December 29, 2011


Highlights: fresh snowfall, Irish coffee, improvised wrapping paper.

Favorite present: a skydive, from Micah.

More to come.

December 19, 2011


I got a mixed-paper three-pack of Field Notes in the mail today as part of a not-so-dirty-Santa gift exchange at work.

I love everything about them. The size. The butcher paper covers (French Dur-O-Tone 80# C "Packing Brown Wrap," for all the paper-lovers out there). The ubiquitous typography. The heartfelt yet quirky copy on the inside covers. The fact that they look like a prop in a Wes Anderson movie.

But it's also more than that. They're the kind of thing that you want not because of the thing itself, but because of what the thing implies. I'm excited about them because they look like the kind of tiny, unassuming notebook I would fill with big ideas (the biggest). Crazy plans (the craziest). Maybe-but-hopefully-not impossible lists (all with an Ultra Fine Point Sharpie, natch).

Their tagline sums it up: "I'm not writing it down to remember it later, I'm writing it down to remember it now."

December 16, 2011


This weekend, I'm... well, looking forward to next weekend.

There's a little bit of shopping and a lot of packing strategy left to do before Micah and I leave for Michigan, which my handy best friend internet widget tells me is in exactly one week. Seven days.

Next week is going to be crazy. It seems like work and life and stress always amp up right before vacations. But all I really have to do is make it through seven days. That's it. I can do that. Twenty-four seven days.

December 14, 2011


Here's how you know you're at a great brewery: when you find dried hops just laying around on the tables. Hops that were growing up the side of the warehouse that you're currently enjoying your Working Man's Lunch in. Potent little husks, that look like flowers and smell like beer, and grow up to be much greater than the sum of their parts.

"I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way." - Captain John Paul Jones (from an incredibly well-designed poster that hangs behind the bar)

Cheers: to Fullsteam.

December 13, 2011


My company's North Carolina office is on the American Tobacco campus in downtown Durham. It's a great place to come to work everyday. There's lots of restaurants, bars and coffee shops within walking distance, and it's got the right balance of scrappy and gentrified.

Plus there's just something cool about working in advertising in a converted Lucky Strike warehouse. Very "ghosts of Mad Men."

This water feature/river-thing runs right outside my window (which you can see the beginnings of in the very far right of the bottom picture). It creates a kind of zen white noise backdrop for everything I work on. It sounds like Lake Superior on a windy day. Or maybe Tahquamenon Falls. (I've got Michigan on the brain. Ten days!)

It's one of the little things I missed while working from the Oklahoma City office. It's good to be back.

December 12, 2011


I love traveling by plane. Everything about the whole experience complements my personality and outlook.

I love preparing for a trip - editing down my possessions and wardrobe to only the most necessary or comforting. Planning ahead. Counting down.

I love airports - being transient and self-contained. (And the people-watching is excellent.)

I love being aerial - it's like being suspended outside of time. For an hour or two, you're exempt from a lot of your day-to-day responsibilities. You can't do much on a plane, save listen to music, read, or gaze out the window and enjoy the perspective, the present moment.

Or you can sneak some photos after the stewardess has told everyone to turn off all electronics.

December 9, 2011


Above: the fake family of (real) talent patiently waits for their sequence. This was the girl's first shoot ever. She was way pumped.

On Wednesday, I helped coordinate an all-day shoot for a client's brand video. It was the first time I had contributed so much to a single project of that scale: I concepted, wrote, storyboarded, presented, cast, and sourced props and wardrobe. I made lists of lists. I double-confirmed schedules. I had dreams the night before of missing props, unshot sequences, jaded child actors.

The actual day went off without a hitch. Everyone arrived on time, looked great, and totally delivered. We even finished about an hour early.

And now I want to do it all over again.

December 8, 2011


I've been in Oklahoma City all week, working from my agency's main office, preparing for an all-day photo shoot, and looking forward to the annual company Christmas party. It's been a discombobulating whirlwind of a trip so far. I basically didn't tell anyone I was coming so I could just slink over to Kathleen and Jeremy's house every night to eat their food, drink their wine, and enjoy their company.

I'm lucky enough to be able to visit Oklahoma City on a quarterly basis on the company's dime (this was my hotel room view last time). When I first moved to Durham, these trips were lifelines back to all the family and friends (and long-distance boyfriend) I had left behind. I still enjoy them immensely, but it's amazing the difference a year and a half can make. Oklahoma City no longer feels like "home."

