Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Laura's Favorite Things

I was joking with a friend recently that someday I'll be like Oprah and give out my favorite things to everyone I know. Since I do love gift guides this time of year, here is a year-end/I-didn't-get-it-together-before-the-holidays/maybe-you've-given-a-bunch-of-gifts-and-now-you-want-a-treat guide to some of my favorite things from 2014.

MarketSpice Cinnamon-Orange Tea
My aunt and uncle in Seattle gave us this tea as a wedding gift this May, and it has become my absolute favorite. This tea has a great, bright flavor that has been perfect on chilly days (like today, as I write). I will definitely be ordering more when I run out!

Clancy's Fancy Hot Sauce
Made in Ann Arbor, this hot sauce is flavorful without being overwhelming. Eric and I tried it at Zingerman's one afternoon and bought a bottle immediately. It goes well on just about everything and is now a staple in our pantry.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Scary Stories

I'm late on this, but happy Halloween! I've spent the weekend reading Jezebel's scary story contest and getting chills. Our apartment windows rattle loudly in the wind and our radiators clank at random intervals, so I may not have picked the best environment in which to read these.

As a kid, I loved ghost stories. I figured out their spot in the Dewey decimal system so I could read the entire collection at my school library. Eric has pointed me in the direction of some good adult ghost fiction, and I continually search for new haunting novels. Here are a few from my past that you may feel like re-reading or recommending for your niece who is definitely brave enough to read ghost stories:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Voices Calling from a Yellow Road

Recently I've started to examine my musical taste as friends have invited me to concerts and lent me albums from (new to me) bands. Considering I haven't branched out significantly since my friends got me a Guster CD when I turned sixteen, it's about time. For me, the recurring theme is good lyrics. Songs with beautiful imagery, songs that tell stories - even if it's not poetry, I need to be able to sing along.

My sister and I used to send each other song lyrics quizzes when I was in high school and she was in grad school. One particularly memorable themed quiz was all drug-related songs, because earlier that summer I had ruined some of my mom's favorite classics (specifically "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine" from The Graduate soundtrack - she accused me of smearing her innocent youth).

She thought the song was about a car. Not Ben Braddock's, though.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


I just finished reading Harry Dolan's Bad Things Happen, a murder mystery set in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was fantastic - well paced, realistic, and complex.

Mostly irrelevant Ann Arbor photo
It was also set in a town I deeply love, which made it that much more fun to read. I could picture the spot on Main Street where characters met for coffee. I could pick out actual houses for the various characters' homes. I could imagine the trails in the Arboretum where they walked.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Autumn Reading List

I’ve been alerted to the start of school by the crossing guard at my street corner and the waves of tiny children with neon-bright backpacks streaming past my front door. The beginning of the academic year makes me want to branch out from my usual detective fiction set in small British villages. I love spending afternoons curled up on the couch with a book, and to that end, here are a few recommendations to read with a mug of hot cider.:

The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon 

Set in London in the 1920s, this novel manages to combine mystery, family drama, and history in an effective and evocative story. Meredith and a young boy arrive on Evelyn Gifford’s doorstep one late night, claiming to be her younger brother’s fiancé and son. Evelyn’s brother was killed during WWI, and the young boy’s striking resemblance persuades her to invite them to stay with her family. Meredith's motives for seeking out the Gifford family are unclear, and possibly more damaging than they realize. Meanwhile, Evelyn has recently begun working as one of the few female lawyers in London. Her small firm takes the case of a veteran accused of killing his new wife during a picnic. The story not only gains momentum through the personal and legal mysteries Evelyn confronts, but through its thoughtful exploration of post-war England and the entire country’s sense of loss.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the best love story I've seen in years

<Some spoilers>

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty isn't billed as a love story. It's an adventure story, a travel story, a story of leaving home. Within the first scene, I thought I could guess the rest of the movie. Walter (Ben Stiller) would set out, have adventures, become interesting, and then Cheryl (Kristin Wiig) would fall in love with him because he was no longer boring.

After watching this movie, I began researching airfare to Reykjavik.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Love That Dirty Water

The first hints of spring and autumn always make me miss New England. Since 2007 I've spent a few summers in Massachusetts, but I effectively moved away when I was eighteen. While Michigan does have beautiful landscapes and Chicago has a lakefront, these seasons make me wish I was back on the beach in Ipswich, debating between fried clams or fish and chips for lunch. It's one of the many reasons I hesitate when answering the question "Where are you from?" when it comes up overseas. "Well, I live in Chicago, but I grew up outside Boston..."

A Dunkin Donuts ad? I must be in Boston.
With that, I give you the top five reasons I will pretty much always identify as a New Englander:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

New Pieces

After a long hiatus from writing, I've finally gotten back on the wagon!  Main Street just published two pieces of mine about wedding planning. 

Wedding Budget Relativity
Because after two years of planning a wedding, I've stopped flinching when someone tells me that a bouquet costs upwards of $150. For this, I got to interview Elizabeth Clayton, a Bay Area wedding planner whose Get Sh*t Done articles on A Practical Wedding have contributed significantly to my sanity in planning this whole thing.

Financially Illogical Wedding Traditions That I Still Can't Avoid
I got to interview Meg Keene, the founder and editor-in-chief of my favorite wedding blog.  I'm hoping it wasn't too obvious that I was ridiculously excited.