Tag Archives: couch life

Couch Food: 7 Steps to Mac & Cheese Perfection

We’re all just looking for a little bit of comfort. [Guest contributor: Michael Majlak]

As someone who truly believes that a good meal can transform the human soul, I’ve been spoiled with a mother who can really kick it up a notch in the kitchen. I probably never really gave her the appreciation she deserves for creating some insanely impressive homemade dishes.

Dig in!

Comfort on a plate

It’s one of those cliché arguments you have with your friends as a kid, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. Every child should go through their adolescence thinking that their mom is the best cook in the entire universe. I can remember almost getting into physical fights with other kids that thought their mom made better meatloaf than mine!

One dish my mom has had perfected since my birth was this gooey, ridiculously delicious Mac & Cheese. Since we’re quickly slipping into the season for food that will keep us warm, I thought now would be the right time to bring you the recipe for a plate that anyone can make- and EVERYONE will enjoy. My mom, Robin, walked me through the whole process in 7 simple steps and I’ve laid them out below with some pictures to get your mouth watering just a bit. Throw on some sweatpants, follow the recipe, and bring a big bowl of this cheesy masterpiece back to your couch for an ultimate comfort session!

Just don’t try to say yours came out better than my mom’s…

SO MUCH CHEESE!

Gather your ingredients

Robin’s Mac & Cheese aka: the ultimate comfort food!

  • 1 lb. Cavatappi Pasta
  • 6 oz. Gruyere Cheese
  • 1 small onion
  • 12 oz. New York Extra Sharp Cheese
  • 3/4 stick butter
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  •  2 cups milk
  • 3 Tbs. flour
  • 1/2 cup Panko Crumbs
The beginning of something great!

Boil some pasta

  1. Preheat oven to 375º
  2. Bring water to boil in large pot; add a splash of olive oil, cook pasta until almost cooked.
  3. Grate cheeses, nutmeg and chop onion.
  4. Melt butter in saucepan add finely chopped onion, cook slowly until onion is translucent. Add flour to butter/onion mixture and heat over low for 2 minutes stirring constantly.
  5. Heat milk in separate pan or microwave until hot.
  6. Add milk to pot with butter & onion and whisk until hot [do not boil]. Add cheeses, nutmeg, salt & pepper to mixture. Blend well and when smooth pour cheese sauce over pasta in casserole dish. Top with Panko, salt and pepper.
  7. Bake 30 – 35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.
Gooey, cheesy goodness.

The money shot

Bout to get crusty!

Sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle that Panko

Just eat it all, who cares.

Bake it to crusty perfection

Enjoy!

— Michael Majlak

 

 

 

 

 

The Couch Life of a Modern Jacques Cousteau

But what if I fail?

That question is one of the biggest obstacles we face in our lives. That fear of not being good enough or smart enough or strong enough suffocates us and stomps out our ability to achieve our dreams. As children, we had high hopes and extreme visions for what we would do with our lives. Some of us wanted to be astronauts. Others wanted to be chefs, or doctors, or dog trainers. But at some point, out of fear of the unknown, many of us abandon our dreams and opt for something more “secure”. Instead of shooting for the stars, we decide to take the safer path in order to avoid the risk of falling up short.

On a recent Lovesac business trip to Salt Lake City I sat down with Brent Andersen, the founder of the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. After talking with Brent for a few minutes, I quickly realized he was not one of those people who took the safe road in life. Brent spent his childhood couch life being deeply inspired by  Jacques Cousteau and his underwater adventures. He created a strategy to build a chain of aquariums and a research vessel. His purpose: to help educate the world on our fragile ecosystem, with the notion that: “We are all connected,” and that we need to understand that.

Two entrepreneurs for the price of one.

Brent Andersen and myself at the Living Planet Aquarium in Utah.

