Everyday's a good day for pizza

Baking is my thing. I'm good at baking. Sure, I may make a few mistakes and take a little longer to get something down, but I enjoy it. Baking brings me an almost ridiculous sense of accomplishment. Like, chill. You baked a cake, you didn't draft the constitution.

Cooking, on the other hand? Disastrous. Not my thing. Run for the hills. We're talking complete incompetence to the point of I once burned a pan of vegetable soup. Not homemade from scratch vegetable soup, Campbells*.

It's no surprise that dinners at the Esplin's can be a bit last-minute and thrown together, but every once in a while we get something amazing that we come back to over and over. Our recent favorite is our own version of prosciutto pizza, and I thought I'd share it with you today.



I know what you're thinking: "That looks terrible." You're right. I never said I would give you amazing food photography, so bear with me here.

Spencer's family has a pizza oven and his mom has gathered a lot of amazing recipes over the years. Our favorite is the pera, which combines pears and prosciutto. We took stock of what we had and tried to do our best.

So, in all of my "I'm not a food blogger" glory, I give you, Prosciutto Pizza, A Recipe:

This is my favorite pizza crust recipe

Toppings:
Olive Oil
Parmesan
Goat Cheese
Red Onion
Prosciutto
Pear slices
Italian seasoning

After Baking: Top with Balsamic Vinegar

Enjoy. Or, ya know, hopefully enjoy. And then share your pizza recipes with me because there can never be enough pizza recipes.

Peace in the Middle East.

*I think it should be said here that I have a very self-deprecating sense of humor. I feel the need to point this out because I sometimes like to exaggerate my lack-of-expertise in any given field for comedic effect. When I burned the vegetable soup, for instance, it was because some books fell over on my shelf and my favorite piggy bank (I collect them) fell off and broke. I spent the next 10 minutes gathering up the pieces, seeking out some super glue, and putting the poor thing back together. It was only then that I remembered the soup on the stove, and I returned to find it burned. But that story isn't interesting. Being so incompetent in the kitchen that I burned pre-made soup, however, is. Moral of the story, I'm not as dim-witted as I make myself out to be! Mostly. Sometimes completely. Just wanted to make sure no one was labeling me as the village idiot and never entrusting me with any tasks requiring the mental capacity of a five year old!

**I realize this is in no way related, but I am a mom and this is a blog so I think I'm entitled to share a video of my kid, yeah?
video

Just a reminder


Am I right? Right now the effort I've put into my goals is feeling completely pointless and the little voice that likes to tell me I'm a failure is coming out to say "hi" a little more often than usual. 

But I'll just keep on keeping on hoping that the voice shuts up and that I'll figure out a better way to move right along with those goals. 

Sorry! Just had to share

As you may have heard, Mattel just came out with some new and improved Barbie dolls. I think this is a HUGE step in the right direction, but they still have a ways to go. In light of this advancement, I’ve been thinking of some Barbie ideas myself. I think it’s important that Barbie represents things that we, as woman, struggle with and can relate to. I don’t want dolls to be a standard our daughters hold themselves to, I want them to be a realistic representation of our daughters themselves. 

So, without further ado, I present to you: Sorry! Barbie



Sorry! Barbie comes with a variety of characteristics, namely a lack of self-esteem, an inability to believe that she is right, and an understanding that her opinion is not worth as much as a man’s - or the confident woman’s sitting next to her. 

Some situations Sorry! Barbie might find herself in are as follows: 

*Sorry! Barbie in the kitchen*
Barbie: Would you like a sandwich?
Ken: No.
Barbie: Sorry, stupid question.

*Sorry! Barbie in the office*
Barbie: Sorry, I maybe had an idea I wanted to share if everyone is willing to hear it?
Co-workers: *short pause*
Barbie: Sorry, never mind. 

*Sorry! Barbie returning broken item*
Barbie: Sorry, I don’t mean to be a bother, but is there any way I might be able to return this?

*Sorry! Barbie at a restaurant*
Barbie: Sorry, just if it’s not too much trouble? I think I might have ordered the salmon . . . but if not then the veggie burger is great too!

*Sorry! Barbie calls police after house was broken into*
Barbie: Sorry, I didn’t mean to make you come all the way out here!

*Sorry! Barbie asking for help*
Barbie: Sorry, if it's not too much to ask I was wondering if you might be able to help me throw a baby shower?
Friend: I will be out of town that day.
Barbie: Sorry! I shouldn't have asked. 

