Housewife Life

Happy 4th birthday, Gainfully Something!

I started this blog four years ago. My first entry ended with my original tag line: Unemployed and Annoyed. Those adjectives were very fitting at the time. (I’m still frequently annoyed.)

My tag line has changed since then. Now it’s Life Worth Living. I was very purposeful when I switched over. I’d realized that I was being unnecessarily negative, which, yes, is another frequent state of being for me. I needed to look at my situation from a different angle. 

I’m still unemployed, technically, and as I’ve said, I’m still annoyed. But I’m a very fortunate person and due to my circumstances, I have the option of being a housewife and a stay-at-home mom. My life is worth living, and I’m not just waiting around for something better to come along anymore. I’m Carpe-ing the shit out of this Diem. 

When I started this project, I was 26, I had a cute boyfriend, and I was still desperately trying to get a library job. Aside from my awesome boyfriend I was pretty bummed about my life. Now I’m 30, I have a cute husband, I’m having our first child in 6 weeks (holy shit), and I’m good with where I am. I still have aspirations of working for Planned Parenthood someday, maybe when our brood enters high school, but for now:

Carpe the Shit Out of This Diem. 

Advertisements

New Project, Old Project

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2016 treats us well and that we treat each other well. 

Let’s quickly review 2015, because it’s the thing to do:

In January of last year, I taught myself how to use my sewing machine. It was frustrating and tear-inducing and it sucked. I did it. 

A lot of my sewing project sucked. I spent a lot of time ripping stitches, swearing so loudly that I woke the dog. I completely ruined at least three things to the point where I never want to see that fabric again. I made myself bleed a bunch. I have scars from my iron. 

But I’m stupidly happy with how both my project and my year turned out. Little Something arrives in April, my cats have never been snugglier, our dog is an adorable idiot, and Mr. Something got a promotion. 

So. 2016. 

In 2016 I’ll continue to sew something new every month. I’ll also make two new (to me) recipes a week, with at least one being a crockpot recipe. At the end of the year, I’ll compile our favorites into The Something Family Cookbook.  

Sound good? I can think of infinite ways this could go sideways. It’s going to be great. 

April’s Project: A Human

Hello, friends. I disappeared there for a while, but I have a very good, tiny reason. 

*drumroll*

I’m pregnant! I’m due mid-April 2016, so for much of late summer and early fall I felt like garbage. I’m back to feeling mostly normal and my sewing projects will resume (with baby-related themes, sometimes) ASAP. 

Look for new recipes and sewing posts to start this weekend. (We’re really excited!)

Vision (and Naked Burritos)

I’ve had glasses for almost 28 years. I turn 30 in two weeks. I cannot comprehend only needing glasses sometimes or losing a pair. It’s pretty impossible to lose glasses when you only take them off to sleep and shower. 

I wore my glasses on my wedding day, to the consternation of a few people who told me to get contacts because it would look better in the photos. Well. My husband wore his glasses at our wedding and no one thought that was weird. 

I’m getting new frames today and I’m nervous about it. I can’t see myself without my glasses so I basically only exist when I have them on. They are a huge part of my identity. I hope I like what I see when I put on my new face. 

Pretend this is a segue because it’s before 9am and you should be nice to me. Naked burritos! I threw these together the other day when I couldn’t get out to the store and needed to make something relatively good. They turned out wonderfully and are now on our regular rotation. 

Naked Burritos

For chicken filling

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast (if you use two, double the rest of the ingredients)
  • 1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 little can Hatch chiles
  • 1 chipotle in adobo
  • 1C chicken stock
  • 1T taco seasoning 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For burrito bowl

  • Hot cooked rice
  • Shredded Mexican cheese 
  • Chopped avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Hot sauce

Place the chicken breast in the slow cooker. Top with beans, tomatoes, chiles, and taco seasoning. Blend chicken stock with chipotle in adobo until smooth and pour over chicken. Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred chicken with two forks and mix with sauce. 

Scoop rice in a bowl, then top with chicken and other desired burrito toppings. 

The Joys of Podcasts

I spend a lot of time alone. That’s an understatement. Most of the time, I’m alone. That’s the childless (thus far) housewife life, guys. I volunteer twice a week and go to the fabric store more than I should, but when I’m at home, I’m hanging out with two cats and a dog. They’re great conversationalists and they take criticism really well. (“You already have food, you dumb shits.” “Lulu, I’m not leaving forever, I’m just getting some chicken out of the chest freezer in the garage.” “Vincent, stop stepping on my boob.”)

After realizing last summer that having the TV on all day was depressing me, I decided to start listening to audiobooks. You can get them from the library using Overdrive. It’s pretty wonderful. Then a friend recommended Welcome to Night Vale and MY WORLD CHANGED. That sounds like an overstatement. It is not.

