December 21, 2012


Assuming the world doesn't end today, I'll be taking next week off from blogging to travel back to Oklahoma, visit family and friends, and eat my weight in cookies.

This afternoon I'm finishing up present-wrapping (see my ridiculously limited palette above; the string travels better than bows, and looks all Scandinavian-rustic-chic). Tomorrow, Micah and I are celebrating Christmas with each other - and some sort of magnificent dessert-y Weekend Breakfast, I'm sure. We're opening presents (a few less things to pack!), cracking open one of our (sold-out) bottles of Fullsteam's Fruitcake, toasting to another great year together, and packing for our trip. I'm excited to see my whole family in one place, and to spend some quality time at the Braid office in Oklahoma City.

I hope you all stay warm, have the happiest of holidays, and celebrate the end of 2012 accordingly. See you next year!

December 19, 2012


I forgot! This past weekend was the ten-year anniversary of me first shaving my head!

I was a senior in high school - my yearbook picture (top left) and senior portraits had already been taken, and prints ordered. I remember thinking how hilarious it would be that I wouldn't "match" any of my pictures as I was handing them out and signing yearbooks. I remember having to wait a month or so once I actually made the decision, because I was in a play and had to look like another girl who also had long, curly, blonde hair (I was Gertrude in Hamlet - what up, high school drama nerds!). I remember wanting one of my friends to cut it off, but my mom begged me to go to a hair salon (and I did). I remember the stylist snipping off my ponytail in one sharp, smooth cut, and then letting me hold said ponytail while she cut down the rest of it. I remember the damp, dead weight of it in my hand, and my utter lack of attachment to it.

Ten years and countless mohawks and impulse dye-jobs later, and I obviously still don't have a lot of attachment to my hair. But man, that doesn't mean I don't love it.  I do love my hair - I guess I just love cutting it off more.

To the next ten years!, be they long or short.

December 17, 2012


Top two: Saturday's breakfast. Classic breakfast burger with Italian sausage patty, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, and a wonderfully messy poached egg. The second shot is from Micah's perspective: I committed to that thing. Forks are for the timid.

Bottom two: Sunday's breakfast. Yogurt with homemade granola, strawberries, and coconut flakes.

This weekend we started a new holiday tradition: getting together to wrap all of our presents, then getting drunk and ending up giving each other one of our presents ahead of time, just 'cause they were newly wrapped and the Motown Christmas music was going to our Jameson-soaked brains. 'Tis the season! We also drove around all the different neighborhoods in Durham together to get a feel for them -hypothetical house-hunting, if you will. Everything looked especially appealing, all decked out in lights and whatnot.

This week, I'm starting to pack for Oklahoma (mostly - figuring out how I'll get all my presents home), and ready to work my ass off in preparation for next week's festivities (and vacation time).

December 14, 2012


Above: My brother Sam and a family friend taking a sunset swim this past summer.

Around this time of year, I get really itchy for summer. Probably because I'm on the opposite side of the calendar from it - I know I'm six months away from my yearly Michigan vacation, but it's equally jarring (though painfully obvious) to think that it's been six months since I was there. I am utterly pale and my dry winter-skin also, well, itches - for warmer weather and the beach and saunas and daily swims and and and... you get the picture.

Last summer, I took two whole weeks out of my vacation time for Michigan (usually, I'm only able to squeeze in one, but I had just received another week of vacation time at my job, and I had a childhood friend's wedding to rock). And about halfway through, I knew I'd ruined myself for life. Never again would I be able to go back to just one week - I mean, damn, it takes one week just to properly unwind and settle into the vacation, am I right? I thought, with my added vacation time, I'd be able to just barely stretch each Michigan trip to two weeks. And I was super-pumped about that.

FAST FORWARD. I had just accepted a job at Braid, and was excitedly gushing/bragging about the finer points of my awesome new geographically-independent work/life situation to Micah, when I said this as an afterthought; "I mean, I could even work from Michigan if I wanted to! I could go up there for like, a month this summer." And then I froze, and realized it was true.

