I am hiding from the bathroom reno by cooking. Enjoy!

Posting two days in a row? Who am I and what has happened to my slacker ways?? Basically I'm hiding from my construction beleaguered husband, who claims he loves to do renovation projects around the house yet turns into a world class grump while in the middle of them. God forbid I actually take a moment to drink my coffee after making him breakfast; don't I know there is work to be done?! Guaranteed he'll be full of the the passive aggressives when he gets back from the latest Home Depot run because I'm still sitting, mug in hand, and not out buying a vanity. However, I need to shower before going out and he has turned off the water. Impasse! Luckily, he's almost always pretty great, tremendous wedgies in his cranky construction pants aside, and he happens to do a pretty nice job on these projects, so I guess I'll keep him.

It has been a very kitchen-y weekend so far. It started with Friday Pizza Night. My fridge is a mess, as I have been thrown off of my cooking game of late, and I wasn't sure what I would have to work with in the way of pizza toppings. After perusing the inventory, I decided to chop up some tomatoes and scallions and toss them with a little bit of EVOO, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I rolled out the dough and covered it in a thick coating of freshly grated mozzarella, then sprinkled on the tomato and scallion dressing. It went into the 525 degree oven until it was golden and bubbly, and OMG -- amazing. This is definitely going into the regular rotation.

The cooking continued last night, with another old family classic -- sausages sautéed in red wine. This is SO easy, and really delicious. I bought a half dozen sweet Italian sausages from the butcher and popped them into a sauté pan with a little EVOO over high-ish heat (about an 8 on my crappy electric stove (OH HOW I AM COUNTING THE DAYS UNTIL I HAVE A GAS STOVE IN THE NEW HOUSE) (APPROXIMATELY 146)). Pour in red wine, any kind you would be happy drinking, about 1/3 of the way up the sausages. It's going to be very bubbly, so just keep turning the sausages every minute or so until the wine is nearly absorbed. Once the wine is almost absorbed, add in another blob of wine and turn the heat down to medium. Cover the pan and let the sausages simmer until nearly cooked through, flipping them once or twice (about 15 or so minutes). At this point, pull the sausages out of the pan, turn the heat back up, and add in about 3/4 c of water to deglaze. Throw the sausages back into the bubbly sauce and keep flipping them to coat. Once it reduces enough, it will start spitting grease, so throw the cover back on and let the outside of the sausages caramelize a little. That's it! I served them with TJ's asparagus risotto and lightly roasted, garlicky haricot verts. Awesome.

The best part of the sausages is how good they are left over. My gram would make sandwiches from very thinly sliced sausages on lightly buttered bread (this is possibly a beloved childhood treat from Grandma that is actually gross to adults other than Gram's grandchildren, a la boxed chocolate cake with Cool Whip frosting). Today I decided to humor my resident construction worker with an egg scramble for breakfast. Mark hates eggs, basically. He will eat them as a binder for a whole mess of meat, cheese, meat, and more meat, and very much enjoys them this way and only this way. I never make them this way because, dude, how much grease do you really need before noon? Today I relented though. I took applewood smoked bacon from the butcher and laid it out on a baking rack on a foil-covered sheet pan. Stick it in a cold oven and turn it on to 400, bake for 20 minutes, flip, and cook 5 minutes more and it's PERFECT. Still flexible, yet fully cooked and crispy. While the bacon was cooking, I diced up some red potatoes and got started on home fries. I also sliced some of the sausages left from dinner. Once everything was ready to go, I stuck the sausage, chopped bacon, and potatoes into a big skillet and scrambled in some eggs. A dusting of cheese, and Mark's ideal egg breakfast was ready to go. Pretty tasty, but UGH. I feel mentally fatter already.


Next up is a sirloin and bean chili that my mom sent a recipe for last week. She claims it is fairly low in fat/calories while also delicious. I certainly hope so after the nutritional atrocity that was breakfast. I will report back...

