Catchup.com – uh, November?

Helloooo, blog land! And by that I mean, helloooo Mom (thanks for reading!). I had planned to do Blog-Tober, where I post every day. Then I was all “well, I’ll do Blog-Vember, since I missed Blog-Tober.” And then, I did nothing.

For the first time since I started carving out this little corner of the internet, I let an entire month go by without a single post. I know you’re all feeling the pained sadness that comes with the dearth of my sparkling wit, my poignant and thoughtful social commentary, and my profound and seemingly endless well of wisdom. But, wait no more, my preciouses. I’m hear to fill you in on what’s been happening at Camp AudPodge.

And that’s basically almost nothing.

Mid-October to pretty much yesterday was spent doing the following:

  • helping one of my best good Sydney pals prep for her big move to Queensland
  • moping after said best good Sydney pal did move
  • re-watching all of Mad Men
  • moping after some bad times for family and friends
  • mystery virus that zapped every ounce of energy from me for 3 weeks
  • not writing
  • not reading
  • riding a fucking delightful wave of hormones, thanks to birth control weaning
  • playing the same level on Super Mario Brothers for a week straight
  • re-watching all of Dance Moms
  • spending a lot of time taking photos of my cat

Only Mildly Depressed.com: Sometimes, it’s been a few days and you’re just more tired than you’ve ever been. And sometimes you realise there’s just a lot of shit stacking up on you, near you, around you, and you aren’t sorting through what’s important and what’s not important very well anymore, so you just stop sorting through it all and stare at the piles with so many feelings of overwhelmment fux-ulation (my very own made up feeling) that you just stop sorting through anything.

There was this article on Thought Catalogue that discussed self care and how it’s not just taking a sea salt scrub in a luxurious bubble bath while watching Netflix and eating brownies. Self-care should be more about daily maintenance, the little things we neglect when we’re just trying to get shit done. Like, keeping track of your budget so you know how much money you’re spending. Running the dishwasher before you go to bed so you have dishes for the next day. Getting off the couch for 30 mins a day. Saying no or asking for help when you’re tapped out. Doing your laundry once a week so it doesn’t pile up. Taking a shower. Not calling 2 coffees and 8 Lindor Chocolate Truffles lunch. When I go through a depressive stage, my daily maintenance goes out the window. And that’s what’s happened. In fact the only thing I kept up with was laundry, and that’s because I wear my favourite pairs underwear first and all the pairs are in the hamper by the end of the week and sometimes you just need to wear your goddamn favourite underpants and nothing else will suffice and NO ONE can stop you from making this a much bigger deal than it actually is.

So, I took a mental health day from work, and spent a 3 day weekend with my Get Your Shit Together Book getting my shit together. I caught up with my budget and habit trackers and shit. I started seeing my counsellor again. I got a recommendation for a licensed clinical psychologist and I’ll start seeing them in January. I have a meeting with the nutritionist at work this week, and she’s going to help me organise grocery shopping and meal planning like a real adult (no more chocolate lunches) and help me organise  pilates/barre/weight lifting classes. I wrote a whole page last week, after 25+ days of zilch. Last week was much sunnier than the past 6 weeks have been, so I’m hoping shit is on an upswing.

Humble brag time: I’m patting myself on the back, because if I’ve only achieved one thing this year, it’s getting better at intervening with myself when I’m in a downed out place. My depressive episodes are becoming shorter, because (lightbulb) reaching out for help, helps. It’s taken years to get to the point where within a couple weeks I can admit “I’m sad and overwhelmed, and I need help.” I’ll keep working on it, and with any hope I’ll be able to work it into a few weeks to a few days. So keep this in mind guys: Don’t lose hope. Help is just like AA, it works if you work it.

So yes, riveting. But in my slothness I did manage to maintain a very small semblance of a social life, do some driving, spend every single dollar I earned, and knock off some superficial and financially unnecessary totally important projects. Oh, and Joel made Thanksgiving. Oh, and we put up the tree. And did I mention that one page I wrote? Good things.

And here are some pics:

Bed makeover.com: We decided to invest some money in our bed, ie. buy good quality, breathable sheets and blankets for summer, and pillows and mattress toppers that won’t destroy our spines, hips, knees. This makes my life, because (as abundantly documented here) there’s not much I love more than buying new bedding.