And that's alright.

December 1, 2011


It makes sense: I love food, photography, process. Stir them together, bake at 350º for twenty minutes, and what do you get?

Time-Lapse Foodtography.

I've been creating these images for quite a while now, but not as often as I'd like (you would not believe how hard it is stop eating something delicious mid-meal just to take stupid photos of it). So now I'm going to try to feature them regularly here, in hopes of making a habit of it.

Ever since the temperature dive-bombed around here, I've had soup on the brain. Chunky, hearty soups. Spicy soups. Cheesy soups. There's nothing like it to warm your innards and lull you into hibernation mode. This broccoli-cheddar soup (loosely based on this recipe) was easy, quick, and sufficiently innard-warming. I've been eating on it all week. And once, just once, I was able to stop mid-slurp to take a picture.


Reason #784 I love my mom: she's one of those people who still sends notes. Handwritten notes. In the mail. The snail mail.

She gets bonus points for the thick, textured stock. For the letterpressed printing. For her beautiful, half-cursive handwriting.

For re-appropriating a card that simply says "Shit." into a Thank You card.

November 29, 2011


In twenty-four days, Micah and I are flying up to Northern Michigan to spend Christmas in my parents' cabin. I visit every summer (since I was born, and until I die), but this is only the second time I've ever been up there in the winter. I know it won't look the same. But it will feel the same.

It's hard to do justice to this place, to articulate how important it is to me. I've spent more time there than in most of the towns I lived in growing up. The water is too cold, the area too remote, the lake too dangerous for most. But it's easily my most favorite place on the face of the earth, and where I go to visit some of my most favorite people on earth (or - where I bring some of my favorite people on earth).

My parents bought the first cabin in 1986, and a second, larger one (next door) in the early 1990s. A few years ago they built their dream cabin on the larger site, and ever since then, we've been dreaming about spending Christmas up there. And now it's really happening. In twenty-four days.

I can't wait for Micah to experience it all. I can't wait to experience this different side of it that I'm not used to. So far my must-do list includes taking a sauna and then rolling in the snow, snowmobiling, and taking a walk out on the frozen bay. It's all going to happen. In twenty-four days.

November 28, 2011


On Saturday, we hosted our newly-transplanted friends Natalie and Travis over for Friendsgiving. Micah woke up early and cooked all day (here he is stirring some collards at Lauren's house on Thanksgiving). I slept in and set the table, using some beakers as wine decanters. I also sprinkled the crispy onions on the green bean casserole. I helped.

We gorged ourselves for the second time in three days. We drank beaker-wine and toasted to old friends in new places. We played a few rousing rounds of Yahtzee. We spent all day Sunday recovering.

And now it's Christmas.

November 23, 2011


I'm contributing pumpkin ice cream to our Friendsgiving this weekend. I like that it's a traditional Thanksgiving flavor in a non-traditional Thanksgiving vehicle. And I like that I was able to (obviously) make it ahead of time. Now, on the day of, I can just play sous-chef to Micah and his contributions: turkey, green bean casserole, rolls, gravy, cranberry sauce, and deviled eggs.

Ice cream: making lazy people look hardworking since forever (or - since the ice cream maker was invented).

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

November 21, 2011


Photo by Micah, with almost no touching-up by me. Taken after a great night out with friends. I think his camera just seizured in the drunken 1am bedside-table light. I love the effect. I call it my "Loveless" portrait.

This weekend was a blur of Christmas shopping, Thanksgiving planning and birthday-celebrating. I ate too much, drank just the right amount, and didn't sleep enough. 'Tis the season.

Now I'm back in the office, trying to cram five days' worth of work into three. It's going to be so worth it come Thursday; we'll be spending Thanksgiving with this lady's amazing parents in Charlotte. Then we're coming back on Friday to start preparing a Friendsgiving feast on Saturday with our friends Natalie and Travis. More food. More drink. Rinse, wash, repeat. Not too bad for my first Thanksgiving away from home.

November 17, 2011


I love living close to where I work - mainly because I can easily go home for lunch (or a lunchnap) if I want to. I can make a great little mid-day meal in my own kitchen. I can clean up whatever mess I didn't clean up the night before. I can watch an episode of 30 Rock.

Or I can just make cookies, like I did yesterday.

