August 30, 2012


We've started our fall garden. Round Two!

I'm trying my hand at Winterbor kale, Packman broccoli, and sweet basil (the basil is mostly me trying to cling to the last scraps of summer produce). I'm most excited about the kale - it's supposedly quite frost hardy, so I hope it produces all the way into winter. Micah is planting turnips, radishes, mesclun, and bush beans from seed. I think he's most excited about the beans - we want to make green bean casserole for Thanksgiving with our harvest.

This time, we've tried to apply some of the wisdom we've earned the hard way from Round One. We've taken a little more care in preparing our soil, and I'm keeping the majority of my crops in super-large pots on the front porch - mostly to be able to control the amount of sun they get, and only slightly because I'm more apt to take regular care of them if I have to walk past them every day.

August 29, 2012


This drink marks the end of summer. This drink is the End of Summer. I read this deliciously-photographed post not long after I found those forgotten boat ride photos, and I thought, yes. It's the end of summer, and that's okay. Because it doesn't just mean that the cabin and my tanlines and daily caprese salads are over for another year - it means that layered clothes, unbelievable foliage, and hot toddies are right around the corner (as is my birthday).

These flavors straddle the two seasons nicely - the heavy sunshine juiciness of ripe peach, brightened by mint and lemon juice, balance out whiskey's autumnal warmth. Classier types will probably want to strain this before drinking, but the idea of getting my fiber from a cocktail tickles me just right, so I left it in. Also, I served it in Micah's drinking jar, because it felt very Garden & Gun (and it essentially doubled it). Cheers: to seasons, and all the glorious change that comes with each.

August 27, 2012


Above: Sunday's breakfast. Pepper-ring egg over breakfast sausage hash with homemade hot pepper jelly. And for breakfast-dessert (a real thing, I assure you), biscuit-dough cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting.

I'll be travelling for business the majority of the next two weekends, so I tried my best to absorb all the laidback-domestic vibes from this one. We took advantage of the lovely, breezy overcast weather as best we could: tending to the gardens, planting for fall (tentatively applying some of the hard-earned wisdom we've accumulated so far), and, of course, grilling (BBQ chicken, and an experiment with bok choy).

August 24, 2012


A random tour of the bay that my mother (generously) insisted on giving Micah late one afternoon in Michigan. The water was glass until we hit "international waters" around the lip of the bay. She even let him drive home.

I had completely forgotten about this outing until I just now randomly found these photos in some poorly organized folder on my desktop. They completely caught me off-guard, and made my heart ache with nostalgia, and confirmed (along with my rapidly-fading tanlines) just how much closer we are now to autumn than summer.

August 23, 2012


One of the unexpectedly best parts about moving to this corner/side of the country has been the rich new vernacular I've been exposed to. As someone who loves words, who uses them to build stories and brands in my work every day, who always hears them float to the top of songs before the music ever sticks, it has been an utter delight to be introduced to Durham's East-Coast tinted Southern drawl, it's simultaneously genteel and backwater lexicon. I'm starting to hear bits of it in my own speech already, and I'm easily warming to the evolution.

For example. I've been playing "Beanbag Toss" for years. On elementary school playgrounds, at campground family reunions - tossing a beanbag to a slanted platform, trying to hit the hole and rack up points for your team. A simple premise, though not entirely thrilling. But here, Beanbag Toss is not Beanbag Toss. Beanbag Toss is Cornhole.


It's like Beanbag Toss ran away from home, crossed the Mississippi, started drankin', joined a freak show, and decided it needed to change it's name to properly mark the occasion. Cornhole. The verb form of which is, of course, "cornholing." So much potential there, I can't even. I've played this game more in the last two years than I have in all my years before that combined, and I truly believe it is solely because of the power of this word. Cornhole.

Cornhole cornhole cornhole. 

So when I spied a cornhole setup at Fullsteam a few evenings ago, snugly slotted in the narrow space between two buildings (back-alley cornholing, anyone?), I knew my cornhole intake would increase even further. After all, we seem to be at Fullsteam on a near-weekly basis. And who can resist a little casual cornholing between friends while enjoying excellent craft beer? Certainly not I. Happy cornholing, everyone.

August 20, 2012


Above: Sunday's breakfast. I call it "huevos leftoveros." It's tiny piles of whatever leftover bits we might have, with a fried egg, some salsa, and avocado slices on top. In this case, the leftover bits were roasted sweet potato, cannellini beans, pork tenderloin, and rice-mushroom pilaf.

It rained all weekend. It's one of my favorite things: to wake up on Saturday (...and Sunday) morning to the sound of raindrops pattering on the window, maybe some rumbling thunder in the distance, the bedroom half-dark from the lack of sun. For some reason it gives me permission to eschew any responsibilities I may have previously had for the day, and instead spend hours on the couch, or the bed, piled high with every blanket and pillow in the house, reading, or watching 3 movies in a row, drinking way more coffee or tea than I normally would.