Keep Your Candy Coated Hands and Feet Away From My Mouth

DANGER! DANGER! ALERT! ALERT! This post is going to address my wonky lady bits and plans to address the problem. Please feel free to avert your eyes.

Onward! So, as I think I have mentioned, after much (rather invasive) testing, we have a diagnosis of classic PCOS. For added fun, in genetic testing, we also discovered that I am a carrier of CF.* Luckily Mark is not, which saved us from a whole new set of issues to deal with. The plan, such as it is, is medication -- metformin, clomid, ovidrel, and prometrium -- which are all intended to pick up the slack for my bum endocrine system. Right now, though, I'm on provera to trigger the lady times so we can get rolling on the whole thing. It means loading my system up with progesterone for a week, and then when it is suddenly withdrawn, the drop starts a period, as it would naturally if I worked normally. It's basically a week of medically induced PMS.

I did this once before, in preparing for the diagnostic testing, and I don't remember it being quite like this. I feel like I'm going crazy -- I legit wanted to rip someone a new one at work the other day, just for being as dicky as the nature of their job requires. I managed to quash this instinct (CONSUMMATE PROFESSIONAL AHOY), but then picked a fight with Mark when I got home. The poor guy took to greeting me at the front door with a glass of wine, despite our mostly eschewing the sauce during the week. And yesterday! I ... I don't know what happened to me, you guys. I am usually not a candy person. I'll grab a handful of dark chocolate chips on occasion if they're handy, and I love leftover Halloween candy, but otherwise? I never buy the stuff. However, all day long yesterday, I was desperate--DESPERATE--for peanut M&Ms, and very specifically the peanut ones; plain or pretzel simply would not do. I felt like an addict jonesing for some smack, and the closest I have come to addiction previously is very much enjoying a nightly glass and a half of red wine before falling asleep on the couch (GIRLS GONE ZZZZZ - woo!). I had to stop for gas on the way home, and there happened to be a Target next to the gas station. Before I knew it, I was at Target holding M&Ms and a Pepperidge Farm chocolate cake (what??), and I was powerless to do anything but pull out my wallet. It just seemed like the right thing to do. (I briefly contemplated picking up some tampons while I was there, but a girl's gotta draw the cliche line somewhere, right?) As soon as I was back on the road, I cracked open the M&Ms, and I swear to you, I could practically feel the serotonin pinging around my brain. By the time I was home, I felt practically normal, aside from the ridiculous box o' cake now taking up a decent chunk of my freezer space. Mark just kind of shook his head nervously and laughed, but later, light dawned and he looked at me in terror, asking, "If this is what you're like NOW, what will happen if this all actually works?" HA.

Hell if I know, buddy, but I bet that puppy isn't sounding so bad right about now, is it?

*I am wondering if my sinus ISSUES are at all related to the CF mutation. Dr. Google turned up a 2000 Johns Hopkins study that suggested a link between chronic sinusitis and a single copy of the CF mutation (carriers). I'll have to ask my ENT about it when I see him next.

Super Easy and Delicious

Nooo, not me (this time) -- I was talking about the dinner I made tonight. This is going to be a quickie, but it was too good and easy not to share. The general idea comes from a Boston area restaurant my family has gone to for as long as I can remember, where one of our favorite dishes is "Shrimp Special." Basically, it's shrimp wrapped in prosciutto, topped with a little mozzarella, and baked in a garlicky wine sauce. I had defrosted chicken for tonight, so I rolled with that.

I took one chicken breast for the two of us, butterflied the bejesus out of it, cut it into cutlets, and then pounded it out until it was super thin. I mixed a little flour with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Penzey's Parisien Bonnes Herbes. While heating a little olive oil over medium high heat, I dredged the cutlets in the seasoned flour, then sautéed them until they were almost done.

