Maybe Matilda

Friday, May 29, 2015

3 Cheese Broccoli Calzones

If you ask Jeff what his favorite food is, he'll probably say "food inside of other food," which is a category that I believe he made up. It might be made up, but it's hard to argue with. Pot pie: food inside of other food. Stuffed french bread: food inside of other food. Bacon-wrapped anything: food inside of the best food.

So with this knowledge, I guess it goes without saying that calzones are a popular dinner around here. My all-time favorite recipe is my mom's Sausage and Veggie Calzones, but these 3 Cheese Broccoli Calzones are a delicious alternative that taste really light and fresh for spring.

3 cheese broccoli calzones

But listen, please don't judge them by my very unflattering photo. I did my best. A professional photographer I am not. *single tear emoji* Despite the picture, they really are delicious--gooey and cheesy without being overwhelming or greasy, with a fresh, crisp veggie bite. So good.

You can use frozen, store bought pizza dough for these calzones, or you can make your own. I'm sure any recipe will do nicely, but this is my go-to recipe for pizza dough. Quick and delicious and it always turns out great.

3 Cheese Broccoli Calzones

1 recipe pizza dough (or 1 loaf store bought frozen pizza dough, thawed and ready to use)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 head broccoli, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking sheet (or just lightly grease it--but I am crazy in love with my Silpat and highly recommend that you get one!). 

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and saute onions and broccoli until softened. Add garlic, and saute an additional 30 seconds or until fragrant.

In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add broccoli and onion mixture, and stir to combine. 

Pull off sections of pizza dough and roll into circles (roughly 6 inches across and 1/2 inch thick, although come on, there's no need to break out a ruler). Place a generous scoop of filling off-center, fold dough over the filling the create a semicircle, and pinch the edges to seal. Place calzones on prepared baking sheet, roughly 2 inches apart, and bake in preheated oven for 10 to 13 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes about 12 calzones (depending on size).

3 cheese broccoli calzones

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Deep Thoughts with Forrest #12

(Sorry for my absence lately—internet issues. I think we’re good now.)
Me: You’re a silly kid, Forrest.
Forrest: (indignant) No I’m not! I’m just myself!!

My grandma was in town recently, and it’s the first time Forrest has seen her since we flew to New York for my grandpa’s funeral a year ago. Forrest has been curious about why great-grandma is visiting, but great-grandpa isn’t, so we’ve had some chats about death, which I feel terrifically unprepared for.Me: Well, when great grandpa died, his body stayed here but his spirit went up to heaven.
Forrest: . . . where was his spirit before he died?
Me: It was inside of him. His spirit is who he is, and his body is just the outside.
Forrest: . . . his spirit is inside? Like with his bones?
Me: I guess so, yeah.
Forrest: (after a pause) Ok well next time we go to Daddy’s office I am going to take an x-ray of myself so I can see my spirit.

deep thoughts with forrest

After I came out of the bathroom . . . Forrest: What were you doing in there??
Me: Going to the bathroom.
Forrest: NO, you were not, because you do not have a butt.
Girls do not have butts, and they cannot poop.

On the phone with Jeff, Forrest overheard me say ‘stupid,’ which he has learned is not a nice word. Feel free to use your naughtiest swear words in his presence since he has no idea what they mean, but heaven help you if you say 'stupid.'Forrest: MAMA!!! You said a very bad word!
Me: Oh, right. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.
Forrest: Are you a mean girl? NO. So you should NOT be saying mean things like that.
Me: You’re right.
Forrest: If you say that bad word again, I will say, ‘Mama, you are a potato head,’ because a potato head is what we call someone who is not nice. Don’t be a potato head.

deep thoughts with forrest

At Target, I owed Forrest a treat and tried to talk him into gummy worms, which he declined in favor of Swedish fish (the worst! whose kid is this?!). So I obviously had no choice but to buy the gummy worms for myself anyway. In the car on the way home, while each of us ate our own candy:Forrest: These fishy candies are delicious!!Me: Good, I’m glad you like them.
Forrest: How are your snails?
Me: . . . what?
Forrest: I said how are your gummy snails?

Out of nowhere:Forrest: I think girls are cute.
Me: . . . yeah? Do you know what ‘cute’ means?
Forrest: Cute means sooooooooo beautiful. I think girls are cute and it is my superhero power to hug them!
deep thoughts with forrest

Monday, May 18, 2015

Progress on my MMD 2015 Reading Challenge

As a former child who regularly killed it during library summer reading challenges, I have to admit that I’ve missed participating in that sort of thing. So I was excited to jump on board when Modern Mrs. Darcy posted her 2015 reading challenge at the start of the year: 12 books, 12 categories, 12 months. You can see the full challenge HERE and read all about it.

