Organize It! Madonna Does It and So Should You: LISTS

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Listful Thinking

Madonna does it. Martha Stewart does it. And I do it, too. What do we all have in common (incredibly interesting and successful women *insert wink emoji here*)?


I have always made lists. To-do lists and checklists being my forte. My mom loves to bring up my Junior Prom obsession that involved an incredibly detailed calendar, to-do list, and hour-by-hour schedule of the two days leading up to prom. Not to mention the regimented skin care routine I created to ensure prom perfect photos. I’m a girl that likes organization, we know this.

When I had the opportunity to review Listful Thinking by Paula Rizzo I was pretty positive this book was going to fit right in with my compulsive need for organization and cleanliness. Oh, was I right.

The beginning of the book is basically an introduction to lists and the basics. This is good for the non-list initiated, but for me, I wanted to get really into the nitty gritty. But don’t skip the introduction, because you first duty is to make a list! As instructed, I listed out my three goals for what I would get out of reading the book:

  1. Be more organized at work
  2. Be less stressed (this is my goal for everything in life)
  3. Learn to get more done in less time

Listful Thinking Notes

Lists for Home

There is a list for everything you can imagine in this book – from packing for a trip to house/apartment hunting. Yet strangely, the lists I found most useful were for things I never thought of writing down, the little things everyday that you always tell yourself to remember and then you NEVER DO. I am always reading articles with ideas for the house or a book I want to read and tell myself I’m going to remember it, and I never do. And then later on I spend ages googling vague terms trying to find what I saw.  So, the first lists I created were (and hey, I’m okay with my media consumption being very important to me):

  • TV shows I’ve been meaning to watch
  • Movies I’ve been meaning to watch
  • TV shows to catch up on
  • Books to read
  • Articles to read
  • Projects around the house

I didn’t expect these to make such a difference in daily life, but having all the things that are constantly swirling in my head written down lifted a burden I wasn’t even aware of. And it’s already created the habit of jotting things down right when I think of them so then I don’t forget them. In fact, I now have a section devoted to just Lists in my planner. Another way to keep these if you’re more digital, add them to your Reading List if you have an iPhone or use the Pocket app. I also use the “Save this” feature on Facebook constantly – I see so many recipes from all the blogs I follow that I’d never remember any of them.

Lists for Work

  • Create your to-do list and use a timer at work for tasks on it. This keeps me on track. I set it for 10-15 increments depending on the task and really keep to it. I only extend it if something unexpectedly takes more time, buthaving the timer there really keeps me accountable and on track!
  • Create a staff to-do list! I manage a small staff and I found that I couldn’t easily keep track of who was assigned what, the progress of a project, when something had been finished, etc. I used GoogleDrive to create a to-do list for each person and included mine. Now we can all see the progress of projects that we are working on collaboratively and I can see what is done and when it was done for my records, assign new tasks easily, and at the same time the staff knows what I’m working on. I was afraid this would be a bit too micromanage-y when I implemented it, but everyone adapted pretty quickly and we’ve all commented on how much more productive we feel be able to cross things off that list.


Start Listing!

For the seasoned list maker, Listful Thinking may seem like it’s not for you –   however, I did glean enough useful techniques  and ideas that I think I completed my list of goals set at the beginning of the book!

This book is great for:

  • people that need more organization in their lives
  • novice list makers
  • list makers that want to better organize their lists

Do you make lists?

RECIPE: Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce with Fried Sage Leaves

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RECIPE: Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce with Fried Sage Leaves

Oh, Butternut Squash. How did we not fall in love until now? Now that the farmer’s market is a distant memory, I cling to my last bits of local produce: potatoes, shallots, onions, and of course, winter squash. The last day of the farmer’s market I stocked up as much as possible on things I knew would last in my pantry and of course the ever-strangely-shaped and slightly intimidating winter squash! After making an amazing butternut squash lasagna from Seriously Delish, I found myself wanting to put butternut squash on everything. Enter butternut squash pasta sauce. This recipe is a conglomeration of 4-5 recipes I found on the internet to give me an idea of how to approach it, and then just using the ingredients I deemed delicious.

This is a fairly loose recipe – I find myself tasting it over and over again until I deem it ready. I also heavily recommend the vegetable stock – I tried a chicken stock and I don’t feel like it added enough depth of flavor. I used Better than Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base – which has no MSG and is primarily made from vegetables. Even better? Make your own vegetable stock! I haven’t made my own yet, but it’s on my list. Currently I have bialy dough rising – priorities here people, priorities.

My other recommendations for this recipe:

  •  really chop the butternut squash into small cubes. They’ll cook faster, and you’ll be able to gauge much easier whether they’re ready to head to the food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can definitely use a blender!
  •  Tip for cutting strips of sage: roll a couple of the leaves up together and then slice them into sections – perfect and easy strips!

I put this over shells, orichiette, and also gnocchi. Feel free to sub in any pasta you want. And always, always drop pieces of butternut squash for your dogs, because they will love you forever. And it’s actually good for them. (Until Hami starts wandering around the kitchen crying because he wants more butternut squash and it has all been sauced.)

A dog and his squash


Squash sauce!


