Friday, October 31, 2014

Another Use for Pizza Dough

Happy Halloween, guys! On crazy nights like tonight, I tend to throw together something super quick. Sometimes pasta, sometimes soul and a sandwich, but most of the time pizza. I love pizza. It's seriously, like, my favorite. If Dave could have one food for the rest of his life, it'd be salad. (I'm not kidding.) Me? Pretty sure it'd be pizza.

Last week, I had these two whole wheat pizza doughs getting closer and closer to their "probably should just throw those out" dates in the freezer. And it got my gears going. What to do with them...other than pizza?

So, today's recipe is relatively simple. Honestly, it's as easy as you want to make it, or as complicated as you want. You can cook intricate stuff up to add as fillers, or you can just toss in some sauce and cheese and call it a day. You can take my tip to make your own garlic butter or just drizzle some EVOO on top. No big.

Oh, and I used one pizza dough for each recipe -- got four "calzones" (I'm not Italian, but Dave kept calling them calzones, so I'm going with that as a name) of the "pizza" kind and four "calzones" of the broccoli kind. They're more filling than you may think, so I ended up freezing a few for future lunches. Oh, and feel free to cut the pizza into 6 or even 8 pieces; just cook for less time (until browned on top). If you want huge ones, to two, but they'll probably cook closer to 20-25 minutes.

I've gotta say that the broccoli/ham/cheese one was insanely tasty. The pizza one was good, too, of course...but, yeah. Broccoli FTW! Who knew?

{If you need to see the recipe better, click on it. It'll open up much larger.}

Have fun out there and be safe tonight! :-) My favorite part is after the ghosts and goblins have headed home for the night. We'll most likely be popping some popcorn, pouring some cider, and watching some Charlie Brown. Loving that it's on Friday this year!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Our Lil' Pumpkins

I wanted to fit this post in before Halloween, but because I've got tons of posts piled up, it gets its own day! Hurrah!

Pumpkin time! Dave's gonna get into the pumpkin carving and everything, so I figured I'd just share a few pictures and chat more about the painting. Yep, we did one large "family" pumpkin to carve (we asked Hadley what kind of jack-o'-lantern he wanted {a HAPPY one!} and what shapes he wanted for the eyes and nose, and whether he wanted it to have teeth, etc) AND took three mini "pie" pumpkins to the next level with some paint.

Just 'cause. Plus, he's never painted, so I figured it was time. (I know, I'm hanging my mommy blogger head right now. He had never touched paint!)

So, here are a few action shots of the pumpkin carving planning, reaction and the spooky fun effect...

Awesome, right? He picked the shapes (hence the animated picture of him with "round eyes, Mama!"). After staring at it for a few minutes, it starts to look like a Sesame Street Muppet. Totally appropriate.

Anyhoo, on to the messy stuff!!!

So, adorned in Daddy's old t-shirt, we plopped him into his "high chair" (the SpaceSaver kind), handed him a pumpkin and a brush and he went to town. Pretty much. I mean, I asked him what colors he'd like (purple and red for one, blue and green for another, and he was mute about the last choice, so we rounded it out with orange and yellow), loaded up the brush for him, and he much more enjoyed painting his hands than the pumpkin. But, then he'd massage the heck out of the pumpkin, so they each ended up with some amount of color.

I also gave him a piece of paper at the end to continue practicing his new-found artistic skills.

One of my favorite things about the painted pumpkins is that they add a nifty bit of color to the stoop -- AND they totally go with our new welcome mat. Hooray for happy accidents! I even got a teal pumpkin out of the deal! Plus, they make me grin when I see them. So cheery. So Hadley.

I ended up spraying them with several coats of a satin sealer since this type of paint tends to come off in the rain.  Oh, and you know I totally whisked him away to the bathtub immediately (Dave had it ready to go for us). It was hardly a mess at all, which makes me think we can do something like this more often. Probably for the next big holiday. TURKEYS!!!

To Pinterest I go...

Anyhoo, here's the final cheery product...

In the interest of full disclosure, our carved pumpkin bit the big one within a day of this picture. I think the humidity (and the fact that the pumpkin was a couple weeks old) meant its days were numbered. Oh, well. We had the fun experience and at least Daddy got a great picture for the ol' memory file. Now I'm REALLY glad we painted a few little ones!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

4 Simple Fall Decor Ideas

I recently shared a teensy decor switcheroo to help autumn-ify the living room a bit. Since I finally had a nice day to take pictures, I thought I'd share a handful of the other super simple add-ins I used for this year's fall decorating.

I'm not a big "spiders and skeletons" person. I've seen some awesome spookifications going on in the blogosphere, but this year I'm keeping it simple, stupid. Er. You're not stupid. I'm keeping it stupid simple. Better? :-)

While giving you guys a quick tour of our living room/dining room (I pretty much decorated the entry way from the living room into the dining room, so it hits the main living areas), I'll give a few SUPER simple tips on bringing a little autumn inside.

This year, I took my hints from nature. The first way? Bringing in some nature, of course! See those twigs adorned with dried leaves? Free, from our backyard. Instant pops of rust, orange and yellow. You'll also notice gourds and mini pumpkins placed throughout, along with some individual leaves strewn strategically.  

(Pay no attention to the hideous rug.)

This pretty lady has hung in this spot for years. I just can't bring myself to switch her up. Her neutral colors and gorgeous frame, rocking sense of style, and clear adoration for books has made her a kindred spirit. So, she stays. Plus, she really fits any season or holiday, doesn't she? I say yes.

