Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brown Wedges

Tee: J.Crew
Pants: J.Crew Factory Store
Shoes: Cooperative via Urban Outfitters
I've been eyeing these fabulous wedges for months, waiting for them to go on sale.  I've been in the market for some brown wedges I can dress up for winter (yes, I realize they've got an open toe, but I can cover that up with some opaque tights), and these totally fit the bill.  Would you believe me if I said they were also comfortable? 
I'm loving how this look plays with details: woven leather, small print on the pants, heathered shirt.  It keeps the whole thing from being too put-together, the death wish for any outfit.  Don't we all strive for that 'just threw this on' look?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving in Illinois

We drove 27 hours total from Wednesday to Sunday at noon.  I've never driven west from DC before, so it was wonderful to cruise through towns that had buildings painted like works of art.  So cool!
Mia was super-antsy in Illinois until Mom opened the window, put the  bean bag in front of it, and let her stare at the squirrels in the yard.  Then JP joined her, and she was the happiest camper!
Brent showed me how to fold napkins so they stand up on their own, and I added the leaf garland and squirrel placecards.  Cute!
Jeez Louise, the apple pie and pumpkin custard Mom made for dessert was to die for!  Topped the custard with candied ginger, and whipped cream.  Bon appetit!
We had such a great visit to the midwest!  Thanks for the excellent hospitality, Mom and Brent!
Last night John Paul made the monumental Squash-henge while we prepped for dinner.  What an artist!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Orange Oxfords

Sweater vest and pants: Gap
Button down: H&M
Oxfords: Urban Outfitters
Belt: J. Crew
Oh man.  When I saw these shoes on sale at Urban, I bought them asap.  How amazing are they?!  Love the bold color, especially when worn with a relatively conservative outfit like this one.
Gah, I love them!  I did wear argyle socks, which peeked out a bit and looked nerdy-cute.  At least, I hope that's how the look turned out.
I met JP for an event at his job on Tuesday night, which means free wine and crackers.  Really, I was just looking for an excuse to continue wearing this outfit.  It'll be hard to not wear it on a weekly basis!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Just a smattering of what I am grateful for this year:
Almond milk
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
My good health
Francis Field
My sister's patience for teaching me to knit for the fifth time
Real Simple
Hot lemon water in the morning
Parents who have always made me feel loved
Cappuccinos made with love by my fiance
Lavender scones
Family who is incredibly supportive of all of my life choices
Ryan Gosling

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sweet Potato and Kale Soup

Thanksgiving is tomorrow.  Gracious, this year has flown by.  Anyway, tomorrow kicks off the official start of the holiday season, at least in my book, and that means tons of food.  I love to eat, but I also want to use a bit of restraint periodically during the monthlong binge-eating fest.
If you're taking it easy before the big day, try this soup by Joy the Baker.  It's delightfully light, slightly spicy, and chock full of healthy stuff.  Kale is a great source of vitamins K and C, calcium, and antioxidants; sweet potatoes have lots of antioxidants, fiber and complex carbs.  There's a splash of coconut milk, which I thought about leaving out but am so glad I added.  It adds a lovely creaminess without the heft of cream or animal milk.

It does make quite a lot of soup, so I'm planning on freezing a small portion of it for December.  Just reheat and serve over brown rice!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fall Leaves Garland

This year, JP and I will be making the trek over to the great midwest to spend Thanksgiving with mi madre and Brent.  I've said it before, and will say it again, I love road trips!  We've got audiobooks, tasty treats, and I'm finishing up some knitting on the drive; what more could you need for a lovely day?
Because of the lengthy drive (somewhere between 12 and 14 hours, depending on traffic), we got out of food duties for Thanksgiving dinner.  Instead, I'm in charge of the table decorations, and bringing plenty of candy cane Joe-Joes (Trader Joe's makes CCJJ each year, just during the holidays, and we hoard boxes for the off-season.  They're so terribly delicious!).  This garland acted as my inspiration, although my colors aren't quite Thanksgiving-only; I bought felt last year for a Christmas craft, and didn't use it.  Regardless, I think they look cute together!
I've got two garlands, and I plan on using them as simple table runners down the middle of the table, and will also put together some napkin rings with leftover leaves.  Combine this with some squirrel placecards bought at Paper Source and a list of things we're thankful for, and we'll have a lovely table!  I'll post pictures next week of the final product.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Marriage Plot

