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!

Decorating our place for Fall.

My mom used to have these Halloween-inspired window clings that she let me bust out every October. Stickers of ghosts, witches, pumpkins – I think one of them said Happy Halloween? Probably? Every October she’d pull them out of her “Holiday Decorations” bin and let me stick them onto the glass door leading out to the deck. I loved it. This – aside from the in-school Halloween parties where the teachers handed out candy and we got to play games all afternoon – was my favorite part of Halloween.

I mean, I was like seven. The majority of highlights at that age were: candy, that giant parachute thing they let us play with during gym class, and stickers. It’s the little things.

I told my mom I wanted to start hanging them in the giant full-story window in the front of the house. “There’s more space,” I said. “It’s going to look so pretty!” I said. And I’m pretty sure if I’d had a more pronounced vocabulary at that age, I would have said, “It’s going to be so festive! It’s FALL! Let’s decorate for FALL!!!!” 

So, for the record, that is who you’re taking advice from. Someone whose Fall decor once consisted of the desire to stick glass cling-ons of witches and pumpkins to the front of her house. Because she thought they were, like, “so pretty”.

Fortunately my decorating style has evolved since then. Our apartment doesn’t have any glass sticky cling-ons that say “Happy Halloween” or a stuffed black cat sitting around on the couch. Mostly because we don’t have room for holiday decorations. I like to pretend that I live in a lavish, luxurious apartment – but the truth is, it’s just that: an apartment. A one bedroom, small bathroom apartment. And, to top it all off, I’m on this “minimalism” kick – which basically means that I have all of our “stuff” stashed into the laundry closet and pretend it’s not there when people come over. I don’t think that’s what “minimalism” actually means, but I have a lot of stuff, okay? If I can fit it all into the closet – trust me, we’re off to a good start.

Minimalism is a journey, not a destination. I think.

To better accommodate my “minimalist lifestyle” (aka: space in my closet), here are some Fall home decor tips that I’ve found to make our home feel a little more cozy while still serving a purpose. This way you don’t have to run out and buy a bunch of “Happy Halloween” throw pillows.

Decorating our new apartment!

Here’s something I never thought I’d say: “We need shelf liner.”

Shelf liner used to be just one of those dumb “extra”, “Mom”-type things that somehow found it’s way into every apartment that I’ve ever lived in – cut up, and laid flat in the kitchen cabinets.

I say “somehow” like it magically appeared there. It didn’t. My mom would buy this stuff for me – because she’s a mom, and it’s kind of a “mom” thing – and say “This is to line the shelves of your kitchen cabinets before you put the dishes away.” And I would say “Oh, okay, cool” – even though I had no idea why. Does it stop your plates from sliding around? (Can plates really just “slide” around in there?) Does it stop your glasses from smelling like *shelf*? (Aka, wood). Can it keep you from getting splinters?

I don’t know. It might just be wallpaper for the kitchen cabinets. But – whatever it does – I knew that I needed it for our new apartment before I could put the dishes away. God forbid we put away our Target brand plates and funny wine glasses that say things like “I make pour decisions” into a cabinet with naked shelves.