January 31, 2012


I've never had peanut brittle (or any brittle, for that matter). I'm just now starting to like nuts, and it just always sounded like an old-people food, something I would only start to enjoy from the front porch of a retirement community home. But when Lauren pinned this, I knew I could - and would - get on board immediately. That is foodie brittle. Design-y brittle. Young-people brittle!

The only thing I changed was adding a little vanilla bean to the mix. I just love seeing those little black specks, and the aroma always makes me swoon.

I regard caramel the same way I regard bread-making: with much trepidation and superstition. It stresses me out to stir a mixture of sugar and water over high heat, watching it slowly thicken and darken, until at some point it reaches a pinnacle of caramel-ness - for about 2 seconds, before it crashes down into a burnt block of cement in your pan, and you have to start all over again.

But the potential payoff outweighs the anxiety of the process. 'Cause, come on, it's caramel. Who doesn't love caramel? Especially caramel in brittle form that tastes exactly like roasted marshmallows and melts in your mouth. And that's studded with pretty pistachios (I will never tire of that green) and sprinkled with the tiniest amount of sea salt. (If there is any foodie bandwagon I have jumped on, it's the "salt on sweets" bandwagon.)

These would make a great, "easy" (see third paragraph) food gift. Or something that you make a double-batch of and hoard in your retirement-community-home room, not sharing with any of the other old people. Another bandwagon I will be jumping on, in just a few short decades.

January 30, 2012


Saturdays are usually spent recovering from the previous week. And Sundays are usually spent recovering from Saturdays.

We sleep in. Make meals for the next few days (after clearing the fridge of any odds and ends, which produces entertainingly random breakfasts; see above). Catch up on our shows. In general, we strive to be as lazy as possible, because we know that Monday means another whole week of kicking ass and taking names.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

January 26, 2012


Faux pho, loosely adapted from this recipe. (Instead of buying snow peas, I used some oyster mushrooms and grated jicama we had on hand; instead of hot sauce, I added half of a finely chopped jalapeno.)

(I know - who has oyster mushrooms and jicama on hand? WE DO. Welcome to Durham.)

I highly recommend that you just leave work early and make this. Not that it takes that long to make - it just needs to be in your face ASAP. The preparation was disproportionately easy for how impressive the results were. You basically just simmer everything in a big pot, then cook the noodles and serve. Tip: Don't skip on the mint because it sounds weird or dessert-y or unnecessary. It totally wraps the whole thing up.

The most exciting part for me was realizing that I added no seasonings to it (and I am a chronic over-season-er). No salt, no pepper, no... Italian seasoning (my fave). Nothing. And yet - flavors galore. Flavors exploding into other flavors, setting off a flavor chain-splosion. Like a minefield. But not in a violent way - in a sexy way.

That's right - sexy flavor-minefield chain-splosions.

Just make it.

January 25, 2012


I got my hair cut again recently. I'm averaging a haircut about every four weeks, which is CRAZY, but totally necessary. It was more of the same: short on the back and sides, and longer on the top and front. Thinned out everywhere, lest I get the dreaded Pyramid Head that some curly girls succumb to.

(Haircut courtesy of the extremely talented and perpetually cool Jenni at Rock Paper Scissors.)

I don't really know where I'm going with this - I'm just kind of growing it out until it stops amusing me or looking awesome. I'm pretty sure I'll want to shave it when it summer sets in. But maybe by then it will be some sort of curly, undercut Kate Lanphear 'do. Who knows. Curiosity and vanity drive me ever forward.

January 24, 2012


Top: I love retro airport seating and symmetry and when people know to stay out of my shots.

Middle: The Midwestern snowstorm I (and hundreds of others ) got stuck in. It was very pretty, and very dangerous, which is the best kind of pretty.

Bottom: The inter-concourse (intercourse?) tunnel at Detroit airport, which is my favorite airport, if only because it delivers me to and from the cabin each year. Stops at the Einstein Brothers Bagels between B and C concourse are required each time. Everything bagel, toasted, with plain cream cheese. Perfection.