I loved that her categories gave some structure, but left plenty of wiggle room to choose books I was most excited about. I’m actually nearly done with the challenge already (I’m sure the idea was to tackle one category per month, but I got ahead of myself, as I often do when books are involved), so I thought I’d post an update on what books I’ve read to fit into each category, and what I’m planning to read for upcoming categories.

Book ideas and reviews for 2015 reading

Check mark symbol1) A book you’ve been meaning to read: Gone With the Wind (Margaret Mitchell). I read this in high school, but have been meaning to re-read it for years. I finally finished it this month and loved it. I’m not sure I actually remembered anything about it from my initial read-- it felt brand new. More to come at the end of the month in my reading recap post.

Check mark symbol2) A book published this year: First Frost (Sarah Addison Allen) I generally don’t keep up with new releases (too overwhelmed by my current to-read list to keep an eye out for new ones!), but I loved Garden Spells and have been excitedly waiting for a sequel. I reviewed First Frost HERE.

Check mark symbol3) A book in a genre you don’t typically read: The Devil in the White City (Erik Larson) I think it’s safe to say that historical non-fiction is entirely out of my typical reading zone. I read this for a book club recently and loved it. I reviewed it HERE.

4) A book from your childhood: planning to read Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery) I haven’t started yet, but I was so sad to hear about the death of Jonathan Crombie (who played Gilbert Blythe—my first love!), and re-reading Anne just seems like the right thing to do.

5) A book your mom loves: I am torn between To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) and The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett). When I asked my mom for recommendations, she rattled off about 5 classics, so I have a bit of narrowing down to do in this category.

Check mark symbol6) A book that was originally written in a different language: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne) I struggled to find a book to fit this category, then it fell into my lap as a book club selection. Buuuut I did not care for it at all.

Check mark symbol7) A book ‘everyone’ has read but you: The Gifts of Imperfection (Brene Brown) I saw this book reviewed and recommended over and over again on blogs and from friends, and I felt like I must be the last person to pick it up! I thought it was a great book with lots of amazing insight, although it left me feeling a little lost—like all my issues had been spread out on the table for me to analyze and fret over, but I wasn’t sure what to do to fix them. I think I need therapy. Full book review HERE.

8) A book you chose because of the cover: I don’t have anything chosen for this category yet. Waiting for something to jump out at me during a library visit!

Check mark symbol9) A book by a favorite author: Alias Grace (Margaret Atwood) I’ve loved Margaret Atwood since being bowled over by The Handmaid’s Tale in high school (and again more recently!), and have read quite a few of her novels (some with greater success than others). I had mixed feelings about Alias Grace—you can see my review HERE. I also picked up Birds Without Wings from the library this week—it’s a perfect fit for this category, too, since I love with a capitol L Corelli’s Mandolin. I’m excited to start it!

Check mark symbol10) A book recommended by someone with great taste: Summers at Castle Auburn (Sharon Shinn) Two of my very well-read cousins gave this book great reviews on Goodreads, which made it a perfect fit for this category. With a little magic, a little romance, and a little castle intrigue, it was right up my alley. See my review HERE.

11) A book you should have read in high school: I’m undecided here . . . considering Brave New World or The Great Gatsby. Other recommendations welcome! I’m finding this category a little intimidating, mostly because ‘should have read in high school’ instantly makes me think, ‘dodged a bullet by not having to read this in high school.’

Check mark symbol12) A book that’s currently on the bestseller list: The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins) Reminiscent of Gone Girl (but with significantly less stick-with-you creep factor), this was fast and exciting and hard to put down. See my review HERE.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday List: Minimalist Baby Essentials

I got rid of almost all our baby stuff while packing for our move. We didn’t have a lot—mainly outgrown clothes—and I debated whether I ought to lug it along for another couple of moves just in case we decide to have another baby someday, or go ahead and donate it now to save ourselves the trouble of moving unnecessary boxes time and time again. As a fairly serious purger, that inner debate didn’t last terribly long. I ditched the baby stuff (with the exception of one box of sentimental items—a few favorite outfits, handmade baby gifts, etc.).

If we ever decide to have another kid, we’ll basically be starting from scratch. But that honestly doesn’t feel like a huge deal to me, because I discovered that there isn’t a ton of baby stuff that I felt was vital. I know a lot of moms who accumulate lots of baby gear and use and love it all. I definitely walked the minimalist route and stuck to the baby basics, and never really felt like I was suffering.

