Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

Posts Tagged ‘The domestication of Lissa’

Gardening! Also, I’m smarter than the folks at Home Depot.

Posted by Lissa on June 10, 2014

If not smarter, I’m at least more open-minded 🙂

We moved to a new house in October 2013. Only half a mile down the road from our old house, it gave us another bedroom, another bathroom, a nicer pool, and an actual backyard. The only thing I miss about the old place (besides the neighbors*) is my garden. My rosemary bushes were all about waist high; I still had parsley and Greek oregano and thyme and a few other herbs.

I didn’t want to dig up the lawn and make a garden bed, so I decided to try to imitate this idea instead.

I put the pic on my phone and asked the lady at the front of Home Depot what she recommended for the grate. She didn’t really understand what I was asking for so she called the Garden Guy to the front desk. He hemmed and hawed and told me there was nothing in the garden section that would serve; I should go ask the folks down at Lumber. Which I did.

Lumber Guy thought really hard and brought me to the gate section. Thick, sturdy fencing securely attached to a rigid metal border. Perfect! . . . wait, does that price tag really say $159??? Holy crap!

Lumber Guy agreed that it was a pretty expensive solution and recommended that I build a frame of two-by-fours and staple fencing to it. I explained that I don’t do home improvement stuff, just garden stuff. I wanted to tell him I don’t do staple guns, only real guns, but it didn’t seem productive. He regretfully told me there was nothing in the store that would suit my purposes.

So I wandered around until I found the security bars to put over windows and decided they would suit just fine. THEN I went out to the garden section to measure bags of potting soil and discovered the garden-fence-section racks. PERFECT. *EXACTLY* what I needed.

A few sawhorses, bags of potting soil, seed packets and assembly later, I had the makings of my garden:



Next post I’ll show you how my seedlings are doing!

*It may seem funny that moving half a mile down the road has such a drastic impact on how much I hang out with the nice ladies by the old house, but it does. We all have kids. Whereas previously I could poke my head out and see if anyone was outside playing, I now have to text them and work out schedules to visit. I’ve lost that casual the-whole-neighborhood-is-chatting-at-the-corner vibe.

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Did you know RSVP’s are out of style?

Posted by Lissa on August 6, 2012

It’s true.

My baby shower was a few weeks ago and I invited perhaps 20 people. With about a week and a half to go I had gotten “yes” RSVP’s from … Five people.

Two of whom were my mother and my mother-in-law.

I’m not going to lie – I was freaking out a little. I had visions of the six of us sitting around the kitchen table drinking coffee and just having a brunch group instead of a shower. And, yes, this event was haunting my thoughts.

I eventually asked my mother-in-law to track down responses the weekend before and we ended up with thirteen people, which was wonderful – enough people to make it a party, but not so many that we couldn’t all fit in the living room.

This came to mind again yesterday when friends of ours cancelled a dinner invitation. Now, they do have a reasonable excuse: this was their first weekend in town (I.e. we were bringing them dinner for when the movers left). We had texted with them around eleven am or noon and asked what kind of pizza we should bring (the answer was “pepperoni”). And then, around 3:15, Mike got the cancellation call.

Now, again, they have a very valid excuse – the movers ran late, the baby was cranky, etc. But more notice would have been nice.

And I got to wondering whether this is a generational thing.

You see, the prep that I had already made for our dinner visit – I baked pumpkin bread so they’d have breakfast foods, I baked vanilla cupcakes with key lime buttercream frosting for dessert, and I bought fruit salad to serve with the pizza – is perhaps a little more than people my age usually do for a dinner visit. I think it was the standard for dinner visits thirty years ago, but no longer. Maybe that’s one reason cancellations and lack of RSVP’s are more common.

What do you think?

P.S. Hey you kids, get off my lawn!!

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Laminate flooring

Posted by Lissa on June 29, 2012

This stuff is AWESOME!!!!

In preparation for BabyKitty, we cleared out the bedrooms and the dining room and brought in someone to rip out all the old, nasty, gunk-stained carpet and replace it with hard-wood-floor patterned laminate. It’s much cheaper than real wood, it’s more durable, and I’m less likely to cry the first time BabyKitty rollerblades across it.

We went from this (and even in this little photo, you can see the state of the carpet we inherited) —


— and this —


— to THIS! Isn’t it pretty???



The previous owners took good care of their house, BTW, but an off-white carpet does not survive a baby boy growing up. It just doesn’t.

We’re getting set, here. Bring on the crib!

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Healthier chicken parmesan

Posted by Lissa on June 15, 2012

Chicken parm = YUM. There’s a restaurant in downtown Boston – Papa Razzi – that does absolutely mouthwatering chicken parmesan. They take a huge, flat slab of chicken, bread it, deep-fry it and top it with sauce and cheese. The SIDE for this dish, by the way, is spaghetti with sauce. Yeah.

I’ve been leery of trying my hand at chicken parm because it’s such a classic dish and Mike loves it so much. And I steer clear of deep-frying ANYTHING, because it’s messy and makes very unhealthy delicious food that you eat too much of and then regret. I have a boatload of kitchen equipment (mostly gifts from my wedding registry) and have refused to allow a fryer through the doorway.

So, here’s a healthier way of getting it done. I think of this as

Chicken Parmesan, Piccatta-style*”

Buy a package of the Thin and Fit chicken breasts that are sliced really thin. (They go on sale at Publix buy-one-get-one and I stock up.) You can pound the chicken out yourself but it takes longer and you’re not going to get them as flat without a serious amount of effort.

Salt, pepper and garlic powder each side of each piece of chicken. Dip each side onto a plate of flour, shaking off excess.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook chicken about 3 minutes each side (4-5 minutes for thicker chicken) until golden brown. (This might take two batches; add a little more oil as needed.) Remove chicken from pan and lay out on a cookie sheet (I recommend lining with aluminum foil or parchment paper for easier cleanup).

