Meet Raleigh-Elizabeth

October 18, 2012

By Gabrielle.

As you may have noticed, we have some fantastic new writers here at Design Mom. I want you to get to know them better, so I’ve asked each one a few questions, starting with Raleigh-Elizabeth. No matter what she writes, I find myself smiling all the way through her words. No surprise: I smiled all the way through to the end of this little interview. (Didn’t we all have a Drew Baldwin?!) I hope you enjoy her even half as much as I do!

Q: If we only knew four things about you, what would they be?

A: I believe cooking for you is tantamount to magic and homemade chicken soup will cure nearly everything. I love to write letters. I always have a book with me. And I love anything with sparkle.

Q: How did you get here?

A: I grew up listening to public radio the way most people breathe. My parents — who were divorced — had it on in their cars, in every room in their houses, and both played it from morning until night. I’m not sure it ever got turned off, actually. It became the soundtrack of my young life, and I dreamed of being able to tell stories the way those reporters did. While my friends fell in love with Disney princesses, I fell in love with foreign correspondent Ann Garrels. I considered Harriet the Spy a how-to manual, and I read everything I could get my hands on, hoping that one day, I’d be able to tell a story as well as she did, too.

It took two masters, a Ph.D., 12 years in New York, and countless interviews (even one in which Chuck Norris called me cute!) before I realized that the stories I wanted to tell had nothing to do with hard news. I want to write about the wonderful things we see in everyday life, the things that make us smile, the things that make us happy to be exactly who we are. And thanks to some people who are great at doing just that, it’s what I get to do every single day. I pinch myself all the time.

Q: Tell us about your life today, right this very minute!

A: After trying to convince myself I do not need a cup of coffee and then being fuzzy for two hours before falling victim to my foamy cappuccino addiction, I manage to start my day with an intense love affair with Google Reader. (I don’t remember what I did before Google Reader.) Every day, I write a letter to my husband (who is an intelligence officer in the United States Marine Corps and, as such, isn’t here all the time.) and then get to work for the day. Sometimes it means spending a lot of time reading, other days it means spending a lot of time writing. Some days it’s even done in sweatpants. It’s always wonderful. Managing the house (and all the military stuff that comes with it) is a full-time job in and of itself, but I try to do one thing for myself every week day: taking time to read, baking a loaf of bread, drawing. I have found that if I take some time for me, it makes the me others get a lot more worth being around.

Q: Three things you love, and three things you don’t love at all!

A: I love Prismacolor markers, everything sparkly, and snooping at people’s coffee mug collections. I’m convinced they tell you everything you need to know about a person. I do not love the color mauve, Jack Kerouac, and professional wrestling.

Q: How do you spend the favorite part of your everyday?

A: Before the sun goes down, I take my two wildebeests (okay, dogs!) for a walk on the beach. We live about five minutes from Topsail Island, and to be this close and not go often strikes me as nearly criminal. There are always lots of families out there playing before dinner, people winding down their day with a fishing pole, and locals out for an evening stroll. My dogs chase after the birds (they’re still confused about how wings work, so they chase the birds straight into the water and proceed to look absolutely baffled that the they got away!), and we all enjoy the walk. I love the pretty pale colors the end of the afternoon brings to the shore and how happy everyone is who’s there. It’s the perfect end to a day.

Q: The last thing you saw online that moved you…

A: Julia Reed wrote a “Guide to the Holy City” for Fetch, and it took all my willpower not to get in the car and drive down Highway 17 to Charleston that minute. I should back up: While Ann Garrels may be my reporting hero, Julia Reed is Queen of Anything Ever in Print. (This kept me in stitches for weeks.) The way she writes makes you feel like you’re sitting with her sipping sweet tea at Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, Mississippi, like it’s the only place you’ve ever been meant to be. She also makes acquiring taxidermy for a party seem like a completely normal thing to do.

But Julia Reed talking about Charleston? Swoon. If you haven’t been, go. It’s America’s gem. Pat Conroy describes it as a place where everyone is ‘peacock proud of a city so pretty it makes your eyes ache with pleasure,’ and that’s just a statement of fact. It’s everything else — the way you can smell the climbing jasmine that covers the city, the way the light is just different there — and to have one of my favorite writers pen an absolutely accurate guide to my favorite place in America? Well, you can see how the highway is calling.

Q: If you were given one do-over, what moment would you choose to change?

A: I would not have tripped in front of the super-hot Drew Baldwin on my way into 11th grade English on the very first day of school.

Q: Please fill in the blanks: If I weren’t a (blank), I’d probably be (blank).

A: If I weren’t a writer, I would be bored. But maybe a bored Egyptologist.


She’s charming, isn’t she? I’m still smiling, and I imagine I will be for as long as Raleigh-Elizabeth keeps adding her wit and words to Design Mom! You can see all of Raleigh-Elizabeth’s stories here. Enjoy!

