For some reason I’m not really getting into the holiday season this year. Typically I love Halloween, and I had big plans to make paper pumpkins and bats and ghosts and tape them in our front window, since we have such a perfect window for it. But I haven’t really gotten around to it – maybe because of basement work, maybe because I’ve just been really tired (or maybe because instead, I’ve been spending my time cooking things and writing a blog about them…). Either way, the only Halloween decorations we have this year were lovingly made by Calin’s niece, Ali, who taped them to birthday presents for each of us. (No, we don’t have Halloween birthdays – either of us – but four-year-olds are allowed to give late presents.)
Anyway, here is our house for Halloween this year:
As usual, Reenie is diligently guarding the candy.
I don’t have a picture, but I do want to point out that, despite slacking off entirely on the home front, I am wearing an orange bandanna with black cats, orange bat troll earrings, and purple suede cowboy boots. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still into this.
Speaking of holidays, look what I found in my freezer… (I ate one in dough form first, to make sure they were still good. They were, so I baked a bunch and then we ate those, too.) Mmmmm…
I did a stupid thing. Fortunately, it turned out well. But it was really stupid. What did I do, you ask? Well, it all started with meal planning. I’ve been reading about it, and thinking about it, because as you may have caught on by now, dinner is the third meal I struggle with every day, and I’ve heard that some people don’t struggle quite so much because they have it all figured out ahead of time.
Breakfast is one of three meals that I struggle with on a daily basis. I am never awake enough to be creative, and I never get up early enough to make something interesting and complex. Usually we have cereal, or bagels or English muffins with some variation in butter or cream cheese. On the exciting mornings, I might use jam as well. In cold weather I sometimes make grits.
Breakfast excitement usually comes on weekends, when Calin cooks for me. Then we usually have more time, and we get up later so we’re awake enough to have something nicer. He makes me the most delicious little breakfast sandwiches with egg and turkey bacon and cheese… But this weekend, something terrible happened. On Sunday morning, we did not have any eggs! The horror! And without eggs, what is the point of making bacon for egg and bacon and cheese sandwiches?!? It was this situation that lead to my epiphany: We had English muffins. We had cheese. And we had lunch meat! I can make something with this!
Because we almost always have English muffins, or bagels, which would work just as well. (I buy them in bulk whenever they go on sale and freeze them). And we always have cheese. (The day we run out of cheese will be the day I give up on life. Or run screaming to the grocery store.) And we generally have lunch meat because that’s part of my lazy way of dealing with the second meal that I struggle with on a daily basis.
Here’s the best part: when you put these incredibly simple, always-on-hand ingredients together, you end up with something that looks almost gourmet. It looks classy! You have these adorable little open-face sandwiches that look like they cost $8 at the local brunch restaurant. Especially since I’ve actually had gourmet cheese on hand, left over from Birthday Mac & Cheese. And I can make these every morning, in about 3 minutes – give or take how long I decide to leave them in the toaster oven on broil, which is in constant flux based on the ratio of hungry to want-the-cheese-as-crispy-and-bubbly-as-possible.
I may not have mentioned that my house is full of tiny plants. I have houseplants everywhere, and when any of them need to be cut back or divided, I can’t stand to get rid of any of the offspring, so I make babies. I have spider plants, philodendron, peace lily, a few mystery plants, kalanchoe, peperomia, and ivy growing in little jars of water all over my house. (You would be amazed at what will grow in just water – almost anything except aloe.)
This weekend, I had a moss collecting date with Grace. Grace knows where to find the best moss, and she took me harvesting with her. We filled jars and bottles and vases with moss, and collected broken bottle parts and other random things from the harvest site to make our moss feel more at home. I took my moss home and made these:
How did we get to the middle of October? I’m looking back at my posts for the year and I was doing pretty well for a while there, keeping up with things. The last post before this week was me talking about how I wanted to do one post a week. Ha. But it has been a very busy year for us – wedding after wedding and then OUR wedding (which was a whole week instead of the usual weekend) and our honeymoon and basement work. And on top of that it just hasn’t been the best weather this year – which never helps me want to do anything. Mostly I’ve been sleeping.
Here are some of the highlights you’ve missed in the past few months:
Calin turned 30 today, and when I asked him what he wanted for his birthday dinner (since we do very low key birthdays, and dinner is really all he gets) he said “Mac and cheese!” so fast that I knew I had to cook him the best mac & cheese ever made. And in order to do that, I knew I had to turn to my friend Ed, who holds the recipe for The Best Mac & Cheese Ever Made. (The title is not TM, but it should be.)
The recipe isn’t mine to share, but here are the pictures:
I will tell you a secret. See all that oil bubbling happily away on the surface of the pasta? That there is black truffle oil. Oh yes. We went there.
There is some seriously cheesy goodness going on here. In case you hadn’t noticed. Omnomnomnomnom.
We let my dad have some, too, and he said about three times during the meal “This is the best mac & cheese I have EVER had.” So, way to go Ed’s miracle recipe, and way to go me, making it for the first time successfully, with a few tweaks, and way to go having tons of leftovers.