Mac & Cheese Lists
Head Cheese-It Saya likes lists
Saya’s Type A. She’s organized. She likes bullet points. She likes to cross things off. She has (strong, sometimes inane) opinions. She finds lists really helpful in brainstorming and reflecting. She likes easy to find, access, and share information. Especially of the win-win-win variety. Lists here are of the “This is so helpful!” variety and of the “What am I supposed to do with this knowledge?” variety. Take what serves you, leave what doesn’t.
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Because Mac & Cheese is headquartered in Chicago, many of the lists are Chicago-heavy. But many of the people, organizations, activities work virtually, so if something piques your interest, don’t let location deter you from exploring further! If a business listed has closed, shoot Saya a note (so hard to keep up with openings and closings!).
Service Provider Recommendations
Life of Yes℠ Resources
Material Item Recommendations
Spotlight: Home Office
Life of Yes℠ Gift Guides
Chicago: activities, lodging, eats+
More & Less Of
Things I wish I could get paid to do
Simple ways to comfort yourself
Your (used to be my) excuses
Your pet peeves
My pet peeves
Where I’ve traveled internationally
My education path
Where I’ve lived as an adult
For tables, to pop out any listing, tap it/”expand space” arrow. To make tables easier to view on non-mobile, click “View larger version” at bottom.
Mac & Cheese Service Provider Recommendations
Due to the amount of asks and Saya attempting some amount of selectivity, no, you can’t be added to the list (even though what you offer is fabulous). She adds people at her discretion. If you’d like exposure to the Cheese-It network, head here.
Alphabetical by category.
Life of Yes℠ Resources
See tabs for categories; on mobile, click the upper left three lines in the menu bar.
Material Item Recommendations
Spotlight: Home Office
Every time I share my workspace, someone asks about something they see, so here’s everything I deem crucial to living my best work from home life. I’ve been wfh since 2004 but, in the most duh!!! statement ever, 2020 has brought with it a bunch of change even for us no-pants veterans. Change in how we communicate. How we prioritize. How we live day to day. And thusly I’ve transformed my physical space to match my pivots.
The theme to the (expensive, “Should I, shouldn’t I”) transformation is of course Life of Yes℠ —
- How can I make the space where I spend the majority of my time as enjoyable, restorative, and energy-giving as possible?
- What are my pain points? How can I lessen or remove them?
- Are there ways to save money here so I can spend money there? Or is there something that’s just worth it and that I should buy without over-analyzing or having to balance out?
- Where can I implement my “use the good china” policy? Are there things I’ve been saving for a special occasion? For guests? Today and every day is a special occasion. I should treat myself as I treat my guests.
Note that if you remove the desk, or if you find a less expensive alternative, this transformation can be done for a relative small amount of money. Don’t let my price tag stop you from the office set up of your dreams. As I always say, steal and tweak! Take my foundation and use it to customize best for your situation.
Links to and descriptions of specific items below the images.
- Desktop Style: Walnut Laminate (I wanted solid wood but $670 extra as opposed to $0 extra quickly evaporated that dream; I love the clean look of the white* and questioned if I made the wrong choice but the “wood” fits better with our home and I like the dark. They have a whiteboard option if you’re into the idea of being able to write on your desk; that was a bit too much for me. *Peep her drawers! I love all of them so hard. I also need to upgrade my file cabinet and hers is prettyyyyy; one day. It’s also from Uplift) +$0
- Desktop Size: 60×30 (the 3rd biggest in five size options) +$110.00
- Frame Type: metallic Industrial Style +$0
- Grommets: Black non-powered (these are the holes in the back of the desk that you run your cables through; considered getting at least one powered one but decided I had enough nearby power sources) +$0
- Keypad: Basic Keypad (no memory settings) +$0
- Freebie Accessory 1 of 4: Standing Desk Mat with Heel Grab (I stood for a day without and for a day with, huge difference! Won over cynic. The heel grab is so you don’t have to bend over to move the mat) +$0
- Freebie Accessory 2 of 4: Bamboo Desk Organizer Set +$0
- Freebie Accessory 3 of 4: Black Modesty Panel with Wire Management (a large mesh pouch that holds surge protectors and cords) +$0
- Freebie Accessory 4 of 4: What?!? Did I not choose a 4th one?! My order only says three. Grrrrr. Well, I would’ve chosen a motion-x board or the tablet stand.
- Magnetic Cable Channel (magnets to the desk frame and conceals cables routed up the desk leg) +$19.00
- Keyboard Tray: Black Big Ultra-Thin Keyboard Tray with Quick-Adjust Mechanism (I knew I didn’t want to put the keyboard on my desk as that’d defeat the purpose getting more space; included track spacer allows me to push the tray entirely under the desk) +$150.40
With the $50 discount, $51.78 in sales tax, and $0 shipping, the grand total was $828.40. Or as I like to think of it to help me be ok with the amount, three cleaning gigs I yes’ed that I normally would’ve passed on.
