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Things to consider before starting a blog.
Lifestyle

Things to consider before starting a blog.

I’m not sure why I started this blog. It just seemed like a fun project. I like writing, I like taking pictures, I like building an online community. When I was younger, I had Xanga pages and Myspace and MSN blogs and – basically any place that would let me be creative and have my own little slice of the Internet was something I was interested in.

Fast forward and it’s turned into a fashion blog written by someone who knows very little about fashion, but enjoys putting outfits together and writing and taking pictures and has enough “what was I thinking when I wore that?” stories to fill up a blog space.

But this year I’m interested in doing something else. I still want to blog – because it’s something that I still enjoy, but I want to be able to produce content that I’m proud of. I want this blog to have a different vibe. I want to talk about things other than clothes — but clothes will still be a major part of it.

Things to ask yourself when starting a blog:

What kind of blog do you want to have? 

Right now it’s a “fashion” blog. But not really. There isn’t much of a theme to this little blog, but I love it nonetheless. I just want it to be better. I’m interested in turning this into more of a lifestyle and travel blog, with several elements of fashion.

What’s your expertise? 

That’s the thing. You want to talk about “lifestyle” blogs? When I think about a “lifestyle” blog, I think about these bloggers who – essentially – tell you how to live. Better. Live like them. Who am I to tell you how to live? Am I really going to write posts about “how to wake up earlier” — I don’t know how to wake up earlier, trust me I’ve been trying for years to become a “morning” person. Is fashion my “expertise”? Not really – but I feel more comfortable telling you how to dress than telling you how to live your life.

What do you want to do on your blog? 

I want to tell stories. That’s it. Stories about my life. Fashion mishaps. Travel adventures. That’s about it. Essentially I want my blog to be like http://www.somewheredevine.com ….. but without the British husband and cute little girls.

I’m interested in traveling more and documenting more of my life. I’ve considered buying a camera. I want to take this blog more seriously. I want it to feel more personal. I want it to feel less “I’m just winging this – I don’t know what I’m doing”.

I mean, I don’t know what I’m doing. But I want to learn.

And of course the fashion elements will still be there.

But I want your opinions! I’m considering changing the name and changing things up. But how do you guys feel about me changing my blog?! Please let me know your thoughts! I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, but I value the opinions of my readers. Please let me know in the comments or email me at jennsfashion3@gmail.com. Continue reading

The Best of 2017.
Wellness

The Best of 2017.

I hesitated doing this. And I don’t mean that in a cheeky, “I’m just saying that because….”… I don’t even know why. Why would I “just be saying” that? 

Everyone is doing one of these “best of 2017” posts – wrapping up all of their favorite memories, and all of their most popular posts from the year. And while a part of me saw this opportunity as, “Oh! This is what all of the other bloggers are doing – therefore, I should do that too” (I knooooow. Even as an adult, I’m still trying to do what all of the popular kids are doing.) Another part of me saw this “best of 2017” post as… uh, I don’t know. Kind of… a little…. like, agh …. Annoying(?) 

No, I don’t mean “annoying”. I just mean… 

Like – okay, there are three versions of this wrap-it-up kind of post, right? One – it’s a “look where I traveled!” list. Two – it’s a “Here’s a bunch of links to my BEST posts of the year!!” post. Or three – it’s a “Here’s all of the lessons I learned in 2017 #growth” list-post-thing. 

Also, there are usually lots of pictures. No matter which one of the three it is.

I enjoy reading them. Honestly. I don’t know why, or what it is, but there’s something about reading any of the three that makes me feel like I was on this journey with them. This “wrappin’ it up”, “hits of 2017”, “remember when I went to Greece and wrote a post about it?” – “Oh my gosh! I totally DO remember that! THAT WAS SUCH A GREAT TIME!!” journey. 

For some reason, nearly all of the bloggers that I follow went to Greece this year. So, good for Greece. 

It’s not that these posts are “annoying” – I enjoy reading them. They make me hopeful for the new year and the person that I’m striving to become (because for some reason – even as an adult – the idea of a “new year – new you” gets me every time). 

But – ME? ME writing one? (Is that even proper grammar? “Me” writing one? When I read it back in my head, it sounds a little cave man-ish. But I’m also writing this on a glass of wine, so. What do I know?) 