Brent is an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. Even in the face of every possible adversity, he pushed forward to achieve his ultimate vision.  As an entrepreneur Brent shared four things that were key to his ultimate success. 1. Think big 2. Persevere, no matter the cost. 3. Surround yourself with smart people, and other entrepreneurs. 4. Once you arrive, keep going.

His next step? Hopefully to take his dream to the next level, building more aquariums, and linking them with a network of exploratory ocean vessels roaming the world making new discoveries. Sound too ambitious? Too fantastic? It is. And that’s why I love this guy. The next Jacques Cousteau, and an inspiration to us all.

–Shawny
Founder, LOVESAC

 

Celebrity Couch Life: The Canavan Sisters

Like everyone else in the world, the people you see on TV have a life on a couch too. Liz and Marie Canavan, the infamous twins from the Amazing Race Season 19, invited me to their place on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to chat about their couch life. We quickly found that when the girls aren’t on television entertaining millions of viewers, they spend time on the couch just like the rest of us. I never grow tired of seeing how reflecting on our couch life brings back some of our fondest and even most touching memories.

The Canavan twins could probably complete every sentence for the other. I think that in the 15 minutes that we hung out on their couch, they actually spoke in unison for some portion of it (something twins are known for). This interview spanned the entire emotional spectrum- carrying the girls from the happiness of sisterly memories on their childhood couch, through the heartbreaking moments they shared upon losing their father, and up to the current uncertainty they’re feeling as they pack up their apartment to live apart from each other for the first time in their lives.

A twin's couch life!

Liz, Marie, and I in their Manhattan walk-up

Do you have a family couch in your life? One you inherited, got stuck with, or possibly stole from your family like the one that Liz and Marie are about to leave behind in their New York walk-up?

–Shawny

Change Your Couch’s Clothing

Imagine for a second that you only had one set of clothes. You woke up every single day and you had one pair of pants and one shirt. No matter the weather outside, you just had that one set of clothing. During the 90 degree days of August, you had this one shirt. During the 20 degree days of January, you still had this one shirt.

Time for a change!

Lucky feeling bored about another season with these covers

As you got older and your pants stopped fitting so well, or they lost color or shape, you still only had this one pair to wear. As the times around you changed- and so did popular style and design, you still had only this one outfit. And eventually as the fabric weakened and the pants and shirt wore through and were filled with holes, they were still the only clothing you had.

Pretty hard to imagine, right? Now think about your couch for a second. As the weather outside changes, can you change your couch with it? Imagine how nice it would be to have a cozy, furry couch to warm up in the winter- and then have a cool, breathable fabric to stay cool during the dog days of summer. Or imagine that when your tastes in style changed, you could change your couch along with them. Your couch is the place you can go to when you want to relax and watch tv on your high gloss tv unit. It’s your go to place, so why not change it up a bit every now and then? Why not get yourself a brand spanking new leather couch, maybe even in white? While we all love a white leather couch, cleaning white leather can turn out to be more difficult than first imagined, but it can certainly be managed.

Change clothes!

Changing the covers

A few years back, this would have sounded crazy. People approached the couch-buying scenario with extreme caution, knowing that whatever they bought would live with them for the next 10 or 20 or 30…or 50 years. Now that Sactionals exist, everything has changed. When my wife and I had our fourth child Valentine this past month, we needed some extra couch space so we just simply added some on. But while we were doing it, she decided she also wanted to change up the “feeling” of the room a little for the summer. So just like that, we changed the clothes on our couch! …The same Sactionals pieces we’ve had now for nearly 8 years look new, smell new, and amazingly feel completely new again. (And they’ve seen some abuse!) Every time we change our Sactionals I wonder the same thing: What do people with normal couches do? I guess they just live with it. I guess they just hide that stain under a throw pillow. I guess they just try to get a few more years out of it until they can justify spending the money to get an all new one.

Ready for summer!

