• Room Redo Up on Copy Cat Chic!

  • 4 years and a puppy

Friday, August 23, 2013

Healthy Mac + Cheese

This is one of the most requested dishes when I cook for friends, and it’s also one I always make and leave in the fridge for Jake to eat when I’m out of town (otherwise he defaults to eating like a sewer rat. Love you!).

You guys, I love macaroni. Everyone loves macaroni. Unfortunately, macaroni also makes me go comatose on the couch after partaking, and then compels me to kill myself at the gym the next day. Macaroni is a cruel mistress, but she’s my mistress, so I found a recipe to keep my tongue and my thighs both happy.

This recipe is one of Grace Parisi’s that I adapted from Food & Wine. As far as macaroni goes, I don’t think I’ve found a healthier option that actually contains real pasta or cheese. This one contains very little cheese, no cream or roux of any kind, and the sauce is actually made of pureed carrots simmered with orange zest. The bulk of your calories come just from the pasta itself so if you want to try substituting with things like shirataki noodles, be my guest (I personally can’t abide that toothsome bite, but to each his own). But to be quite honest, this mac is awesome and you can’t tell that it’s healthy! There are several additions you can make as well—I got a big bunch of sweet potato greens in my CSA basket yesterday and threw them in when I combined the sauce and pasta, it was ACES. And if you want to indulge or just use up some leftover cream in the fridge, you can always throw some of that in too. I do encourage you to make it the healthy way first though. It’s so good as-is, and while I love full-fat dairy products just as much as the now-infamous Miz Paula Deen, adding cheese/butter/cream is going to put you in coma-territory in addition to muting the flavors of the tarragon and carrot puree. Happy eating!

Healthy Mac + Cheese

1 lb. carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4" coins
zest of 1 orange, in large strips
juice of 1 orange
3 cups penne pasta
1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
1 Tbsp. chopped tarragon
1/4 cup water
1 cup reserved pasta water
white pepper (black is okay too)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large saucepan, combine the carrots with the orange zest, orange juice and 1/4 cup water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and summer over medium heat until carrots are very soft, about 20 minutes. If all the liquid evaporates and the carrots still aren't soft enough, add a little bit more orange juice or water. Discard the zest and transfer carrots and any liquid to a blender/food processor and puree until completely smooth.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta to al dente according to package directions (make sure to generously salt your water!). Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.

Add the cooked pasta and carrot puree to the saucepan you cooked your carrots in. Add the reserved water and cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently until pasta is coated. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Stir in the tarragon and season with salt and white pepper.

Transfer the pasta to a medium baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned, about 20 minutes.


Lindsey Does on Copy Cat Chic!

Hey guys!

I'm so pumped about today, my first post is up on Copy Cat Chic! I did a room redo of one of my favorite spaces and I think you guys are really gonna like it. Check it out HERE!

Head on over to Copy Cat Chic to check out this fabulous room!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

what a wednesday...

I'm trying to get on some sort of regular posting schedule but stuff just seems to keep coming up. Alas. I'll get there, hopefully sooner rather than later.

So...eventful day, yeah? Today is a more somber Wednesday than we usually have, I think we can all agree. For starters, the news from Cairo is nothing short of bone chilling. On the drive home, I listened to an NPR reporter describe being shot at by military snipers while counting the bodies lined up in the hospital she and her team were sheltering in, and of running and stopping short as a man in an alleyway in front of her dropped dead from a bullet to his chest. And add to that the UPS plane that went down in Birmingham...the tragedy is on a different level but it's a tragedy nonetheless. My dad's company oversees all of the maintenance on UPS planes, and he's been known to sit in the "jump seat" in a plane for a quick jaunt to Louisville and back, to make sure there are no issues before he signs off on a plane inspection. As you can imagine, they had a helluva morning trying to determine if they played any role in this crash. Thankfully (for my dad) that particular plane hadn't been scheduled for maintenance since late 2011, but it was due back this October and was scheduled to be their last plane inspection of the year.

I dunno, it just makes my chest tighten when things like this happen. Sometimes we are a lot less removed from events than we think we are, and it today made me very thankful that I could text my dad this afternoon to ask his advice on something as mundane as how to get my yard ready for spring. So with all this in mind, it's kind of a strange place I find myself in--a few good things have happened lately and I want to celebrate them, but it feels pretty ungracious and inconsiderate to care about things as small as some lovely new shoes or a promising blog development. I guess it's kind of my eternal struggle as a Gemini--everything seems meaningful and it's hard to know which path is right.

But ultimately I can't help but think that, sometimes, the best way of making sense of bad things is to take a moment to appreciate the good things that are happening all around you. Sometimes they're big and sometimes they're small, but they're important just the same. The good adds light where the bad takes it away, and it feeds our hopes as it reminds us that things can and will be better than they are.

