If you were to ask my boyfriend about the last two weeks of our life, it may sound different than my version. He would probably tell you about our weeknights spent cooking dinner together, a newly discovered neighborhood restaurant with the best duck tacos we’ve ever had, the many times we’ve laughed till real tears rolled down our cheeks, brag about the new growth to the blog Instagram (shout out to Buzzfeed food!), or the hilarious chaos that ensued when we tried to buy a printer at Target last week. I doubt he’d mention my panic attacks, breaking out into hives from stress (a new thing my body has decided to do), crying on the phone to him while on my way home from work, lashing out at him for silly reasons, or the many times I’ve skipped out on going to the gym — but if you asked me, those are the things I’d mention.
This is the greatest example of the difference between us. He focuses on the positive things, moves through life one day at a time, and refuses to accept that his work is all in vain. The even bigger difference here, is that he is the one dealing with the bulk of the stress. Without diving into all the personal details of our life, I will tell you that he is stronger than most, and definitely stronger than me. This is a reason, among many, that I love him so dearly.
Two weeks ago his car was stolen. We’d had full weekend and on Sunday he drove two hours to a shoot with me so I didn’t have to go alone. After we went to IKEA to pick up some things for the apartment and on our way home I suggested going to see a movie. We wanted to check out from the world for a few hours and laugh at Tina Fey together. When we left the theatre the car was gone. I proceeded to freak out, got sassy with the theatre manager because I thought she’d had the car towed, and then spent about three hours waiting in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant for Long Beach PD to come write a report. Long story short, the car was stolen and completely stripped (down to the air filters and the hydraulics in the trunk). Inside the car was my camera equipment. (The equipment I use to shoot for our blog, hence the iPhone photos this week.)
Having something stolen from you is a strange and awful feeling, but every unwanted situation is an opportunity for growth. (I’m sure this is a quote I read in "Chicken Soup for the Pre-Teen Soul" when I was 12 years old. I tell it to myself, but I forget it when stressful things *actually* happen.) I was quick to focus on the bad things, quick to cry, quick to get angry. Todd was quick to comfort me, quick to think rationally, and quick to put me first in a situation that affected him far more than it did me.
Life is nothing if not a series of lessons. I’ve been slow to realize that fact but lucky to get to learn from so many good people. The best of which is next to me everyday. So we got up, dusted off the dirt, and made the ultimate comfort food — Mac & Cheese. While making this recipe I kept saying, “I cannot believe your car got stolen!” and “Wow, I am actually shooting this recipe with my phone right now? This is ridiculous!” Todd would laugh and walk over to kiss me and say “but we’re together, right? And thats all that matters.”
Turns out that even when life is less than sweet to you, there is still plenty to be thankful for.
- Cook macaroni in salted water till al dente — drain and cool.
- Melt butter in large sauce pot. Add flour mix and cook for 3 minutes on low heat to make blonde roux.
- Slowly add cold half & half whisking in between additions to prevent lumps. Cook sauce for 5 minutes, add heavy cream, cream cheese, smoked cheddar, Dijon mustard, onion powder, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, season with salt and pepper.
- Mix gruyere and 1 cup of white cheddar with cold pasta, add cheese sauce and jamon and mix well.
- Pour into buttered Cast Iron (or you can use a baking dish) top with rest of white cheddar.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.