As women, I think it's really important that we get the word out there that we want a Barbie that represents not only our looks, but our personalities. Sorry, maybe this was too straight forward? My bad, I didn't mean to hurt any feelings . . . sorry.

Bookstagram


On account of I Love Books, I am the proud owner of a Bookstagram account.

What is this Bookstagram, you ask? Allow me to explain: Within Instagram there is a community of people who love books, and like to share pictures and reviews. As a people, these bookstagrammer's tend to share a love of all things Harry Potter, all things nerdy, and all things fandom.

If you happen to share a love of these things, then I would welcome you to follow my account!

@books.andcleverness
You can see my pictures here
If you're feeling extra nerdy, you can shop from my Society6 shop

Much love, fellow bookies.

Maybe I just need a therapist

Every once in a while I convince myself that I want a pet, which is ridiculous seeing as I am about the furthest thing from an animal person you will ever meet. (see: my thoughts on cats.) When I go to someone's house and they have a dog I try to be totally casual about letting the dog lick my feet and get all up in my grill, but in reality I'm just like, "animal, get away from me," and my obvious discomfort leads the owner of said pet to continuously call their animal back to them.

The following is an accurate imitation of me trying to act like I'm cool with people's animals:

Yo. Animal. Look how casual and comfortable I am in your vicinity. *cringes in attempt to smile* 
But somehow I still manage to have moments when I convince myself I want to own a pet. And of course if I own a pet it has to be either a cat or a dog, because anything less doesn't really count, right? Right. And so I make a list of the things I do and do not want in said pet. 

We'll start with the Don'ts: 

I don't want animal hair all up in my stuff. Abounding animal hair is literally my worst nightmare and I would rather die than have to run a lint roller over my couch every time I want to sit down. I also don't want to check where I step each time I'm walking barefoot through my backyard, if you know what I mean. Cat liter is probably something that I will never come in contact with ever because the thought of it freaks me out. If I go on vacation I don't want to have to find a place to keep my pet, and I also don't want like a fish or something that will die if I leave it at home without food. So basically, I don't want anything living. 

And now for the Do's: 

I want a cat that kills spiders, because if there's one thing I dislike more than household pets, it's spiders. I also think it would be cool to have a pet with a subtle (or not-so-subtle) Harry Potter reference name, like a cat named Nox or Norris. And here's the thing: I'm paranoid, and I scare easily. If Spencer ever has a job that requires any travel I'm gonna need some protection. So really all I want is a dog that will stop me from being murdered. Or, I guess, stop me from thinking I'll be murdered. Or maybe all I need is a good therapist . . . ?

Armed with this comprehensive Want/Don't Want list, I headed to the mother of all information: the internet. A simple Google search of "Should I have a cat or a dog?" led me to some basic quizzes, the first three of which I decided to take. 

My results shouldn't surprise you:

and


In conclusion, I have decided that a pet is probably not a good option for me. Let this post serve as a reminder next time I get it in my head that I'd like to have a cat eating off of my kitchen counter.



NOTE: Please ignore to the best of your ability any typos in this post. Typo's? Right now I honestly don't even know. (just kidding I know.) I almost wrote "a cat that kill's spiders," so apparently my brain recently decided to get rid of all of my knowledge of the written english language. Cool.

Classical Architecture

Since Spencer has been accepted to Notre Dame's Classical Architecture program, we've gotten a lot of questions about what classical architecture is, exactly. I think most people picture Spencer making a bunch of buildings that look exactly like this:
via
People assume that classical architecture (CA) means adding columns to any and everything, and being against anything that was built post 1800. In reality, CA is something complex and beautiful that would be really hard to sum up in a blog post, but I'm going to do my best. This post will certainly not be comprehensive, but hopefully it will give you a better idea as to what CA is, and why it's important. 

Have you ever driven through a neighborhood and thought, "wow, these houses were obviously built in the 70s. They're so ugly! Why would anyone have built these? They should be torn down and new beautiful homes should be built." (Example). Well, you're right. They are ugly. But they weren't thought to be ugly when they were built. They were modeled after the style of the time. Now, 45 years later, we have homes and buildings that are being torn down to make way for new buildings. What a waste of those materials from the 70s, yeah? If only they had built something that was a little more timeless (classic) then those homes would still be around. (click to see examples of classic homes - it's not just about pillars! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Unfortunately, the buildings that are being built now are no more classic than those being built in the 70s, or whatever era you choose. Let's look at the new, state of the art, Salt Lake courthouse vs. this courthouse I found on pinterest:


Does anyone here really believe that the building on the left will still be considered beautiful in 30 years? Does anyone here think that building is beautiful now?!? If so, you are probably a modernist. Let's talk so I can convince you to be a classicist.  