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Before: hot mess express
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too much money a sound investment
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Heck yeah, egg crate foam mattress topper topped with pillow/microbead mattress topper (we can’t afford a new mattress because if we’re going to buy a new mattress, we’re going to get a Queen size which means a new bed frame and more new bedding and a bigger apartment, which means $$$$$$$, so now we’re just working with what we have. And two toppers = hella comfortable)
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After: heaven pile of 100% linen bedding and new pillows and cushions (including a memory foam side sleeper (A+)

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I also got sick and tired of not having a night stand with drawers, so I picked up some new night stands that look like they were taken off the set of Mad Men, and make the room look cleaner. I underestimated how heavy the night stands would be (the boxes they came in looked small), so I ended up needing to take a cab from the store that’s a 10 minute walk away from the apartment. Whoops.

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Et voila!

Operation: Make the bedroom a better place is slowly coming together. The bed is incredibly cozy, and I never want to leave it. We had to take the doona (or comforter) out of the duvet cover because it’s summer and TOO DAMN HOT, but once winter comes around things will be fluffy again.

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Pancake approved.

SNES Classic.com

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What was supposed to be a casual browse through EB Games ended up being a trip to my childhood and being reunited with the last video game console I was mildly good at. It comes with 21 pre-installed games! Joel kicked my ass royally at Mario Kart (I fucking hate Mario Kart), we were evenly matched at Street Fighter, and I get stuck on the same Super Mario levels I did when I was 9. I got calluses on my thumbs the first weekend we had it. It’s the greatest.

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Holy Throwback, Batman

Pancake Continues to be Adorable Little Bear-Cat.com

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dat faaaace

Eating Good Shit.com

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Brown sugar baked pork chops baked with apples, onions, and spicy brussels sprouts. Served on cous cous. +10
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Best Brunch Buddy
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cocktails + recliner chairs + free popcorn + AC + awesome movie = best Sunday
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Yakisoba!
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Homemade Coffee Cake: Tasted better than it looked, promise!
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I went to brunch with Casey and only ordered sides. It was everything I wanted it to be.
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Joel is a chicken crumb master. I can’t even. I want to eat this everyday. 
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Another one, because this is one of my favourite meals of the year.
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As you can see, I heart brunch as much as I heart my friends who also heart brunch. Also revamped love for poached eggs on avocado toast. #millenialeating

Seriously Pancake is so damn cute.com

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sun baked fluff pile

Getting My Shit Together.com

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New  planners = new lease on life

Things I Love.com

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Saturdays with Pancake
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Favourites ❤
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Early summer is the prettiest

I’m Not Kidding Pancake is Stupid Cute.com: She’s coming around to us a lot more since we found a brand of canned cat food she likes, and since we let her drink from the running bath tap more often. Apparently the way to her heart is through her stomach.

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Just sleeping with her head lightly resting on her paws. Stahhhhhp

I Wrote A Whole Page.com Slow and steady wins the race. Slow and steady as a glacier moving through frozen water wins the race. I can do it. More on my writing struggles and how I publicly gave myself a deadline of one year to finish my book in a later post.

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But I wrote a whole page!

Thanksgiving.com In true Audrey style, I remembered Thanksgiving the day before. I started to plan a quick little dinner, when Joel told me not to worry about it. The next day, he planned dinner, cleaned the apartment, bought groceries to make said dinner, started to prepare it, and then I unexpectedly had to stay late at work. And then he unexpectedly got called into work, and had to work late. So we put our dinner plans on hold for the next night.

When I got home from work, the apartment was sparkling and Joel had made a stupid cute Thanksgiving card for me. Staaaaaahp!

The next night we had a lemon and herb roast chicken, buttery mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, and American Style Green Bean Casserole (he spent quite a time hunting down all the Australian equivalent ingredients, only to realise my mom had sent them to us back in May. whoops!). Everything was beyond delicious, and I love him for taking the time and effort to make Thanksgiving special. He’s the best.