I've been kicking the idea around ever since - casually mentioning it to my parents to ask for pseudo-permission and make sure it wasn't too crazy, and casually running it by my boss-ladies... to ask for pseudo-permission and make sure it wasn't, you know, too crazy. Everyone gave me their (immediate, enthusiastic) blessing, so now I'm saying it here to make sure it really happens.

I'm going to spend a whole month in Michigan this summer.

I'll probably work half the time, and then take the other half off as legit vacation time. I haven't figured out the finer points of it yet, but damn if writing this just isn't making me even more excited about the whole prospect! Also - writing this has made me super-aware of how blessed I am. The fact that I have this beautiful place available to me, and that I have always had employers give me ample time off to visit every year, is something I never take for granted. I guess I'm just highlighting, for myself, the additional rewards that have come with deciding to take this big work-leap - how decisions like that not only affect what I do 40ish hours a week, but my quality of life, and my consequential ability to make more life-changing decisions.

So. Yeah.

A whole month.


December 13, 2012


I've started buying myself flowers on a semi-regular basis. They're one of those nice touches that make a house feel more like a home, which is especially lovely now that I happen to live and work in said home.

I always just go for a relatively inexpensive bouquet of something seasonal, and often supplement it with clippings from the yard to fill it out and make it special. Winter is my favorite time to do this - the evergreens really pop against any color, and add a lot of interesting texture. In this case, I bought a really small bouquet of white spray roses, and added holly, twigs, and cedar boughs. Double bonus!: they make it look like I've decorated for Christmas more than I actually have, and they make my little office-corner smell like a forest.

In the summer, I love adding things like huge, shiny magnolia leaves and tall grasses; here's an example. Obviously, twigs are always in season.

(I think this post sounds really Martha Stewart-y.)

December 10, 2012


Above: Saturday breakfast. Fruit salad pancakes!: banana pancakes topped with caramelized apples and cranberries, with clementine syrup, and clementines on the side.

This weekend we got hit with a rather unfortunate, albeit thankfully short-lived, stomach bug. So the majority of our time was spent on couch and floor palettes, rewatching favorite episodes of Lost and Deadwood, and hydrating. So... yeah.

But this week! This week I'm maintaining a dangerous/super-healthy/hopefully-short-lived 3-5 Cuties per day average, getting the tiniest bit crafty with Christmas decorations, listening to lots of Christmas music while Micah is away at work so he doesn't get too tired of it, and starting to mentally pack for my trip to Oklahoma.

December 6, 2012


Top to bottom: Fabry family Christmas card photos from 1994, 1998, and an outtake from 2010.

When my parents visited over Thanksgiving, my mom brought our family Christmas card photo from 1994. I love the overt color coordination, and that it's obvious Sam and Will (the two on the left) were getting along that day. We were in southern Arkansas, attending private Catholic school, and about to move to England. I had just grown out bangs, and was still trying to brush out my curls. 

In 1998, we were just ending another summer in Michigan (behind us is the cabin my parents demolished to build their dream cabin!). We had just moved from one southwestern English town to another, and unbeknownst to us, were about to move back to the States. Joe (on my lap) was clearly a bit crabby that day - and I had totally embraced my curly-girl mane (plus - I'm pretty sure I'm rocking some JNCOs)

In 2010, I had just moved across the country to North Carolina, and have been rocking super-short hair for awhile. My brothers were also starting to spread out across the country - one is in Illinois, one in Michigan, and one in Connecticut. Joe is clearly so over it here, and the rest of us are ubiquitously showboating (or tipsy).

As it should be obvious by now, logistics were always an issue. At least one kid was always in a bad mood, or messing with another kid, or in an awkward life stage (or tipsy). We were always right about to leave the cabin, or in the middle of a move. And these days, we are only ever all together at Christmas, and hopefully during the summer - so timing can be tricky. But it's fun to look back and see how far we've come, yet how much we've all stayed the same. 

December 3, 2012


Above: Sunday's breakfast. Breakfast sausage / spinach / mushroom quiche, and a side of grapefruit.

This weekend, I dragged Micah on a walk around my "pretend every house is ours" neighborhood, and we started to talk about how and when we would come by a house that exists in the real world, as opposed to just in my head. I slept in on Sunday and woke up to this breakfast. We enjoyed freakishly warm weather (highs in the high 60s / low 70s) by grilling for the sake of grilling, and I pulled up the last of my annual flowers.