So in the interest of celebrating the good, I'm happy to announce that I'm the newest design intern for Copy Cat Chic! It's a blog I really love because it's such a valuable resource for being able to (design-wise at least) have your cake and eat it too. I'm just really pumped about it, you guys.

Secondly, my fairy godmother sent me these insanely good shoes this week:


Brian Atwood

And the best part is that I didn't even have to scrub floors or fetch water to receive said fairy godmother!

Thirdly, I finished a major DIY project! I did a DIY version of those famous black Dorothy Draper chests using RAST dressers from Ikea (aka the patron saint of all that is holy in the DIY universe). That will be a separate post, but oh what a post it will be. It's just really satisfying to know I spent less on the whole project than I did on my last grocery shopping trip, and to have something super chic to (finally) put in my hovel guest room upstairs.

So since all my posts are turning out to be whoppers lately, I think I'll end here. Remember to be thankful for the good people and the good things you've got going on.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Progress in the guest room!

Happy Sunday!! I used two exclamation marks in an attempt to make myself get excited about Sundays. I loooooathe Sundays. I can't help it, all I can think about all day is that I have to go to work tomorrow and it really just bums me out!

But this weekend has been a pretty productive one, nonetheless. We've got the usual laundry/cleaning/drinking beers while watching bad bands out of the way, along with several little annoying house-related tasks. We've got some more ceiling lights installed, which brings our total number of naked bulbs in the house down to 4! This house doesn't seem like it has an inordinate amount of light fixtures, but I guess it feels that way when you have to replace all of them. Jake also installed a new dimmer switch in the kitchen for me...


We've had a dimmer switch the entire time, but it's covered in paint, the switch plate has been missing since we started replacing them in March, and I no longer have to worry about accidentally sticking my fingers in a electrified wire tangle! Life is good. But the best part is that I've finally started on the guest room. As I've mentioned previously, it currently looks like a rat kingdom. So far it's really been used as a dumping ground, literally and figuratively. All of the stuff we haven't found places for yet, along with two litter boxes, just makes it feel like a black hole where sadness goes to die. But no longer! Jake's parents are coming in a few weeks and since I looooove a deadline, it's motivated me to get it at least halfway done for them.

The BEST part about this room is that since Jake doesn't have to live in it, I don't have to consult him about anything! And I'm so excited I could just squeal about that. I've got the color palette set, but I'm still playing with some of the individual elements. In addition to hosting sleepover parties, I want it to be a functional room from a storage standpoint so I'm going to hold off picking things like a desk, shelving, etc. until I figure out how I really need that room to work for me.

Here are a few inspiration images I'm working off of:

via Kishani Perera, my design spirit animal
(this is also on the top of my deck inspiration file)

via MWM

I picked up two RAST dressers from Ikea this week for a whopping $35 a pop, and I've already started transforming them into those black and gold Dorothy Draper-inspired nightstands in the pic above (that one's real, FYI). I'll do a separate post on those, but it's been a breeze so far and I really couldn't be happier with my progress (don't worry, the deck itself is written on our renovation list in giant black marker). All the small drawer pieces still need to be flipped over and painted, but the bodies of the dressers are already done. Once the drawers have 2 coats on each side, then I'll stencil the gold part onto the drawers and just assemble them. I'm so PUMPED, you guys! I'll also be DIY-ing an upholstered headboard, which I haven't done before and am really looking forward to.

Friday, August 2, 2013

"mostly Love, now"

Happy Friday to the world, oh how we all needed this day to be over, didn't we? Today was a tough one, I will be honest. I listened to too much NPR, which always puts me in a thoughtful and sober mood, and then work kicked my ass up and down life's hallway (and then made me type out that terrible metaphor). My day can really be summarized by the most important thing rap has taught me, which is "haters gonna hate." The only thing on my mind at 5:00 was a stiff drink.


I checked Facebook first, which I don't do too terribly often. And a girl I went to portfolio school with, who is so talented and kind and funny and real, that I wish I was better friends with, had posted a link that really helped me find my way out of my Friday slump. It was a beautiful convocation speech delivered this past May by the peerless, unquestionably great George Saunders (look him up, no need to thank me).

Reader, every word from his mouth is gold. Shiny, heavy, luminous, reflective. Quoting my favorite parts of this speech would involve me transcribing the article verbatim, thus robbing you of a magical experience. So I highly encourage you to take a few minutes and lose yourself in his loving, good, kind words. You're only reading a blog right now anyway (and I promise you I'm no George Saunders). Then you can read the rest of this.


He speaks about what old people are good for (in addition to making them dance for your own amusement and/or borrowing money from them), which is being able to ask them what they regret the most. He says that it's never the terrible jobs they held, or the miscalculations made whilst skinny dipping, it's not even embarrassing themselves in front of a crowd and the girl they really liked. None of those things even factor in after a certain amount of time has passed. No, what really sticks with you are what he calls failures of kindness. They are "those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded...sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly." Who can't relate to that? As a remedy, he makes a glorious suggestion:

"It's a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I'd say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder."

