March 30, 2012


Above: Our primary garden plot, featuring one of my favorite North Carolina beers. We leveraged these weird landscaping timbers that were already in the middle of the yard, and lined it with found bricks and edgers (I love how they're all mossy), also from around the yard. Here's hoping it continues to be generous with us.

This weekend, I have two goals. The first is to use my brain as little as possible. It's been one of those weeks at work - the kind you need another week to recover from. Satisfying, but draining. And next week doesn't look like it's going to be any different - so I'm already looking forward to the week after that. No rest for the wicked.

My second goal is to plant some shit. In the ground. Our laundry room has been a greenhouse for the last few weeks, but now I'm ready to kick these seedlings out of the nest. I'm also going to go out and buy the plants I didn't start from seed (namely tomatoes, and any more herbs that strike me in the moment). I'm looking forward to spending some time outside and working with my hands - instead of my brain - for awhile.

There'll probably be more of those beers, too.

March 28, 2012


So, the contract on my house fell through.

One productive thing to come out of it (other than my new "perfect and true" perspective, which I am wholeheartedly trying to maintain) is that hail damage was detected during the inspection, and now my roof will be replaced, which is a great selling point going forward. Forward, onward, and upward.


March 27, 2012


Top, middle: Scenes from the brewery.

Bottom: The shandy is back! 2/3 El Toro Cream Ale, 1/3 fresh lemonade. A classy Manmosa.

We can be found at Fullsteam on an almost weekly basis. There's always something going on - food trucks, trivia, drag bingo - but it's always in a really laid-back way. And it's been fun to watch that block of downtown start to revitalize - thanks also in part to Geer Street, Motorco, and the newly-funded Cocoa Cinnamon.

But all that is just icing on the beer cake. Fullsteam constantly experiments with locally and regionally-sourced ingredients to create beers worth talking about, worth sharing, worth, well, drinking. And that's what we'll keep coming back for, week after week. Cheers.

March 26, 2012


Top: Saturday's breakfast. Maxed-out veggie/sausage/caramelized onion omelet with a biscuit. Micah has become the master of omelets. I don't think I can allow anyone else to make them for me from now on.

Bottom: Sunday's breakfast. "Christmas biscuits." Micah made himself a cranberry/sunflower seed oatmeal bowl, and topped it with caramelized apples tossed in, you know, Christmas spices: nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon. I was lucky enough to get some leftovers to throw on jammy biscuits (leftover from Saturday). Hence, "Christmas biscuits."

Are Weekend Breakfasts becoming a Thing I Blog About? I think so. I've even gone so far as to create a label for it, in case you are ever struck with an urge to look at pictures of the magic I get to eat every weekend.

March 22, 2012


Yesterday I got my hair cut at Rock Paper Scissors. I've been going there pretty regularly since last fall, and I really like it. It's downtown, which is convenient to home and work. It's got that cool, eclectic vibe that I like my hair salons to have. And everyone who works there looks - and acts - like someone you'd want to hang out with. Oh - and they've done an excellent job helping me do whatever it is that I'm doing with my hair.

Plus, they offer complimentary home-brewed beer to of-age waiting patrons. Yeah. I had an E.S.B. yesterday, but Jenni (my stylist, who looks like she's tiny and standing in my beer while stirring it in the bottom photo) says in the past they've experimented with a blueberry hefeweizen and a jalapeno pale ale, among others. Yum.

Just thinking about it makes me want to go get my hair cut again today.

March 21, 2012


Did you know it's good luck to plant on St. Patrick's Day? I didn't. But I'm a true believer now.

Because I planted a flat of salad greens and herb seeds on Saturday (top), and came home on Monday to sprouts (bottom). Arugula, people! Or rocket, if you're British, or roquette, if you're nasty. The basil started to poke through last night as well. This garden is happening.

I've already become a gloating new mother - tweeting growth updates, telling Micah "I think they look more like me than like you" and "Look how they tilt towards the sun! I have the smartest sprout babies ever" etc. It's obnoxious.

And I don't think it's going to stop anytime soon. At least not until they leave for college. Or, you know, die in the fall.

March 20, 2012


Whenever we're hungry for mass amounts of fresh, tasty, reasonably-priced food, we head to Nanataco. Even though it's technically outside of the 5-mile downtown Durham radius we seem to solely exist in.

The salsa bar is legit, the Futura-based branding sets my design-student heart on fire (though that "C" will always haunt me), and best of all, they have a section on their (very cool, hand-chalked) menu called "The Dirty Meats." Micah has thoroughly enjoyed both the pork butt and the house-made chorizo from said section. I've only stuck to veggie quesadillas so far (I call them "Mexican grilled cheeses"), but I need to branch out.