This week I'm potting the rosemary I planted last spring (so I can keep it on my porch this winter, and keep it in my life should we move next spring), buying and/or making Christmas presents, and enjoying mass quantities of Cuties while they're in season.

November 30, 2012


Today marks the end of my first month at Braid Creative. It has simultaneously flown, and languorously rolled, by.

Moving to a geographically independent job has been a life-changer. Truly. Not only have I loved working from home this last month, I'm eternally grateful that Tara and Kathleen have given me the personal responsibility to structure my own work day. We stay connected through Google Hangouts and shared to-do lists, but as long as I get my work done, I'm free to take breaks throughout the day to take a yoga class, or make ice cream, or rearrange all the furniture in the house... you get the idea. It suits me. If I'm struggling on a piece of copy, I can stop and very constructively procrastinate by doing a load of laundry or raking the yard while my brain subconsciously sorts itself out. (As a beneficial byproduct, my house is pretty damn clean all the time now. I don't think I'd be able to focus properly if it wasn't. So much so that it's worked itself into my morning routine. Speaking of!...)

I've also restructured my morning routine. I still rise before Micah and enjoy a tiny Bodum-ful of coffee. But now I also "walk to work" for about 30 - 45 minutes each morning. I wind around the Old West and Watts-Hillandale neighborhoods of Durham, pretending each of the houses are mine, imagining what I would change about each of the front yards, and watching the season change one day at a time. By the time I get home, my muscles feel loose and warm, and my brain feels like I've got a headstart on the day. It's nice to stretch and awaken physically before sitting down and using my mind-muscles for awhile. Balanced. I make myself breakfast, tidy up (make the bed - put any dirty dishes in the dishwasher - put up any palette that might be lingering from the night before), and sit down to check my email and begin.

It should be noted that I only worked part-time this past month. Full-time starts next Monday! - and while the workload will increase, the personal responsibility and flexible schedule will stay the same. I'm curious to see how I will continue to adapt to said flexibility. What other activities will I start to schedule regularly? (I'd like to become a little more connected to the comings and goings-on and eatings and drinkings of Durham.) Will I ever take a nap in the middle of the day? Will I ever need more space for my "office?" Only time will tell.

November 28, 2012


Except for some peas and the above kale, our garden is done for the year. This was our first time planting a vegetable garden together, and we learned so much. Most importantly, I think, that you cannot underestimate the importance of prepping your soil. Our backyard is solid clay about a foot down, and it was physically painful to see our plant babies hit that wall and stop growing. If we owned this property, I think we would invest in raised beds, or a tiller or something, but alas.

Crops that did really well: basil, rosemary, mint, grape tomatoes, jalapenos, bush beans, peas.

Crops that did "meh" or poorly, mostly due to the soil: beets, turnips, garlic, green onions, bell peppers, cucumbers.

Crops that succumbed to motherfucking pests: eggplant, larger tomatoes, broccoli, arugula, summer squash (if you consider end rot to be a pest, which I do).

(You can read all of my garden posts here. It really was a rollercoaster of a ride, you guys. Good times.) 

Of course, even after writing this, I can't wait to start over next spring. I've already ordered a few seed catalogs to peruse on particularly cold winter nights - I'd like to experiment with weird heirloom versions of crops that did well this year, and try a few new things as well.

(I just realized our lease is up in April - so there's a solid chance that we won't even be dealing with the same soil situation, should we decide to move. What a strange time to have to move for gardeners though - things need to be in the ground by then for sure. Huh. Food for thought, quite literally.)

November 26, 2012


Above: Thanksgiving edition! Turkey and green bean casserole leftovers with fried stuffing hash and a poached egg. Side of yogurt, granola, and cranberry sauce. And those buttery freezer rolls that I love but always forget about until Thanksgiving... rolls around again.