What am I supposed to write about? For some reason this blog doesn’t seem “big” enough to warrant one of these posts. I don’t know why I think 2017 nostalgia posts are only reserved for the “big time bloggers”. It seems like they’re the ones with the following who have the readers who will say things like, “Oh my gosh! Remember that time you went to Greece?! I was there!! I mean – I wasn’t ‘there’-there, but I READ ABOUT IT ON YOUR BLOG! THAT WAS SUCH A GREAT TIME!!” 

I went to Phoenix in October. And I *meant* to have a blog post up about it by the end of the year – I REALLY DID – but… it just didn’t work out that way, guys. I’m trying. I’m hoping that by our *next *trip, I’ll have written travel diaries for: Phoenix, San Francisco, the Grand Canyon, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Texas, and Ohio.

I travel a lot. I mean, I didn’t go to Greece. But, I went to Vegas- that’s kind of the same thing, right? I spent most of my time there eating, and trying to convince Kyle to go to the Britney Spears show. You can read all about it here. (I’m linking it because it’s the only travel diary I finished this year.) 

In the meantime – while I wasn’t writing this year – I moved into a new apartment, and… moved out of my old one? Honestly – the rest of my non-blog-time was spent traveling. Half of it was work-travel, and the other half was my boyfriend and I saying “let’s go on a road trip!” type-of-travel. 

We took a lot of road trips this year. I would link the posts to those trips here, but… I haven’t written them yet. I swear I will.   Continue reading

How to grow your blog for 2018.
How to be a fashion blogger

How to grow your blog for 2018.

There was a time when I imagined a day would come when I would have the opportunity to write a post all about “How to grow your blog” – and it would be titled something catchy – like: “How to grow your blog”, or “How I tripled my followers in 2017!” 

I tripled my followers in 2017. I think. 

I don’t remember how many followers I had at the beginning of the year. That was a long time ago, when I was still saying things like, “I really need to work on my blog more”, because I posted a picture of a hat or a scarf once every three or four months and made some comment about… I don’t know, what did I write about? Hats and scarves? Things fashion bloggers write about.

Anyway – moral of the story – now I have over 1,000 followers. So, I *think* I tripled my following? – assuming I started the year off with 200-ish (sounds about right). 

“How did she do it?”, you’re asking. “What’s the secret sauce?”

I had always assumed this post would be a lot more professional-sounding. I imagined talking about things like “SEO tools” and “brand content” and “how to plan your blog posts”. 

I assumed I would actually know what those things were by the time I got around to writing this post. If I can write a post about “tripling my traffic” – you’d think I’d know something about traffic tools. But I don’t. I had to Google “What does S.E.O. stand for?” And the last time I tried to plan out my blog posts for the month… I just couldn’t. It was hard. I was expecting these posts to be GREAT!-AMAZING!-WONDERFUL!-PULITZER-PRIZE-WORTHY (forget the fact that the Pulitzer is an award given to outstanding achievements in journalism, which is hardly the same thing as being a self-proclaimed blogger… but you know what I mean).

I was giving myself time to write the posts. It wasn’t something I was just throwing out into the world all willy-nilly-“let’s just word vomit all over this page” like I usually do (like I did with this post). Unfortunately the extra time just made me extra stressed. Things didn’t SOUND right. They didn’t jive. They didn’t feel… bloggy. Blogger-y? Blog worthy. You know, since I gave myself all of that extra time to write.

And then I started Googling things like, “How to grow your blog following” and “How to drive traffic to your blog” – because I thought maybe I’d get an extra confidence boost if more people started showing up and reading my stuff, even if it wasn’t up to my weird, unattainably high standards. Maybe other people would appreciate the… heart? Sure, let’s go with that.

But when you Google things like “How to drive traffic to your blog” – all of this stuff pops up about, like… numbers. Blog numbers. “Hits”. SEO. Online marketing. Technical Internet jargon. “RSS feed”.

That was one of the things. “Make it easy for blog visitors to subscribe to your RSS feed”. And I was like – do I even HAVE an RSS feed? I don’t know what that is. Is it like the comment section?

