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.

October 19, 2012


Above: I just got some sweet new business cards (cleverly designed by a colleague to address varying levels of business-card-usage across the agency).

The evening I got back from Asheville, I opened a particularly design-y bottle of cabernet, and poured myself a big, fat glass. I told myself I couldn't drink it until afterwards. Micah was making us dinner, and blessedly ignoring my pacing and general spaced-out edginess. I stepped out into the backyard to spare him further craziness, and paced a little more. I told myself I couldn't go back in until afterwards. I felt a few raindrops - and was secretly glad Mother Nature was calling me out on my procrastination.

I called my creative director, and told him I was quitting.

That might sound overly dramatic. But it was, for me, at the time. I've only had one job since I graduated from college, and this was it. It's all I know. It's where I learned to appreciate the finer points of print and audio and television production. It's where I discovered a knack and a passion for writing. It's where I quickly came to understand the value of strategy and research behind creative - the function before the form. It's where I spent six years of my life.

So why am I leaving?

Because I'm starting to figure out what I want my life to look like - in the grand scheme of things, and in the day-to-day sense. I'm also starting to figure out what I'm good at, and what I want to do with those skills - the kinds of people I want to help, the kind of impact I want to have. And it's just not possible with the job I'm currently at. It was a strange realization to come to, because it's so intangible. I wasn't necessarily unhappy, per se, but I knew I could be happier. And once I knew I could be happier, it was impossible to not start dreaming, and scheming, and reaching.

Next Friday is my last day as Senior Art Director at Third Degree Advertising. It'll be a half-day: I'm going out to one last lunch with my co-workers, and then I have a massage scheduled that afternoon. In the coming weeks I'll delve more into what I'll be doing professionally, as well as the amazing impact it will have on my personal life and day-to-day schedule. Total dreamings - none of which would be possible without Katheen's permission to think big, and Micah's support, which he offered fully and without reservation, even before I had any sort of plan.

Cheers: to change, and growth, and the future (and Fridays! because it's Friday).

October 16, 2012


From top to bottom: Shake Shack, and cherry tomatoes at the Union Square Farmer's Market. Murray's in Greenwich Village. Souvenirs: all food.

Ah yes, the food. I kept a running list on my phone of all the places we visited and passed and toured, and I know I'm still missing a few. Natalie and Travis advised sharing everything we ate, and that was the best  advice I can give anyone else doing a "food tour" of anywhere. Share everything. It was perfect; we were never completely hungry, but never completely stuffed, either. The walking helped.

We split an everything bagel with schmear from Ess-A-Bagel while quoting 30 Rock infront of Rockefeller Square. We split a burger and fries at Shake Shack (the one near the Flatiron) while resting our already-sore feet. We did not, however, spilt iced chicory coffees at Blue Bottle - a lady must draw the line somewhere. We split cheesecake from Carnegie Deli, grasshopper pie from Milk Bar, and a forty of Newcastle from some bodega in the East Village.

When prompted (our guides kindly tailored the tour to our whims), I told Natalie and Travis I wanted see either Alec Baldwin or Central Park, and Micah wanted to eat pizza. So the one sit-down meal we had was dinner - we went to Motorino in the East Village for said pizza (walking around Central Park looking for Alec builds quite the appetite). It was amazing. Highly recommended, though I will be the first to admit my complete ignorance of the alternatives. We split a bottle of Gragano and two pizzas: one with spicy soppressata and roasted garlic, the other with smoked pancetta and brussels sprouts. No one could decide on a favorite - always a good sign.

I honestly didn't realize all my souvenirs were food until I got to the airport and took stock of my backpack. Mast Brothers chocolate, which I would've bought - and loved - for the design alone, but tastes complex and carries a charming "homemade" texture that I'm still enjoying. Macaroons from Bouchon Bakery, which marked the first time I had ever tried macaroons. I've always wanted to make them (and will!, now), but had wanted to experience "real" ones before I took a shot at it. Ethereal and elegant. A real lady-dessert. And a corn cookie from Milk Bar, because David Chang is a character and his cookbook recipes are so strange and unwieldy that I just wanted to taste as many of the treats as possible (conveniently being made by someone else, as they were). The corn cookie tasted like all the best parts of original Cap'n Crunch without cutting the top of my mouth and coating it with wax. Nostalgic and playful - I think that's the point of his desserts, and it comes off clearly.