Side note: Up to this point, I have basically described one of my favorite chicken methods. You can do almost anything with this kind of base. Throw in something to deglaze and make a simmery sauce with, then pop the chicken into the sauce to finish cooking. So easy, seems fancy. Tomorrow night I plan to deglaze with orange juice and pop the chicken back in to simmer while the juice reduces into an amazing glazey sauce. That's a Grandma classic for good reason.

Back to tonight! I pulled the chicken out of the pan and added in some minced garlic, sherry, white wine, and a blob of butter. While the sauce was reducing, I put the cutlets in a small baking dish and topped each piece of chicken with prosciutto and a slice of fresh mozzarella. (Where the amount of chicken seemed a little skimpy, I was a little more generous than usual with the prosciutto and cheese, and it worked out to be a perfect amount.) I poured the sauce over the chicken, then popped it into a 400 degree oven until the cheese was melty and golden. This plus a salad was so easy while still feeling indulgent.

DO IT. You know you want to...


I'm not a resolutions person, but I'm certainly not immune to the January fresh start syndrome. I mean, you'll never catch me breaking in a shiny new gym membership on January 2nd (that's practically asking for failure), but I do like turning that calendar page and feeling sort of like the world can be what I make of it. Of course, I have yet to purchase that new calendar this year, but still! The year is fresh and shiny, and there are a few very specific ways in which I would like to try to be/do better this year:

1.) Punctuality: I have spent my entire life thus far doing battle with the clock, and the clock always seems to win. However, since starting my new job, I have really been working on being better in this area. I have a 40-ish minute commute and I have been getting in before 8:30 every day. I am (sadly) super proud and impressed with myself over this one and very much would like to keep it up. (What? I admitted it was sad.)

2.) Work: My last job was pretty emotionally damaging, and it left me with a sick, intense dread every morning, again every night once it was time for bed, and generally again during the panicked, gut-wrenching hours of 3-5 am. It was like Sunday nights as a kid, but all jacked up on ridiculous steroids from hell. As a result, I ended up with some pretty unhealthy feelings about the office. My new job is so, so different (THANK GOD), but I am still working really hard to make sure the old anxiety and bitterness does not creep in. Again, so far, so good. I'm really focusing on the fact that we're there to share information with each other, to assist each other in making the best possible decisions; it's not all one long, torturous final exam on which my entire future rests. (Have I mentioned how movies featuring associates getting screwed over/throwing their careers away are a total law firm PTSD trigger? Watched "Trouble With the Curve" tonight, and HOO BOY, my blood pressure is juuuust starting to come down. I am so, so fun, you guys.)

3.) DECLUTTERING: I am, for the most part, a purger, while my husband is a total pack rat. However, we're selling this house and moving come spring, so I am totally taking advantage of the HGTV seller mentality Mark has taken on and getting rid of All The Things. I am SO EXCITED. I'm making lists of projects and scheduling them on a calendar (PoAM, bitches!). This approach worked really well for us when we gutted and rebuilt the whole main floor of our house in 8 weeks, so I'm hoping we can stick with it.

4.) Healthy Sleep Habits: So without this whole thing turning into a dissertation on how being a lawyer has broken me (HA, TOO LATE), let's talk about how it robbed me of my ability to sleep. Back in the days when I resided at what I hope was (oh please, God) rock bottom, sleep was less than restful. I lived for the hours between when I left work and when I had to go to bed and start the process all over again. I developed RAGING insomnia, because if it's not bedtime, morning will never come, right? I would stay up way late, eventually passing out on the couch, snuggled with my laptop, whatever I was working on ending in, "ggbnnmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm." And those were the good nights; when I actually went to bed, I would have fitful stress dreams until waking in a heart racing panic at 4 am from which I would relax enough to fall asleep only minutes before the alarm went off. Not surprisingly, a year of this can really screw with your ability to sleep. I no longer experience frettin' hour (thank GOD), but I still have a terrible habit of staying up way too late (hello, fellow insomniacs!) and passing out on the couch. Obviously this is a terrible idea, what with the rising at 6 am, so this is really up there on my list of things I'd like to do better. Um, starting tomorrow. Yeah, tomorrow.