This weekend, I recovered and lazed from Thanksgiving vacation. I decided to decorate the house for the holidays this year. It's always a Decision - I've travelled for Christmas for the last (almost) 10 years, so it's always the question of: is it worth it, if I'm gone for the actual day, or the whole actual week? Is it worth storing the Stuff for the rest of the year? This year I've decided it is - probably swayed by the fact that my home is also now my office, so I'll get to enjoy the decorations for drastically more time. I'm thinking of just stringing up some tiny lights inside, and creating some bouquets out of the holly / spruce / miscellaneous evergreen plants in the backyard. More "winter" than "Christmas." ...But maybe a small fake tree if Micah's gung-ho about it.

November 21, 2012


Above: Before, and after. I used a #3 (3/8") clipper all over. Taken with Photobooth. See past haircuts here and here. See a similar stinkface here.

So, I shaved my head again. Kind of on a whim, but kind of because I was tired of dealing with it, and thinking about what to do with it (should I grow it out? - in a big afro-pouf, or in an undercut swoop?, etc., etc., every month), and paying for monthly haircuts when I could be paying for monthly massages. I love my hair - it's thick and corkscrew-curly and looks better the dirtier it gets. Sometimes I feel like I should grow it out because it would look so awesome. But I love keeping it like this. Little maintenance, big impact. It suits my style and the amount of energy I'm willing to put into it. Also, I could argue it's just another piece of the Never-Ending Edit puzzle - but only a small, (hopefully) non-pretentious piece.

November 19, 2012


Top two: Saturday's breakfast. Micah's migas! Cheesy scrambled eggs, roasted Brussels sprouts, sliced avocado, salsa, toasty tortilla strips.

Bottom two: Sunday's breakfast. Breakfast fondue? Shirred eggs with parmesan and sopressata, sausage gravy, and toasty herb focaccia (from Loaf).

This weekend, my mom and one of my brothers are visiting! My dad flies in today as well, from "Beer Camp" in northern Michigan. It's the first time they've ever visited Durham at the same time, and they're staying all week. I'm excited to catch up with them, since I've haven't seen them since July (and when Micah and I visit at Christmas, our time together will be limited).

I'm also knee-deep in Braid now. It's been exhilarating to stretch and use my creative muscles in such a different way - and to see the immediate impact they can have on creative entrepreneurs' lives. Powerful. (That deserves it's own post, I think.)

November 14, 2012


Top: Spicy mashed sweet potatoes, fried herb mushrooms, arugula, and a sunny-side-up egg.

Bottom: Buttery scrambled egg whites with caramelized onions, wilted arugula, goat cheese, and homemade hot pepper jelly.

I've been having a lot of fun with my lunches recently. The fridge is packed with odds and ends that need using, and, well - I'm home almost all day, so time isn't a constraint (not that these took a long time to throw together).

I also realize they're basically turning into Weekend Breakfasts (not that that's a bad thing). Long live egg piles!

November 13, 2012


Yesterday, on a whim, I scheduled another VVA donation pick-up. I think there was just some residual fire under my ass from Kathleen's visit (which was actually also the impetus for this blog - I do love a good ass-fire). My pick-up options were today, or next Tuesday. I picked today to keep up my momentum (and so the bags of Stuff wouldn't just be sitting around my place for a week, ruining everything).

In all, I donated 16 tops, 4 jackets/sweaters, 3 dresses, 3 pairs of tights (I've realized over the last year that they are just not for me - so cute, but so constricting!), and 3 purses/bags.

I look forward to the day when I can more easily count the items I own, rather than the items I donate. 

November 12, 2012


Above: Sunday's breakfast. Poached egg, kale chips, and goat cheese on a bed of arugula and baked sweet potatoes. With a side of cheesy biscuits and homemade hot pepper jelly. And a grapefruit mimosa.

Kathleen and Jeremy visited this weekend, so Weekend Breakfast became Coffee Table Weekend Breakfast Party. I got my first taste of the slippery work/life balance that my new position at Braid requires/promises. I got to show off Micah's mad cooking skillz - and my crunchy-crazy new hometown. I got to try a yoga class for the first time. But most of all - I got to hang out with my friends. My tribe, if you will. Kathleen has more here.