October 15, 2012


Above: Sunday's breakfast. Fried egg with Parmesan crust (Micah based this on my favorite dish at Mateo - a duck egg fried on manchego and slathered with romesco sauce), caramelized onions and bell pepper (from the garden!), breakfast sausage, arugula, farmer's cheese, all sopped up with slices of pan de campagne from Loaf.

This weekend, Micah's friend James paid him a surprise visit as a belated birthday present. He's been here a few times now, so it was nice to not have to play tour guide, and instead focus on a few local favorites and chill.

This week I'm rearranging the living room to finally accomodate that sweet desk I found curbside a few months back, making something out of the huge butternut squash I bought on a whim recently, repotting some sunny yellow mums, and taking my first yoga class ever.

October 10, 2012


From top to bottom: Super-intricate building somewhere in Manhattan. Bleeker Street Records in Greenwich Village. The El Dorado, as seen from Central Park. The Empire State Building, as seen from Bryant Park. St. Patrick's Cathedral, under construction. Radio City Music Hall. Fancy building on the edge of Central Park. All photos were taken with my iPhone, and the square ones are from my Instagram account.

Manhattan's sheer verticality had the biggest impact on me. Seriously - my neck was as sore as my feet, and that's saying a lot. You could easily tell the tourists from the residents by who was looking up, and who was looking down. There is just so much to absorb, visually - and you'll miss half of it no matter where you look.

I loved how seamlessly the old, intricate buildings co-habitated with the sleek, new skyscrapers. A great study in texture and scale and density. I love how small the people look in all of my photos, and how their seemingly tidal movements contrast the buildings' immense solidity. And yet the whole city vibrates. Far above you, and far below you.

October 8, 2012


Top: Saturday and Sunday's breakfast. Everything bagel with plain cream cheese. This one was from Ess-a-Bagel in midtown Manhattan, the other one was from some bodega near MoMA.

Bottom: Crossing the street in front of Grand Central Station.

This weekend our good friends Natalie and Travis surprised us with a whirlwind overnight trip to New York City! A few months ago, they told us to block off this Saturday and half of Sunday for a mystery adventure. They told us what to pack and that they would take care of everything else. To be honest, I thought we would just be taking a trip to the beach or something (which would have also been awesome, as Micah has still never been), but then we pulled into the airport (before sunrise) and they revealed that we'd be taking an introductory food tour of Manhattan! I've never been so surprised in my life. Neither Micah nor I have ever been to New York City, so everything was new to us. Natalie and Travis were the perfect tour guides - excited, knowledgeable, and prepared (and they're fellow frugal foodies).

More on the trip this week: where we went, what we ate, and what I consider souvenirs.

October 4, 2012


I'm lucky to be in a relationship wherein both of us love (and are both awesome at) cooking. On any given night, at least one of us wants to cook dinner, or wants to treat the other to dinner out. It works out well, to say the least.

My favorite arrangement is when I play sous chef to his chef. Teamwork! I love preparing, washing, and chopping all the raw ingredients and having them ready (and organized beautifully, of course) for Micah to do his chef-thing with. Maybe it's the order-driven Virgo in me, or the infographic-inspired art director - but there's nothing prettier than a plate or cutting board full of neatly sliced/chopped/diced veggies that are about to be made (by someone else) into a delicious meal.

October 3, 2012


Micah and I just got back from a fabulous long weekend in Asheville, North Carolina. We ate, drank, and walked our way through downtown, West Asheville, and the River Arts District. We toured Highland Brewery. We had sexy tapas at Cúrate, amazing coffee at Posana, great cocktails at Sazerac, and fun tacos at White Duck. We had barbeque for breakfast at 12 Bones, and breakfast for breakfast at The Green Sage, Sunny Point Cafe, and Early Girl Eatery. (Every restaurant and bar we visited exceeded the high expectations we had for them. I would highly recommend any of the places I just listed.) We turned off our alarm clocks and abandoned our laptops. The weather was cool and overcast the whole time, the leaves were just starting to turn, and our airbnb apartment had a private porch next to a modern chicken coop that we pretended was ours.

It was an amazing vacation: delicious, restorative, motivating. Now I just need to schedule another one.