The only productive thing I did all weekend was change out prints in some of the picture frames in my living room, and make muffins. It was glorious.

August 16, 2012


It's an exciting time to live in Durham. Well - it always has been, in the last 5 - 10 years, but right now there seems to be this particular boom of newly Kickstarter-funded food trucks in the process of setting up storefronts (Cocoa Cinnamon, Parlour), new restaurants opening, new bars in the works (I'm particularly excited for Alley 26), new boutique hotels being planned - all in a fairly small, dense area of downtown Durham. 

Of course, I wasn't thinking any of this when I first headed out the door last night. Micah and I just wanted a drink, and we didn't want to go to any of our (perfectly awesome) "usual places." So we headed to Whiskey - a place we usually go to celebrate a professional achievement or anniversary with carefully crafted Prohibition-era cocktails (or - of course - whiskey). I love that it's always nighttime in Whiskey. The interior is dark, filled with glossy wood, patina, Chesterfield sofas, and the scent of good tobacco. They have the most impressive selection of whiskey I have ever seen in my life - I usually start with a shot of Redbreast on the rocks, since Irish whiskeys are my jam. But really, you can find almost anything here. (I wonder if they could do a flight of Irish whiskeys for me? Maybe for my birthday...) 

After a drink or two, we decided to walk a few doors down to Mateo Bar de Tapas for some much-needed snackies. Mateo has been open - what, a week now?, and we were pleasantly surprised but definitely delighted to find it absolutely bustling on a Wednesday night. We grabbed two seats at the bar and took a glimpse at the (mostly in Spanish, but terribly exciting) menu before letting our bartender recommend a few plates. I think we got some sweet and sour pork ribs, a sort of mussel/shrimp salad pile, and the tomato/bread base. The plates came quickly, and were tiny and delightful. The wine list looked impressive, but we stuck with beer at that point in our trajectory. The atmosphere was great - warm, modern, and the demijohn-esque lights above the bar were a nice focus. 

Overall, the whole evening was unexpectedly exciting. That Five Points area of downtown is going to absolutely explode with development in the next year. And I'm going to be there to watch it, with a whiskey in one hand and a tapa in the other. Cheers!

August 15, 2012


From top to bottom: The chocolate mint, which has recovered nicely from my recent harvest (for ice cream). A growing cucumber and it's creepy grabby wonderful tendrils. Pepper gradient.

Oh yeah - we have a garden. And you need an update.

We had friends water Englewood Estates while we were in Michigan and Oklahoma. And they did a fantastic job. But those few weeks were the cruel crux of a strong summer (the kind that follows a totally weaksauce winter). (Alliteration!) And the garden totally suffered. Everyone's did, I think - and I'm only slightly ashamed to say that whenever we would pass by someone else's crippled garden in the weeks following, we would point it out to each other, if only to make ourselves feel better about the garden we had failed to protect against the elements. 

Neighborhood fauna continue to poach ripening produce at will. The most painful theft so far has been a softball-sized eggplant. I thought it's dark purple color and giant leaves would camouflage it - but no. 

The summer squash are gone. The garlic, too. The tomato plants became thin and too tall to support themselves. I recently cut all of them down (from about 6' tall) to about 1' tall. After a week or two of overcast skies and frequent summer storms, they've begun to regrow and blossom at a promising rate. 

The potted herbs and flowers on my front porch, however, are thriving. I think in the spring, getting enough sun is the big issue in our yard. But now - I think everything is getting too much sun. Or rather - too much heat. And the overhang of the porch protects it's inhabitants from the worst of it.

The rosemary continues, ever so slowly, to grow and bush out. The spearmint plants that took forever to sprout have come into their own, and will probably take over the entire yard next year. And there is, to say the least, enough basil to go around.

All of that being said: I still love it. And I still can't wait for next spring, when I can put what I've learned so far into action. I'm considering a fall crop as well - salad greens, maybe radishes, or beets (again). Micah is thinking of doing another round of bush beans - they do well in our yard, and in a short amount of time. We'll see. 

August 13, 2012


Above: Saturday's breakfast. Pita stuffed with garlicky egg whites, arugula, Farmhand Foods Italian sausage, sauteed vegetables, and parmesan. Salsa on the side. And Christmas-spiced fruit salad.

This weekend I celebrated Fullsteam's second birthday with much day-drinking and merry-making (related: here is a photo of me from the first time I ever visited Fullsteam, a few days after it opened - and only a few months after I moved to Durham). I spent the rest of the weekend recovering, cooking, watching Frozen Planet, and catching up on True Blood with the Bransons (something else I did a lot of when I first moved here). Good times.


Not good times: Blogger dropped my header somehow, and I unfortunately did not back it up anywhere. But! I'm choosing to see it as an opportunity to make something shiny and new. I've got a placeholder up right now, but should have something slightly more permanent up in the next few days.