Pepper feeling excited about the new covers

You know, this blog isn’t meant to be an advertisement for my company, Lovesac or Sactionals. This blog is however, a reflection of my own real life and the things I find to be changing the way we look at our life on a couch–and real life in general. I have devoted my life to creating products that disrupt the staleness of classic furniture. The feedback I’m seeing from people who truly LOVE their Sactionals is a confirmation that we really have created something special that is shaping the way people live their life on a couch. What do you think?

WATCH THE CHANGING PROCESS IN JUST 20 SECONDS…

— Shawny

A Soldier’s Couch Life

With the 4th of July upon us, we pause to recognize the extreme bravery of men and women who stand ready to defend this great nation of ours, and our privilege to feel safe–on our couch at home. We think of the soldiers that have given their lives to protect our freedoms and the troops still fighting on foreign soil today, as well as those ready to ship out when called upon. This year I found myself pondering what exactly it is that drives someone to devote their life to something so dangerous as going to battle. What makes a man or woman, a son or daughter, a father or mother give up the safety of civilian life and place themselves in harm’s way?

To understand this I sat down with Lance Corporal Michael Lucas, an Aviation Support Operator for the Marine Corps Reserves. In his early 20’s, Michael took a temporary leave from a fantastic job at Sikorsky Aircraft in Bridgeport, Connecticut and started training to serve our country. Although he is in the Reserves, Michael still devotes his time to training and preparing in the case that he is called upon to fight. During our conversation, I asked Michael what a soldier’s couch life consists of. I also asked him what drove him to join the Corps, and his answer echoed the response that has been given by so many before him- “I love this country”. That patriotism of our troops, that belief that this country is worth giving a life for, is what has allowed us to remain the “home of the free” for as long as we have.

Lance Corporal Lucas at 29 Palms.

Lance Corporal Lucas and fellow Marine near 29 Palms base in California.

It’s sometimes easy to get into the swing of a holiday, grill up some tasty food, and fall into a comfy couch. But it’s so important to remember the true spirit of the 4th of July, a victory of independence from Great Britain, and the lives that were given to gain that freedom as well as the all those devoted to protecting it. Thanks to Lance Corporal Lucas for sitting down with me and telling your story- God Bless you and every other soldier that makes our comfortable lives on a couch possible.

Lance Corporal Lucas after graduating boot camp.

Lance Corporal Lucas with his nephew after graduating boot camp at Parris Island.

I am patriotic–and I am grateful.

— Shawny

Couch Life: Race Car Mom

During a recent Lovesac business trip to Las Vegas, I happened upon a new friend by the name of Cathy Bunney. Cathy was kind enough to invite me into her home and tell me a little bit about her life on a couch. Surprisingly she also let me in on some stories from her past as a race car driver- and a little bit about an accident that changed the course of her life forever.

In the time I spent with Cathy on her couch in her modest Nevada home, I was once again reminded of the unifying lifestyle we all share on a couch. She told me about how her couch acted as a place of healing after her surgeries and how her family congregated there to watch television together. We sat around on that same couch as she showed me pictures of the cars that she raced to victory- and the trophies she now holds as a result.

Cathy Bunney and I on her couch in Las Vegas.

Cathy Bunney and I on her couch in Las Vegas.

Cathy’s story, like the other episodes in this series, is uniquely different and strikingly similar at the same time. Although everyone’s life on a couch is unique when looked at on its own, all of the stories share a common theme of love and togetherness, solace and relaxation. As Cathy says at the end of the interview “There’s nothing like a comfortable couch to come home to.”  I couldn’t agree more.

There are no images in this gallery.

–Shawny

Rock Festivals: Do I Even Have to Leave My Couch?

With concert feeds available on demand right from your phone, tablet or TV, what’s keeping you from just watching a festival from home?  [Guest contributor: Michael Majlak]

Boston Calling Festival Red Stage

Boston Calling festival stage

This weekend I left the comfort of my fluffy couch and trekked with a group of friends to the Boston Calling Festival in the heart of Beantown. The festival has bloomed into a massive event in the three years since it started, mainly because of its unique location in City Hall Plaza and its ability to pull massive artists and infamous food options. This year’s festival would be headlined by Jack Johnson, Death Cab for Cutie, and Modest Mouse, and would be catered by some of Boston’s legendary food vendors.

