Maybe Matilda

Friday, January 30, 2015

Everything isn’t awesome, but these things are.

I could go on for days and days about all the things driving me nuts at any given moment.

Right now, for instance? If you were to ask, I’d warm up by whining about the 3 light bulbs that are currently burned out in our house that I’m hoping Jeff will notice and replace because I don’t wanna.

Then I’d move along to complaining about Forrest’s habit of insisting he has cleaned his room when really all he’s done is put away the toys he likes best and left the rest of the room looking like an explosion has taken place.

I think I’d wrap it up with either Darcy’s deep desire to catapult herself down the stairs, or maybe her desperation to walk but inability to do so that results in her insisting on being baby-stepped everywhere she needs to go, or quite possibly I’d tell you about her swiftly vanishing morning naps (noooooo!!!) and how very, very sad I am at the prospect of losing those morning naps.

But I doubt anyone wants to hear about all that. (Although, if you do, I have plenty of material.)

In a conscious effort to be more positive, though (something that does not come naturally to me, shockingly!!), read on for some awesome things about the kids right now.

Awesome thing #1: This photo was totally staged, but even so, these two really are fond of each other (most of the time), and I think that is wonderful. Getting a kiss from Darcy is like pulling teeth unless the person requesting kisses is Forrest. If he asks for some loving, she is happy to oblige. Seeing them love each other is just beautiful.

Awesome thing #2: Darcy will eat anything, and so much of it. After years of dealing with Forrest’s picky eating, this is a relief that can’t be overstated. Girlfriend loves almost every food she’s ever tasted, and has a great appetite. I’ve never had to worry if she’s eating enough, or if she’s going to bed hungry, or if there’s enough variety in her diet. She loves it all, and gobbles down every meal. And it’s awesome, especially compared with her brother who usually makes dinner a chore.

Awesome thing #3: I know he’s being manipulative, but it’s in the very cutest possible way: Forrest has learned exactly what requests will get him extra time and attention before bed. The winning questions are “Will you read me a book?”, “Will you give me 5 more minutes of snuggles?”, and “Can I tell you the best part of my day?” We both know he’s just trying to weasel a few more minutes out of the bedtime routine, but I don’t even care. Those questions are darling, and I know the days are numbered that he will want to snuggle and chat with me before bed, so I’m usually okay with giving him those few more minutes before he falls asleep.

Awesome thing #4: Darcy has a longstanding love affair with the little bear in the picture above, and it’s just the cutest relationship ever. I recently bought an identical bear to keep as a backup, and the couple of minutes she spent snuggling the twin bears simultaneously before I put one away for safekeeping were probably the happiest minutes of her life. Seeing her cuddle the bear against her cheek—and selflessly offer it to me for snuggles, too—is just precious.

Awesome thing #5: Forrest has always been an early riser, and if we didn’t stop him, he’d be up and busy by 5:30 every morning. Not cool. We put a clock in his room and taught him that he couldn’t leave his room until 6:00—it took a few weeks for this to sink in, but now he is very good about not coming out before 6 (and if he wakes up before 6, which I suspect he does, he just plays or ‘reads’ books in his room).

But still, 6 AM is kinda early for me. I can already hear the supermothers gearing up for a marathon nag sesh after I reveal this nugget of A+ parenting, but this is how we roll around here: Forrest leaves his room at 6, goes downstairs by himself, and plays with the iPad by himself until I get up around 7. That extra hour of sleep he lets me sneak in while he entertains himself0 is pretty awesome.

I’d love to hear what’s awesome at your house right now, too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January 2015 Books

I can hardly believe I read so much this month! I usually average about 4 or 5 books per month, and was surprised to find the tally at 10 for January. *pats self on back*

Part of that unusually high number is due to my new audiobook habit (two of these were listened to while folding laundry and mopping floors), and a few other books were quite short (Gifts of Imperfection and Bird by Bird, I’m looking at you).

Sadly, I struggled through a few books this month that really did nothing for me at all, but my selections got better as the month went on—I ended with a string of books that I loved. Listed in the order I read them, here are my first 10 reads of 2015:

Shoemaker's Wife book review

The Shoemaker’s Wife (Adriana Trigiani)

This coming-of-age/romance about 2 young Italians and their dreams to make their way in America wanted to be sweeping and lyrical and lovely, but for me, it was just slow and dull and forgettable. In fact, I’ve already forgotten most of the story and details.