To be fair - the dough was already prepared. But still. I wouldn't be surprised if I soon receive some sort of award for Workday Domesticity in the mail. Martha Stewart can lick my foot. (Not really! I love her.)

Basically, I followed the recipe from the back of a bag of chocolate chips and then free-styled. These cookies are studded with butterscotch and milk chocolate chips, plus a ton of oats. Maybe a little bit of cinnamon? - I honestly forget. They are charmingly simple, cloyingly sweet, and super soft.

I may have eaten four of them on my way to work this morning and called it breakfast.

And now I have nothing to eat for lunch.

November 16, 2011


When I first toured this duplex back in March, the Japanese Maple in the front yard was the first thing I noticed. I remember thinking, "That shit is gonna look awesome in the fall. I will have the prettiest yard on the street. Everyone will want to be me. I am the queen of everything!" - or something like that. After I saw that someone (a previous tenant? a wandering hobo?) had put silver Christmas ornaments in some of the lower branches, I was sold.

The maple has been on fire for the last few weeks, and is just now starting to lose it's leaves. The red is so vibrant that it gives my camera seizures. I love it.

November 15, 2011


This afternoon I walked over to the newly-opened DaisyCakes in downtown Durham for a little mid-day sugar fix. They've been a mainstay of Durham's food truck scene from the beginning - serving cupcakes and other completely irresistible baked goods from a renovated Airstream named Sugar. And last Friday, they opened their brick-and-mortar location on Foster Street - not a block away from the Farmer's Market that they've been sugaring up for the last few years.

I had the Candied Bacon and Maple cupcake, which I could not make last more than four bites, and a generous Americano. Both, obviously, amazing. I can't wait to go back for lunch - the sandwich options all looked delicious. Everyone was super friendly; the atmosphere was casual, modern, warm; the food was quality.

Basically, it's everything I love about Durham, but with candied bacon on top. I will be back.

November 14, 2011


Left: What I looked like when I left the office on Thursday. Right: What I looked like when I came in this morning. Via Photobooth.

For the last eight or nine years, my hair maintenance routine has consisted of me, on about a monthly basis, buzzing my head down with a #3 clipper alone in my bathroom. Usually on a whim, usually after one or two glasses of wine, usually after Googling pictures of Amber Rose. Sometimes I would give myself a mohawk and walk around pretending to be a badass for a few minutes.

I love having short hair. I love the convenience (and cost efficiency) of cutting my own hair. I love the time I save by never really having to style it. I love the statement it makes - from all the widely varying reactions I've received from strangers over the years, it's obvious that there are still deeply-rooted paradigms surrounding women's hair, and what they should and should not do with it.

But I also love change. And after eight or nine years of having the same hairstyle, I've grown a bit bored. (Kind of like when I gauged my ears out so large, that "normal" earrings started to look fresh and daring. Oh, teenager Liz. So mercurial.)

So - about a month ago, I made an appointment at the highly-recommended Rock Paper Scissors Salon in downtown Durham. I walked in with more hair than I have had in years, and walked out with what I call my "real-life adult haircut." My stylist cut the back and sides short, left some length on the front and top, and thinned everything out. I love it because I still don't have to style it, it's a new look that has room for growth (pun intended), and best of all, I don't look like I'm wearing a fur-coat-mullet on my head.

Just like a real-life adult.

November 10, 2011


Left: My parents, before they were my parents, at their high school prom in 1977 (you just have to trust me on this - they were both wearing head-to-toe peach). Right: at the cabin last summer, just after our annual disastrous Christmas card photo session. I told them to pretend like they still liked each other. (They just celebrated their 30th anniversary in September!)

My mom is visiting this weekend! I'm taking tomorrow off work, so I can pick her up from the airport and immediately begin our action-packed weekend activities- we have a lot of wine-drinking and catching-up and Yahtzee-playing to do. I haven't seen her since August.

I tell my parents (and my brothers) that I got all the best genes from both of them - in looks and personality. Like my dad, I'm dry, analytical, and can repurpose anything. Like my mom, I'm creative, lavish, and compulsively rearrange furniture.

I don't even know why they had three more children.

November 9, 2011


Bread intimidates me. Something about the yeast - I think it's magic. And therefore unknowable, unpredictable, uncontrollable.

