I Can't...

Have an idea for an “I Can’t,” either to attend or to facilitate? Head to the Suggestion Box.

‘Member summer camp? Where you learned, participated, and stretched yourself amongst an invigorating blend of familiar and new faces? Where you were led by welcoming, low-key counselors in a welcoming, low-key environment where you were up for trying?

In Mac & Cheese Productions’ I Can’t series, adults state they’re unable to do something, they try it with a bunch of other adults who also “can’t,” and everyone proves themselves wrong and not only does the thing, but enjoys it and says, “That wasn’t so bad. In fact, kinda fun. Good for me! What’s next?!” 

Through I Can’t, adults do the thing they’ve been wanting to do but haven’t done because [insert excuse here].

As at camp, topics and structure are varied but the “be yourself amongst others being themselves and witness the magic that happens when you try with others trying” vibe is pervasive. 

Current Offerings

In-person offerings are held at Mac & Cheese Productions℠, in Chicago’s Wicker Park, unless otherwise indicated; exact address sent upon registration.

For virtual offerings, you’ll need an internet connection and the free Zoom app. A device with a camera and being on video is encouraged but not required, unless otherwise noted. You should be able to attend virtual offerings live; replays are not offered.


Register

Make sure you select the correct offering, sometimes there are lots to choose from! For details about each event, scroll down; suggested you read the detail before you register. Double check time zone, as events occur worldwide; time zone converter.

Refund Policy: no refunds.



More Info on Specific Offerings

For dates and times, check the registration boxes above


This is a virtual offering.

  • Do you want to learn a new creative skill that’s fun and delicious?
  • Do you have no, some, or lots of experience decorating cakes?
  • Do you want a social diversion while social distancing?
  • Do you want to experience a creative activity to enjoy alone? With a child? With a partner, friend, parent?

I Can’t: Decorate Cakes is for you.

You’ll be taken step-by-step through the process of icing and decorating your very own holiday themed cupcakes. Fun and appropriate for all ages.

“As a business owner I don’t spend enough time doing things that are straight-up FUN, but that’s exactly what this experience was. Everything was fun: baking a cake (which I don’t normally make time for), connecting with the energy of the kids and adults who chose to decorate cakes on a Friday night, and seeing my colorful creation come alive in front of my eyes. If you need more fun in your life, this class is for you!”

“Thanks for an amazing event on Friday night! As promised, here’s a couple pics of our cake. I say our cake because I pulled the cakes out of the oven when they were done. My daughter did all the leg work and all of the piping. Thanks for stepping up her cake decorating skills to the next level.”

“I Can’t: Decorate Cakes was such a fun date night for my husband and I. We needed something like this to energize our Friday night routine and was such a bright spot during our COVID quarantine. As two complete novices in cake decorating, we walked away with confidence and skills to be able to decorate any baked good for any occasion, all thanks to the wonderful skills and patience of Cheryl.”

Instructor

Cheryl Bennett is a lifelong learner and curiosity explorer who loves to experience new things. She loves to travel and explore new cities; meet and interact with people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives. She’s always on the lookout for new opportunities for both professional and personal growth, and is usually either taking, leading, or looking for a new class or workshop. She’s the Baltimore Mac & Cheese Chapter Leader.

To Bring

  • A device with Zoom downloaded and the ability to connect to the internet
  • Food/drink for yourself if you’d like
  • Cake supplies — 
    • Wilton Decorating Set, 18 pc @Walmart or POQOD 53 pc set @Amazon
    • Green and “No-Taste” Red Gel Icing Colors @Walmart.com
    • Optional – Royal Blue Gel Icing Colors (Hanukkah options)
    • One dozen pre-baked (non-iced) cupcakes
    • Pre-made buttercream Icing (recipe will be provided)
    • Spatula (preferred) @Amazon or butter knife for spreading icing
    • Waxed paper or extra plate (for practice board), access to hot water
    • 3-4 Bowls to divide you icing (1 bowl for each color- red, green, white, blue)
    • Optional – holiday themed sprinkles, edible glitter, mini-candies

 

This is a virtual offering.  Facebook Event if you have friends you’d like to invite or if your general network would want to know about this via a share.

