hospital with me in labor and EP Dude being the best labor coach ever. He was told by more than one nurse that he should teach the dads' class!

I remember thinking at some point during all the fun that I hoped WNG would be born on her own day so we wouldn't have to share our anniversary with her birthday, and she held on until 2:34am to get her own special day.

Really, though, 12:01am would have been just fine with me, but I guess she wanted to be sure!

At any rate, WNG's little party was lots of fun and she was very good. It took a little while for her to understand the whole "opening presents" thing, but she eventually got the hang of it. The cake... not so much. It seemed at first as though she'd inhale it, but after three smooshed fistfuls, on the floor it went!

More for me, I guess.

What's that, you say? Two little parties don't sound like they could keep me away from my blog for so long?

You are correct. There's more!

On Friday, EP Dude left work a bit early to pick up my little sister from college and then we all drove to my parents' house in Albany for a weekend visit. Relatives were in town for the first time in over a year and we just couldn't let them leave without seeing them.

The trip was... interesting. WNG is a pretty good traveller, but after a couple hours she just wants to run around.

Did I mention that she's walking? She started back in August and is now practically running everywhere. She prefers to dash around in haphazard circles while clutching random items, which she switches out every few minutes.

< /end brag>

Anyway, the trip was a whirlwind of awesome. We had tons of fun with the family, ate way too much delicious food, and I got to shoot arrows and actually hit really close to the bull's eye once!

Then, Sunday morning right after Mass we piled back in the car and drove home. Short and sweet!

This week, I've been experimenting with WNG's naptimes. I know, I'm completely insane a glutton for punishment just plain bonkers ambitious, but WNG has been fighting her late afternoon nap for a long time and her morning nap keeps getting bumped further in they day until she's going down too close to lunchtime. So, I've combined those two naps into an early afternoon snooze.

It hasn't gone well. She's cranky. I'm cranky. EP Dude is not cranky, so we have to make him cranky by the sheer volume of crankiness WNG and I exude.

Fun times.

As for yarncrafting... I hope to pick it up again soon! I have a few things in mind for which I would need to invent patterns, so perhaps I'll have some downtime soon!

The birthday girl!


Switcharoo Skelt

The Switcharoo Skelt (Scarf/Belt) (Yes, I know it should TECHNICALLY be spelled "Scelt" but I like the way the "k" looks and it's my pattern and I can name it whatever I want. So, ner.) can be worn as a scarf, a belt, or a headband. I made it for my niece, the Energizer Bunny, who turned eight years old in August.

One of these days I will send them their gifts on time! Honest!

Yarn: 1 skein Serenity Sock Yarn (Premier Yarns; 50% Superwash Merino Wool, 25% Bamboo, 25% Nylon; 230 yards), or superfine yarn of your choice.

Hook: US size C/2

Stitches: chain (ch), no-turn-chain double crochet (ntcdc), double crochet (dc)

For an explaination of the ntcdc, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LxYpo-tyi8

The NTCDC counts as the first stitch of each row. If that stitch isn't working out for you, replace with "ch 3" throughout the pattern.

Foundation: Chain 22.

Row 1: NTCDC, dc in last ch. Dc in next ch. *Skip 2 ch, 3 dc in next 3 ch. Ch 2. 3 dc in next 3 ch.* Repeat from * to * once. Skip 2 ch, dc in next ch. 2 dc in last ch. Turn. [22 sts]

Rows 2 thru desired length: NTCDC, dc in first dc. Dc in next dc. *Skip 2 dc, 3 dc in next 3 dc. Ch 2. 3 dc in next 3 dc.* Repeat from * to * once. Skip 2 dc, dc in next dc. 2 dc in ntcdc. Turn. [22 sts]

This works up quickly despite the super fine-ness of the yarn.