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My 2/3 scratch pie, and Joel’s sweet card. I made the filling from scratch (what a process!) but the crust and whipped cream were store bought. Next time I go full-from-scratchness.
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You can’t see because they’re out of focus, but those potatoes are drowning in butter (love)
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carving the roast beast
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food coma

When Joel opened the can of cream of mushroom soup, Pancake freaked out and thought we were opening canned cat food. It was then that we had the crushing realization that we forgot to give her Thanksgiving. WTF! So we fed her little pieces of chicken and it seemed to make up for it.

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also food coma
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Thankful for pie. And my totes profesh whipped cream decorating skillz

Things I Love.com

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.com Every year, our tree gets better. And I’m really loving our tree this year, guys.

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How to Keep Your Cat From Eating the Base of Your Christmas Tree
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Mench on a Bench (missing his bench)
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Pancake wasn’t into the whole tree thing.

DRIVING BY MYSELF.com I made the 15 minute journey to my local Ikea and back, and parallel parked, all by myself and I didn’t have a panic attack. I am very excited.

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I did it! All by myself.

Things I Really Love.com I love Joel. Having an understanding, supportive, and caring partner who makes you belly laugh and pushes you to be a better person and who brings you coffee in the morning is the best thing in the world. 1,000 pairs of sweatpants on a 1,000 couches with 1,000 favourite snacks in front of a 1,000 of my favourite movies couldn’t come close to making me as happy as you do. Thank you.

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❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

 

Annnnd you’re all caught up. Right in time for the end of the year post. WHERE THE HELL DID 2017 GO?!

xo,
Auds

Catchup.com

Once upon a more productive time, I used to do a catch up blog every month. Ah, the days when life was simple, unencumbered by the wild throws of admiration and attention that sudden success and fame brings. Continue reading “Catchup.com”

Searious Mussels

So Joel and I have been on a kick watching Kitchen Nightmares lately. It’s like the Hoarders of food shows, and I love it. Even if I do feel just the slightest bit shamed because the food Gordon Ramsay turns his nose at I’m usually like “DAMN THAT IS COVERED IN CHEESE AND IT LOOKS GOOD.” I have the most sophisticated pallet. Clearly.

But on one of the episodes, Ramsay was trying to choke down some mussels marinara*, and I was instantly hit with a craving for mussels. I’ve never made mussels on my own before, and I think I can count on one hand how many times I’ve eaten them. But the craving was sudden, ridiculous, and insatiable. One of those “if we don’t make these tomorrow I will cry” kind of cravings – seriously, Joel came home on Sunday night after an unsuccessful mission to find fresh mussels and I did cry**.

A few years ago when Joel stayed with me in the States, we took a trip to Montauk, NY. It was November, so there were exactly 18 people in the Hamptons, and even fewer in Montauk. We stayed in a shifty motel close to the beach, and googled restaurants until we found one that was locally famous and had the most insane name ever – Shagwong Tavern. I would have eaten there based on the name alone, but the reviews boasted the best seafood on the island, so onward we went.

Being near the Hamptons, I was expecting something a little more upscale. What we arrived at was a dank, dark, tavern that had been ridden hard and put away wet. One of those old restaurants that’s been around so long and will never not smell like cigarettes and bad decisions. We were welcomed to queaky plastic seats with American Indian fabric covered booths, crappy tables, and decor that hadn’t been updated since the mid 80’s. The bar was across from the dining room, where the clientele looked like they hadn’t been updated since the mid-80’s either – a mullet or two, curls crunched up with gel, guys wearing flannels with the sleeves cut off making out with girls in high waisted tight jeans, getting drunk and rowdy and playing pool, and everyone drinking Budweiser from the bottle. Needless to say I was no longer worried about wearing a zip up hoodie to dinner.

We ordered a bottle of wine, some entrees, and the steamed mussels to start. I wasn’t sure how to eat them, but I wanted to impress Joel so I just went with it. And fuck if they weren’t amazing. We ate until we were blind and made a lot of passing judgements at people. I think there was almost a bar fight at one point. And I remember being scared to use the bathroom. It’s one of our fondest date memories.

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Yummmmmm
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all the high class restaurants have Donate Blood cards at the table. Also random baby pumpkin.

Since Monday was a public holiday (woo!), we woke up and set out on a quest for fresh mussels. And later that night, we were eating a pan full of deliciousness. Joel came up with a garlic and white wine sauce that was basically magic, we had fresh sour dough, and it was damn good. We even cleared off the table to eat like real grown ups.

