Friday, April 29, 2011

English Garden Cocktail Party

Oh, hello there.  I've got royal wedding fever.  Do you?
Well, if you do, you totally should have been in DC last night for the English Garden Cocktail Party at Hitched Bridal Salon in Georgetown!  I was lucky enough to be invited, along with a guest (that's Summer hiding behind the Wills mask...hey, she's taller than me!), to the event last night, which celebrated all things wedding.  There was a presenter from Martha Stewart Weddings, a bunch of local vendors, tasty nibbles and great people watching.
When Summer and I got there, there was a lovely little French group playing "La Vie en Rose."  We listened while sipping lemon and honey vodka drinks and eating mini shepherd's pie.  Bliss.
This picture seriously does not do this wedding cake justice.  It was gorgeous!  Way too pretty to eat.
A glass of champagne to go with the festive mood? Don't mind if I do.
The girl on the left and the one in the bright pink dress are the owners of Hitched, which is the first place I went to try on wedding dresses.  Oh my goodness, they are so gracious and have impeccable taste.  They answered a question I had about picking bridesmaid dresses without thinking it sounded silly.  Maggie Austin, the baker in the black ruffly dress, made the beautiful wedding cake above.
The goodie bag!  As though the bag itself isn't cute enough, it was filled with wonderful gifts, including a Royal Wedding Survival Kit (scones, English breakfast tea, and jam), truffles (including a chocolate engagement ring!), and the cutest thing of all...
...this embroidered hankie!
This girl was very, very happy.  Thank you, ladies of Hitched, for such a lovely evening!
(P.S. Outfit details: tank and skirt- F21, shoes- hand me downs from Haley, necklace- Lou Lou, watch-Fossil)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

I love getting book recommendations from Grandma in North Carolina; she has a fun, eclectic taste in fiction, and a lot of our favorite books overlap.  When I talked to her earlier in the month, she told me about a new book she'd read called Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, a Southern mystery.  I immediately put it on hold at my library, and devoured it in a few days when it came in.
The story focuses on two men in Mississippi: Silas, a former high school football player and town constable, and Larry, who has been a town outcast since high school, when he went on a date with a local girl and she never came back.  Larry has always maintained his innocence, and Silas has always felt that Larry is unfairly blamed for the girl's disappearance.  When another teenage girl goes missing, all fingers point to Larry; will Silas back up his claim that he's uninvolved in the case?
Tom Franklin does a great job of capturing the moodiness and intimacy of a small Mississippi town; everyone knows everyone else, and secrets are hard to come by.  The two main characters are expertly drawn, and you'll find yourself feeling for both Larry and Silas.  It's a great, quick read that will certainly make the time fly!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wedding Summit April 2011

My mom and Haley visited DC a couple weekends ago to talk all things wedding.  We had so much fun!  On Friday, they came to CUA for lunch, and it was a beautiful day.
At one of the bridal boutiques, we ran into William and Kate.  Haley was a little starstruck, but kept her cool for one picture.
Summer and Luke had us over for a delicious dinner on Saturday night.  What a great hosting couple!
Love this picture of Mom.  She's discussing fashion with Aunt Karol and checking out the view, both very important issues!
Haley with the giggles over Mia's cute face.  Sisters are so wonderful!
On Monday, I took the day off and we went on a long walk through Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown.  Such a gorgeous afternoon!
Love these two fun ladies.  We had a great, productive weekend!  Lots of tasty food and drinks, tons of wedding dress try-ons, and just a lovely break.  I can't wait to see them again in May!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fruit Smoothie

 As I mentioned yesterday, I haven't really been cooking a lot lately.  However, I have been giving my blender a workout by making lots of fruit smoothies.  I can tell when winter has officially ended for me because I get intense cravings for refreshing, light, ice cold fruit treats; having worked at Tropical Smoothie Cafe for nearly a year in high school and college, I know a thing or two about smoothies.
Let me share a couple of tips to get your appetite going:
-Add a mix of both fresh and frozen fruit to the blender.  The fresh fruit will blend more easily, and add a bit more moisture to the blades to make the whole process quicker.
-Try using a fruit juice blend; one of my favorites is strawberry mango orange juice, instead of just orange juice.
-Using liquids (yogurt, juice) will make everything go more smoothly.  If it's blending unevenly, stop the blending, shake the blender a bit, and add a smidge more liquid.
-Don't be afraid to supplement more stuff: protein powder, flaxseed meal, etc. 

Abbi's Fruit Smoothie (makes enough for 2 small smoothies, or 1 giant one)
1 banana, in pieces
1 1/2 c. frozen fruit (strawberries, mangos, pineapple, whatever)
1 kiwi, in pieces (could be oranges, blueberries, whatever)
1 scoop non-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 c. juice
1 Tbsp. flaxseed, protein powder, whatever
Throw everything into the blender and blend.  Put into a cup and sip through a metal straw, which will keep the smoothie chilled and tasty!


Monday, April 25, 2011

Hello again!