It had been years since I had been to a real festival. But upon walking up the concrete steps and entering upon the red-brick of City Hall Plaza, I immediately noticed some of the staples I had been so used to seeing. You had the company reps handing out free granola samples and various swag. There were the free-spirited hippies spinning hula hoops around their waist and of course the four or five people who sported their trusty tie-dye tee and corduroy pants. Then there were the lines. There were lines for merch, lines for food, lines for beer, and lines to use the most-dreaded of all things- the festival porta-potty.

Boston Calling Festival Blue Stage

Boston Calling festival grounds

Even with all the usual suspects, sights, and sounds of the modern music festival, one thing immediately caught my attention. There was one thing added to the equation. This “intruder” I speak of most likely sits within arm’s reach of you right now. You use it countless times a day, in fact some people rarely ever put it down. You may actually be staring at it right now, holding it tightly in your closed palm as you read this post. That’s right, I’m talking about the new staple of the modern rock concert- the smartphone.

Festival-goers on their smartphones

Festival-goers on their smartphones

Everywhere I looked, there it was. Kids on the way into the show were presenting their tickets via online ticket app. They were checking their account balances on the Bank of America app, watching for rain on the iPhone weather widget and scouring the concert lineup on the Boston Calling website. The effect of social media was even greater. A girl climbed up on her boyfriend’s shoulders not get a better view over the endless sea of people, but to take a selfie to immediately post on Instagram. The #BostonCalling hashtag lit up Twitter with every minute festival detail being live-blogged through 140 characters. People checked in on Facebook and sent Snapchats to their friends of Roxy’s Grilled Cheeses and videos of The Neighbourhood performing “Afraid”. The impact of the smartphone and social media was impossible to ignore.

#BostonCalling

#BostonCalling Instagram page

With all of this technology- the live online video feed, the Instagram video, the endless pictures on Twitter and Facebook, I started to wonder if I really even had to leave my couch. Could I have just kicked back with feet up on my ottoman, grabbed a cold drink and watched a live feed of Modest Mouse on my MacBook? Since the advent of modern technology, so many have begun choosing to witness events from the comfort of their living room. Could I have saved the money spent on travel and the time waiting in lines? Could I have avoided the aggravation of being stuck in a torrential downpour amidst thousands of pesky concert-goers and just cheered on from my warm, dry sofa?

Just as I started to truly ponder this, I was grabbed by a friend and herded in with a sea of other fans in front of a large and dimly-lit stage. A few minutes later, Brand New (a band I have worshipped since my high-school angst days but never got a chance to see) appeared on stage and proceeded to strum through one of the loudest, most passionate concert sets I have ever witnessed in my entire life. Every note seared directly into the heart of myself and everyone around me. Right at that moment, surrounded by 22,000 other ecstatic fans, I understood why I needed to be exactly where I was.

Modest Mouse performs at Boston Calling

Modest Mouse performing at Boston Calling

Simply put- yes, you can experience a festival from the comfort of your couch. You can read about the acts, you can see pictures of the food on Instagram, and you can even watch the performance feeds on sponsored websites. But there’s one thing you cannot do. You cannot feel.

No one can describe to you the feeling of the bass drum pulsating through your body during your favorite band’s explosive encore. You can watch a live feed, but you cannot feel the camaraderie of 20,000 Death Cab for Cutie fans swaying back-and-forth upon hearing the first few strings of “I Will Follow You into the Dark.” You cannot feel the cold sweat rolling off your favorite beverage as it battles tirelessly against the midday sun. You cannot taste the food, you cannot feel the breeze upon your face- you cannot be there, unless you are there.