Saya started visual note-taking as a way to focus, process, engage in something tangible that created something tangible, and to use her beloved yet gathering-dust writing utensils and notebooks. (More middle-aged school supply use, please!)

This workshop is laid-back hands-on. Therapeutic. Meditative. Beginner. Perspective-shifting. Joyful. Simple. Learn how to listen differently and effectively, and how to organize and graphically visualize your resulting thoughts. We’ll talk basics, then we’ll apply. And apply. And apply. Where apply = put shapes and words on paper.

You do not need to be artistic. You do not need to be creative. Can you write words? Can you draw a line? Can you sign into Zoom? You have all the skills and experience required.

To Bring

If you have a favorite notebook or other favorite supply, you’re encouraged to use them! You’ll be encouraged to experiment so variety is good.

  • A device with Zoom downloaded and the ability to connect to the internet
  • Note taking materials
  • Food/drink for yourself if you’d like
  • You can absolutely use WHATEVER you have at home; below is a guide, don’t feel you to follow this list exactly 
    • Blank white paper (loose or bound; if you use a notebook, it’s best if it lies flat and stays open); ideal size is 5×7 – 8.5×11
    • A black rollerball-point pen like this
    • A black felt-tip pen like this
    • A black fiber-tip pen like this
    • Your favorite coloring utensils
      • Markers, colored pencils, gel pens, planner pens
      • Suggested you bring ones of varying sizes and colors
      • Crayons are the only coloring utensils not recommended
    • Optional:
      • other blank paper — textured, colored, different weight…
      • A set of lettering pens like this

This is a virtual offering. Facebook Event if you have friends you’d like to invite or if your general network would want to know about this via a share.
 
Let’s cook together! With Gwen guiding us, we’ll cook two simple, healthy, delicious recipes that can be modified to suit personal taste and preferences (vegan + vegetarian-friendly). You can make one recipe, both recipes, or just watch everyone else cook. As a nutrition coach, Gwen’ll be able to answer questions about the recipes as well as questions like “Why do we need to eat protein?”, “Are carbs ‘bad’?”, “Is brown rice better than white rice?”, “Does fat make me fat?” and anything else that might be on your mind related to diet, nutrition, or cooking.
 
If you’re at all intimidated by the kitchen, interested in adding to your repertoire, or just think an evening learning, hanging, and noshing with friendly stranger-friends sounds nice, join us! We’ll cook and then eat. While you’re welcome to eat two dinners — no judgment — Gwen suggests putting Recipe #2 in the fridge or freezer for later.
 
Recipe #1 – Egg Roll in a Bowl
Recipe #2 – Sheet Pan Fajitas
 
 
People with food restrictions (vegan, vegetarian, allergies, etc.) welcome; please note your restriction upon registration.
 
Instructor
 
Gwen Holtan started her nutrition coaching business, Beyond the Box Nutrition, in September 2017 with her business partner Sheena Lawrick. She worked in the healthcare industry for many years and decided that it was time to follow her passion of helping people live healthier lives and reach their weight loss goals. She believes that diets with a name (Keto, Whole30, or Intermittent Fasting) are not necessary to lose weight and wants her clients to keep fun foods (treats) in their diet while losing weight so long-term adherence and sustainability are more likely. Bye bye revolving door, merry-go-round dieting lifestyle and hello to finding what works for you! Gwen loves to celebrate her clients’ successes and feels there is nothing better when a client reaches their goals and is ready to “graduate.”   Website / Facebook / Instagram
 

To Bring

  • Shopping List ingredients (see below — cut your veggies and protein in advance; buy pre-cut for ease if you’d like)
  • Recipes (these will be sent to you ahead of time, if you want to print out or have on your device)
  • Device that has the most recent version of Zoom downloaded, is able to connect to the internet, and that you can bring to the kitchen
  • Optional: glass of something something to sip as we cook

Shopping List

Egg Roll Bowls

  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup onion, minced
  • 5 green onions, sliced separating white & green parts
  • 1 lb. ground turkey (93% lean) or ground chicken or ground pork or firm tofu or other plant-based protein
  • ½ tsp (or more) ground ginger (can buy ginger paste in a tube to make prep easier)
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha or other chili sauce (more if you like it hotter)
  • 14oz. bag coleslaw mix
  • 3 Tbsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • Salt & Pepper

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced thin or seitan or tofu
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. Garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. Ground cumin
  • ¾ tsp. Salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive or avocado oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Optional Add Ons: tortillas, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, whatever you like to accompany your fajitas!