November 7, 2012


Above: a 360º-ish view of the living room as it is today (well - and yesterday. Damn you, Daylight Savings!, for my newfound cozy-but-low winter light). (Also! Proof that these were taken on two different days: disappearing plants, and moving candles. It's like one of those "SPOT THE SEVEN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THESE TWO PHOTOS" games! Stylist fail.)

Alright! SO. I had to change the way I thought about this space before I rearranged it. It's one room - but really, it's three: an entryway, a cozy hang-out living room, and a home office. Instead of finding nooks and corners for each overlapping function, I cut the room in two. 

When you open the front door now, to the left is the living room. We're actually closer to the TV now than we were before! (We just started watching Walking Dead - and I love being as close to those zombies as possible.) To the immediate right  is my home office, and past that is what I now jokingly refer to as "the reception area." The club chairs are in the same place, but now I've tucked the record player between them to create a little more purpose for that area. I love how the fireplace gives the record player this odd prominence. And there's a straight line from the front door to the rest of the duplex - my entryway. (I also use it for yoga.) 

At first, I was a bit worried about shoving the couch in the corner, all close to the door and whatnot. Bad feng shui? Or maybe because I usually try to give more breathing space around furniture. I told myself I'd just give it a few days and see how it felt after the newness wore off. And? - I like it. I like having one arm up against the wall - It's becoming my new favorite reading spot. I also like how the two big windows that used to be behind the couch are now opened up to the room. I also also like that now when Micah and I make a floor palette in front of the TV on weekends (...and some weekdays...), there's still a clear path from the door to the rest of the duplex. Before, we'd have to awkwardly inch around it. But we did it. 'Cause palettes are worth it. 

November 5, 2012


Above: Saturday's breakfast. Roasted grapefruit, cranberry oatmeal, and toast with butter, strawberry jam and black pepper.

Yes, my quest to roast everything that will sit still long enough to be roasted continues! Grapefruit - why not, right? I rubbed a little bit of brown sugar and Christmas spices (ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and maybe cloves?) on top of each half and broiled them for 5 - 10 minutes. Magic. The juice would be SO good in some sort of wintery cocktail.

This weekend, I pulled up all remaining summer crop plants: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants. All that remains now is my kale, some herbs, and Micah's peas. I trimmed back the lavender, repotted some mums, and will turn over the soil in all the plots sometime this week. On Sunday, we ate at Scratch - I had shirred eggs and buttery toast, and Micah had some sort of hot mess gravy pile called "the S.O.S." Later, he grilled us a bunch of food for the upcoming week while I hung out in an adirondack chair under wool blankets, cozy and drinky on grapefruit mimosas (yeah - I'm on a grapefruit kick). Perfect.

October 31, 2012


Happy Halloween! This past weekend Micah and I went to Fullsteam's first annual "Zombie Prom" as skeletons (photo evidence), where we were nominated for Prom King and Queen (but didn't win), and got to drink the last of IGOR, their impossibly rich imperial stout.

Want to know what I dressed up as today? Click here to see - and to (finally) find out what I left my advertising job for!

October 30, 2012


Above: Saturday's breakfast. Granola-stuffed! apple dumpling! with apple cider caramel sauce! With homemade crust and everything. I hope dessert breakfasts are the new "put a fried egg on it and call it breakfast" breakfasts.

I just now got legitimate, non-stolen, consistently-working internet installed in my home. Grown-up excitement! Also, I'm currently enjoying day two of vacation/unemployment - with only one more to go. It's been total dreamings so far - lots of cooking for the sake of cooking (baking butternut squash to have puree on hand, caramelizing a whole vat of onions just because), living room yoga, reading, and furniture arranging.

October 25, 2012


Above: a 360º-ish view of the living room as it is today.

Sometime in the next few days, I'll be rearranging my living room to become my living room SLASH HOME OFFICE. Very exciting. I've lived in this space for about a year and a half, and have only moved furniture once - to accomodate the amazing curb desk I found a few months back.