I've avoided making it. You know, because of the magic. Somehow I think it's going to pick up on my fear and refuse to obey me. But then came the latest Cooking Light in the mail, like a harbinger of awkward self-improvement. I came across a recipe for Crusty French Boules. I was intrigued by using the stand mixer to knead the dough. (All I would have to do is flip a switch? I can so flip a switch.) And seduced by the fact that the "pâte fermentée" took two days to develop. Two days! I'm sucker for recipes that make you wait like that (Hello.). Foreplay recipes.

The process was fun - all that waiting and whatnot. Only slightly terrifying. But a fun kind of terrifying. I enjoyed punching down the dough way too much. I was doing pretty well, and becoming alarmingly proud of myself - until, on the very last step,  I used a serrated knife to cut the breathing slits. Which effectively mutilated the boule, and brought me back down to earth.

It also gave me a reason to try again. I will master bread. ...Someday.

After I make that ice cream again.

November 8, 2011


I'm working towards a Uniform Wardrobe. As in, I eventually want everything I own to go with everything else - to make Liz-uniforms. I want to take as much thinking out of getting dressed as possible. Not that I don't enjoy it - I just want it to be easy. And I want everything that I have to choose from to fit well and look great on me. It's definitely an ongoing process.

So. When I find an item that meets all those standards, and passes the Uniform Wardrobe Test, I buy multiples. (Hello.) I am definitely one of those people. The hardest thing is jeans and pants. It's so difficult to find a pair that fits all your nooks and crannies. And I feel like I can only find such pants in the clearance section of some store I've never been in before. The intoxicating joy of finding such a deal is quickly replaced by the nauseating realization that these are discontinued and will never be made again and I should probably just become a nudist.

But! Last winter I bought a pair of navy skinny corduroys from the Gap. And I loved them. My nooks and crannies loved them. And I immediately regretted not buying them in every other color available. I kept an eye for online sales, to no avail. I hoped that maybe Gap would bring them back this year?, but they did not seem to get the request that I did not send them.

So I did something I've never done before: searched eBay for (lightly) used clothing. Apparently this is a thing that ladies do? Apparently eBay is still around? My mind was blown.

There was only one pair of the cords listed. And. They were. In my size. And in a color called "Killer Tomato," which is badass. So I bought them. It was wonderful to know that they were going to fit before I even got them. And since the majority of my current wardrobe is dark neutrals and jewel tones (read: redhead colors), this brings a nice pop of awesome to my Liz-uniforms (...Liziforms?). And brings me one step closer to the Uniform Wardrobe.

November 7, 2011


This is what my backyard looks like right now. So surreal.

Autumn is not really a season I'm used to enjoying - Oklahoma tends to swing abruptly from summer to winter and back again, but that's part of it's cockeyed charm, I guess. 

But North Carolina! Durham is on fire right now. It's seems almost dangerous to drive the scenic route to the grocery store - the colors are so distracting. I keep thinking, "That's so Photoshopped." It's sad, really. And the weather - touches of frost in the morning, bright and crisp in the afternoon? - is eerily similar to what I've heard Autumn is like in this half of the country.

Though - now I'm itching for snow. You can take the girl out of Oklahoma...

November 4, 2011


This weekend is pretty full, as far as mine usually go.

Tonight, we're toasting the recent arrival of our good friends Natalie and Travis to the Durty D (they actually introduced Micah and I a few years back!... but that's another happy hour, and post, entirely...). Tomorrow night, I have a long-overdue ladydate with Lauren - I'm hoping to eat way too much sushi and hear all about her new job at Yep Roc Records.

Exciting evening social calendar aside,  I don't have any plans. Which is exactly how I like it. We don't have internet service at our duplex right now, and I secretly appreciate being unplugged for a full 48 hours. I want to sleep in. Drink coffee. Drink tea. Make food. Eat food. Take pictures. Make a palette on the living room floor and watch movies for hours. All without feeling the constant, knee-jerk need to check Twitter/the weather/the stats on this blog.

However - if I'm feeling ambitious, I might revisit my never-ending quest to edit down my belongings to only the most essential and fabulous. Ever since Micah casually mentioned that he never uses toasters, I realized I never use toasters, and yet I've been lugging one around for years. I love realizations like that. A toaster might seem like one of those appliances that a kitchen just "has to have," but... it's simply not true for us right now. Which makes me want to reevaluate everything else in my house, all over again. The Never-Ending Edit.

Watch out, Fancy Shoes I Never Wear, Redundant Sweaters, and Books I'm Not Likely To Read Again. I'm starting with you.