Welcome to Night Vale is a podcast. It’s a (hopefully fictional, oh please let it be fictional) radio broadcast from a small, Southwestern town called Night Vale where weird shit happens. It’s scary and sweet, and the writers do a great job of building this bizzaro world. Details from past episodes that seemed tangential and unimportant become important months and months later. It’s so richly realized. If you love spooky things and episodic storytelling, check it out. They’re releasing a Night Vale novel in October! (Not great for kids because it’s creepy as hell.)

After I caught up on WtNV, another friend recommended Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine. Hosted by Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband, Justin, Sawbones is exactly what it sounds like: each week, they choose a topic like lobotomies or blood-letting and talk about the awful things we used to do to each other in the name of health. It is hysterical, despite being about lobotomies and blood-letting. (I guess you could let your kids listen, but it’s sort of gross sometimes. No cursing, though.)

Justin McElroy is also on another podcast, which is my current obsession: My Brother, My Brother and Me. It’s an advice show for the modern era, which means people send in their questions, and the Brothers McElroy (Justin, Travis, and Griffin) make you shoot coffee out your nose because it is the funniest thing I’ve ever listened to. Here’s a sample. They also find questions on Yahoo! Answers and holy crap, that is where the dregs of humanity hang out. (There is lots of cursing, so get ready for how awesome it is. Definitely not for children, which they say in the disclaimer at the beginning.)

The great thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them anywhere, anytime. However: do not listen to Welcome to Night Vale while you’re in the bathtub at night and your husband is not home. It is creepy and you will become super jumpy.

Happy listening, and I’d love to know what podcasts you like!

Wedding Anniversary Adventures

Yesterday, Mr. Something and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary! Yay for us! We went away for the weekend; I found a VRBO bungalow about an hour away from our house, which was perfect for two nights. We discovered a cool brewery, drank wine, watched the Packers lose (and still I shout: GO PACK GO!), ate delicious German food, and reconnected a little. December and January are stressful, you guys. If you can, take a night or two in January and reconnect with the one(s) you love. Work out those issues. Laugh about old jokes. Eat cake and drink wine. It feels good.

What felt slightly less good was driving down the road, tra la la, and BOOM–pothole, tire blowout, sadness. Thankfully, we were a block away from our destination, a wine store (vacation is great because all of your goals are really small). The owner of the store was super nice and helped Mr. Something change the tire. He’s getting a care package in the mail next week. We spent the rest of the weekend sporting a sweet bright yellow-hubcapped donut. Mr. Something is currently at our car dealership getting the tire fixed, because that’s an ideal way to end your long weekend.

But it’s a story to tell! No one got hurt, we still got our wine, we made a new friend, and at least it didn’t happen on the highway. The things that go perfectly don’t make good stories.

One year of good stories down, lots and lots to go.

New Year’s Resolution(s)

I used to make resolutions that were really hard to keep: “Be nicer.” “Exercise more.” “Keep the house tidy.” For me (and for many others), these sorts of resolutions don’t work. They aren’t concrete enough, and there isn’t enough quantifiable evidence that you’re working on them to track. These are also the sorts of resolutions that you can make every single year because they are just the sorts of things we’d all like to do. They are squishy.

Last year, my resolution was to keep my email inbox clean. I read the emails I needed to, deleted the rest, and unsubscribed from listservs I no longer cared about. It was really, really satisfying. I kept it up all year, and I’m still doing it. I made it a habit, and that habit stuck.

This, I think, is the point of resolutions: to create habits that are (hopefully) life-long. This also rarely happens. It is actually really hard to stick to new habits and get rid of old ones. (Duh.)

My resolution for 2015 is this:

  1. Learn how to use the sewing machine I got from my mother-in-law (a few Xmases ago).
  2. Complete one new project a month. If I mess up, I have to start over again and redo it until it is complete. By the end of the year, I should have at least 12 completed projects.
  3. Start small (coasters) and work to something big (I’d love to make a dress, but we’ll see how the year goes).
  4. I will ask for help when I need it. I’m not allowed to give up. If I end up with twelve months of coasters, pot holders, an apron, and some curtains, it will have been a success.

Obviously, I’m going to share each month’s projects here, even the ugly parts. (Because that’s my other resolution: make more mistakes/let other people see my mistakes. You’re welcome.)

Did you make resolutions for 2014? Did you keep them? Did that influence your resolutions for this year?

Officially Back–Hello Again

Hi, hello! Yes, I have been gone for a stupidly long time. The laptop took its final bow a while back and there was nothing to do about it.

Then yesterday, Xmas, Mr. Something surprised the hell out of me by gifting me with a Mac Mini. I’m using our TV as a monitor! We live in the future. I’m still getting used to the fact that I own something nice and new.

