We've been living together for a few years now. We never really "officially" started living together; he basically just started squatting at my house, staying more and more nights in a row until eventually he was there all the time. In fact, just this week he finally changed his address. So, we figured that nothing is really going to change after we're married...except now he'll have health insurance and we can start thinking about a family. That right, folks, hell might just freeze over yet...we're talkin' babies! Not soon, but someday. I used to swear that I didn't want any kids, but I think I just hadn't yet found the right person to have them with. I do want to have babies with Jerad; he makes me feel capable and confident. Plus, I know he'll be a great pregnancy coach, father, & parenting partner.
Someone also asked me if I was sure that I wanted to marry Jerad. Absolutely! Sure, we argue (more like bicker & nitpick) sometimes, but who doesn't? Besides, our "arguments" are always over small things. We don't fight about the big, important issues. Sure, I've had a few moments of worry lately. But, I think that's pretty normal right before you get married. For me, I've worried only because I'm a little nervous about getting married again...not because I don't want to be married or because I don't want to marry Jerad, but because I don't want to get divorced again. Apparently, I wasn't good at being married before. I just hope I'm better at it this time around. And, you know, I think I will be...because Jerad is a better partner for me.
I know some people have doubts about our relationship; they think he's too young for me (8 years difference) or we're too different from each other. But these people don't really know about the good parts of our relationship; they don't realize that while the past year has been challenging for us (mostly work stress that created home stress), there have been many good times too. I'm not stupid, after all; I wouldn't marry someone I wasn't madly in love with. I'm not getting married just to BE married. I'm not that kind of woman. (At least, not anymore.)
Jerad is my best friend; I simply can't imagine my life without him in it...no matter what. I can't explain how well we get along and how much fun we have together. He understands me with all my quirks & moods. He calms my anxiety instead of causing it. He protects me, takes care of me, and encourages me in whatever I choose to do. He's proud of me. He's quick to resolve any conflicts we might have. He constantly makes me laugh. He does the things he says he's going to do. He likes to cook as much as I do, and he loves to experiment in the kitchen. In fact, it's one of our favorite things to do. We spend hours in the kitchen together, cooking & talking, eating & drinking. It's how we spend most weekday nights.
I haven't been posting much not because I've been too busy with wedding plans, but because I haven't been doing the cooking lately. Since Jerad's been playing the role of "house boy," he has been making dinner. He even does the planning and shopping. Last week he fried some fish while I baked some mac & cheese. He also made a traditional corned beef & cabbage dinner for St. Patrick's Day. Now that the weather is warming up, he's grilling as well....marinated London Broil with roasted asparagus. Hell, Jerad even had frozen strawberry orange cocktails waiting for me when I got home from work one day!
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In my seemingly never-ending quest to find the perfect macaroni & cheese recipe, I took a little detour by just throwing a dish together for our fish dinner last week. I didn't follow a specific recipe, but tried to make something that would still be creamy (but not soupy) after it was baked, but would also be good as reheated leftovers (without separating into a greasy mess like the last recipe I tired). THIS recipe was pretty perfect. And it was pretty easy to make. I even commented that I was excited to have kids so that I could make stuff like this for them & their friends. No blue boxed stuff for us! I plan on raising little food snobs. ;-)
Creamy Baked Mac & Cheese
1 pound macaroni noodles
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground dry mustard
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9x9 baking dish.
- Cook the noodles until al dente, drain, then return to the pan.
- Measure 3 tablespoons of each of the cheese & set aside for the topping.
- Melt the butter in a wide-bottomed saucepan over medium heat
- Sprinkle in the flour & whisk to create a roux. Watch carefully so the roux doesn't get too brown. You just want to cook it a minute or so.
- Add in the milk, whisking to incorporate the roux. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Stir in the salt, pepper, & mustard. Then, stir in the cheese.
- When the cheese is melted, add all of the sauce to the cooked noodles & stir to coat. Taste for seasonings, add more salt/pepper/mustard if desired.
- Transfer the noodles & sauce to the prepared baking dish. Top with the reserved cheese.
- Bake until the top is melted & bubbly, about 15 minutes. Use the broiler for a few minutes if you want a crispier top.