Anyway. The tunnel. If you're traveling with me through it and you're from Oklahoma, I'll call it the "Flaming Lips tunnel" because it's psychedelic and loud and otherworldly. BUT, if you ALSO happen to be Kathleen, I'll call it the "birthing tunnel." Because we like to imagine the infant's journey through the birthing canal is very similar. But mostly we just like relating everything back to vaginas. Especially psychedelic and loud and otherworldly ones, like ours.

January 18, 2012


Top two: flying in from Detroit to Madison.

Bottom: The view of Lake Monona from my hotel room. Totally frozen over.

It pains me to admit it, but Wisconsin has been far more aesthetically pleasing than Michigan (so far) on this trip. Snow cover just makes for excellent picture-making. Also I've had copious amounts of beer and cheese at both lunch and dinner today, which could be affecting my judgement.

Either way - I'm looking forward to making Madison my home for the next two days.


Top: I'm on a business trip in Michigan and Wisconsin all this week. Everything has been grey. Everywhere wants to snow for me. North Carolina needs to read that memo.

Bottom: A secret island somewhere in Lake Huron. I'm watching Lost for the first time ever right now, so... yeah.

January 16, 2012


I've been contemplating purging my library since November, and I was on a roll after going through my clothes last weekend, so I went for it.

I love to read. And I've read most of these books (there's more in the bag on the left) may times. Some of them (not pictured) I absolutely treasure, and know I'll read many more times. Some of them have sentimental value because they're gifts from loved ones. But some of them were just straight-up collecting dust. And as unfortunate as it sounds/looks to hear myself say/type, books as a platform for information-holding are antiquated and unwieldy (read: a bitch to move). So even though Old Book Smell and Dog-Eared Pages are two of the most awesome things ever (also excellent band names), I knew I had to be ruthless.

I ended up getting rid of 49 books. I'm going to take them by The Regulator bookstore on 9th Street first, to see if I can make money off of anything, then add the rest to my VVA donation.

(Actually, that's not entirely true. Some of those big art books on the bottom of the pile on the right will probably go to my office to make me look more creative, or be the base of some all-white tableaux. You know. Art director shit.)

January 12, 2012


A dear friend/co-worker/fellow redhead saw this while out shopping today and picked it up for me. It's perfect: the considered lack of "design," the simple, unassuming paper, the minimalist sentiment.

I think I'll have it framed and hang it somewhere nearby, so it can remind me (and those around me) why I live the way I do.

Thanks, Natalie.

"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." - Hans Hofmann

January 11, 2012


Two staples in our house: banana bread, and roasted brussels sprouts. Before and after. Almost time-lapse foodtography.

I blame the former's long-standing popularity on my refusal to eat bananas that aren't green, and the latter's intense newfound popularity on Lauren, who introduced me to them.

And just so you don't embarrass yourself, like I did: brussels sprouts, not brussel sprouts. Brussels. Sssss. Mmmm.

I loosely follow this recipe for the banana bread. And the brussels don't really need a recipe: they just need to be halved, oiled, seasoned, and roasted to near-death. Sssss. Mmmm.

January 10, 2012


Above: a really soft (but comically shrunken) J. Crew sweater, and the pair of slacks that I wore when I interviewed for an undergraduate internship with my current employer. They fit well, and are in good condition, but I've worn them once in the last year. Why only once? Because they give me subtle but in-ignorable cameltoe. Just keepin' it real.

I started off the new year with a nice, cleansing stuff purge. I don't really schedule them, but they seem to happen about annually - usually coinciding with me moving somewhere, or just wanting to move somewhere. (Though, it should be noted - I think and talk about purging stuff almost constantly. I should write a book. If only to spare my friends from hearing about it any longer.)

The bulk of it consists of going through all my clothes (/shoes/accessories/kitchen appliances) and reevaluating their awesomeness. If it doesn't fit, if it isn't in good shape, if I haven't worn it since the last purge, I donate it. Sometimes it's difficult to make the call; sentimental value can attack - I mean, attach - at a moment's notice, and seemingly without reason. But I have yet to regret anything that I've let go of. And - it gets easier the more you do it, especially after you experience the immense, pleasurable freedom that comes with parting ways with crap.

Leo Babauta has written extensively about decluttering, and how it can be hard, and how it can be valuable, on Zen Habits. Highly recommended reading.