P.S. — You’ll be meeting more of my lovely and smart contributors soon!

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October 19, 2012 at 8:17 pm

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lindsey October 18, 2012 at 6:45 am

I love this interview! My path has been totally different, but has wound up a similar place: I too believe in sharing the ordinary stories, and of uncovering the majesty that exists in the most mundane parts of our lives. I’m so glad to know more about Raleigh-Elizabeth! xox


2 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 8:23 am

Thank you! I feel so welcome!


3 Aline October 18, 2012 at 6:48 am

Interesting she mention she didn’t like Jack Kerouac. I bought “On the road” some months before and I can’t read it! I don’t know why… I’m an avid reader but – perhaps his vocabulary or something like that – I still can not read. Maybe I will try again – perhaps just once – so I could really say: I don’t like Jack Kerouac’s books.

I love your blog, Gabrielle! I’m a daily reader, here in Brazil!


4 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 8:23 am

I don’t know what it is with Jack either. I just CAN’T seem to do it. Hi Brazil!


5 Aline October 18, 2012 at 8:51 am

Just in time: I checked your site ( and saw the Pride and Prejudice picture. I also love (so much!) Jane Austen and now I think I will love even more your posts!


6 alexis_gentry October 18, 2012 at 6:58 am

Welcome Raleigh-Elizabeth! Design school taught me to love anything Prismacolor, and I confess: I am a sucker for anything glittered. Good thing I have two little girls! It’s amazing what one can purchase under the guise of ‘art supplies’. ;)


7 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 8:24 am

I plan to go buy some glitter today to decorate some mis-matched wine glasses. (Martha says you can bake it on and it stays… we’ll see). But glitter totally qualifies as art supplies, yes?


8 alexis_gentry October 18, 2012 at 1:51 pm



9 Lucy Mitchell October 18, 2012 at 7:13 am

This is one of those interviews that I finish and then look forward to checking out all the links. (I’ve been enjoying her posts) I had thought Raleigh, Elizabeth was spelled like that, meaning last name, then first. Now I see I was wrong, what a really nice name!


10 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 8:26 am

Thank you! I was named after my grandfather (Raleigh) and my great aunt (see I’m a girl!). It’s a mouthful, but it’s definitely just right for me. And thank you! I hope you’ll like my posts!


11 Christa the BabbyMama October 18, 2012 at 7:28 am

Aw, she sounds so sweet :) I was wondering what was up with the new rash of contributor names! Lucky ladies, all of them!


12 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 8:26 am

You make me blush.


13 Gina @ Oaxacaborn October 18, 2012 at 7:30 am

So, so lovely to meet you! You’ve only just started at Design Mom, but already I’m swept up in your words, in your writing style — welcome! I can’t wait to read more.


14 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 8:26 am

Hi Gina! I can’t wait to get to know you better, too! Keep commenting, please! I hope we’ll be friends!


15 ajbc October 18, 2012 at 7:33 am

Raleigh-Elizabeth has such a beautiful personality! I look forward to reading her posts. Great links as well. I’m going to need to make it down to Charleston soon.


16 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 8:27 am

Hooray and thank you! Let me know when you decide to make a trek to Charleston… I’m full of lots of suggestions. It’s really a perfect place in America.


17 patricia October 18, 2012 at 8:14 am

She’s great! love her writing!


18 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 8:28 am

Thank you! Y’all are just too sweet!


19 Christina @ Homemade Ocean October 18, 2012 at 8:52 am

I am so glad you are doing interviews! I wanted to know more about who was writing!


20 Jessica M October 18, 2012 at 9:21 am

me too I was very curious about who these new people were :) Perfect timing for an introduction!


21 amy c October 18, 2012 at 9:04 am

What a wonderful interview. It’s great to know a little more about you. Your writing is smile-inducing as Gabrielle said. Nice to ‘meet’ you. :)


22 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 9:06 am

nice to meet you too, amy! I look forward to your comments and getting to know you better!


23 Jessica M October 18, 2012 at 9:31 am

Ah a woman after my own heart! I am a huge fan of Southern authors and Pat Conroy takes you to those beautiful marshy lands doesn’t he? I will check out the author you mentioned above! When I was a little girl I was enthralled with Christiane Amanpour. Welcome to the blog :)


24 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 10:11 am

thank you! Pat Conroy bestills my heart. Have you read Beach Music? By far my favorite!


25 Robert Ferrari October 18, 2012 at 9:38 am

Wonderful interview and some beautiful photo graphs.


26 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 10:12 am

Thank you! The photographer, Ellie Kurz of Dearly Loved Photography, is a complete genius. If you’re ever looking for a photographer in the South, she’s your girl!


27 Carter Higgins October 18, 2012 at 9:43 am

I’ll echo the welcome and wave a big hi! LOVE your name, too, by the way:)


28 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 10:12 am

Thank you! Yours too, Carter!