5.) Food Management: I used to cook all the time, but over the last six months of a very weird work schedule at the store, I kind of got out of the habit. Now, though, I work close to my favorite grocery store, so it's easy to stop in one night per week on my way home and pick up the week's supplies. This is made way more effective by meal planning; I put the week's meals into a google calendar, then I use the grocery store's app to plug a shopping list (sorted by store aisle! what up, Wegmans!) into my phone. At home, I have been making coffee and a breakfast sandwich to take to work in the morning, and with my meal planning calendar, dinner is easy to throw together after work. The one hole in my plan at the moment is lunch, but the plan is to start making a big pot of soup on Sundays and taking it for lunch all week. I think that's relatively feasible, but we'll see how it all shakes out when we gut the master bath in a couple of weeks and everything falls to crap.

So that's it -- this is as close to resolutions as I get. Bet you're all enthralled by my incredibly original intentions to improve my eating, sleeping, cleaning, time management, and career, no? At least I didn't say exercise!

The Roller Coaster That Was 2012

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, am I right? So here it is, in the ever popular Q&A summary:

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
There was a lot of new this year, and again, some good, some less so. I skied with relative confidence (definitely on the nice list), I bought a house (YAY/abject terror), I worked on a Habitat construction site (more fun than I anticipated), I worked in retail for a brief stint (not surprisingly, this was less fun than shopping, but I loved the hell out of my sweet, sweet employee discount). I also started working with an RE to deal with the wonky lady parts/lack o' babies situation, and yeah, I really could have done without this; it has not exactly been the highlight of my year.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I'm really not a resolutions person. And by not a resolutions person, I mean I have never kept one, ever, so I no longer make them.

Although I suppose you could say that I resolved not to make new resolutions and that I have totally succeeded on that front.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes, several friends had completely adorable, smooshy, delicious babies this year. I intend to do a lot of snuggling and spoiling.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, for which I am unendingly grateful.

5. What countries did you visit?
Nothing international, but there was a lot of domestic travel this year. We started 2012 in Steamboat, CO, then met friends in Lake Tahoe in March. We traveled to Hawaii for a spectacular two weeks in September, and we sprinkled in a few trips to Massachusetts as well. We just got home this afternoon from our holiday trip to New England -- Christmas outside of Boston with my family, then skiing in New Hampshire with Mark's. All in all, it was a pretty solid year for travel.

(I could do with seeing less of Atlanta and Minneapolis, though, Delta. Throw me some direct flights from DC, for the love of GOD.)

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Um, see above re: reproductive endocrinologist and wonky lady parts and draw your own conclusions.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I'm not sure I have any particular dates etched in my mind; 2012 was more a year of particular memories and impressions than Big Days. I'm pretty ok with that though.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

New job, maybe? Mastering homemade pizza dough? I don't know. I am pretty proud of myself for starting the ball rolling on the medical front, though. I am a terrible patient, but I have really started dealing with both the baby thing and the allergies/sinuses that have been plaguing me for years.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I was pretty unhappy with the state of my career for the vast majority of 2012, and it was a dark time. I thought I had thrown away my career by leaving Big Law, even though it had broken me, physically and emotionally. I was really disappointed in myself for hating consulting, hating the freelance life, hating the isolation of working alone at home. I felt like I wasn't pulling my weight at home, and that was a pretty crappy feeling.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I am knocking on every available wooden surface, but no, not really. I don't think I had so much as a cold (*ptoo, ptoo*). I am pretty sure this had just about everything to do with the 1000% decrease in stress and angst that came with leaving Big Law.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
OMG, hands down, my new espresso machine. It is a Breville Barista Express, and it is spectacular. Built in burr grinder, pulls perfect shots, makes amazing foam really fast. I love it more than one should love a household appliance, really.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Oh lordy, new houses are expensive. Oh, and Sur La Table; I basically signed my paychecks right back over to them.