Without further ado, my minimalist baby essentials:

Minimalist Baby Essentials

 Fabric-free high chair: I have to admit, high chairs with cushions and covers baffle me. That’s just more laundry to wash. Am I missing something? Comfort, I suppose? If my baby wants to be comfortable with a cushy upholstered seat, she’s welcome to wash it herself. We went the all-plastic route, and I love the convenience of just wiping the high chair down after meals. When it gets really filthy, I carry it outside and hose it off in the yard. Classy, eh?

Velcro Swaddlers: Forrest and Darcy both slept better when they were swaddled, and were also Houdini babies who could break out of even the tightest blanket swaddle. I loved using these lightweight velcro swaddlers on them—they would stay swaddled all night, and I loved that they were light enough to use even on warm nights.

Exersaucer: This isn’t the exact one we had, but gosh, they all look pretty fun. I loved being able to stick a baby in there and have the freedom to get things done without worrying that baby would get into trouble. With all the little doodads, I didn’t feel like they needed tons of other toys. And once they were old enough to stand, my kids loved walking around the outside and playing with it from a different angle.

Crib Mirror: Possibly the best money we ever spent on a baby item right here. I bought this exact mirror for Forrest when he was about 4 months old, hoping that when he woke up in the night or too early from a nap, maybe it would keep him entertained and happy until he fell back asleep. He loved it, and I can’t tell you how many times I heard him wake up, giggle at his reflection and play with the little toys on the mirror, and fall back asleep on his own. Darcy never seemed quite as entertained by it as Forrest was, but that’s not to say she didn’t like it, too—she just isn’t as obsessed with herself, I guess.

Papasan Cradle Swing: A friend let us borrow this swing when Forrest was born, and thank heavens because it was literally—and I really do mean literally—the only place he would sleep for his first 3 months. He spent so much time swinging, and it was one of the only ways to make that poor colicky child happy. After returning the swing to our friend, we bought our own to keep for future children. Darcy was generally pleasant and didn’t require constant swinging to feel good about her life, so we didn’t end up using it as often as I’d expected. But for angry newborn Forrest, it was a godsend. I loved the option of having the seat upright or fully reclined for sleeping, and that it could swing front to back or side to side.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Sale and a Move

After losing our first offer on the house within hours of blogging about it, I came to the conclusion that I had brought it upon myself by broadcasting our good fortune. I’m with Michael Scott: I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.

So I decided the solution for a drama-free house sale is to shut up about it and not blog about every step of the process. It seems to have worked. a house sale

Now that everything is 100% finished and closed, I can finally say it without fearing karmic pushback: we sold our house!

We were so discouraged after losing that first offer on the house. I’m sure this is news to no one, but trying to keep a house in tip-top showing condition while living there with two little kids is rough. Darcy was falling apart without normal naps and bed times, and Forrest was reacting weirdly to the idea of people being in his house—he was extremely worried about people taking his stuff, and frustrated that he couldn’t spend much time at home.

We had absurdly high numbers of showings—it was a rare day that we could be home for more than an hour or two at a time—but for all those showings, we sure weren’t getting much action. We’d hear obnoxious feedback we couldn’t do anything about, and I would treat every item of feedback as a barbed personal attack. Our realtor finally just stopped telling me anything and communicated solely with Jeff, who can take feedback at face value and not be insulted by each comment.

Luckily, we got another offer about two weeks after the first fell through. We were happy with their offer, and gladly accepted without countering. We ended up having to pay for some roof repairs (which we expected), and installing a new lock on the back door (which hasn’t worked since we bought the place). We ended up putting about $3000 into these repairs.

Overall, our sale was a relatively smooth process. I stressed nonstop, because that is my default mode, but everything went fine. We got to meet the buyers a few days before we closed--I suppose it shouldn’t matter much to me who buys my house, as long as it sells, but I am really happy to have met them and know that such a nice family will be in ‘our’ house.

We moved out a week ago, and into a townhouse we’ll rent for a year. We haven’t decided yet where exactly we want to be, or whether we want to build or buy, so we’ll spend this next year making up our minds. Moving itself was just as much of a joy as you’d expect.

moving day

We’re getting settled into the new place, and I’ll take some pictures of it this week. It’s extremely close to the office, which is great, but the downside to being close to the office is that it’s in a sort of busy area, which I’m  not thrilled about. You win some, you lose some.

I’m so happy to be done with our sale, and excited to see where we end up in a year!

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