They’ll also tell you to invest in promotion (“For $10, you can boost a post on Facebook to reach wider audiences!”), or “Incorporate keywords to improve your SEO”. How do I know what the “keywords” are supposed to be? Is there a list? How do I incorporate them? Is it like a hashtag? 

There’s other stuff Google will tell you – all kinds of stuff, you can read for hours and learn alllllll about the technical side of blogging if you want to – but every time I try to, it makes my head spin and I get overwhelmed and flustered and a part of me thinks, “This is too hard. I’ll worry about this part later.” 

Blogging can literally be a full time job. That’s why some people do it as a FULL TIME JOB. And those are the people who can work on things like SEO and online newsletters and “hits” and RSS feeds. But if you’re like me – and all you want to do is write and take pictures, that’s okay too. Your passion project doesn’t need to be your full time job. Sometimes it’s important to remind yourself not to get too caught up in this stuff – don’t take the fun out of it. That’s why you started doing this in the first place.

But if you’re interested in how I grew my “traffic” this year… well, I don’t really know how I did it. I think it was a happy accident. But here’s what I can tell you that I started doing this year… Continue reading

Decorating for the holidays!
Interior Style

Decorating for the holidays!

I remember the day when I found out about the whole “mistletoe tradition”. I mean – not the EXACT day – but up until a certain point, I can remember helping my mom unpack Christmas decorations from various boxes out of the attic and pulling out this random ball from the box marked “Miscellaneous”. It was clearly, like, decorative – because it had a string on it – but it was essentially just a ball comprised of plastic greenery. On a string.

I didn’t know. I thought it was just another decoration. I mean, why not? We had a ceramic Santa and a poinsettia with fake snow on it. What’s so weird about the ball of plastic leaves on a string? It’s Christmas-y. There are red berries on it. Berries make everything Christmas-y. 

At some point – maybe my mom told me, or maybe I picked it up on the mean streets of elementary school – I learned about this tradition that “If you get caught standing under the mistletoe with someone, you have to kiss them.” 

You HAVE to kiss them. That’s the rule. Everyone knows if you don’t follow the rules of tradition, you’re destined to have bad luck for the next bajillion years. So, you have to kiss them. The end. 

My first thought was – “I’ve got to get me some mistletoe.” Because there was a boy in my English class that I desperately wanted to kiss and live happily ever after with. 

My second thought was – “If my parents HAVE it – if that’s what the big ball of green stuff and berries is supposed to be – why do they always hang it over a doorknob? Why don’t they hang it in some place where it can be utilized? Who is kissing under doorknobs?” 

Okay – so, as a child, I probably didn’t use the word “utilized” – but I was definitely coming up with ways to get some mistletoe hung in a doorway or a hallway or – basically anywhere in our house that wasn’t A DOORKNOB (what am I supposed to do with THAT?) and invite over my English class boyfriend.

(“Boyfriend” may have been a strong word. We didn’t interact outside of English class. In fact, we barely interacted inside of English class. But this didn’t waiver my hopes that we would one day bump into each other at the pencil sharpener and realize our true feelings for one another. Mostly his for me. In my head, I already had him coming over to my house and kissing under mistletoe. So. Ya know. It was really his move.) 

As the years went by – and elementary school turned into junior high, and junior high turned into high school – I played this magical Christmas kiss miracle situation in my head every year. Insert fake boyfriend. Add mistletoe. Bada-bing, bada-boom. Christmas magic. 

Trying to trick some boy in my class into coming over and standing under a plastic green plant with me. “Maybe we’re studying together”, I used to imagine. “Maybe there’s a party”, “Maybe it’s New Years Eve”, I came up with all of these fun, elaborate storylines in my head. But they always ended the same way. Trickery and forced kissing. How romantic. 

For the record, none of these little evil plans ever came to pass. I was a shy and awkward afraid-to-raise-her-hand-in-class kind of kid. I wouldn’t have had the guts to invite a boy over for a “study session” – let alone convince him to kiss me under law of superstition.

But, hey – a girl can scheme, right?

Believe it or not – the plastic ball of mistletoe never made it into my Christmas decorations box. Mostly because we don’t have a “Christmas decorations box”. We have a tree box, and a bag of ornaments, aaaaand that’s all we have room for. A Christmas tree. 