I know many people who love this book, but it definitely wasn’t for me. By the end, I was kicking myself for plowing through instead of abandoning it early.


Ruby Red review

Ruby Red (Kerstin Gier)

This series about a young girl who possesses a gene that allows her to travel through time certainly has plenty of fans . . . but I won’t be joining them for their fan club meetings. I listened to the audio version of the first in the series, and it was juuuust entertaining enough for me to finish it, but I won’t be continuing the series.

(It’s been translated into English, which might explain a lot of the awkward, unimpressive writing.)


Summers at Castle Auburn reviewSummers at Castle Auburn (Sharon Shinn)

I stumbled into this book on Goodreads where it had great reviews from two of my cousins, both of whom have excellent taste in books. I thought it was fun and breezy and lovable—and with a little magic, a little romance, and a little castle intrigue, it’s got something for everyone.

Maybe not my new all-time favorite, but very sweet and fun and cute, especially if you were the sort of teenager who gobbled up magical books like there was no tomorrow (ahem), and occasionally still miss the magic.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds review

In the Shadow of Blackbirds (Cat Winters)

This YA novel is set during such an interesting period in American history: WWI rages abroad, and the Spanish Flu rages at home. 16-year old Mary Shelley loses her first love to the war, but is visited by his ghost after his death.

It took me a good 80 or so pages to get into this one, but once I did, I loved the interesting historical setting as well as the creepy and unique storyline. I’ve now started another of Winters’ books and I’m not sure that it has the pull I felt from this one (but maybe her books always start with 80 or so slow pages?).

Prayers for Sale review

Prayers for Sale (Sandra Dallas)

86-year old Hennie Comfort recounts stories of her friends, her life, and her mining town to a young newlywed during the depression. I listened to it on audio, and similarly to Ruby Red, it was just enough to keep me going but not enough to ever really hook me.

The stories were often enjoyable to listen to, but I can’t say I loved this. It reminded me of These Is My Words (another I didn’t ever really fall deeply for), so if you liked that, this could be one to look into.

Crow Lake review

Crow Lake (Mary Lawson)

A quiet Ontario town, a young family left parentless by an accident, and their struggle to stay together—this is strongly reminiscent of Peace Like a River, so of course I thought it was great (I’m sure you know how hard it is to name one favorite book, but when pressed, I generally go with Peace).

If you’re only going to read one of the two, make it Peace, but if you’ve already read Peace and loved it, check this one out.

(And if you haven’t read Peace, will you do it? For me?)

The Gifts of Imperfection review

The Gifts of Imperfection (Brene Brown)

This book has gotten a lot of buzz, and I’ve waited months on my library hold list to get a copy. It gave me a lot to think about, and I recognized a lot of myself here . . . not in a good way.

I felt a little lost at the end, like I ended up with a huge list of my own flaws without a ton of concrete, practical ideas on how to change them (when it comes to self-improvement, I need step-by-step, spelled-out solutions, not just loose suggestions), but it was a great jumping off point for identifying the way I think and act, and topics I need to study more and work on (like self-compassion, perfectionism, people-pleasing).

Bird By Bird review

Bird By Bird (Anne Lamott)

This book was a reading assignment for a creative writing class I took at BYU (which was, by the way, the best college class I took), and I think it a sign of my great wisdom (*snort*) that I kept this book instead of selling it back to the bookstore at the end of the semester.

I wondered if it could really be as great as I remembered, and it wasn’t—it was better. With hilarious self-deprecating wit and insight into the minds of readers and writers, it is a wonderful look at the writing process. I loved it, and think it would be a great read for anyone who loves reading and/or writing.


Revolution (Jennifer Donnelly)

I’m a sucker for books about people researching the past, especially if they recover lost documents along the way. This YA novel is about a teen girl haunted by her brother’s death (for which she blames herself [don’t they always?]), who finds the diary of a young woman who lived during the French Revolution.

For the unique (and riveting!) historical perspective, 5 big stars. But there were too many strings left dangling and questions unanswered for me to really fall hard for it. Even so, I liked it a lot, and would recommend it to fans of historical fiction.

Stiff review

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (Mary Roach)

Well, this is going to go down as one of my weirdest books of all time, but it was absolutely one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read, too.