This is a virtual offering. Facebook Event if you have friends you’d like to invite or if your general network would want to know about this via a share.

For those who attended Kory Dieter’s “I Can’t Invest in Real Estate (From Afar)” and for those who wanted to attend but couldn’t — There’ll be quite a bit of content overlap between Kory’s session and Kelli’s session. Kelli’s will differ in that it’ll focus more on pitfalls and benefits to self managing and walking through crunching numbers on an investment. If you missed Kory’s session and want to invest in real estate from afar, this session is still applicable as much of the foundational aspects of real estate investment are the same, whether properties are in your area or elsewhere.
 
Know nothing about real estate investing but want to see if owning rental property is for you?
Thinking about investing in rental property but don’t know where to begin?
Think you don’t have the funds or knowledge to own real estate?
Want to learn the good and the bad about self-managing your property?
Concerned or fearful about being a bad landlord?
Does the idea of crunching numbers to see if a property is a worthwhile investment make your head hurt?
 
If you answered yes to any of these, this session is for you! Kelli will walk you through the whys and why nots behind owning investment real estate and the options for how to invest in real estate. She’ll share her experience with her local real estate investments, what it’s like to self-manage your property, and how to analyze a property to figure out if it might be a good investment.
 
No prior knowledge is needed or expected and this is a safe space to ask any and all questions! Hopefully you’ll walk away with the confidence that you can do this; or perhaps, you’ll learn, just as beneficially, that this isn’t for you.
 
Instructor
Kelli Harsch wears a few hats. She is a real estate investor with rentals in Forest Park, IL and in Chicago, IL. She also is a real estate agent, a lawyer*, a mom to 2 kids, a spouse, a former coworking space owner, and a lover of travel, coffee, whisky, and mojitos. Kelli rented out her first rental as a landlord in 2011 and owns 6 rental units in 3 buildings. As a lawyer, she is a transactional attorney who represents developers of and investors in affordable housing. LinkedIn
 
*Boring legal stuff: nothing said in this session should be considered legal advice nor is an attorney-client relationship established by participating in this talk.
 
To Bring
  • A device with Zoom downloaded and the ability to connect to the internet
  • Note taking materials
  • Food/drink for yourself if you’d like

Testimonials

"Saya, I just wanted to say thank you. I was really scared about taking (I Can't: Improv), but you and Pete did such a great job of making a space where there was no room for fear and insecurity. It was really helpful for me to be there."
"The workshop was so comprehensive and has really gotten me excited about cleaning. I am also thinking about how I can incorporate ideas into other areas of my life, so thank you again!"
"Loved (I Can't: Visual Note), Saya! Helped me think outside the box on what note taking 'should' be. I've been practicing all week & have already revisited notes that otherwise would have been relegated to being forgotten in a notebook."
“(I Can't: Budget) was honestly one of the most engaging and comfortable programs I've ever attended - both on or off Zoom - and I coordinate programming for a living at a public library. It's a rough topic to fully engage with and commit to, but the framework and resources Chloe provided made it feel far more approachable and less intimidating than I could ever imagine it would be. I'm feeling inspired, open and ready to tackle goals I've been putting off for financial reasons. Chloe showed me it's possible to pay down debt, save, and still live my best life. I'm excited for what comes next!”
"I attended the I Can't: Clean workshop because I knew there must be more strategic, efficient, and effective ways to clean than what I've always done, and Saya definitely showed me better ways! From general strategies like working from the top of the room down to specific product recommendations I came away with knowledge I could use (and I did use it--I gave my kitchen a thorough scrub a few days after the class!). It helped that the class was in a casual setting because it made it easier to ask questions (and to confess our personal cleaning shames). I wouldn't think to take a cleaning course anywhere else because I'd assume it would be very judgmental, but I knew from other Mac & Cheese events that the class would be low-pressure and practical."
"I Can't: Camp was an adventure worth the bug bites. We hiked, swam, built fires, told stories, created in-jokes, saw a bald eagle, and got comfortable being uncomfortable! I appreciated the balance of downtime and doing things, being able to connect with the group but also enjoy the peacefulness of nature. Learning new skills that I didn't know were "me" was exciting - at one point the group was cheering me on as I scraped and scraped a firestarting flint SO determined to get a blaze going (it worked!). I couldn't have asked for better leaders in Saya and Aaron: funny, low-key, positive people who inspire confidence and put people at ease. I came back to Chicago dirty, smelly, itchy, and craving a shower beer like no other, but with tons of positive memories and zero regrets."
"This workshop was great! Kristyn and Saya were awesome. I learned a lot on approaching home organization and have a better understanding as to why my strategies previously didn't work. Kristyn was passionate and very knowledgeable. The workshop was held in a comfortable setting that fostered great interaction and dialogue."
"I thought this class was great! I learned about yoga and got to try it in a super comfortable environment, the instructor was fun and explained things. The class overall was a great way to bring people together with similar interests and also things they’re each going through."