Can I borrow someone's rooftop so I can shout this out with a megaphone? Or perhaps just a medium sized box and a hollowed out soup can? George then goes on to tell his own story, not of hurting someone directly, but of failing to defend them in a way that made any kind of difference. I had to re-read it several times though, because his words instantly called to mind a moment from second grade, a moment I have cried over more than once. It's a moment that shows my hard heart, it shows my meanness, it shows the least of me. It is shameful, and it's the lowest I have ever felt.

A quiet, shy girl named Saima was assigned to be my class partner for an afternoon. My classmates whipped their heads in my direction as the teacher read the list of partners out loud. I somehow knew that merely by being assigned to her, by having my name mentioned in such proximity to hers, that they had marked me. And I knew that if I was to maintain my reputation as the ball-busting, parent's-signature-forging sass-mouth that I undoubtedly was, I had to do something about that. So the first words out of my cruel, hateful eight year old mouth were, "Ewwwwwwww, Saima? Gross!" as I held my nose. Everyone heard but the teacher, and burst into laughter. I was so pleased with myself; I've always been way into making people laugh and I was pretty satisfied that everyone knew I was still in control of that situation. But then. Then, I looked over at Saima, my poor quiet partner, whose only offense was being different and having the utter misfortune of being assigned to me. And she had the smallest tear in the corner of her eye. And I knew that I had made a mistake.

In hindsight, I would bet my left hand that Saima would have rather been invisible than be my partner. Or anyone's partner. No one was kind to her. I don't know why. Maybe it was the matching sweatsuits she wore every day, or the fact that she wasn't an identifiable race like the rest of us. Maybe it was her glasses, or her ever-present fluffy pigtails, or maybe it was because we hadn't yet learned that words could really do some damage. I don't remember ever having been that unforgivably mean to her (or to anyone), but I do remember that she was openly ridiculed on a daily basis. No one thought twice about it. She was a second grade punching bag. And she didn't even smell bad.

I've thought about this so many times over the years, and I wish I could throw myself at her and tell her that I am sorrier than sorry. I would tell her if I had three wishes from a lamp-bound genie, my first wish would be to undo all the hurt I caused her with my one asshole comment. My second wish would be a way to understand why, and how, someone who cried after thoughtlessly crushing a tiny spider could treat another person that way. (In case you're wondering, my third wish would be to set the genie free. Aladdin really resonated with me, obviously.)

So when I read George's story, I knew he would shed some light on that darkness. He posits that we humans are confused about a lot of things, things that he says are probably somehow Darwinian: we all believe we're central to the universe, that we're separate from the universe, and that we're permanent, as in "death is real, o.k., sure - for you, but not for me." Rather than believing these in an intellectual manner, we believe them viscerally, which causes us to "prioritize our own needs over the needs of others, even though what we really want, in our hearts, is to be less selfish, more aware of what's actually happening in the present moment, more open, and more loving."

I read this and I felt like someone had suddenly tucked me into bed and kissed my forehead. I struggle with this every day. Every single day, since second grade, a part of me has constantly worried that I am not yet the person I want to be. I'm painfully aware that I could always be kinder, more considerate, more patient, more everything. It's hard on me.

There's a Patty Griffin song I love, "The Long Ride Home," which is a story about what happens after the death of a spouse. Reflecting upon their life together, the lyrics go:

Forty years go by with someone laying in your bed;
Forty years of things you say you wish you'd never said.
How hard would it have been to say some kinder words instead?
I wonder as I stare up at the sky a-turning red. 

I mean...seriously, guys? Just kill me til I'm dead, why don't you.

But there is hope for us yet. How can us mere mortals take the carefully spun words of Patty and George and do something meaningful with them? George says it the way only George can:
"Do all the other things, the ambitious things--travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop)--but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond your personality--your soul, if you will--is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare's, bright as Ghandi's, bright as Mother Theresa's. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, comes to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly. 

And someday, in 80 years, when you're 100, and I'm 134, and we're both so kind and loving we're nearly unbearable, drop me a line, let me know how your life has been. I hope you will say: It has been so wonderful."

I take comfort in George's words, because he is older and wiser than I. He assures me that "most people, as they age, becomes less selfish and more loving. I think this is true." I hope he is right. I really, really do. I am already kinder than I have ever been, which is easy to forget since I've got some lofty goals where kindness is concerned. But I keep trying, and I believe that I'll get there one day. To provide a final note of encouragement from George, and to wrap up this unforgivably and delightfully lengthy post:
"The great Syracuse poet, Hayden Carruth, said, in a poem, written near the end of his life, that he was "mostly Love, now."

I bet your Friday is already better than it was.