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About five minutes after we sat down…

Who knew mussels were so easy to make? All in all it was about 30 minutes of prep and cook. Normally, here is where I’d post the recipe, but Joel was at the helm and I was catching up on some work, so I have no idea what happened. Except vegetable stock was included at some point. And garlic. Oh, and white wine. And it took like 14 minutes to steam the mussels.

So there you go, world’s easiest recipe. Get some mussels and some wine and go to town!

 

*Until I moved here, I always thought marinara sauce was a plain tomato sauce. Nuuuupe. Continuing the seafood adventures kick, Joel bought a bag of fresh seafood mix and made a seafood marinara on Monday, complete with this badass tomato sauce that I once again didn’t pay attention to as he was making it, because I was once again catching up on work. But it was one of the best sauces I’ve ever had. I believe stock was once again involved. And parsley. And onions. And garlic.

So there you go, another awesome recipe to try this week.

**But really, what hasn’t made me cry this week? I need a vacation.

***No shame in my pun game.

Hello, love.

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This may look like an ordinary photo – but look closely.

Can you see ALL the dirty dishes I used to make baked spaghetti last night, the wrecked stove top and counter top, or the piles of recycling I wasn’t able to take down because of the rain? Nope. Neither can I.

There are few things better than coming home after a hard day to an already cleaned house. Especially when you made 99% of the messes. Oh, and delicious treats left for you on the counter – not bad.

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Cleaning up without asking and leaving treats you’ve been talking about all week are little things, and I believe in the little things. A random sweet message via text. A surprise treat at the end of a bad day. A un-prompted back scratch. A handwritten note. Remembering to serve ice cream with a little spoon, because they don’t like the big spoons with ice cream. Tucking in the bed sheets because you know they love it. A simple “I’m sorry” after a misunderstanding. Hell, the fact that I can even bring it up when my feelings are hurt is a little thing that I think is the biggest thing.

I live for these sweet gestures. Faults and cracks in the little things have been my downfall in the past. And now they just make me grateful to be where I am, and who I’m with. I came home wanting to eat my feelings. Now I’m gushing about love.

It’s the little things.

April Thus Far

So who is waiting to wrap a big fat DONE ribbon around April, quietly put it on the shelf and just pretend it didn’t happen? *raises hand*

I can’t remember a month where I’ve felt more – fragile – I guess is the best word. Hence the sporadic appearances here and everywhere else in the social spectrum. It’s been a tough few weeks. I’ve been on the receiving end of more pep talks than I have in years. But I’m happy to say that being more proactive and attentive to what I need has been helping immensely, so I’m just taking it day by day.

BUT – April hasn’t been all bad! For one thing, we watched so many episodes of My 600lb Life that I think I’m *thiiiiiis* close to cutting out all processed foods from my life. Joel has become Head Chef around here and we’ve never eaten better. I’ve been able to skype/Facetime/phone date with many of my nearest and dearest. And my most favourite person had a birthday. We celebrated with a doughnut cake, Game of Thrones, and a night with friends… and a resulting Friday night of pizza and sweatpants recovery.

Annnnd we just had an awesome three day weekend of good food, good movies (ok, and some terrible movies), and relax times (and let’s face it, obsessive cleaning and rearranging #stressed) in honour of ANZAC Day.

 

So here’s to the last few days of April – fingers crossed that it all starts to shape up.

xoxo

3 Years Ago

Three years ago today, at 6:30 AM, I landed in Sydney for the very first time. My best friend Odie picked me up from the airport, and we spent the day galavanting around the city and seeing sights.

Later that afternoon, we were having sweat pants and beers time in the apartment, and in saunters this tall, quiet looking guy carrying a case of Victoria Bitter and asking “Who wants to watch To Catch a Predator?”

He sat down to join us, and it felt like the three of us had been friends for years. And that feeling never dissipated. Not in the two weeks that followed, and not in the three years since.

The instant comfort and familiarity that I have with Joel is one of my many favourite things about us. I feel like I’ve always known him. And I’ll never not be excited to see his name come up on my phone, or to see him walk through the door at the end of the day. And I’ll never get tired of writing super saccharine drenched entries just about him. He’s been a life changer, and I am forever grateful.