Regardless on the size of our apartment – I was DEAD SET on having a Christmas tree. I didn’t care if it was a Charlie Brown tree, we were going to have one. Non-negotiable. Tree in apartment. WE WILL FIND A WAY. 

It’s not Christmas without a tree, right?  Continue reading

Seven steps to simplify your life.
Wellness

Seven steps to simplify your life.

They say you should live together before you get married. (I don’t know if people actually say this or not, but it’s what I said after my boyfriend and I decided to move in together last Spring.) “You can’t marry someone before you live with them,” I said. “What if you find out you hate each other?!”

Like we would go from “til death do us part” to “til she-leaves-her-curling-iron-plugged-in-and-now-I-hate-her do us part”. 

“Living together is hard,” my friends tried to tell me, “Wait until one of you leaves their socks on the floor. Or you get in a fight over who is going to do the dishes, or the laundry, or what you’re going to watch on Netflix.” 

These things seemed preposterous to me. And “preposterous” is not a word I use in every day life – but that’s how crazy it seemed that my friends thought Kyle and I would actually argue over something as stupid as “why are your socks on the floor?”. Granted – up until we moved in together, neither of us had ever lived with a significant other before… but we had both lived with humans before, and I’d never once seen someone get mad over a sock. 

“It’s going to be fine,” I said. 1) because I was moving in with my best friend, and how could that not be fine?, and 2) because who gets mad over a sock?

“We don’t even fight.” I said. “Like, seriously. We NEVER fight.” 

And we didn’t. I couldn’t “imagine” our first fight, but I always assumed it would be over something big. It would have to be, right? We never argued over anything, so it was hard to imagine us arguing at all. I’d assumed it would be over something that would really dig down deep and assault my character, or my family, or my well-being or something.

Our first fight was about a rug. 

Like, the large pieces of carpet that people put on the wood floors of their living room? Yea, those things. We argued about a piece of carpet. Our first argument EVER – after spending nearly a year together and getting on our high horses that we know how to compromise and communicate and “we never fight, like ever”. One stupid rug and it was all out the window.  

When my friends heard this story – they all decided to put on their therapist-hats and insist that “It wasn’t really about the rug, was it?” Like there was some hidden meaning behind the rug. Like the rug is supposed to be a symbol for something.

It’s not. This story has zero symbolism. One minute we’re fine, and the next we’re standing in the middle of a furniture store arguing about the color of a rug. That’s it.

(Well, okay. To be fair – that’s not really “it”, we weren’t really “fine” the minute before. We were cranky because we’d been in that store for over an hour already looking for “just the right shade of off-white” rug. “Not too white, but not too off-white? You know? Just, like, a cream color?”) 

Whatever. It took me three weeks to make a commitment on which color “accent” throw-pillows I should buy from Target. Do you really think I’m going to get all willy-nilly picking out a $600+ rug??

“What about this one?” Kyle would ask, pointing out rugs that were patterned with tones of whites and.. other random colors. To be honest – I don’t remember what they all looked like. I just knew they weren’t… well… 

Ugh. I hate being one of these women who says, “that’s not exactly what I’m looking for”, but they weren’t exactly what I was looking for. They didn’t match the pillows in our living room. They had weird textures or patterns. They weren’t the vision of a simple, classic white rug that I had in my head. 

I know. I hate women like me too. This is probably why Kyle hasn’t proposed yet, because he doesn’t want to see me end up on Bridezillas. 

“What about this one?” he pointed to a different one, and I was like “Ehhhh……”

“What’s wrong with it?” he asked. “It’s cream.”

“Is it…?” I asked. Which is apparently my way of pretending to consider it. By asking my boyfriend to defend his choice/vision/knowledge of colors. “It looks sort of… brown.” I said. “Don’t you think it looks brown? Maybe it’s the lighting.”

“You think it’s brown?”

“I mean, kind of. It just looks… I don’t know. It almost looks dirty, don’t you think?”

“How can you think that’s brown?” He asked. “It’s cream. It’s not brown.” 

“I know it’s cream. But it looks like a brownish-cream.”

“No, it doesn’t.” 

“Stand over here and look at it.” I suggested, pulling him toward my side of the rug. I don’t know why I thought this would make a difference. But, you know. Maybe the lighting is different on his side? “Do you see it?” I asked. “See how it looks dirty?” He looked at the rug, and then back at me, and then the rug, and then me. 