Mike Majlak at Boston Calling

Me taking in the vibes

As someone who watches quite a bit of online media, I’m not putting down catching some cool stuff on your laptop or TV. But I also understand that this life is fleeting. The reward offered from getting off the couch and witnessing life first-hand is worth the extra effort or a little discomfort. You may forget things you have read, or things you have seen, but you’ll never forget the way things made you feel.

Boston Common Flag Memorial

Boston Common Flag Memorial

With that being said, everyone needs a place to fall back to, a safehaven for the mind, a landing pad after a rigorous trip. It was an unforgettable adventure, but now I have a date with my couch

— Michael Majlak, Author: The Essential Foodie blog 

 

A note from Life on a Couch founder, Shawny Nelson: Thanks Mike for your post. I agree completely. “Life on a couch” does not advocate more time on the couch–we advocate better time on the couch! There is certainly much more life to be had off the couch and out of the house. It is precisely the exhaustion from a good music festival, the soreness from a week at the lake, or the fatigue from a day out in the sun that makes flopping on the couch at the end of the day so appealing–so incomparable. We believe that the quality of our life on a couch is directly proportional to the quality of our life off the couch…so go, get out, attend, experience…run, jump, dance, laugh and live it up! That’s life on a couch.

Couch Life in the Gobi, How Different Can it Get?

As the dramatic photos from my previous post (part 1 of this series) revealed, I took some time on my most recent business trip in China to get as far away from “factory” China and “tourist” China as possible. In my wanderings I was invited onto the living room couch of a complete stranger—a mechanic named Mao, whom I met by happenstance in a back lot, off of a side street, in a town that is off limits to foreigners and not even accessible by normal means.

The couch life of people worldwide is a modern, unifying lifestyle

Mao & Shawn

Mao & Shawny on Mao’s couch inside of his home in this town on China’s western frontier

Mao was kind enough to show me his home, and even let me film part of our conversation. I asked him some of the same questions I like to ask everybody about their couch life. Sure enough, Mao had a life on a couch too. Watch the clip!  You tell me how different it is from yours….

Shawny as a 5-year-old

I got to travel the world as a singer and dancer from a young age

The first time I visited China I was five years old. This was in 1982, just four years after Nixon made his historic visit opening up China again to the west. I was part of a children’s choir called The Small World Entertainers….And my parents, for various reasons, couldn’t even make the trip with me!

Shawny at 19

I learned Chinese at 19, as a missionary in Taiwan for 2 years, and later as a management consultant living in Shanghai

I have watched China grow up. I have observed its relentless modernization. I travelled there again at ages 10, and 15 and lived there for years between the ages of 19 and 23. I’ve been blessed with this opportunity to become fluent in Mandarin Chinese and that’s allowed me to really come to know the people. China is not just a place where we make some of our Lovesac products—it is a place that we know and love.

That said, nearly all of our new product growth at Lovesac, is made in the U.S.A. This includes Made-in-America Sactionals. MIA Sactionals, by Lovesac are now made in California and Lovesac Sacs have always been Made in America. The pieces that we still make in China are not produced by some faceless “factory” with smoke-stacks. Surprising to many, nearly all Lovesac furniture is hand-made and sewn-by-hand, by very talented people who we know and love. These are real people too and Lovesac is proud to provide jobs for many people in a good environment over there and in the US alike. These are people who, believe it or not, have a life on a couch too. As you can see from my video interview above  even in the farthest reaches of the most forgotten places on earth—our life on a couch is not so different. We are not so different.

— Shawny

Founder of Lovesac and LifeOnaCouch.org

 

“My Couch Life” Mao the mechanic Interview Video transcript:

Shawny: What is your earliest memory on a couch?

Mao: It was especially old and pretty beat up. Back then life was pretty tough.

Shawny: What color was it?

Mao: That sofa was made of all wood—you know the kind. That old Chinese style. Nowadays, we’ll often have friends over to eat here—parties.