Fried sage


Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce with Fried Sage Leaves

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce with Fried Sage Leaves


  • 1 small butternut squash, chopped into cubes
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of vegetable base
  • 7 sage leaves cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil


  1. Heat olive oil on medium until glistening. Add shallots and garlic.
  2. Add butternuts quash once shallots and garlic color, but do not brown
  3. Cook for five minutes, then add sage, nutmeg, and vegetable base
  4. Cook for 8 minutes or until the cubes are soft but still keep their shape
  5. Add everything to the food processor
  6. Add the cream and parmesan and process until smooth and cream.
  7. Taste, add more cream and parmesan if desired.
  8. Fry 3-4 sage leaves in a bit of oil oil in the pan until dark and crispy to garnish.

What The Hell Is A Tabayag?

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What The Hell Is A Tabayag?




I’ve often thought about changing my domain name. And Twitter name. And tumblr. And Instagram. Yikes. Okay, all of them. There are a zillion variations of Return to Sender I could use for any of them – so why not make the sensible switch? Well, I’m attached to tabayag. We’ve been together since I first got AOL on our Packard Bell computer and used to dial-up to go chat for hours in AOL Kids Chatrooms. We’ve been together since that voice saying, “You’ve Got Mail!” used to give me chills – IT COULD BE ONE OF MY ONLINE PENPALS.


So, what the hell is a “tabayag?”


This question has been posed to me many, many times in my life and usually elicits a slightly embarrassed giggle of delight from me. And everyone always pronounces it in various ways:


I can understand all the confusion – I pronounce it tab-uh-yag. Though when I slur it together quickly it definitely comes about tab-buh-yag. Enough on pronunciation – we’ve solved that mystery. Here comes the embarrassing part of exactly what tabayag is. I wish I could say it is something really profound or poetic. I wish it had some historical or familial ties…really I wish it had any story other than the one I am about to tell you. So here it goes.

When I was a kid there was a period of time where I had a bird as a pet. Let that sink in. (The first time my friend Joan heard this news I believe she screamed…because you know, bird people are weird.) He was a parakeet. And had a cool cage, was super colorful, and for a while I thought he was really neat…one could say the cat’s meow. But I had a hard time coming up with a name for said bird. And thus the genius of tabayag was born:

Turqouise And Blue And Yellow And Green

You see what I did there? I was oh so clever and took the first letters of all my little parakeet’s colors to create his ever-so-creative name. AND THEN FOR REASONS UNKNOWN I also made that my AOL screen name. And continued to do that for my entire life thus far. It’s never, ever taken. So I’m tabayag everywhere. As I was recounting this tale to someone recently I realized that I, Sarah, have been tabayag since I was 12 years old. I’ve been tabayag for more of my life than not. And after I uttered those words I realized, I don’t want to change my domain or my tumblr, Twitter, or Instagram. Maybe it’s weird, may it’s difficult (or impossible) to pronounce, and maybe it’s altogether completely forgettable to anyone trying to remember how to get to my blog and completely counterintuitive to every single thing I’ve read about “branding”- but it’s me. And if I can hold on to that silly, weird, bird owning 12-year-old girl, I will for as long as possible.


I’m tabayag. Nice to meet you.

Organize It! The KonMari Method: PAPERS!

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Organize It! The KonMari Method: PAPERS!

Welcome back to a second installment of the Organize It! series and also the second category in The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up. It’s been a week since I organized my closet – and I have to say, I’m still really into it. Though I’m not as excited about the closet as I am about learning how to fold my shirts into perfect rectangles. I may have made a co-worker give me their sweater and then demonstrated how to fold it and make it stand on its own. And I’ve also forced A to watch me demonstrate and feign interest at least 3 times, while I exclaimed,


But now that I have folded every item in my bureau into a rectangle (even yoga pants), I had to move on to the next category:

Books & Paper.

I am one of those people that hoards magazines. I subscribe to a few and then feel compelled to keep them. All of them. Even those that are a few years old. What if I need the recipes or really important cleaning tips in them? What if I need to know where to buy that $500 dog bed that the dogs will definitely need someday? I even moved my magazine collection from our apartment to OUR HOUSE. Until I started discarding after beginning Marie Kondo’s book, I had magazines stashed in the couch, in a magazine rack on the downstairs porch, in a magazine rack upstairs in my bedroom, and then a few secret issues in with my craft stuff in case I suddenly decided I was going to collage magazine quotes again like I was in college again. I also had piles of torn out or printed recipes stashed around the kitchen – in drawers, cabinets, even tucked into miscellaneous cookbooks. (And let’s be honest, these are mostly issues of Real Simple. WHO DOESN’T LOVE REAL SIMPLE?)

According to The KonMari Method, Kondo recommends that for papers,

“you dispose of anything that does not fall into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely.”

All others? Discard. She has various methods for discarding books – but I have really culled my collection of books (surprisingly, considering I take home a new book a month that we publish at work), so I went straight to paper and for me, magazines are just paper. My first thought was, well how are these magazines bringing me joy when they’re just hidden away? I should just get rid of all of them; they didn’t fall into any of the paper categories. They weren’t in use…but they could be in use. And thus inspired my DIY project!

Easy Peasy Recipe Binder

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