“What are you TALKING about?” He finally asked.

“You really don’t see that?” 

“See what?” Holy crap. “Jenn, this rug isn’t brown. It’s cream.”

“I’m not SAYING it’s brown. I’m saying it has brown TONES.”  

Ugh.

Eventually a sales associate noticed us wandering around this jungle of not-quite-cream-colored rugs and must have heard us bickering. “What are you looking for?” She asked. 

“A rug,” Kyle said. Meanwhile I was like – “But we’re looking for more of a cream colored rug? But not TOO cream. You know how cream colors can have that, like, brown tint or, like, more of a white tint? We need one with more of a white tint. But not TOO white. We don’t want a white rug, we want a cream rug. But, like, the right shade of cream? It needs to go with our couch.” 

“What color is your couch?” She asked. 

“Gray.” We both responded. (And of course I had to add, “But like, a dark gray? Not like a regular gray… you know?” I don’t know why I felt this was important. I wasn’t trying to get her to sell me a couch. But maybe if she understood the depth of gray that was the color of our couch – I could get her on my side for the whole “cream, not brown” debate.) 

“Well, this rug would go well in any room.” She said, referencing the dirty looking rug we were arguing about.

OF COURSE she said that. At first it caught me off guard – like I was expecting her to say, “Oh, no, this is not the rug for you. This one looks dirty and gross. Maybe you should check another furniture store!” Yea, right.

“My girlfriend thinks it looks brown.” Kyle told her. I don’t think he rolled his eyes – but I’m pretty sure he wanted to. 

“Oh, this isn’t brown.” She assured me. “You could put this next to your gray couch, and I’m sure it would look fine.” 

Oh sure, I thought. Take his side. 

“I don’t know.” I told her. “It’s just not what I’m looking for.” Did Kyle really not see the brown tint? Did he not think we could find a better rug? DID I EVEN KNOW HIM AT ALL? 

“Jenn, we need a rug.” He said. “What’s wrong with this one?” 

Well, for one, it’s brown. 

The woman who had come over to help was slowly starting to slink away. “Why don’t you both take some time to think it over?” she suggested. 

So that’s what we did. We parted ways (in the store). I went pouting in one direction, and he went storming off in another. (Okay, so I don’t remember if he necessarily ‘stormed off’ – but he definitely walked away thinking, “My girlfriend doesn’t know what the color ‘brown’ looks like.” He wouldn’t tell you he was thinking that, but I’m sure he was. Because I was thinking, “My boyfriend doesn’t know what the color ‘cream’ looks like.”) 

After pouting around the store for a few more minutes, we finally stumbled onto another rug. (Well, okay, I stumbled onto it and dragged Kyle over and he agreed – in his pouty, pissed off, ‘this is taking too long and I’m hungry’ voice – “Yea, I like this one. Let’s buy it and get out of here.” 

 So that’s what we did. 

Alright – so maybe the ending is a little anti-climactic, but the point of this story wasn’t about the rug.  Continue reading

Basics that every fashion blogger owns.
Style Hacks

Basics that every fashion blogger owns.

My dad has a special name for UGG boots. He calls them “Ugg-ly” boots. “You can’t say UGG without saying ‘ugh’,” He says. “It’s part of the name!” #DadJokes

For the record, he wasn’t just wandering around the mall searching for UGH boots (ugh, now even I’m doing it) – UGG BOOTS, he passed by them while we were Christmas shopping in Macy’s two years ago and felt the need to comment when I told him that I needed a new pair. 

Yep. I’ve been saving that joke for two years, guys. 

Not really. But that memory popped into my head today while I was – once again – Christmas shopping in Macy’s and passed by the shoe section where they’re ALWAYS ON DISPLAY. “Should I get a pair of UGGs?”, I thought to myself. “Do I *need* a pair of UGGs? Am I too old to wear UGGs? WILL I wear them? Are they still trendy?”

Were they ever trendy? I mean, really? Because the only time I can remember it being socially acceptable to wear them was back in college when it was socially acceptable to wear them with leggings and a NorthFace jacket on your way to class. 