29 Molly October 18, 2012 at 11:11 am

As a person who has known Raleigh since she was a young girl (middle school) I have to say that she is fabulous and I am looking forward to reading whatever she writes!


30 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Hi Mol!!!


31 Sarah October 18, 2012 at 11:32 am

Hi! So nice to meet you! I echo the statements already made here: love your writing style & appreciate your wit! Can’t wait to read more from you. For what it’s worth, I laughed all the way through your “sorry feminists” post and wasn’t offended in the least.



32 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Oh Sarah, that makes me feel SO much better. I’m usually so good at being active with commenters… and yesterday, of course, I got the morning sickness blues… and when I finally could keep me head up, I felt so badly! The last thing I EVER meant to do was upset anyone. But, you know, it was a conversation worth having, so I’m glad we did.


33 Sarah October 22, 2012 at 7:14 am

Definitely been there (halfway wishing I could pull it down- but knowing ultimately– that would be worse!)… If you’re anything like me, you never imagined (what you deemed to be) a lighthearted post would turn so controversial! But, you got readers engaged and made people think, so it was a good thing… sorry I didn’t have the guts to defend your position in the original post! ;) Have a great week!


34 Stella October 18, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Loved this line: “I have found that if I take some time for me, it makes the me others get a lot more worth being around.” Such great wisdom! :)


35 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 5:45 pm

It’s just as hard as it sounds, too : )


36 Tere October 18, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Nice to finally meet you!! I would totally use one of my wedding’s photos too, they make me look more than ten years younger. Maybe because I was… Haha! Yo look lovely!


37 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Thank you!!! And we all look lovely in our wedding photos… don’t mind me while I try to convince the DMV when I’m 70 that this should be my license photo. And, in advance, sorry for the person waiting behind me in line.


38 Lizzy October 18, 2012 at 12:42 pm

I love ALL your articles!!


39 Corinne October 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm

So cute! Made me smile too. She is smart and beautiful and funny. :)

I’m so glad to hear that someone with such striking credentials, wisdom, and personality grew up listening to NPR. Because I have wondered many times if I am scarring my children by listening to it in the car, in the kitchen, and in my bedroom. But it is a huge intellectual and emotional lifeline to me. Welcome! So excited to learn more about you and read your wise and happy words.


40 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 5:47 pm

NPR rocks the world! And no, your children won’t end up emotionally scarred, unless you consider having to explain their crush on Kai Ryssdal maybe a little socially scarring. So happy to meet you, and thank you for the LOVELY compliments… I hope you’ll keep commenting and we’ll get to know each other!

You have all just been SO welcoming and I’m so incredibly flattered and happy to be here!


41 jessica October 18, 2012 at 7:21 pm

I love topsail. Go there every summer. I would walk there every day too if I lived 5 mins away….


42 raleigh-elizabeth October 18, 2012 at 7:48 pm

hooray! the next time you’re here, you MUST try Tatajo in Jacksonville. It’s about 30 minutes away, but the best french food you’ll have south of NYC on the coast! it’s a little store front resto… you eat outside if there’s an empty table… the crepes are out of this world and the coffee is magnifique!


43 Justine @ The Lone Home Ranger October 21, 2012 at 11:53 am

I already look forward to Raleigh-Elizabeth’s stories the most (except of course for you, Gabrielle!) so it makes a lot of sense that we have similar life stories. I too grew up listening to NPR in a divorced but happy family, and I love to write and share stories. My husband used to work in intelligence for the government but has since taken a job as a consultant in Boston. He still works a TON but is at least in our same zip code, for which I am so very thankful. Thanks for letting us meet you, Raleigh-Elizabeth!


44 Koseli October 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Raleigh-Elizabeth, I loved this interview! You are a gorgeous woman and such a talented writer. I so look forward to your thoughtful posts every day. Love working alongside you. Congratulations, too! xx


45 Chellae October 22, 2012 at 6:57 pm

I used to live in Charleston and agree that it is just magic. The food is better, the ocean in better, the history is better. And I’m an NPR fanatic, raised on it, too. My husband says I speak to think and I think it comes from so much listening!


46 Anneliese October 24, 2012 at 8:37 am

Lovely indeed! I’m really enjoying her contributions. Just fantastic!


47 kerry surface April 4, 2013 at 1:20 pm

i just found you and love the post about grocery shopping. i live in charlotte nc and WOW…..just got back from harris teeter. (no i didn’t find everything!!!)
my daughters and i always joke about going to the teeter, whole foods, earth fare, costco and trader joes!!! at least we have great places now to shop.
i am a huge fan of Pat Conroy and our new fav vacation place is Fripp Island SC. i’m sure you know he lived there for awhile but now lives in Beaufort.
glad to know you and excited to read all your posts and check out your blogs.
i also love the NC coast. one of my daughters went to UNCW!!


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