Shawny: How many people can you have on this couch, at this table?

Mao: At least seven or eight people right here…This is our kitchen table. The Chinese love to eat.

Shawny: And your wife?

Mao: My wife is in the hospital…She’ll be alright. Its really not a big deal.

Shawny: Your son is seven years old? What is his name?

Mao: His name is Jiang Tao. We watch TV here…he does his homework here. We eat dinner here and then usually go on a walk. We’re really close. Not just like a father and son only, but like friends. He’s my best friend. Even though I’m the dad and he’s not just my son. He’s my friend.

 This is life on a couch—and it is interesting, because you are.

There are no images in this gallery.

 

All the Stress Just Seeps Out…My Couch Life

Take a peek into the couch life Keith Rinzler of Atlanta, Georgia, including all of the stress that comes along with being a serial entrepreneur and single dad. I was recently travelling through Atlanta and I had the chance to sit down with my good friend Keith in his own home. Keith knows all about all of the stress and pressures of an entrepreneur growing a business, and a single father raising three teenage kids. I love hearing from successful and totally unique people like Keith because it just reaffirms my belief that we all have a life on a couch—and we are all more alike than we are different. Whether our couch comes from Wayside Furniture or anywhere else, our couch has its own story and is an integral part of our home life. Some of our best memories in life happen on or around our silent sofas. See how Keith relies on his couch life to de-stress and bring his family together.

“My Couch Life” Interview with Keith Rinzler, of Atlanta Georgia. Read the full transcript.

 

The Stress of a Tech Startup Entrepreneur

Keith is currently living with all the stress that comes from building an amazing technology company called 1Q. Check out 1Q.com…it will blow your mind. You can actually sign up to receive text-based questions (or download their app: for iOS or Android) and get paid $1 dollar for every single question you respond to from a company interested in asking you survey questions. When was the last time you were paid by a company talking at you? Think about it. I think 1Q is going to be a big deal—and I’ll be like a proud papa when I can someday say, “Hey, I know that guy—and he’s got Sactionals.”

Lovesac Hookah Lounge featuring Sactionals

Keith’s in-home hookah lounged powered by Lovesac

The ultra stress-free hookah lounge sectional sofa

I didn’t mention that Keith also has this crazy Moroccan themed hookah lounge, complete with an audio-sensitive LED light show embedded in the walls behind the draped fabric panel tent that envelopes the entire room. Talk about a stress relieving environment! The seating for this hookah room is, of course, all Sactionals by Lovesac and a Pillowsac too. When asked, “What is the craziest thing that’s ever happened in this hookah room?” Let’s just say, Keith declined to comment.

— Shawny

 

My Couch Life Keith Rinzler Interview Video transcript:

Shawny: What was your early memory of your life on a couch?

Keith: It was itchy—it was kind of a wool, itchy material I remember, it was kind of a white-beige color. You know, its in the living room, and every once in a while we would just get in a mood and start building. And I’ve carried that forward to my kids, and we’ve built couch castles in the basement. And my kids have slept in them—they’ve taken it to the next level, they’ve built couch castles and then they cover them with blankets so its totally dark on the inside.

Shawny: What about your everyday couch life, today?

Keith: On this particular couch, which is in front of the television, I like to get right in the middle, and my sinks in right in between these two pillows—all the stress seeps out…

Shawny: What is your craziest memory involving a couch?

Keith: This guy had a couch, it had a steering wheel, it was motorized—you sat on it—and its driving all over the desert at Burning Man and going to see things and people would jump on and jump off. It was like taking the best of a couch and making it mobile. It was awesome—it was awesome

Shawny: What does “life a couch” mean to you

Keith: As my kids get older and they want to spend a little less time with their parents and they want to go do other things—those times when we sit together and all watch something together and kind of comment on it and just have that time—that’s what I think of.

This is life on a couch – and it is interesting, because you are.