 

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They say when you stop looking, you’ll find it. And it’s true. He’s my most favourite souvenir. Way to go, Universe.

Happy Birthday, Joel!

Big Joel had a Big Birthday yesterday!

And what a birthday he’s having. He took a holiday off work, which turned into a spontaneous trip to South Australia to see a once in a lifetime photo exhibition and personal tour of said exhibition by one of his heroes, Trent Parke. He picked up his pal Craig in Melbourne, and then they flew to Adelaide for the day to take in the sights.

Craig is a photographer, also. Go oggle his works!
Craig is a photographer, also. See for yourself!

Or, sight, as I learned. Apparently, there isn’t much to do in Adelaide besides the art museum and a bunch of sharks. But they did get an upgrade to business class on their flight, and Joel sat in front of Sia! No, he didn’t talk to her or ask her about Maddie. (Yes I’m frowning as I type this.)

That meant he was gone overnight, and didn’t return until late on the night of his birthday. Which gave me two evenings to make the cake that made Joel’s jaw drop when he saw it. I’ll go into the specifics about said cake later, but it was a fun, insane ordeal, and it reminded me how much I love baking. And it reminded me how much I love baking for other people. And how much I love celebrating my favourite Australian. Once he got home, plane tired and wiped out, we ordered pizza and opened presents and blew out candles and I told him I loved him about 4700 times. Because I do.

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Caramel cake with salted caramel frosting… mmm…
My favourite slice of handsome.
My favourite slice of handsome.
PAAARRRRTY
PAAARRRRTY

DSCF1680Oh, Joel. I’m so very happy you were born.

… and I’m so happy that we get delicious cake for the next few days. luv ju. xoxi

On the Subject of Meatloaf

Noooo, meatloaf. Not Meat Loaf.

The first meal I remember my mom teaching me how to cook is meatloaf. Somewhere in my storage boxes at home, I still have her recipe that she wrote out for me, on her stationary whose border had a mother rabbit in a dress, surrounded by [presumably] her baby rabbits in little clothing, saying “Motherhood is a hare raising experience.” I liked making meatloaf because it was my job to mash all the veggies and whatnot into the meat. It was gross. And awesome.

I remember eating meatloaf a lot as a kid, because my parents are mid-western and meatloaf is a mid-west staple. But I can’t remember the last time she made it. And as Joel and I were flipping through a cookbook my mom gave us, his eyes landed on a meatloaf recipe and he lit up. As I was about to find out, Joel is a meatloaf fiend. And since we had hamburger in the freezer, vegetables in the fridge, and up til then, no clue what to do for dinner, we decided on meatloaf.

Prepping it was gross and awesome like it when I was a kid–just mushing together a pile of cold hamburger and egg and cut vegetables, and topping it with tomato sauce. It looked like a pile of wet slop. But after two hours of baking, it was delicious.

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I didn’t take more photos, because I didn’t think this meal was going to be a success. But, shit. Meatloaf might become a regular thing now. I paired it with golden potatoes that I mashed with thickened cream and real butter. And it was so good.

What I didn’t realize until I put all the ingredients together is that 2 lbs of meatloaf can feed like, 20 people. Whoops. But now I understand why it’s a family staple. It’s easy to prepare, uses up your old veggies (or frozen veggies, even easier), is child friendly, doesn’t need constant tending, and will feed you for days. Like tonight, when we had fried meat loaf sandwiches.

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Meatloaf for days. Or as Joel put it, “Alright, second hand meat!”

Yeah… That quote is the only reason I wanted to post about this.

Enjoy!

Hattie’s Meatloaf
From Talk About Good
by Hattie Mae Perry

Ingredients:
2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs, well beaten
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 bell pepper, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper, more if desired
2 slices bacon (optional, I went without, because bacon is different here)
1 can tomato sauce
*I added carrot, celery, and corn, because vegetables are yum. I also added a healthy dose of Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning because yes. It goes on everything.

Mix meat, egg, onion, bell pepper, parsley, salt and pepper in a large bowl. When mixed, form into a 9 X 5 inch loaf pan.

Place the two slices of bacon over the meat loaf and cover with tomato sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, or 170*C for 2 hours.
Approximately 8-10,000 servings.