That said, a tip here is to use stuff you LOVE. What else do we love? Stacks of books and magazines. I also love sneaking in an old script. ;-) 

Going hand-in-hand with my girlfriend up there and bringing in some nature, I love using neutrals and various textures. Hence the super easy-to-make twine and linen bunting (seriously, F-R-E-E), small dollar store wreath on the window, bundle of sticks on the sidebar, and various rattan balls (I got them on clearance at Pier 1 awhile back, wish I remembered how much they were...maybe $2 each? And you know I'll use the crap out of them). And my favorite thing during fall is white pumpkins.

Plus, what's more fun than buntings? I think nothing. When I first hung them, Hadley assumed every day was now his birthday.

Oh, yeah. More nature. A huge vase filled with apples. Had to keep it simple since the little guy uses the dining room table for tons of pretend play. 

If you're having a hard time freshening up your surroundings (believe me, I'm with ya), try the new-ish chalkboard trend. Think it's too hard to find one? Too expensive? Nope. The one we have in the living room was Dave's as a kid (free) and this small one (that reminds me of an old school tablet, which I'm searching for while antiquing) was a dollar store find. Yup, it was a BUCK. Can you believe that?!

And don't worry about your artwork. You get graded on effort, not perfection. ;-) My favorite part of this trend is how interchangeable it is. Come Thanksgiving, this witch's hat will probably be a turkey or a Pilgrim's hat; come Christmas, who knows? Stocking? Elf? A snowflake? Endless options, really.

On a final irrelevant note, we may not have a black cat, but we've got a drama queen king gray one. He's pretty intense. Does that count?

It just occurred to me that all these tips could also be eco-decor tips, too. Awesome!

Monday, October 27, 2014

'Tis the Season

Yes, I know Halloween hasn't even struck yet, but last week, I received my first email from, hailing the coming season of savings (and buying, buying, buying). I've mentioned before that my sister and I often partake in the day-after-Thanksgiving festivities, yes, for the deals, but as a weird way to celebrate the season and spend some special time together. It's a thing. (Dude, I even wrote a guide for it last year.)

As with last year, though, I fully plan on taking advantage of the wonder that is the interwebs. Online shopping is as much a tradition for me as Black Friday is. I rely on it to find the obscure books that Dave loves (thanks, Amazon!), to grab handmade and eco-friendly goodies from Etsy, and, just as importantly, stay in my sweats while doing so. Gotta say, it's a lifesaver for moms (and dads, too...okay, everyone).

Oh, yeah, I'm also expecting to simplify big-time, including focusing on buying (and asking for) items I NEED and would really, really like to have. But that's a whole other topic for a whole different day.

So, recently I decided to check out Now, I have absolutely no affiliation with this site. Oh, wait, unless you decide to check it out. If you sign up through this link, I can earn some moolah (to put into Christmas shopping -- thanks!). But, yeah, otherwise, I'm not being perked to write about these guys. They don't know who the heck I am. I've just looked into their program and can't seem to find any "sounds too good to be true...what am I missing here?" proof not to tout its awesomeness.

Anyhoo, the idea of the site is this: If you go through their web site first and click on your favorite stores (and they've got TONS of stores, guys) instead of just going to, say, in your address bar, you can earn back money. Oh, you can also install a little button so that when you visit a site on your usual browser that can earn you money back, it lets you know immediately (but not in an obnoxious way). Genius.

And, of course you don't have to pay a thing to take part. Think I'd sign up for something like that? No way.

I like that I don't really have to "think" too much to earn money back while doing my shopping this year. I can just buy the things I usually buy from the places I'd usually buy them (I kid you not, they have a buttload of stores!). Even when I'm saving up to buy a big purchase through Amazon or Overstock, I'll just buy what I want, when I want it (sometimes they only offer cash back on certain departments, so keep an eye on that). It kind of shaves off a bit of the guilt of spending, too.

If you don't care where you find something, as long as it's inexpensive, you can also search to see the best deal (with cash back, dude) according to some sites you may never have heard of. They all seem to be highly reliable, well-known sites, so I'll be heading here to compare prices on other searches before hitting the "submit" button on some of those purchases.

Do any of you use Do you have another time-saving (and/or money-saving) holiday gift ideas? Do tell!

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Ol' Autumn Switch

Even I'm kind of surprised at how behind I am with my autumn decorating this year. It's not like I go all-out crazy with this stuff (and I probably won't this year, especially), but I do like to add touches here and there of the season. This is especially true when it's autumn, which is not only my favorite season, but the Dorky Daddy's, as well. Craziness.

So, on a recent humid-yet-insanely-torrential afternoon, I sat down to sketch. One thing led to another, and I didn't hate what I created. Not perfect, but who really cares?

I used some day-glow colored pencils because clearly I'm hip like that. I mean, just check out my iPhone picture. Crooked 'n everythin'.

So, I decided to hunt for a place to sneak it. And, of course, it only worked on my living room wall (last seen, I believe, during Christmas). While I was at it, I switched out a piece or two and rearranged until I got this...

Yup, another insanely beautiful iPhone pic. Drives me nuts, too.

Since I'm lazy, I also like to use art that can kinda double for...say...a couple of months. So, you'd better know that pumpkin art will be there until the cows come home. Or Christmastime. Yeah. Probably Christmas.

I hope to return with a few more shots of autumny goodness. It's an interesting challenge to try to add touches of beauty in the midst of toddler mayhem. Like, there's no way I can really do much with the dining room table. It's his "cooking" spot. But, I do have a few spots he can't reach, so I'll have to live it up in those spaces while I can.

What about you? Do you do fall or Halloween decorating? Do you go literal (black cats, witches, zombies) or more "figurative"? I'm hoping to go with the less in-your-face, especially using what I've got laying around. Fingers crossed!