Maker Spotlight: Molly Carroll


Editor’s Note: Thank you so much, Molly Carroll, for being our first victim Maker Spotlight! We’ll be featuring other makers here as often as possible. Have you made something you’re particularly proud of? Figured out a way to keep your screens in their corral? Inspired your kids to happily go analog for a few hours? Please send us a note and tell us all about it. We can’t wait to focus the spotlight on you!

A couple of months ago when I didn’t have a charger at work, I plugged my dead iPhone into a co-worker’s charger, a few cubes down from me. I went to work back at my desk and consistently interrupted myself with my knee-jerk habit of checking my phone. I’d reach to my left to grab it, remember it was charging a few cubes away, and go back to work.

After the fourth time of unconsciously checking my phone and remembering it wasn’t there, I started to feel ashamed. I was so addicted to my screen that I was conditioned — like Pavlov’s dogs — to check it regularly.

I sat at my desk and inventoried all the things that were adversely affected by my attachment to my phone. Productivity (both at work and home), potentially missed laughs with family, and conversations with my husband that never happened because I was scrolling through Facebook in bed at night instead of talking or laughing with him about, well, anything at all.

I think that’s why Step Away from the Screen and Make Something resonates with me. It’s a reminder to recondition myself to use my hands (and brain) for more than scrolling. I walked away from work that day with a goal to break the constant phone-checking and step away from my phone screen and create.

If you know Laurie, you know she’s insanely creative. She and the Step Away from the Screen community make some amazing things. Initially, it felt as though there was no way I could keep up with this awesome group of makers and artists and craftspeople. And then it hit me. It’s not about what they’re making, it’s about what I’m doing to meet my goal of putting down my damn phone. Making a fantastic gazpacho? Yep. That’s stepping away from the screen and making something. Creating a beautiful bouquet of flowers from the farmers market? You guessed it: Making something. Using my very best handwriting to ink justin timberlake is my patronus on my new favorite coffee mug? Um, that’s the coolest thing I’ve made in a long, long time. And I use it every day. And he is indeed my patronus, but that’s another blog post altogether.

So now, I just try to make. Something. Anything. Every day. Whether it’s a tangible craft or piece or art or just dinner. Making. For me, it’s just about the doing and the making. What will it be about for you?

PS: I only checked my phone twice while writing this. That’s progress, people. Real progress.

make/FOOD – The Best Slow Cooker Beans EVER

beans beans beansWelcome to make/FOOD!

Each Monday I’ll be providing a new recipe for you to step away from the screen and make. For the first installation, I’m excited to introduce you to your new favorite Mindless Monday Meal. Beans.

I know I know. Beans in the slow cooker taste like chalk, right? WRONG! I have cracked the code people. I have figured out how to take a $1.00 bag of beans, add a few simple ingredients (most of which you already have in your pantry), and slow cook them into a ridiculously tasty base for a fantastic dinner. Ready to go?

Best Slow Cooker Beans Ever

Serves: 4
Time: 10 minutes active; 5-11 hours inactive.


  • 1 cup of dried black beans (they’re my favorites, but others work too.)
  • 1 square of dried Kombu
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 bay leaf
  • dash salt (I like celtic gray salt for the earthiness)
  • 3 cups water


  1. Combine everything in your slow cooker.
  2. Give it a little stir.
  3. Cook on low for 9-11 hours or on high for 5-7 hours. I give mine a stir or two during the cook time, but that’s just because I’m home. Don’t worry if you can’t — they’ll still be delicious. Red kidney beans need the full 7 or 11 hours.

Note: For those who aren’t familiar with Kombu, it is a type of seaweed that adds umami flavor to any recipe. This is one of the reasons these beans taste so good. Additionally, Kombu helps soften beans and make them more digestible. Win win! You can find dried Kombu at health food stores and also at Asian markets. You may even be able to find it in your grocery store if they have a decent Asian food section.

Note: If you’re making red kidney beans, be sure to boil them for at least 10 minutes before putting them in the slow cooker. This neutralizes a toxin called phytohemagglutinin (a mouthful that you don’t want in your mouth) that can cause severe GI distress. Red beans also take longer to cook, so they do well to be soaked overnight if you have the time. This is one of the reasons I tend to stick with black beans — much less work.

When the beans are done, you can serve them any number of ways. Here are a few of my family’s favorites:


Place beans, rice, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sliced avocado, jalapeños, a squeeze of lime, and more! across the middle of steamed 10″ flour tortillas.

Fold left and right sides in, over the stuff. Then roll burrito away from you, tucking sides in as necessary, until you get to the end. Steamed tortillas should stay closed on their own.

(To steam tortillas, place a wire rack over a 12″ skillet of boiling water, place one tortilla on rack and cover for a minute til soft.)


1. Make refried beans (place beans in a skillet with some olive oil, mash/fry them til they’re a little crispy).

2. Make crispy tortillas (rub soft corn tortillas with a little oil, place in 400° oven for about 4 min per side).

Add lettuce, tomato, sliced avocado, jalapeños, a squeeze of lime, some shredded cheese, and anything else you’d like to add.

Beans and Rice

Slice and sauté 4 or 5 sausages in a pan (use chorizo if you like it spicy). Mix sausage with beans. Serve in bowls with rice, red wine vinegar, jalapeños, cheese, etc.

We often mix raw kale or collards in with the beans, too. The heat from the beans softens the greens.

Do you have a favorite way to serve beans? Share below in the comments.

Step Away from the Phone…

So it was time for a new iPhone case. You might guess I’m fairly picky about what I wrap around my phone, and you’d be right. So I designed my own by repurposing some of my favorite Step Away art.

Then I went to GelaSkins because they have the sturdiest hard cases I’ve ever felt. A few minutes later, my new case was in production, and it arrived today. I love the way it came out, and the irony of putting the “Step Away…” command on a smartphone makes me very happy.

Would you be interested in your own Step Away from the Screen iPhone case? Let me know in the comments.