And – before you can say anything, I would just like to point out that – OF COURSE I was one of those girls in college who wore UGG boots, leggings, and a NorthFace jacket on her way to class. I mean, really – did you expect anything else? If you held any sort of notion that I wasn’t a 100% basic pumpkin-spice-latte-and-UGG-boots kind of girl in my early twenties…. then, I’m touched. I truly am. But you’re giving me wayyyy too much credit. 

I *wanted* to be basic in college. It was practically a compliment. 

I don’t know why. “Oh. You think I look like everyone else? Well – if everyone else is wearing it, then it must be okay! So, THANK YOU!” 

Sure. Thanks. I’m trying to fit in. Thank you for noticing and acknowledging the fact that I look like everyone else. Mission accomplished. Thank you. 

I’m going off on a tangent here. I should also point out that I started telling a nice story about Christmas shopping, and – whilst Christmas shopping – seeing some expensive boots that I wanted to buy…FOR MYSELF. Apparently I’ve mentally added “meeee!” to the Christmas list of people I have to buy for. 

Oh, stop. Like you guys don’t do it too. 

Maybe you don’t. Congratulations. You’re a better person than I am. 

I mean, I didn’t BUY the UGGs, so it’s not like you’re not THAT much better than I am. But I thought about it. Because they looked sooo comfy. And because they reminded me of a simpler time when I could wear sweatshirts and leggings every day of the week and spend Friday night cozied up under a blanket with my Marketing 101 book and Christmas movies playing in the background. 

Look. I’m not saying I want to go back to to college. As I write this – I’m cozied up under a blanket on the couch with the Chicago Bears game on in the background, so it’s not really THAT different. But still. UGGs, man. Whatever happened to UGGs? 

Whatever happened to UGGs? I don’t know, Jenn – whatever happened to being a college student who doesn’t wear real pants? 

I had the bar set HIGH for myself as a college student when I thought about my post-college style.  “Once I have a real job, I’ll look professional ALL. THE. TIME.” I thought. “I’ll be an adult. I’ll dress like an adult. It’ll be great!”

You guys, I literally thought I was going to dress like Olivia Pope every day of the week. 

Neutrals. Classic pieces. Polished looks. Clean cut. 

It turns out, my style ended up somewhere in the middle. Not quite college-senior-during-finals-week, but not yet Olivia Pope. I’m working it. I’ve come a long way from messy buns and leggings every day of the week, so I think I deserve SOME credit, okay?

It’s easy to get caught up in the trends – but the key to looking polished is working with the basics. A fashion blogger can build an entire outfit around something as simple as a basic black camisole. Invest in the basics and you’ll have a stylish outfit ready for any occasion!  Continue reading

A Pinterest-inspired Friendsgiving!
Interior Style

A Pinterest-inspired Friendsgiving!

It’s not that I “can’t” cook. Anyone can cook, right? All you need is, like, a pot. And a pan. And probably some running water. If you made it through a high school level science class – it’s safe to say that you can probably handle Mac & cheese.

It’s just following a recipe, right? “Annnnyone can follow a recipe,” I said. “It’s just reading the instructions and, like, doing those things.” The whole concept of “not” being able to do it seemed a little insulting. “Can I read what it says to do in Step One and then move on to Step Two? Yea, I managed to get through four years of college, I think I can handle a baked chicken recipe from the Martha Stewart Cookbook.”

I mean, really. You’d think so.

“Do you think I could use garlic powder instead of real garlic?”, “How am I supposed to whisk butter…? Do we even have a whisk? Can I use a spoon?”– These are real examples that demonstrate how closely I am NOT FOLLOWING THE RECIPE.

“I mean, whisking is essentially just a fancy term for ‘stirring’, right? Is it not? Can I really not use a spoon?”

The recipe says “whisk”, but sure. They probably meant spoon. You went to college, you know what you’re doing.

The whole “not knowing how to cook” thing used to be endearing, when I was in my early twenties. I tell the story of how I started a small kitchen fire trying to make Hamburger Helper using a Wok. I make everyone laugh when I tell the story of making dinner for my college boyfriend, and having to run out just to buy a pot so that I could boil water for spaghetti. I was an adorable bad chef.