Maybe this summer. Their pretty paper-lantern-ed patio always beckons us to enjoy multiple fresh margaritas on it every time we pass by. Soon, patio. Soon.

March 19, 2012


This weekend, Micah and I broke ground on our vegetable/herb garden. Which means: he dug up our plots while I traipsed around the backyard with a beer and my camera.

Moss is the coolest thing ever. So alien and creepy and lush. And you can't take a bad picture of it. Macro goodness. I had a lot of fun forcing myself to find these interesting little vignettes in places that had previously been overlooked. I kind of want to make a little terrarium now that I see how much variety we have in our yard alone.

Or buy tiny plastic figurines of dinosaurs and aliens to set up in photos and turn into a children's book...

March 16, 2012


This is quintessential spring ice cream: the first strawberries of the season, and a base you don't have to pre-cook. I followed this recipe for it's simplicity, omitting the lemon zest because I'm lazy, but blending the base a little before churning it because I'm not consistently lazy, and I wanted to minimize chunkage.

(This is quintessential fall ice cream, and this is quintessential winter ice cream. Yes, WINTER ICE CREAM. I wonder what quintessential summer ice cream is? Right now I'm thinking something full of stone fruit and booze. Bourbon-soaked peaches maybe?)

March 15, 2012


Top: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich for brunch (last Saturday). That's right. Mimosas instantly make any meal into brunch.

Middle: Micah made me french toast with caramelized apples (and a champagne-less mimosa, aka orange juice) the morning I left on my business trip (Sunday). So sweet.

Bottom: When we ran out of champagne on Saturday, Micah mixed orange juice with the Champagne of Beers (aka High Life) to make what I dubbed a "manmosa." I thought I was being the most cleverest person ever by making that up, but Urban Dictionary confirms that I am indeed not the most cleverest person ever. Still an excellent drink name. And an excellent drink - reminiscent of the infamous Lunchbox at Edna's, for Oklahoma City-based readers familiar with the establishment (where Micah and I met, actually. Coincidence? I think not). Best served in a pint glass commemorating much better beer.

March 14, 2012


Another thing I love about flying: when you get above that first level of cloud cover, and discover that there is a whole different weather/light situation going on that you had no idea about.

Case-in-point: these were taken somewhere between Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham. We had some turbulence taking off due to the rain, and it was already dark outside. But then we broke through the cloud cover, and were treated to a peaceful, aerial sunset that the Earth-bound weren't able to appreciate. It went well with my Biscoff.

March 12, 2012


I'm in Madison again for a quick (read: under 24 hours) business trip. More food, less snow, way different hotel room view.

March 8, 2012


Last weekend, Micah and I went to Raleigh for the day to celebrate our two-year anniversary.

We perused the Raleigh Farmer's Market. Bought some greens and apples. Contemplated our still-conceptual vegetable garden. Parked downtown. Walked around. Got caught in the beginnings of a St. Patty's Day-themed 8K. Perused Father And Sons, a midcentury-inclined antique store. Contemplated collecting disjointed mannequin parts. Sat outside at a Belgian cafe and sipped an Americano (me) and a beer (him). Had happy hour beers served in Ball jars at Beasely's Honey + Chicken. Enjoyed "Bartender's Choice" cocktails at Fox Liquor Bar. Talked about dream homes, upcoming vacations, the last two years. Devoured amazing burgers and fries at Chuck's. (Note: all three of those places are the delicious brainchildren of culinary design genius Ashley Christensen, and they are all now HIGHLY recommended.) Drove home. Spent the rest of the evening slipping in and out of food comas on an air-mattress palette on the living room floor. Watched movies into the night (I think. I don't remember. I blame the food comas).

It was the longest day ever, yet time flew by. A fitting tribute to the past two years.

March 7, 2012


I love how our fridge looks right now. It's overflowing with green: baby spinach, arugula, mustard and turnip greens, herbs, kale... The farmer's market is waking up, and after months of root vegetables, I can finally begin to gorge myself on myriad earthy, peppery, fresh salads.

It doesn't even really matter what's in this particular one (arugula, cilantro, red onion, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese). What matters is that it's here. Things are growing again. Spring means strawberries and asparagus and even more greens. And I also can't help but look forward to summer - huge tomatoes, okra, wild blueberries, hot peppers...

Which reminds me - I need to get cracking on our vegetable garden, so I can grow my own salads.