My favorite part of donating stuff - besides the fact that my trash is turning into someone else's treasure - is how easy it is. I've been using the Vietnam Veterans of America's free, super-easy and convenient pick-up service for the last few years, and I cannot recommend it enough. You go online, give them your address, select the date you want them to come pick up your donation, and then put your donation out on the porch/curb/driveway on that date. That's it. Oh - actually, the last step is feeling like an enlightened zen do-gooder princess.

Now go open your closets and make sure every single thing in there is awesome. And if it isn't, then donate to someone who will think it is. It's that easy.

January 9, 2012


I originally made this (adding more peanut butter than called for - highly recommended) back in September, for Micah's birthday, as part of a self-serving and ongoing effort to force him to like dessert more. But then it pretty much instantly tied this for my favorite homemade ice cream recipe. Of all time. And I've made it twice since then. And when I'm not making it, I'm thinking about making it, or eating it, or marrying it.

I love them each for separate reasons. Like children, they're each so different, and it's impossible to choose one over the other, even if one does look a bit more like you. (Hmm... I guess that would be the peanut butter, in this case?)

As I've said before, the chocolate ice cream is all about foreplay, the power of process, the potency of YOU CAN'T EAT IT FOR FIVE DAYS. It's so rich, so endlessly dark and elegant, like a strong Americano, or a rare steak, or - something that's not quite as disgusting to compare to ice cream...

The peanut butter, though - why isn't there more peanut butter ice cream available commercially? I feel like I almost never see it in stores. Which makes no sense, because peanut butter is the perfect flavor for ice cream, if you think about it. It's all earthy and warm, and now it's riding in a cold, creamy vehicle, taking the scenic route, to your mouth?

I don't know how that became a roadtrip metaphor. But you get it. And now we must all go and do the one thing we've been thinking about since starting this post:

Making both of them at the same time. (Swirl?)

January 6, 2012


Top photo: boarded up for the winter. Dwarfed by big sister. Unencumbered by asymmetry.

Middle photo: Exterior details, from summer 2010.

Bottom photo: a newly repainted back porch temporarily houses Adirondack deck chairs made by my uncle. Handcraftiness runs in my family.

From humble beginnings come great things.

January 5, 2012


Top photo: the Savoy, aka, the Meat Market, or, the Best Place to Meet Underage Canadians.

Bottom two photos: the Downtowner, aka, the Best Place to Accidentally Run Into Your Also-Drunk Parents.

Yes, Michigan in winter was peaceful and relaxing. And the dream cabin was beautiful. But my favorite part of the whole trip, by far, was having Micah meet all of my people.

You know. The people who have known me since I was in diapers. Who have seen me through all my awkward phases, previous relationships, every high and low of my life so far. Not quite family, but so much more than friends. My people.

And these ones are pretty awesome, as far as people go. All blonde, all Finnish, all related. All capable, intelligent women, who know way, way too much about me. All with parents who have been hanging out with my parents since... forever. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

January 4, 2012


The sand is frozen solid. Instead of sinking in to it, feeling it cool or burn between my toes like I'm used to, I can almost skate on it. The frozen moisture molds it into alien shapes that would be impossible in the summer.

On colder, calmer days, the water pushed thousands of tiny icebergs towards the shore. They formed a slushy grey band around the bay that only got deeper and thicker and whiter while I was there.

Without all the green, the birch trees stand out in the woods. It's striking, the kind of scene that a smarter woman would've taken a black-and-white photograph of.

Everything is quiet. The myriad chirps and rustles and howls that mark warmer months are silenced under a thin blanket of snow.

You can almost feel nature taking a deep breath in preparation for what's to come - digging in its heels for another Michigan winter.

January 3, 2012


It's inspiring to stay in someone's dream home. To hear about all the thoughtful little details they obsessed over (old forest-spirit men built into the fireplace? Wheelchair-width doorways on the first floor? Flying Turtles to navigate the low basement? Reused wood panels from the old cabin? Yes yes yes yes). To see their personality in the design and execution. To feel the sweet radiant heat flooring underneath your sensitive Southern feet during a Michigan winter.

But I think the small cabin (on the right on the bottom picture) will always be my favorite. More on that later.