Roach explores historical use of cadavers (anatomical study, cannibalism, and medicinal use, oh my!) as well as the many paths a modern-day body can travel after death—from vehicle safety testing to surgical practice to rotting in a car trunk in the name of crime scene research.

Sadly, not a single option is remotely appealing (including plain old cremation or burial). But this book was incredibly interesting, and unexpectedly hilarious. Perhaps not for the very squeamish (although I’m fairly squeamish, and only really had a hard time with one chapter about studying the wounds on plane crash victims to identify the cause of a crash—eek).

I’d love to hear what you read this month!

Monday, January 26, 2015

No-Bake Chocolate Oat Bars

Jeff and a friend took a road trip to California last weekend (without me!!!) for a seminar (oh right, that’s why I didn’t want to go). He asked if I’d make a snack for him to bring along, and that’s a request I am always happy to fulfill.

I’ve mentioned before that cookies are probably my favorite thing to bake. Still true, but if you’re not in the mood to roll out dozens of little balls and stand by the oven for an hour, removing and replacing pans every 6-9 minutes, well, bars can’t be beat, right?

I’ve had these bars in my recipe binder for years, but to tell you the truth, I can’t recall making them. I’m sure I have—recipes don’t earn a spot in The Binder without a thorough testing first—but it felt like I was trying something brand new when I made these no-bake bars.

No-Bake Chocolate Oat Bars //

And they are just delicious. They take all of 10-15 minutes to make (although they have to chill for a few hours afterward, so perhaps not the best choice if you’re dying for a treat you can dig into IMMEDIATELY). Rich, buttery oat bars, topped with a thick layer of chocolate and peanut butter—I can’t remember making them before, but I’m not at all surprised that I thought it was a recipe worth saving.

They didn’t all make it into the cooler for Jeff’s road trip, of course. It’s a matter of quality testing. Somebody’s gotta do it. I found a helper more than willing to lend a hand/mouth in the name of quality control.

No-Bake Chocolate Oat Bars //

No-Bake Chocolate Oat Bars

slightly adapted from All Recipes

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter

Grease a 9x9” square pan and set aside. (For even less cleanup, line the pan with foil, lightly greased.)

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then stir in the brown sugar and vanilla. Stir well to combine, then add oats. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant and golden. Remove 1/2 cup oat mixture and set aside.

Press oats firmly into prepared pan.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter together in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth and well-combined.

Spread chocolate/peanut butter mixture evenly over oats, and crumble reserved 1/2 cup oats over the top.

Place pan in refrigerator to allow bars to set (approximately 2-3 hours . . . or, for the lazy and hungry [ahem, like me], go ahead and pop them in the freezer for about an hour, then let them sit out on the counter to soften a tad before cutting).

Friday, January 23, 2015

Deep Thoughts with Forrest #9

I put on a movie for Forrest to watch while I took a shower and got ready. When I came downstairs a while later . . .
Forrest: You all done getting ready, Mama?
Me: Yep.
Forrest: (turning to look at me) Whoa! You look so beautiful!!!
Me: That is such a nice thing to say! Thank you, Forrest!
Forrest: Has no one ever told you that thing before?

Jeff helping Forrest with the TV.
Jeff: Push a button on the remote. Just push any button.
Forrest: But where is the ‘any’ button?!

We went to church with my mom a few weeks ago, and Forrest went with her to the Sunday School class she teaches to the 16 and 17 year old kids. There were 3 boys in attendance that day, and after they (very nicely!) spent a few minutes chatting with Forrest, he turned to my mom and . . .
Forrest: (in a very loud stage whisper) Are these guys boys or mans??

Deep Thoughts with Forrest #9 //

Forrest: Mama, did you know that everybody gets scared sometimes?
Me: Even Daddy?
Forrest: Welllll . . . no, Daddy does not get scared, because he has a lot of guns.

In the car, listening to Taylor Swift.
Forrest: (dramatic sigh) I wish the people on the radio were REAL.
Me: They are real . . . we just don’t know them.
Forrest: Really?! That is cool!
Me: Yep. Do you wish you knew Taylor Swift?
Forrest: No. I wish I knew Carrie (Underwood). Do you know where Carrie lives? Can we go to her house to play?
Dream big, little buddy. And also, good taste.