You know I used this opportunity for a delicious deep clean of an area that hadn’t been cleaned in a few years. Once I removed the old desk and before the new one arrived, I joyfully Dysoned and Swiffered. So sparkly fresh! I love the idea of starting a new chapter with a clean, blank slate.
The desk came in three shipments, a week after order was placed, over the course of a day. It was like Christmas over and over and over. The instructional video they sent had them assembling the desk in seven minutes. Uh, yeah. Not so much for me. It took me hours to assemble. It wasn’t hard, just a lot of steps and I wanted to make sure I got ’em right. Plus I had a lot of accessories to install that the video didn’t cover, not to mention my cleaning breaks. They offer an assembly service. If you have the cash, do it.
Cords are the bane of my existence. When I become a millionaire, I will absolutely pay someone for cord management — installing them, hiding them, simply thinking about them. I used the office refresh as an opportunity to get rid of, clean, and untangle. Have you ever run a dampened rag over a dirty cord? Nothing more satisfying.
I was worried about what I was going to do with all the stuff that was in the three drawers of my old desk, seeing that the standing desk has no drawers, even going so far as Shopping Cart’ing various solutions on Amazon, Target, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and the Container Store. But after some reorganization, including relegating low touch materials to another room, I was able to fit everything I need in a drawer set I already had, which I placed immediately behind me so it doesn’t encroach on my leg space but I can still easily grab what I need.
Laptop I last had a desktop in 2012. I know that because that was the year I got engaged and in lieu of a ring-ring, this happened: How I ended up with 3 engagement rings and an engagement Mac Book Air. The main reason I liked having desktop was screen size. As I entrepreneured more and more and traveled more and more, I realized I liked the option of easily packing up my office and heading off to a coffeehouse or Belize. And that I could still get the screensize without having desktop. I’ve been Team Laptop + Monitor ever since. While I’m not Team Apple with most things — I’m Android, I don’t care about having an iWhatever or Apple made earbuds — I’m 100% Team Apple when it comes to a computer. PCs feel 1980s to me. Foreign to me. They’re soooo pricey. This is one area I spend the money without “Should I, shouldn’t I” back and forth. If I need to cut back elsewhere to make a purchase, done. Or I’ll just find a special someone who’ll get down on one knee with a Mac Book Air in hand instead of a ring.
Home Office Joy Additions
The top of my drawers is in my Zoom background so obvs, it needs to be cute. I also prefer to not use overhead light. Enter lamp I had stuck away in a corner. I love bringing items I already had but didn’t use back to life! Overhead lighting can be so conference room’y and hospital’y. Highly recommend lamping yourself. TIP: Ikea has a great selection and those prices yo…
I was a plant mama pre-quarantine but have morphed into a Plant Mama. My favorite way to start each day is to turn on music or the news while the coffee is brewing and tend to my plants. Trimming. Watering. Dusting. Spritzing. Whispering. (Yes, dusting plants is a thing! TIP: Find out how to care for plants and get some delivered to your Chicagoland doorstep here) My biggest plant a-ha moment with the office? I had a plant on my windowsill before; I added five more and it feels so much more naturesque and serene in here, making me realize how barely noticeable the one plant was. I also made what I had deemed as floor plants due to their large size sill plants and they’re perfect in their new spot. Mismatched pots, sizes, and types makes for a wild, soothing jungle.
Another “use the good china everyday” choice was to stop saving candles for guests. Now my home continuously smells like pine and the flickering flame is a great screenbreak and brainbreak. Whenever I see sales on tree-adjacent scents, I gobble them up. TIP: Bed, Bath, & Beyond and Kohl’s often have 40-50% off sales.
While I’m all things digital for my schedule, to do list, planner life, I do like me a cute, tiny analog desktop calendar. And art goes a long way for inspiration. Bonus: the creator of both Matthew is a small business friend so I feel doubly good when I support him. (TIP: First timers, go here for $5 off your order)
A home office is not complete without beverage support. In this case, cute coasters and cute mugs. I’m horrible at drinking water so this is a must; I fill it at the start of the day and if I’m good, throughout the day. For whatever reason, a glass of water does not inspire me to drink but a bottle does. Bonus: it’s good for hikes and walks and travel.