March 6, 2012


Top: A recent accidental portrait of myself at what I call "LOLlege Bridge" - I thought I was turning my camera off.

Bottom: Truer graffiti has never been graffiti-ed.

I own a house in Oklahoma City. I have for almost three years. I bought it because, at the time, I thought I was laying down roots in OKC. I was happy at my job, enthusiastically single, and creating what I considered my perfect and true life to be by accomplishing everything that I could for myself, by myself. Which included buying a house.

It's an adorable 1927 bungalow with hardwood floors, a fireplace, and a huge front porch. I loved furnishing it, painting it (a limited palette consisting entirely of greys, of course), being alone in it, and being able to easily walk Jeremy and Kathleen's from it. It fit.

A few months later, I got an offer to help open a new office for Third Degree. To move to North Carolina - to a place I had never even been before. To try something new. To change my life completely.

And I accepted. How could I not? That's the kind of opportunity that a lot of people never even get the chance to turn down. And then the house became an anchor. A giant adult responsibility anchor, holding me back from what I now imagined my perfect and true life to be: me, alone on the East Coast, driving to the beach every weekend, getting all my food from the farmer's market, walking everywhere around town, becoming even more independent. Definitely a renter. And yet - I was an owner.

Fortunately, I was able to find a short-term solution - renting the house out to a colleague and his wife for a year. It was ideal - they treated the place well, and I was able to run off to North Carolina without really dealing with it. Then he was recruited to move to North Carolina as well, and I was back at square one. I knew I didn't want to be a landlord - I just don't have the constitution for it. But single girls in advertising just can't handle paying mortgages and utilities on empty houses on top of their east-coast rent. So I put in on the market, hoping for a quick sale. And didn't get one.

Fortunately, that was right when Micah kickstarted his own awesome life adventure, moved out to North Carolina, and into my duplex. He got an amazing job a week before the house went on the market - and by paying half of our rent, made it just possible to swing my mortgage and my rent. Not as independent, but I couldn't have imagined anything more perfect, more true.

And that's how it's been for the last six months. I try not to think about the house, and how it's not getting any offers, and how I could put all that empty mortgage money to much better use. But I can't lie - it's kept me up a few nights. The negativity that I began to attach to the house started to affect my responsibility for it - I've let some of the utilities be cut off, because I simply never thought to forward the bills to my new address, so I was never reminded to pay them.

Yesterday morning, I got some feedback from someone who had toured the house - they commented that it would have been nice if there had been power. At first I lamented my irresponsibility, and the additional money I would have to spend to get the electricity back on. But then I had a little sit-down with myself. I had reached that point - you know - when you know you've allowed yourself to be a baby about something for long enough. When it's finally time to put on your big-girl panties and just deal with it. Be the adult that you thought you were when you got yourself into this whole thing.

And that's what I did. I called all of the utility services for the house for status updates on the accounts. I signed up for paperless billing. I paid any overdue accounts. I marked on my calendar when the next round of all of them were due. I decided to give the house a year on the market, and if it didn't sell, I would hire a management company to landlord it out. At least that way my mortgage payments wouldn't be "empty," and I could put it back on the market at a better time. It felt terribly adult, not in a fantasy-beach-farmer's-market-dreamings way, but in an everyday, man-up, fiscal-boringness way. But at least I had a plan.

And then a few hours later, I got an offer on the house.


I don't want to jinx it, so I won't say much else. But, we've agreed on a price. If everything goes through, it should all be over by the end of the month. No more empty mortgage payments. No more sleep loss. No more anchor.

And if it doesn't go through, at least now I have a little bit more faith in the universe than I did last month. I still have my plan. Something will happen. And it will be just as perfect and true.



March 5, 2012


Top: Saturday's breakfast. What Micah now calls "egg salad." Scrambled eggs topped with arugula, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and side pork bits.

Middle: Sunday's breakfast. Biscuit with honey and butter, cottage cheese (the larger the curd, the better!), and fruit salad with mint.

Bottom: Micah's Saturday breakfast. What I now call "egg piles," since he has made endless variations of them. Breakfast sausage, cheese, fried egg and jam on pita, with a side of cranberry-peanut oatmeal.

It was a good weekend for breakfasts.

March 1, 2012


Last weekend our good friend James visited. We ate, drank, and walked our way around Durham, trying to give him a feel for all the different ways it's awesome. A must-see for any out-of-state visitors is always Duke Chapel - the architecture is impressive, the grounds peaceful, the prestige evident. It legitimizes our scrappy little city a little bit - but not too much.

More Duke love here and here.