Deep Thoughts with Forrest #9 //

Forrest: Can I have some milk?
Me: Sure.
Forrest: No, wait!! I want CHOCOLATE milk! Can I have that?
Me: Ok.
Forrest: Do you know how to make it? Because if you don't know how to make it, I can have regular milk.
Me: I think I can handle it.
Forrest: Are you sure? Are you SUUUURE you know how to make it? Maybe you should just get me regular milk.
Such confidence in my kitchen abilities!

We had a neighbor girl babysit recently. Before we left, I asked if she had any questions, and she said she’d be fine—she just lives up the street and she said she’d call her mom for help if she had any trouble. The next morning:
Me: Did you have fun with Elizabeth last night, Forrest?
Forrest: Yes!! I love Elizabeth!!
Me: Oh, good! What did you guys do together?
Forrest: We played Legos, and she gave me a snack, and she called her mom one time, and she tucked me into bed!
Me: (worried about the call to her mom—maybe something happened that she didn’t tell me about?) Oh yeah? What did she say on the phone to her mom?
Forrest: Elizabeth called her mom and she saided, “MOM! OH NO! DARCY CRAPPED ALL OVER HER SHIRT!!!”

Deep Thoughts with Forrest #9 //

Upon spotting a box of maxi pads being purchased by someone ahead of us in line at Walmart . . .
Forrest: (loudly) What’s she buying? Are those for her BUTT?? Because they look like DIAPERS.

Forrest: What does frenemy mean?
Me: . . . what?
Forrest: I said what does FRENEMY mean?
Me: Um, I guess it means someone who is sort of your friend, but doesn’t treat you very nicely.
Forrest: Hm.
Me: Does that make sense?
Forrest: But in Toy Story, why do they say, ‘you’ve got a frenemy’??

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

6 Recipes I Love (that you should totally try)

Is it just me, or is there a very unfortunate ratio of great recipes to terrible recipes online? Like, for every 4 recipes you find bouncing around on the internet, insisting they are the BEST recipe of all time and the author’s family’s ALL-TIME FAVORITE, only 1 of those will actually be worth printing out and adding to your recipe binder and repeating later.

Not just me, right? (Just say yes. It helps my self-esteem.)

Of all the many recipes I’ve tried over the past few months, here are 6 I think are total keepers.6 favorite recipes from

1. Moist Sweet Cornbread: Cornbread is one of my go-to side dishes for a lot of dinners—it goes so well with so many entrees, it’s quick to prepare, everyone in my family enjoys it, and the leftovers make a great breakfast the next morning. Many versions I’ve tried are too dry and crumbly, but this recipe’s name is no lie—it is incredibly moist and sweet and delicious. Definitely a keeper.

2. Sweet Potato Breakfast Skillet: Sweet potato, green pepper, eggs, and sausage—it strikes me as an odd combination, but somehow, it works, and works wonderfully. This dish is quick to pull together, healthy, and delicious. We love it, and despite the word ‘breakfast’ in the title, it’s become my go-to dinner for those nights when I have almost no time or ingredients. (A note: I prefer it wish Italian sausage instead of ground beef.)

3. Orange Chicken: Asian dishes are always a hit over here, and this one is no exception. The fresh orange flavor is fantastic, and the sauce is so good, I’m always tempted to drink it straight from the pot. I like to add a little extra ginger as well as a pinch of red pepper flakes to give it a tiny bit of heat—yum.

4. Gloria’s Perfect Cinnamon Rolls: I’m always skeptical when a recipe claims to be the best anything. It’s quite a claim, and I’ve been let down too many times by ‘The BEST’ recipes. But these might actually be the perfect cinnamon rolls. The dough is so soft and smooth, the finished rolls are incredibly tender, and they freeze and reheat beautifully. I’ll be making these again and again.

5. Honey Sriracha Chicken Thighs: This moist and tender chicken topped with a sweet and spicy sauce is fantastic. A word of warning, though: unless you really like things hot, consider using less sriracha in the sauce than the recipe calls for. I use half to two-thirds the recommended amount. I always serve it over this Savory Coconut Rice, and top it with lots of green onion and cilantro.

6. One Bowl Chocolate Cake: My mom offered to come over and make dinner for us recently, so I figured I’d whip up a dessert . . . then realized I had practically nothing in the pantry. This cake comes together using just the barest of pantry staples, but it’s rich and moist and irresistible. I topped it with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting, and immediately started in on a hefty slice without waiting for my mom to arrive. Such a great hostess.

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite recipes!

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