Sample of Past Offerings

  • Yoga
  • Grieve
  • Improv
  • LinkedIn
  • Buy a home
  • Prepare for the Death of a Parent
  • Invest in Real Estate
  • Photograph
  • Draw
  • Have a dog
  • Side hustle
  • Land my dream job
  • Clean
  • Find love
  • Put on makeup
  • Travel
  • Wine
  • Bake
  • Camp
  • Budget

“Before the I Can’t Find My Dream Job workshop, I felt stuck and generally directionless. I really didn’t know what I was looking for in my “dream job” but I knew what I was doing at my current job did not match. Through the exercises, resources, and ideas of the workshop, I was able to put one foot in front of the other and not feel so overwhelmed by the concept of switching gears. The workshop provided specific steps that I could do that night or the next day to get myself on the train towards reaching my goal. I wrote them down and actually did those tasks! I also found the personal stories from Saya and L’Oreal Thompson to be incredibly motivating. There is something uniquely profound about being in a room full of people who are going through what you are going through AND people who have moved beyond that state to where you want to be. It is the extra push you need to dig yourself out of any ‘stuck’ situation.”

Suggestion Box

"I Can't" Idea

Suggest an "I Can't" topic, either as an attendee or as a facilitator. If you have a facilitator in mind whom isn't you, tell them to fill this out. Note that this is a very popular series both on the attendee side and on the facilitator side, so if you're suggesting yourself for the latter, no promises. Additionally, Mac & Cheese is much more likely to collaborate with people already in the M&C world, people whom we already know are fabulous; meaning if you don't already come to events and/or interact online, you should start doing that! The whole "friends helping friends" thing...
  • Please make sure you type this correctly. If you're just suggesting a topic, Mac & Cheese probably won't reach out; this is is more for folks who want to facilitate a session. But, just in case...
  • If you'd like to share further info on the topic.
  • The rest of the form is for people interested in facilitating

    You're all done if you're just submitting a topic idea — skip down to SUBMIT.
  • If virtual, Mac & Cheese will host on Zoom. If in person, Mac & Cheese is usually where I Can'ts take place, but sometimes it makes more sense to hold a session elsewhere, e.g. a glass blowing studio, a gym, or an animal rescue.
  • If you're open/it doesn't matter, state that. In-person Mac & Cheese can hold 30ish. Virtual Mac & Cheese can hold 100. Keep in mind: how many attendees will make it worth your while, venue size, venue capability (number of tables and chairs, etc), materials you provide, desired participation level (individual, small group, whole group), desired "feel" (is intimate preferred?), desired potential revenue (the more people, the more revenue potential).
  • If yes, when and why then? If you're open and timeframe doesn't matter, state that. We try to have at least a month of registration being open and it can take a week'ish for initial back and forths and event creation, so ideally, you don't want to do this within the next 2-4 weeks.
    Do you XYZ without having to be reminded? If you're given instructions, do you read and follow all of them? Are you punctual? Do you pull your weight? Are you proactive? Can you manage life without a lot of hand-holding? Do you offer something fabulous? Are you low-maintenance? Do you think you can work with a Type A only child who has a lot of opinions, systems, and preferred ways of existence yet whom is also collaborative and open to your you'ness? Are you someone who aligns with Mac & Cheese Productions℠ and is someone Mac & Cheese would be proud to be affiliated with? Are you a good person who believes in equality for all? Are you nice?
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.