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 those sixth grade science projects where teachers wanted you to mix a bunch of chemicals together that sometimes exploded – it’s safe to say that you can probably handle Mac & cheese.

Probably. Unless, like me, you can’t follow a recipe. “But anyone 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?”….. “I forget, what’s ‘al dente’?”…. “Why is the flour so lumpy? Isn’t it supposed to be mix with the butter?!”… “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 sounded better than saying, “OH, you don’t believe me? Just wait until you taste it!” 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!

10 things you don’t need in your closet.

My parents sent me a stun gun as part of a care package in college.

I figured I should open with that, so that when I say, “I found my stun gun in a shoe box in the back of my closet over the weekend” – ya’ll don’t think I’m the kind of girl who A) knows where to buy a stun gun, and B) keeps it in a shoe box in the back of her closet. Nestled next to a scarf and a pair of high heels. Because that’s where it was. Who knows why. Who packed THAT box when I was moving?

Me. I packed it. I packed all of my boxes. And when I ran across that stun gun, I was probably like, “Well, I don’t have a box marked ‘Weapons’ …. sooo let’s just put it in this shoe box. That should be fine.”

That makes about as much sense as me having a stun gun in the first place.

My parents sent it to me when I was a freshman in college as a… present? Warning? I don’t even know. (They aren’t crazy. They just, care. A lot.) I opened it in the lobby of our dorm building, assuming this was going to be… I don’t know, something normal. Like, a Tupperware container full of brownies. Or a sweatshirt. Or extra pens. Like I said, my parents aren’t crazy. They’d sent me presents before. But this was the first time they’d decided to send me a stun gun.

I didn’t even know what to do with it. I was afraid to touch it. I mean, it was in a box. And I don’t think it had batteries in it. But still. The box said, “high voltage”. Is that really something I should be carrying around in my purse? This little weapon of electricity? What if I shock someone on accident? What if I shock myself? Can I die from this?

“If you hold it up to someone for longer than seven seconds, it can stop their heart.” That’s what my mom said. After I called her to confirm that she did, in fact, mean to send me a stun gun. Part of me thought that this might have been an accident. A weird and unlikely accident, but still. My mother is the kind of mother who collects Tupperware and sent me boxes of mini-muffins in college. I didn’t know murder weapons were on her radar. Let alone that she knew where to buy one.

“Your dad bought it on eBay.” She said. Apparently you can buy them on eBay.

“What am I supposed to do with it?” I asked her. Maybe she thought if this college thing didn’t work out, I could be a gangster. Or a thug. Or someone who works the midnight shift at McDonalds.

“Carry it,” she said. “In your purse. Especially when you’re walking across campus at night.” Ohhh that’s what this was about. I had a night class that forced me to walk home in the evenings two nights a week. After the sun went down. Moms aren’t big fans of their daughters walking alone at night.

I didn’t carry it. I thought it was scary. I imagined scenarios where I would somehow electroshock myself on accident and fall to the ground twitching. I mean, it couldn’t DO anything unless someone pushed the button. BUT STILL. If anyone’s stun gun could accidentally shock them, from inside their purse, without pushing any buttons, I didn’t want it to be mine. BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW.

I didn’t see the stun gun again until last Christmas. (It lived out my college experience on a dark shelf in the back of my closet. Despite my mother asking – really casually, by the way – “Have you used your stun gun yet?”… like I’d forget to tell her if I tased someone on my way to class.)  It showed up in a bag – another one that my mother sent back with me to Chicago – shortly after Christmas. I guess she thought I could scare off a thug with a neck tattoo if I ever found myself in a rough neighborhood? I don’t know.

Regardless, I was inspired to write this post about “10 things you don’t need in your closet”. (There is no good transition here. I don’t want to be cheesy and say something like, “Realizing how much space my stun gun was taking up in my closet made me think about how much other space I could free up!”…. what space? It was in a shoe box, it was fine. But I already had the idea for this post, and the stun gun thing seemed like a funny anecdote.)

Wearing a leopard print bra to a job interview.

I’m not big on superstition, but I once held a rabbit’s foot in my pocket while I was taking an important exam.

And by “important exam”, I mean a sixth grade science test, and by “rabbit’s foot”, I mean a picture I ripped out of magazine of Justin Timberlake. It was earlier that year when I discovered a “lucky rabbit’s foot” was legitimately supposed to be, like, you know… a rabbit’s.. FOOT… and I was like “What kind of sick person carries around some dead rabbit’s chopped off foot? How does that bring them good luck?” 

It doesn’t. When you think about it, the concept IS a little Jeepers Creepers, ya know? 

But a picture of Justin Timberlake during his Ramen noodle hair and N’sync days? Yes. That will TOTALLY bring you good luck! Probably. If you write the answers on it somewhere in very small print and only look at it occasionally when the teacher isn’t paying attention. Ya know, for luck.

Of course I wasn’t smart enough to do that. Which is probably why I thought I needed a “lucky charm” to get through a sixth grade level science test in the first place. As long as I had a picture of my fake boyfriend “Justin from N’sync” in my back pocket, I was sure to do well. It was magic, and luck, and the Gods and a higher power – and my crazy little eleven year old brain that legit thought some sort of voodoo could make me a really good guesser – all working together.

Ah, to be eleven and weird again. 

I don’t remember how I did on that test. But – to ease your mind – I went on to go to Junior High, and High School, and College, and now I’m a Regional Sales Manager in Chicago, so – however it turned out – I guess not being able to retain information about volcanos and bugs didn’t ruin my life. 

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.