20 in 6

I’m not normally a reader of the Design Darling blog, but the other day I somehow stumbled upon Mackenzie’s 101 in 1001 list, a list of 101 things to accomplish in just under 3 years. 

It got me inspired to create a list of my own, although there’s no way I’m coming up with 101 items. Honestly, I need to find less to do, not more.  I came up with 20, which I'll attempt to have done in...six months? Sounds good to me.

These aren’t in any particular order, just the order in which they came to me, and I decided to leave them that way. Here goes:

1.      Master swiss meringue buttercream frosting. I have never, ever been able to get this right.
2.      Bake that damn Graham Cracker Cake you’ve been wanting to try for four years now.

3.      Eat solidly clean for one week (so much harder than it seems!). I'm thinking something along the lines of the Whole 30 program, with beans and legumes allowed.
4.      Try a cycling class.  Loved it! 
5.      Actually use the 5 pack of yoga classes I purchased.
6.      Get to run a 5k solidly, regularly in under 30 minutes. Right now I'm at around 31-32 minutes.
7.      Go hiking. The hubs and I visited Ann Arbor this weekend, and that included a trip to the University of Michigan Arboretum.  We walked around the trails and the lake, looking at all the fall foliage, and this definitely satisfied my craving for a fall hike.

Fun/Before We Leave the City
8.      Visit the Highline.
9.      Visit botanical gardens and/or Museum of Natural History.
10.   Spend one afternoon in a cool BK neighborhood I haven’t been to yet.

11.   Meditate regularly for one month. Continue indefinitely if you see results.  I've meditated before and definitely find it valuable, but I'd like to make it a regular part of my routine. I think doing 10 minutes a day would be a good start.
12.   Go one week without being unnecessarily negative.
13.   Find a better hairstyle and master a great blowout.
14.   Actually learn the right way to use your fancy camera. Take a class if that makes you do it. No excuse for owning an external flash for two years and never having opened it!
15.   Go to bed, for real, at 10 pm every night for one week. It IS possible! Right? It has to be. I average 5 and a half hours a night, that needs to change.
16.   $20 into savings for every goal accomplished.
17.   Go one month without shopping. AH. Probably will save this one for Lent! To clarify, shopping = clothes shopping.

Family and Friends
18.   Call mother in law more often. She’s always calling me first and I feel bad. I’m not so great at being the first to pick up the phone; I much prefer to communicate by text or email.
19.   Create a family birthday list.  Maybe then my cousins could get their birthday cards on time.

20. Work on having a better filter at work.  I like and feel very comfortable with my coworkers, and I tend to be very opinionated, so sometimes I just blurt stuff out without thinking.


Fall Trend: Turtlenecks

I was at my parents’ house this weekend, trying to clean out some old things, when I stumbled upon a set of old, barely worn, thin cotton turtlenecks. I remember buying them; they were $9 or something insane at Old Navy when I was in college. I picked up burgundy, oatmeal, brown, and gray, and then realized I felt too covered up and never wore them. I’ve been hanging onto them for years now, unable to justify tossing a staple item in good shape. 

And now it appears turtlenecks are sneaking their way to the forefront of fashion again. They’re popping up on the mannequins in J.Crew stores, on fashion blogs, and in magazines. I still can’t say I love them, but I do plan to bring them out again, just for a change of pace. 

I do love oversized turtleneck sweaters, and I also particularly like the look of layering thin ones over or under button down sweaters. But then again I tend to think any outfit looks better in layers- just seems a little more thought out. 

Below, some inspiration for wearing this year’s turtleneck trend:

Under a sweater:


Layered under your winter coat

With a skirt:

Cropped with a matching skirt:

The classic cozy, oversized sweater, made more interesting layered over a button down:


Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce

I was surprised at how much I liked this pasta drenched in a butternut squash puree. Its orangey color made me think of mac and cheese, and I figured that I’d bite into it and just wish that it was mac and cheese, and not some healthy impostor.  But this had so much flavor, and was so surprisingly creamy, that I didn’t miss the cheese at all. For a cheese lover like me, that’s saying a lot.

I made a few modifications to the original recipe, which came from an old issue of Bon Appetit. First and least importantly, I changed the name. They called it a “squash carbonara,” but as it contains no egg, I think that’s misleading. Secondly, they also used prosciutto, fried up and crisp, with the onions cooked in the prosciutto’s rendered fat. I skipped this step as I was trying to keep the meal a little healthier and a little cheaper (the best imported stuff goes for $26/pound where I am!)  The good news is, it was still delicious.

Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce, adapted from Bon Appetit
2 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes (about 3 cups)2 cloves garlic, smashed½ a small yellow onion, diced2 cups chicken stock1 tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves2 tbsp olive oil¼ cup grated ParmesanPinch red pepper flakesSalt and pepper1 box pasta (I used rotelle but think this would be great on linguini)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash, onion, garlic, pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper.  

Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add broth, then bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half, 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Reserve skillet.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, until al dente. Drain, reserving one cup cooking liquid.

Combine pasta and squash puree in reserved skillet and cook over medium heat for two minutes. If it seems dry, add ¼ cup of reserved pasta cooking liquid. Mix in ¼ cup Parmesan.

Serve, with extra Parmesan for topping.

Make Ahead: Squash puree can be cooked up to three days ahead. Let cool, cover, and chill.