The electronic that I use the most personally and professionally besides my laptop is our Sonos system. I always have audio on — podcast, NPR, music, nature sounds, holiday music — and I love it following me from room to room (when I’m a millionaire, my custom-built home will be wired, but till then…). We have one in the bedroom, both bathrooms, office, yard, dining room, and living room. I can control everything via my phone, including volume and muting in certain rooms. You can use it as an alarm or as a bedtime lullaby via the timer feature. The sound quality is top notch. Though the units are pricey, the option to build your system as your budget allows makes a robust system doable. We started with the big one, a gift for our wedding and over the years have added the smaller ones.
Life of Yes℠ Gift Guides
For non-Chicago coffeehouses, head here.
Simple ways to comfort yourself
How I find light in darkness
- listen to the holiday music Pandora station, even in April
- drink hot chocolate – with marshmallows on especially dark days, and peppermint stir sticks on the darkest of days
- drink mulled cider – so easy to make with mulling spices
- buy yourself a hugeass, “just for you” mug with a puppy or a snarky saying on it
- volunteer – read a book to a kid in a shelter fleeing domestic violence or take a dog rescued from abuse for a walk
- perform random acts of kindness – make it official and become a Raktivist
- send a handwritten thank-you note – bonus if you buy your stationary from a local, lil’ guy
- indulge in personal grooming – manicure, pedicure, haircut, massage, waxing
- at night, as you start to feel yourself gravitate to vegging in front of a Law & Order: SVU rerun, clean instead – you’ll go to bed with a sense of productiveness and accomplishment (not to mention a few more calories burned) and wake up to an inviting, blank slate space ready for your dreams to be transformed into reality
- get a damp cloth and clean your cords (extension, power, USB, etc) – the dirtier the better (you know, those ones behind your desk and the couch); hold one end and run the cloth the length of the cord and back again. THERE IS NO BETTER SENSATION.
- sweep and mop under the bed
- use a Magic Eraser on scuff marks throughout your home
- change your sheets and make your bed – I am not usually a proponent of bed-making; exception to the rule – people are coming over and/or you’re in a dark place
- wake up to anything but the news
- find apps to make _______ easier
- go paperless and digitize everything
- find the thing that has been on your To Do List for far too long, you know the thing that you keep moving to tomorrow, next week, next Fall, and then either do it or take it off the list and let it go
- play board games – big fan of Hanabi and Taboo
- buy yourself flowers
- file all the things on your desktop in commonsensical folders on your hard drive and/or on the cloud that are easy to find and access and have a desktop with nothing on it
- Inbox Zero – find tools to make that easier
- replace your nasty sink strainers
- run your stove knobs and grates through the dishwasher
- deep clean the dishwasher
- build a fire and stare silently into the flames – in your fireplace, your fire-pit, at a campsite
- travel fugally yet luxuriously
- ingest sunshine – take a walk, lay in the grass, eat outside
- clean your ceiling fan
- track where you’ve traveled
- engulf your home in twinkly white lights
- clean or exercise while you electric toothbrush your teeth – my multitasking soul loves to tidy up rooms or do heel lifts while brushing
- clean the personal hygiene items in your shower, e.g. your bottles of shampoo and conditioner
- eat ice cream from an ice cream shop (as opposed to the grocery store)
- surround yourself with positive people
- not to get all Silence of the Lambs’y, but lotion up! – especially after the harshness of winter, lather your feet with lotion or vaseline and put your slickness into thick socks and sleep with ’em on
- wash your purses, bags, and luggage
- use the “good stuff” that you usually save for guests — wine glasses, china, fancy hand soap, candles, etc.; milk from a wine glass, yes please!
- Swiffer dust your home and office
- wipe down your phone and door knobs
- compress gas your keyboard
- laugh – my preferred method is through taking, seeing, and/or facilitating improv
- buy fancy cheese instead of generic-brand cheese
- lavender everything – yoga wipes, tea, room spritz, cleanser (Chicago, you can take an Essential Oils workshop with the lovely Dana Frost!)
- help someone find a job, a client, housing, a new friend, a date
- put a Hate Has No Home Here sign in your window or on your lawn
- dump a spoonful of sour cream or bacon bits or both on whatever you’re eating
How others find light in darkness
- always be learning; take a class – Dabble, Khan Academy, Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago Glass Collective, General Assembly
- steam room or sauna – King Spa kinda scares me so I’ve never been there but I know many who love it; I do love how it’s financially accessible to us wee folk
- engage in physical activity – dance, run a marathon, Crossfit, bike ride
- find a cuddle party – these also scare me but a group that has Cuddlemonials can’t be bad, right?