Speaking of nice and new, get ready for more recipes, more frequent updates, and some new content–crafting, taste tests, etc. etc. I’m excited for the thing it will become.

Busy Bee (and Thai Chicken Noodle Soup)

Hello! So our laptop took a bit of a shit, and then it was fine, and then it sort of died again… and now it seems to be working? I think? It’s a FrankenBook at this point–Mr. Something has taken it apart about a dozen times. That crafty man.

Anyway, the end of this summer involved lots of houseguests and lots of housework. Painting. SO MUCH PAINTING. But, as a result, our house looks so much better than when we bought it in May. It’s no longer a weird, fishpoop brown monstrosity. (Why so much brown, former owners? Why?)

It’s been lots of craziness, and there’s no hint of anything letting up.

When your life is absolutely insane, you need an easy, delicious soup recipe in your repertoire whose components can be prepped ahead of time and thrown together in 20 minutes. It’s even better if the soup is spicy and wonderful.

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup (Khao soi)

adapted from Foolproof Thai Cooking: Popular and Easy Recipes from the World’s Favorite Asian Chef by Ken Hom

Note: This is the doubled version of this recipe. We like to have leftovers, so I always make a ridiculous amount, using my biggest stockpot. If you only have a regular sized pot (that holds less than 10C of liquid), halve it.

I usually prep the noodles, onion, and chicken/chile mixture earlier in the day (you could even do it the night before, if you’re pressed for time). Once all of the prep work is done, this soup comes together in 20 minutes.

  • 12oz Thai rice noodles

Cook according to package directions (I use the Thai Kitchen brand) and set aside.

  • 12oz cooked chicken, shredded
  • 4 Thai chiles, shredded (or 2 jalapeños, if you can’t find Thai chiles)
  • 2T fish sauce
  • 2T soy sauce
  • 2T sugar
  • 4T green curry paste (again, I use the Thai Kitchen brand that comes in a bitty jar)

Mix all of this together in a little bowl and set aside.

  • 4 fresh lemongrass stalks, crushed (I got mine at Sprouts; take out some aggression on these bad boys. They’re very woody and need some encouragement to release their flavor.)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4T garlic, minced
  • 1T vegetable oil
  • 8C chicken stock
  • 28oz (2-14oz cans) coconut milk

Heat oil in large pot. Cook lemongrass, onion, and garlic for 3 minutes, until fragrant. Add stock and coconut milk. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Add chicken/chile mixture and cooked rice noodles. Stir. Cover and simmer for five minutes.

Remove lemongrass, and stir in 4T lime juice. Garnish with cilantro and serve with sriracha on the side.

 

It Really Never Ends (and Wendy’s Wonderful Quiche)

This housework nonsense never, ever ends. Painting, mowing, laundry, dishes (when did we stop eating directly out of containers? Sometime after college? Let’s go back to that, please), MORE LAUNDRY (this insistence on clean clothes is ridiculous), animal care, electrical issues, garage door malfunctions, tree trimming, cooking, grocery shopping, neighbor-placating, etc. etc. etc. The et ceteras could go on forever. And really, I love our house, I ADORE our house, but could it just cool it for a while? I am tired and cannot wait to get to the point where I step back and say, “Okay, that’s good enough for now.”

Which brings me to this quiche. Oh, this quiche. My amazing, lovely, gorgeous, talented, strong-as-hell maid of honor, Wendy, gave me this recipe a few years ago so I could make it and bring it to brunch. It is simple, delicious, and best of all, it’s really amenable to change. You can leave out the onions (or forget them, like I did last time), you can substitute broccoli for spinach, or add ham, or do whatever. This is a quiche that goes with the flow. It’s relaxed. And it’s delicious.

Wendy’s Wonderful Quiche

Preheat your oven to 350F.

  • 1 deep dish pie crust (just get the frozen kind that comes with two crusts–you can bake from frozen and your guests will think you worked super hard to impress them)

Mix together:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1C half & half
  • 1/2C mayonnaise
  • 2T flour
  • dash of salt and garlic powder (or whatever spices you want; this quiche is laid-back, after all)

Fill pie crust with:

  • 1/2C chopped onions
  • 8oz shredded cheese of your choice
  • 1 package chopped spinach, drained (or 1C [or so] broccoli, chopped, or whatever you want)
  • optional: ham, turkey, bacon, sausage, etc.

Mix that around so everything is evenly distributed, then carefully (CAREFULLY) pour the egg mixture over the cheese mixture.

Bake 45-60 minutes (depending on your oven; up here at altitude, I baked mine for around 50-55 minutes), or until it’s browned and not super jiggly. There might be some oil on top when you take it out, which you can blot with a paper towel. Let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing up.

 

Thank you, Wendy!!