August 9, 2012


Really, it's just mint chocolate chip ice cream. But I write the words, and I used three kinds of mint, so behold!: Triple Mint Chip Ice Cream. Fancypants.

I came home from the farmer's market last week with a bag of peppermint and no idea what to do with it. Yes, I am the world's most boring impulse shopper. But then I looked around the garden and realized I probably didn't even need to buy it in the first place, as I have boatloads of spearmint and chocolate mint just waiting to be harvested. Then, I realized I hadn't made ice cream in, like, 48 hours - forever! - and was looking for a new flavor to try out.

I consulted several recipes online and in my cookbooks, and ended up taking the easiest and most impactful bits from two. The recipe is mainly from my Williams-Sonoma cookbook (including a fantastic tip for creating those little shards of chocolate), but the notes and general approach are from David Lebovitz's recipe (including, for example, the significantly longer steeping time).

Mint flavor from steeped leaves (as opposed to extract) is a whole different animal. Less medicinal and toothpaste-y, more herbal and soft. Subtle, but still cooling. It took a minute to get used to, actually, but from now on I think I'll be taken aback by the sharpness of extract-based versions. And I was pleasantly surprised at the light pistachio color that the cream took on after being infused with the leaves. Just like "real" mint ice cream!

And, even though I used three kinds of mint (and two kinds of chocolate, actually - bits of milk and dark varieties I just already had), this is a recipe that's totally flexible and open to tweaking. I wondered what lemon balm or orange mint ice cream might taste like (minus the chocolate) - or even what a handful of basil would've done to finished product. (I say that, as I now have a giant bag of purple basil from the mid-week market sitting on my counter...)

August 8, 2012


Just wanted to share a quick picture of Micah and I at a recent wedding. A series of pictures, actually. I can't help but note how my smile changes throughout the sequence: "picture-ready" at first, then forgetting myself and cracking up at whatever he's just said, then back to "picture ready" - but with that flash of intense happy that just can't be faked in a smile. This guy, you guys. This guy.

August 7, 2012


Last weekend, Micah and I set aside an afternoon to revisit the dark corners of our closet and Get Rid Of Some Stuff. Really, Micah was just going to do it, but once I saw that he had started a "donate" and "trash" pile, I physically couldn't stop myself from doing the same. It's an illness - albeit one that creates a beautiful, calming, streamlined home.

He went through a few boxes that he had packed when he moved here, and had not since opened. Art supplies, trinkets, workout stuff - you know. He also made a pretty solid pass through his clothes, and ended up donating a large garbage bag full of Stuff (and throwing away and equally large bag as well). I ended up filling a paper grocery bag with clothes: work pants I'm not comfortable sitting in for long periods of time, pieces that require finicky ironing - I'm really getting picky at this point, and I love it.

Then I hit my desk. I had been meaning to clean it out ever since I found this beauty on a curb a week ago. I went through all my Important Papers and discovered over half of them weren't as Important as they had been a year (or two) ago. House stuff, moving-to-North-Carolina stuff, old tax stuff. I also got rid of some superfluous craft and office supplies that I hadn't touched in over a year.

I moved the remaining supplies into the new desk, and we're currently trying out the old desk as a bar/buffet in the dining nook. (Our small space requires some creative furniture repurposing from time to time. For example: I'm currently using the Thonet-esque bentwood chair in that desk picture - also a recent curbside find - as a nightstand right now. The Never-Ending Edit requires flexibility and a certain demented creativity.)

August 6, 2012


Top two: Saturday's breakfast. Everything bagel and fruit cup at Parker and Otis. I love how they almost panini-press the bagels, and don't skimp on the cream cheese. And obviously, cantaloupe is not my fave.

Bottom two: Sunday's breakfast. Parmesan-Romano biscuits with shisito and sweet pepper gravy and a side of cherries. An updated classic.

This weekend I revisited the Never-Ending Edit (Micah did as well = total turn-on), tried my hand at a new flavor of ice cream, rearranged furniture, and made my first reservation ever via Airbnb - all of which I'll talk more about this week.

August 2, 2012


Today is my (oldest) younger brother's birthday. William "Bill" "Billiam" "Will" Ralph Fabry. He's a typical Leo, if you put stock in such philosophy - magnanimous, independent, ambitious. Indeed, a lion. Right now he's in Chicago, about to graduate from Le Cordon Bleu while simultaneously busting his ass in the kitchen of Grant Achatz's Aviary. It's been such a pleasure to watch him come into his own over the last few years, find a muse in food (a subject on which we endlessly relate), and pursue it with singular abandon.

And today he turns twenty-six. It was a great age for me; hopefully it will be for him too. Happy birthday, Will.


On a separate note: I'm going to start incorporating more design elements into my photography from time to time. I want them to be even more reflective of my experiences, and to infuse them with more... muchness. It will also just allow me to play with typography. I hope you enjoy.