(Side note: when I found that desk, I had just decided I wanted to leave my job. I wasn't sure what I was going to do yet - another agency? freelance? Starbucks? - and then I found this solid, amazing, patina-ed barn of a desk. I took it as a sure sign from the universe that I was on the right path with my dreamings, and would need this desk on said path. The old desk was moved to the dining nook and is now used as a bar/credenza. The new desk was shoved in the corner by the couch, as that was the only corner it would fit in at the time. It's... been bugging me.)

Whenever I am rearranging furniture, I first consider the purpose of the space. What do I actually spend the majority of my time doing in there? Is it a communal space, or personal/intimate? That helps identify where major pieces of furniture should go, and how much space and prominence certain set-ups get. Right now, we use this living room solely for hanging out, watching movies, listening to records, reading, and palette-ing on the floor on weekends. So the couch/coffee table/TV combo is the focus point of the room, stretching across the length of it. All the other furniture is situated around that - the record player tucked next to couch for ease of use, the club chairs angled towards the corner fireplace, out of the way of traffic flow. Ah, that's another thing - the front door opens right into this space, so it's also an entryway. Right now I have theatre seats next to the door - a place to throw down my purse and kick off my shoes (and store some extra blankets for all that palette-ing).

In the very near future, this space will have two purposes: all that crap I just said, plus home office (because, yes!, I'll be working from home). I'll now be spending a lot of time thinking and doing and being awesome in this space during the day, as well as maxing and relaxing with Micah in the evenings. So - whatever our solution is, it's got to give equal prominence to both, while acknowledging the flow of traffic from that front door to the rest of the duplex.

Challenge ACCEPTED.

October 24, 2012


Or: How to Distract and Placate Liz Because You Don't Know How Long It's Going to Take to Smoke a Pork Loin for Dinner

Micah planted a small row of French Breakfast radishes in the fall garden, and they're just now starting to mature. This weekend, he harvested some turnip greens (as it's not looking like we'll get actual turnips), and he pulled some of the radishes as well. They are adorable - the French Breakfast variety is slightly elongated, and has a white cap, and begs to you simultaneously coo at it and eat it whole.

He was experimenting on the grill that day, and wasn't sure how long it would be before dinner was ready. And he knew that while I love nothing more than hanging out with him with a drink while he grills for hours, I also turn into a complete drooling zombie when my blood sugar crashes. So. He lightly oiled, seasoned, and toasted six slices of baguette, and then created three different radish-centered amuse bouches for me to tide me over.

(I know, right?!)

One had queso fresco, cilantro, and tomato; one had bleu cheese, tomato, and basil; and one (my favorite) had goat cheese and wild chives. He presented each in faux-pompous Iron Chef-style (his kitchen nickname is Chef Micahmoto; mine is Lizzy Flaybry) and I just remember giggling the whole time. They were, obviously, amazing - flavorful and fresh and bite-sized is always going to be amazing.  But I was more blown away by his thoughtfulness, and how much effort he put into making a snack for me so I wouldn't eat his braaaaains before the dinner he was also making for me was ready.


October 22, 2012


Above: Sunday's breakfast. Parmesan biscuit with creamed turnip greens (from the garden) and goat cheese, and topped with a poached egg, onion-pepper jam, tomato (from the garden), and wild chives (from... somewhere in the yard).

This weekend was... not what I expected. It's the first weekend in over a month that Micah and I haven't been travelling or entertaining guests, so we were looking forward to spending most of it being deservedly lazy on a living room floor palette, or something. But on Friday, a pipe burst somewhere in the bowels of our duplex, so we spent most of the weekend side-stepping plumbers and not having running water. We tried to escape - going to the Farmer's Market earlier than usual, a leisurely Saturday brunch at Dain's, an evening walk to our favorite dive bar - but were too tired (and dirty-feeling - I've found you don't really need a lot of running water... until you can't have it) to embrace the challenge. By Sunday afternoon, we ended up on a living room floor palette, being deservedly lazy as plumbers side-stepped us.

But I can't complain - because next weekend will be different. Like I said, this Friday is my last day at my current job, and I've given myself until the end of the month as... vacation, I guess? Or - the best unemployment ever. And yeah, that's only three business days - but I'm still super excited. I have no plans - I just want to take a small break, and rest, and sleep in, and clean my house - and give this transition the proper time it deserves.