But it’s not cute anymore. Now I’m just a twenty-seven year old adult woman who can’t follow a recipe. I search Pinterest for “easy” dinners that mostly involve chicken or some sort of pasta dish. I tell my friends that I’ll bring the macaroni and cheese to Friendsgiving and they say, “BAKED macaroni and cheese” like I’m going to show up with a box of Velveeta Instant Mac (I don’t know even know if this is a real thing, but you know what I mean).

Naturally I did what any woman in her late twenties would do who’s trying to impress her friends – turn to Pinterest. Start searching terms like “Best Baked Macaroni and Cheese” and “from scratch”.

(This can be an eye opener, by the way. When you tell your friends that you made “Macaroni and Cheese…from scratch”, they’re like, “What do you mean, from scratch?”…. and you have to explain to them: “You know. I MADE the cheese. I mean, I melted the cheese. Real cheese.”…. The alternative being fake cheese, which is essentially how all boxed Mac & Cheese comes. With the orange powder. Just add milk. Like the astronauts do.)

Melting the cheese was the easy part. The rest of the time, I was saying things like this: “Wait, how much chicken broth?”….. “How do I know when it’s ‘al dente’?”…. “Why is the flour so lumpy?”… “I bet this will taste good with garlic salt”… “Maybe I should sprinkle just a litttttttle more garlic salt”…. “Is that enough cheese? That doesn’t look like enough cheese.”… “MORE GARLIC SALT”… 

Seriously. The recipe was RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. And instead of just DOING WHAT IT SAID – I ended up stomping around the kitchen being cranky and grumbly and – overall, just a little ray of sunshine – until my boyfriend was finally like, “What’s wrong?”

“The cheese is lumpy.” I said. “The flour wouldn’t mix with the butter, because we don’t have a whisk, and now I have lumpy cheese.” 

“I’m sure it’s fine.” He said. 

“It’s not fine.”

“Did you follow the recipe?” 

No. I thought my way was better. OBVIOUSLY.

But no matter how badly it turns out, even if something’s on fire – I try to convince everyone that “I did everything it said!”. Like someone somehow published a faulty recipe out there. I don’t even know what I’m trying to cover up when I say this. Lying and saying that “I tried!” to follow a recipe when it turns out totally bad? – what am I trying to argue here? That I can’t read?

But, I mean, I did KIND OF TRY… it’s just that the directions didn’t say anything about garlic salt – and I was like, “This will make it better. I’m sure.” Same with the extra butter, and the cream cheese. I was just trying to make it taste better. I was trying to ‘make it my own’, as they say in the culinary world. (I don’t know why I suddenly think I’m Julia Child as soon as I get in front of a stove. It really doesn’t make any sense.)

“I’m sure it’s fine.” My boyfriend kept insisting, because he’s sweet. And because I’ve made him eat pumpkin flavored pasta before when I was feeling “festive” around Halloween time. Nothing can be worse than the pumpkin flavored pasta.

“No.” I argued. “None of this is fine. I’m thirty minutes late because I had to wait for the macaroni and cheese to come out of the oven – because I put it in late, because I was trying to get the clumps out of the flour – and now I’M going to be late, and the food’s going to be cold, and people are going to be eating lumpy macaroni and cheese.” 

Mmm. Mmm. Lumpy.

“What if someone bites into a lump of flour?” I asked, horrified, imagining someone making that face people do when they take a bite of something and realize there’s something in their mouth that shouldn’t be there – like a chicken bone, or a ball of flour. “I don’t even know if I should bring this. Maybe I should just bring wine.”

“I’m sure it’s delicious,” my hostess friend said. I tried to warn her when I got there. “It’s hard to screw up macaroni and cheese.” 

“Yea. I mean, I’m sure it’s fine,” I said. Because that seemed less embarrassing than saying, “I’ve already imagined someone choking on a ball of flour at the dinner table.” Nobody wants to win the argument that they’re the worst little cook.

So, people ate it. Nobody died. If anyone tasted a lump of flour in their mouth, they didn’t let on. Friendsgiving 2017 was a success – much to the guidance of our Pinterest pages and a mutual obsession to make everything “cute”. (You know what I mean. The table settings, the decor, the festive drinks, etc.)

If you’re going to do Friendsgiving – DO IT RIGHT. To help you out – I’ve created a handy dandy guide to everything that we pinned to help make YOUR Friendsgiving a SUCCESS! Continue reading