- join or start a #resist Meetup
- crockpot a meal
- get dirty in a community garden
- lose yourself in a book
- lose yourself in adult coloring books
- join or start a movement, like Rise, the Women’s March on Washington, and the Illinois March on Springfield
- join or start a group that exists to offer literal and figurative outstretched hands to those in need, like the Home Sweet Home Chicago Refugee One Crew
- run for office or volunteer for a campaign like Ameya’s or JB’s
- have a Job Description that makes people amen and remember what’s important in life —
“We believe in promoting diverse voices. We read blind because we value the words and ideas above all else. We believe that books can transform the way people think, can teach compassion and end biases—so if you’re only reading books by dead white men, then we aren’t the place for you. We want to make people less afraid of Muslims. We want to create a safe space for LGBT+. We want diverse books, own voices, and a fair shot for underprivileged writers. If you voted for the dangerous, hateful man who is our current president, then we aren’t the right place for you. If you didn’t vote at all, then we aren’t the right place for you. If you don’t believe climate change is real, then we aren’t the right place for you. If you don’t care about history, the human experience, the heart behind every breath—then we aren’t the right place for you.”
Your (used to be my) Excuses
- “It’s not the right time.”
- “I’m waiting for a better time.”
- “When I have more time.”
- “I’m saving money.”
- “I don’t have money.”
- “When I lose ten pounds.”
- “Once I get that promotion.”
- “I’m waiting for a sign.”
- “When I move.”
- “Next month.”
- “Next year.”
- “January 1.”
- “After I get certified.”
- “Once I get it perfect.”
- “When it feels right.”
- “I don’t know what to say.”
- “I don’t have anything new to say.”
- “I’m a private person.”
- “I’m an introvert.”
- “I’ve been hurt.”
- “I don’t want to appear braggy.”
- “I haven’t done anything share-worthy.”
- “I like so many different things.”
- “I’m not an expert.”
- “I don’t want to be a downer.”
- “I’ll offend someone.”
- “I’m different.“
Your Pet Peeves
I collected pet peeves for a film I was making. A sampling.
- People who clap when airplanes land
- People who use tiny Neiman Marcus bags to carry their lunch to work
- People who say “that’s a mute point”
- The Dave Matthews Band
- When people set alarms and then go out of town
- New fathers who talk of their wives as if they’re farm animals. “Her left breast doesn’t produce as much milk as the right breast.”
- People who wear outerwear – coats, hats – indoors
- Nicholas Sparks’ books
- People who put clothing on animals
- Stock tip emails
- Waiting for service people to make house calls (cable, phone, etc.)
- Men adjusting themselves in public
- People who groom themselves in public, particularly cutting nails in close quarters like an el car or bus
- Cleaning out the sink trap
- Losing one glove instead of two
- People who honk going through alleys
- People who don’t honk going through alleys
My Pet Peeves
- Refrigerated peanut butter
- People who say “It’s in God’s hands.”
- Open-ended text messages like “How was your day?”
- Dogs that look like rats
- People who hate the Dave Matthews Band because so many people like them
- Guys who have seven acoustic guitars but don’t play guitar
- Black jelly beans
- When I can hear people: 1) chewing 2) swallowing 3) breathing
- When someone refers to their condo, instead of their home – “Want to come over to my condo on Friday?”
- Spending money on feminine hygiene products
- Sticky syrup bottles
- Not being able to find your favorite bra in stores anymore
- Emails with the urgent flag
- People over 25 who have their bed in the corner or don’t have a headboard
- The expression “Where you at?”
- LOLs and text spelling, e.g. “Where r u?”
- People who boo at karaoke
- People who wait to take out their Ventra AT the turnstile
- Socks that slide down in my boots/shoes
- Squishy fruit
- Food that goes bad right after you bring it home
- People who don’t know how to use Reply All
- People who choose ringtones in coffeehouses
- No matter how slow/fast you open a yogurt/pudding, it always squirts on your clothes
- When you eat something and then later that day you notice mold in it
- Socks with sandals
- People who don’t wave when you let them pull in front of them
- Men who catcall, stare, comment on your physical appearance
- When you’ve been talking forever on the phone and realize the person was disconnected and have to restate your deep thoughts
- When people tell you the age of their child in days or months if the child is over a year
Where I’ve traveled internationally
If you’re heading to any of these places, I may have written about our trip on the blog.
My Education Path
- Cornflakes Preschool
- Chiaravalle Montessori School
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Experimental Laboratory School
- Evanston Township High School
- Boston College
Where I’ve lived as an adult
More in depth list: What do the homes you’ve lived in as an adult say about you?
- Wrigleyville, Chicago
- Roscoe Village, Chicago
- Albany Park, Chicago
- back to Roscoe Village, Chicago – did not want to move: Life Lesson: never check email when in Mexico
- Wicker Park, Chicago – settling in: Home sweet home