Here are some ways you can tell if a building is modern:
  1. The building could not be used for any other purpose. Take, for example, the Provo Rec Center.  Sure, I can see how someone might think it looks new and cool, but can you imagine that space being used as anything other than a rec center? A library, a grocery store, an office? Probably not. Which means that once the need for a rec center is gone, or once the building is old and no longer "pretty," it will be torn down. 
  2. You can't tell when construction is finished. Let's look back at the SLC court house. Is that building . . . complete? 
  3. You can't tell where the entrance is/once you are inside you don't know where to go. For this, it's pretty save to picture any hospital or modern museum. Have you ever had to walk around a building for more than 5 minutes trying to find the front door? Chances are you were at a modern building. 
Still not sure if CA is for you? Let's look at the Salt Lake vs Provo Temple. Classic vs Modern. Timeless vs. Birthday Cake


And Classicism goes further than just buildings. Urban design, for example. I could try to convince you about the benefits of classical urbanism, but instead I'm going to direct you to this TED talk: Jeff Speck: The Walkable City. Not sure if you want to watch it? Let me tell you this: it will tell you how classicism will help cure obesity. 

Has anyone ever walked around the streets of Rome and thought, "Meh. Hardly photogenic, not quaint, nothing beautiful or inspiring. I sure wish I was in some suburbs in the States." I doubt it, and that's because the streets of Rome are classic and beautiful! No one thinks, "Man, these quaint little markets are the worst. I wish they had a really big, shapeless, concrete super market surrounded by a mile-wide parking lot. I really hate being able to walk outside and be at the store. I wish I had to drive 20 minutes both ways. I love being able to go for a walk and see nothing but cookie cutter houses." 

Am I right? Classicism. It's using materials, structures, and designs that will stand the test of time. 

The Great Backpack Dilemma of 2015




They're cute. Right? Both of those backpacks. A normal person might look at them both, spend anywhere form 5-20 seconds deciding between the two, and then make their purchase. But I am not a normal person. 

Let me start by saying that these are not the only two adorable animal backpacks that Skip Hop has to offer. They have like 20. Lies. I just counted and they have 21! 21 options to drive the indecisive person insane. Literally insane. By the end of the day my eyes were twitching and Spencer was about ready to have me committed - that man is more patient than I ever deserve. 

But let's start at the beginning. 

Carter is getting to an age where a diaper bag is not really necessary anymore, but going out in public without a few diapers, a sippy cup, and a few toys is like parental suicide. I've been thinking about getting a little bag for him to carry his toys to places like church or a friend's house, and I decided that out flight home to Utah was the perfect motivation to finally make the purchase. Make the child carry his own carry-on, amirite? 

So I started my search. I narrowed my decision down to a Skip Hop bag, and then to one of their animal bags. And here is the thing: I immediately knew the dog bag was my least favorite, and so of course Carter decided it was his absolute favorite. 

It was the cutest thing. He would point to the dog's nose, and then his nose. He would woof, laugh, and if I tried to switch to a different bag he would get legitimately angry until I went back. He liked the elephant bag alright, he thought the monkey was funny, but oh how he loved that dog. So I should get the dog backpack, right? 

RIGHT! That is where a person who has the ability to make decisions would have been done with the ordeal. But I just could not. All of the bags were adorable and, while I wanted Carter to love it, I also wanted to make sure I really got the right bag! Only a special kind of person will even begin to understand that sentence. Spencer pointed out that Carter already has a lot of dog items, so maybe it would be nice to have something else. But on the contrary, Carter has a lot of dog items so we know he likes them! There is no way I could explain to you the stress that I experienced while trying to make this decision, but I am fairly certain I now have grey hair. And Spencer too because he had to try and have a sensical conversation with a crazy person. 

The good news is that, after literal hours of distress, I made the ultimate decision and purchased the dog backpack. But don't worry. My mind was still not made up. The following is an excerpt from mine and Jennie's texts about the backpack dilemma, and I think it will be all the proof needed that Jennie is a perfect human, and that we need to seek therapy because WHAT? We have problems. 




I will keep you posted. Count on approximately 50 changes of mind.