This has been quite the hiatus, huh?  Inexplicably, April has wound up being a hectic, frustrating and, ultimately, exhausting month.  My work has gotten really busy, there was a week when John Paul had to leave DC very last-minute, and I haven't even been able to get myself together to cook a meal.  (There have been a lot of cereal and poached eggs going on in the kitchen.)
However, I should mention that, in the midst of this explosion of life, there have been some lovely events.  My mom and Haley came up the weekend before Easter for wedding dress shopping and we picked out the dress I'll become John Paul's wife in, a good friend from New York made a brief stop into DC that included a very entertaining Cajun meal, and I've been cleaning out a lot of the clutter, not just in our home, but in my life.
Sometimes these events happen that seem earth-shattering and disastrous; I mean, isn't that what life is made of?  I've been struggling to find the upside in this month, and I've come up with the importance of keeping my daily life simple and free of tedious stuff.  At least then, when the unexpected comes up, there's room for it.  In the meantime, the lack of distractions leaves space for wonderful books, desserts with the people you love, and plenty of time for long walks with John Paul and Mia. 
Thanks for your patience while I worked through a lot of this, and I'll do my best to become more focused!  I'll leave you with this picture of Haley with the giggles at the strange way Mia tilted her head one afternoon; that laugh is totally contagious.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I'm so glad I have so much of this in my life.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The World Made Straight

A few years ago, I had the great pleasure of meeting Ron Rash at ALA.  He's a wonderfully talented Appalachian author who won an Alex Award for this book. He had a few copies of the book with him, and even signed mine!  Oh, librarian celebs.
Travis Shelton is a 17-year old kid who leaves his home to live with a small time, drug-dealing teacher.  His father barely notices him, except when he messes up, and he feels as though his life is going nowhere.  Leonard Shuler takes him in, recognizing an intelligence not often seen in the small town in North Carolina where the book takes place.  The two of them discover a bit more of themselves by living together, with an ending that proves that history doesn't always repeat itself exactly.
The story itself isn't exciting or groundbreaking, but Rash is a beautiful storyteller with a lyrical prose that will entrance you.  It's great to read some Southern literature that doesn't come from Arkansas, but rather from the Appalachian mountain area, which isn't seen often in novels.  I loved this book the first time I read it, and it's held up the second time around.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Baked Spinach and Pea Risotto

As much as I love the creamy comfort of risotto, it's a pain in the tuchus, and time-consuming, to stand in front of the stove and stir the rice for half an hour!  When I saw this recipe in April's Real Simple, I knew it would be on my to-do list.  I wasn't sure if baking it would be as effective as doing it stovetop, as stirring the rice constantly as it cooks helps rub the starch from the grains and create the creaminess that risotto is known for.  It's worth a shot, though!
The result is this: not as rich as when made via stove, but every bit as delicious, and quite a bit easier.  Definitely give this recipe a shot.  If you want to add some sausage or browned, ground beef to the rice and veggies, it can help satisfy your carnivore cravings. 
P.S. Our risotto isn't the same color as Real Simple's; we used an orangey vegetable broth, which affected the rice.  It's just as tasty, though!

Monday, April 4, 2011

10 miles....or How I spent my Sunday morning.

As you may or may not know, the cherry blossoms are in bloom here in DC.  In late March/early April, the cityscape changes to light pink and white and it is absolutely lovely!
In celebration of the floral change, there's an annual race during this time that is so popular, all 15,000 spots have sold out in less than three hours.  THREE HOURS!!  It's so popular in DC, a lottery system had to be instituted in order to be registration more democratic.  People want to run the race because it's absolutely beautiful: running under the trees while in bloom, passing DC landmarks like the Tidal Basin, the Lincoln Memorial, and Washington Monument.
You can imagine my surprise when a friend of mine mentioned that she had an extra bib and would I be interested in joining her?  Although I've never run that far (the most I've run is the 10K back in December, and haven't run 6 miles consecutively since then), running a 10-miler (in less than 2 hours!) is on my New Year's Resolutions for 2011.  I said yes.  Despite my having less than 24 hours to wrap my head around it.  Despite my being sore just from a one-hour dance class.  Despite the doubt I felt that my legs could handle such a distance.  I figured I had nothing to lose.  I didn't even run under my name; we missed the window to transfer numbers, so I ran as her co-worker's husband.
Well, I did it!  The trick to these things is to start running...and not stop.  I finished the race at an hour, 43 minutes, well under the 2 hour mark I'd hoped.
Seriously, the human body amazes me.
While I enjoy running for itself during the week, running a race is a different experience.  It's such a community experience; there are thousands of other people, not only running with you, but cheering runners on from the side.  It's overwhelming, and more than enough to keep you going.  Great race!  Hopefully I can do it under my own name next time.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wonderful birthday!!

I can hardly even explain how much I adore my younger sister, Haley!  She's one of the best people in my life, and I love every minute I spend with her.  Happy, happy birthday, Haley Face, and I'm so incredibly glad you were born 23 years ago.