Top chicken with spaghetti sauce (homemade is best!) and sprinkle thickly with reduced fat cheese – mozzarella or four-cheese Italian blend. (You can add in a bit of real parmesan if you like – I did.) Either stick it under the broiler or bake until the cheese gets bubbly and melty. (You don’t have to be picky here. If you’re messing with other things, bake it at 350 for 10-15 minutes. My oven was already set at 425 for the roasted broccoli*, so it took about seven minutes.)

If you like a moist dish (or your husband was a little late to dinner) I recommend topping with additional sauce (again, homemade is best). Serve hot and enjoy!

*I only recently started doing chicken piccata and this is how you do the chicken part of it. Mike pointed out that it could easily apply to chicken parm, and voile!
**I have completely OD’d on steamed broccoli; I just can’t eat it anymore. So lately I’ve been drizzling it with olive oil, adding salt, pepper and garlic powder and roasting it in the oven at 425 for about twenty minutes. Yum!!!


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When is this popper ready for picking?

Posted by Lissa on May 18, 2012

Look! Look! It’s growing!


But when is it big enough? I somehow doubt it’s going to turn bright red like my tomatoes. Do I just pick it when I think it’s big enough to be tasty?

Oh, and Happy Friday!

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The State of the Garden

Posted by Lissa on April 24, 2012

Good morning all! The weather is just beautiful down in Florida — highs in the 80s every day — and my garden is thriving! I planted everything in March … look how it’s doing!

First, my herbs:


Starting from lower left and going roughly counter clockwise, that’s Greek oregano, sweet mint, peppermint, more mint, flat parsley, and curly parsley. The oregano is spreading like crazy, as does the mint, both of which are welcome developments. (It’s a very weedy garden bed – the previous owners let the weeds run wild and didn’t plant anything – so herbs that I can eat are encouraged to spread out.) The curly parsley and the mint survived from last autumn; everything else is a new planting. And NOTHING tops off homemade cooked-for-six-hours spaghetti sauce like fresh picked oregano and sweet basil.

Speaking of which —


I’ve got four basil plants with a Greek thyme plant in the foreground. (I don’t know why the herbs are Greek. It’s just what Home Depot was selling.) The basil actually looks happier now that we’ve had two days of rainstorms – much greener and perkier.

My rosemary bush is the only herb that survived my first planting in October 2010 –


The bush to the right was planted last year; the baby off to the left was from this March. Rosemary, BTW, is extremely hardy and therefore I love it. I mostly use it for pork chop marinade and rosemary reduction sauce for chicken, but one of these days I’m going to clip branches and use them as skewers to grill chicken!

Last but not least, see my tomatoes!


I babied them over the weekend and painstakingly picked out AT LEAST FIFTY of these disgusting little beasts:


Don’t get me wrong, I love butterflies, and I like moths. But I was nearing the point of just nuking the damn things from orbit when I discovered . . . THIS.


AAUUUGGGHHHHH!!! I narrowly restrained myself from lighting them on fire before flinging the leaf off the edge of the garden into the bracken. I resisted largely because I didn’t want to leave them there long enough to go inside and grab a lighter. BEGONE YE MONSTERS!!

I don’t spray anything in my garden because I like being able to pick and eat while I weed. My neighbor recommended spraying them with an olive oil solution. Does anyone know if that works?

Anyway, that’s what’s growing besides BabyKitty 2012!

(I’ve also got some lemon chives and I’m experimenting with jalapeños, but this post is long enough as it is.)

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Oops! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Posted by Lissa on February 15, 2012

Oops! I was so indignant about the Ministry of Truth stuff yesterday that I forgot to post Valentine’s stuff! Mike’s out of town right now so we celebrated early over the weekend. I made one of his favorite dinners, Aussie meat pies (lean ground beef, onion, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, tomato paste all simmered together and piled between puff pastry layers) — Valentine’s style!


For dessert, I made red velvet mini cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting (yes, all of it from scratch):


I had some red sugar sprinkles but decided that they weren’t necessary and might be messy. Then I watched an episode of Cupcake Wars and mourned that I hadn’t added sprinkles AND a fondant heart. Or something.

As for Valentine’s Day itself . . .


My sweetie is a wonderful guy 🙂

I hope your Valentine’s Day held as much love and good feelings as mine did!!

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Meet my new love

Posted by Lissa on December 28, 2011


So pretty! So shiny!!

So far I’ve made cheddar cheese muffins and spaghetti. I think it’ll be awesome in kneading chicken burgers and making cakes. I pet it on a daily basis and I might give it a name.

Who wants to come over for noms? 🙂

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Thank you Mike!

Posted by Lissa on October 14, 2011

What do you do when your husband is busy fighting AT&T, starving, and can’t eat dinner yet?


You make him an amuse-bouche with a (roughly) heart-shaped pan-seared polenta cake topped with sausage and fennel ragout!

Thanks to Mike, and his willingness to spend literally HOURS either arguing or on hold for a supervisor, my new phone got rescued from backorder (“21-28 days”) and will be here this afternoon. He’s the bestest!!!

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Mama’s got a brand-new bag…less

Posted by Lissa on October 10, 2011

Meet my new love:


Yay!!! Bought it refurb’d from Woot and I am SO SO pleased with this sucker. (Yes, that pun was terrible. No, I’m not ashamed.) It corners like a DREAM — I actually thought it was one of their ball vacuums until I bent down and looked. And the cleaning power … It makes my old Bissel look like a crippled old nag.

Hooray for cleaning tools, and Happy Monday!

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