13. What did you get really excited about?
I really loved Hawaii. Like, REALLY. The few days we had in Maui (i.e. the first trip Mark and I have taken alone since our honeymoon) were blissful. I would go back in a heartbeat, even though it took a whole day to get there. Just name the date and I'm in.

14. What song will always remind you of 2012?
My husband has the musical tastes of a 16 year old girl, and I don't think I will ever tire of listening to him sing "Call Me Maybe" and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" along with the radio in his falsetto, just to make me laugh. Goober.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? Oh, happier for sure. Real employment agrees with me.
– thinner or fatter? Fatter. Fatty fat fat pants. UGH.
– richer or poorer? I know this sounds nuts, but both. Dual incomes are AWESOME, but buying the new house is eating up a solid portion of our savings. We just need to get that down payment over with, and then we can start saving up again.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Trusting that things would work out and enjoying everything I am so blessed to have.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Fretting, worrying, beating myself up, lamenting things that I felt were out of my reach.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
In Boston, with family, as I have forever. This year, we were able to make it home in time for the Christmas party with my mom's side of the family, and Mark's parents joined us for my mom's big Christmas Eve dinner for my dad's side, which was great. We then headed north to meet up with Mark's parents for a few days of skiing at the mountain where they spent every weekend until they moved to Arizona. We headed back to my parents' for New Years; we lit fireworks in the snow and had great Italian takeout and lots of fabulous wine. I rang in 2013 over late night tipsy talking with my mom while my dad and Mark both turned in early. I couldn't imagine better.

19. What was your favorite TV program?
We watch so much garbage, it's hard to narrow down a fav. I am really liking Nashville right now, although I also really liked PanAm, so clearly my taste in television is, um, forgiving? I am not loving Revenge as much this year, but I am very much looking forward to the return of Smash. Oh, and I am the one still devotedly watching Grey's Anatomy, and I will be here until the bitter end.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
Unbroken was amazing, although I wish I hadn't read it immediately before flying 6 hours into the middle of the Pacific; I loved Gone Girl as well, and I think Insurgent was also this year -- another I couldn't put down. I didn't do a whole lot of reading this year, for whatever reason, but I would like to change that in 2013.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

I'm not a big music person -- I've always been a top 40 kind of gal, and I'm more than happy just streaming Pandora when I'm home. I listen to NPR in the car, for which my entire conservative family mocks me, but I like it.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
This is pathetic, but I think The Hunger Games may have been the only movie we saw in a (2nd run, cinema pub) theater; we liked it a lot though. Ted was a recent rental; I thought it was really funny, but a lot of it may have been funnier for us because we're Boston natives. Still a thumbs up though.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 33 and we went to dinner -- Belga Cafe in DC. Love that place.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
This is a tough one. There are always things that would make life better, but I keep getting slapped in the face by the fact that things come together in their own time and I just need to be more patient and trusting, which is really hard for control freaks, damn it.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Oh for [expletive] sake. Whatever covered my fat ass? Yoga pants, generally. Jeans and t-shirts for the store. Flip flops almost always. Fashion is so not my game at the moment.

(I will say, though, that I have been so completely and utterly inspired by Elizabeth's clothing series over at Princess Nebraska, which I will link to when I am on a real computer and not a mobile app. So accessible, yet consistently cute and put together. Love it.)

26. What kept you sane?
Mark, hands down. He's a keeper, that one, even when he's a giant pain in my ass. Drives me nuts, but I laugh every single day -- even on the shitty ones.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
If something is meant to be, it will happen. It may not come together as you wanted or imagined, or in anything close to the timeframe you anticipated (ahem, UNDERSTATEMENT), and being patiently proactive sucks, but yeah. It's worth it eventually. I really hope this continues to be true.

To all of you, a very happy New Year, and wishes for all the best in 2013!