Let me begin by stating this: I love Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides.  His first novel, TVS, reads like a beautifully relaxed ode to the brevity of youth and beauty, while Middlesex (which won the Pulitzer when it was released a few years ago) is an epic saga of a family through three generations.  I've read both books multiple times, and had very high expectations of his latest tome.  I should also mention that I didn't really know what it was about before putting it on hold at my library.
The Marriage Plot follows three recent Brown grads in the early 1980s: Madeleine, Leonard and Mitchell.  It's a bit of a love triangle, with Leonard and Madeleine being in love, Mitchell being in love with Madeleine, Madeleine sometimes having feelings for Mitchell.  Madeleine suffers from indecision and the usual female literary protagonist making poor relationship decisions, Leonard is manic depressive, and Mitchell can't decide where he falls with the whole religion thing.  The book follows each character through the year following graduation, through Leonard and Madeleine's foray into cohabitation and Mitchell's travels around India. 
To be quite honest, it reads like Eugenides did an update on Jane Austen.  There's a strong-ish female heroine drawn to the wrong guy before realizing it was the other she was meant to be with all along.  It's chick lit; I couldn't find anything to sink my teeth into throughout the novel.  While I have nothing against some brain candy, I was looking for more of a brain Sunday dinner- something that would have me pondering thoughts about marriage, our dreams vs. our realities after school, etc.  At over 400 pages, this book had no weight to it.  I suppose if you go in with lowered expectations, this could be a perfectly adequate novel.  For someone who believes that Jeffrey Eugenides is capable of phenomenal writing, I felt let down.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

White Bean Burgers

I love anything you can smoosh between two pieces of bread.  I've done my PB&J stage, Publix subs, lentil-walnut burgers, cheese steaks...the sandwich, and all of its variations, is the perfect food in my book.  It's best to not get comfortable, though.  I love trying out new flavor combinations, adding new condiments, even going meatless if the mood calls for it. 
It was calling last week when I saw these White Bean Burgers with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Rosemary on Not Without Salt.  It's packed with protein from cannellini beans, plus gets a dose of green in form of spinach on top (she used arugula) and some heat from chili flakes.  I also put some mustard and guacamole on the buns; fantastic duo.  John Paul fried up some asparagus as the side dish, and we had ourselves a regular feast!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sugarloaf Mountain

Also on my to-do list for 2011 was "Climb a mountain with Summer."  I got to cross that off on Sunday afternoon, when she, Luke, Mia, JP and I clambered into Luke's new car and head up to Sugarloaf Mountain in Dickerson, MD.  It is a beautiful space, perfect for contemplative moments with your dog.
In all honesty, we didn't hike up the entire mountain.  There are lots of trails, and the parking lot is about 1/4 mile from the summit.  Whatever; I think it still counts.  We ended up heading to the very tippity-top, and then walking three different trails.  For a Florida girl, mountains are seriously a novelty!
I wore my very favorite down vest from Eddie Bauer.  Mia wore a dashing yellow leash, which blended in nicely with the autumn leaves.  She was so incredibly happy being outside, sniffing tree stumps, running around paths, licking our hands at various interludes.  She's an excellent outdoorsy partner.
This lovely couple allowed us to throw Mia in the trunk of the hatchback and drive an hour there and back.  So patient!
I think this would make a great wallpaper.
Happy November from Abbi, JP and Mia!

P.S. It should be noted that the best part of the day, other than these fabulous photos, was finding a vineyard on the way home doing wine tastings!  It was such a perfect ending to a wonderful day!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jay-Z and Kanye West

Holy bananas.  Last Thursday, I got to see Jay and Ye perform here in DC and I'm still going on and on and on about the show.
"See Kanye live" was on my to-do list for 2011 (what, don't you have one, too?), and John Paul gifted me tickets to see him for my birthday.  With Jay-Z.  I wish I could say how much this meant to me, but words don't do it justice.  I tried to get tickets myself when they went on pre-sale, but the tickets I could afford sold out by the time I refreshed the Ticketmaster page.  I thought, Well, I'll just read about it and keep listening to Watch the Throne incessantly.  I squealed in the restaurant when JP handed over these tickets. I've been waiting for 2.5 months for this night, and you better believe I savored it.
We had seats in the middle of the arena, and it was crazy amazing.  First of all, I can't tell you the last show I saw with seats (usually, it's general admission), and it was sold out, so the buzz in the audience was palpable.  Jay and Kanye performed the first two songs on stages on either side of the bottom of the arena.  And, as if hearing them perform "Who Gon Stop Me" live wasn't unreal enough, the spectacle kicked in.
Both stages raised up above the audience, into huge cubes with screens on all sides.  They showed video of sharks swimming in a sea (it seriously looked like they were about to drop into shark cages), and a lot of animal imagery.  The video portion of the show was going with a lot of natural imagery, usually depicting the brutality of animal nature.  I was down with it; never having seen an arena show before, I was just in awe of the thought put into the visuals.
They played almost all of the songs from Watch the Throne, and each of them gave up the stage for the other to perform their solo works.  All in all, they performed about 40 songs- all of the biggies.  We heard "Gold Digger," "Good Life," "H to the Izzo," "Empire State of Mind," "Otis," "Monster," "Runaway,"...I could go on.  Both of them did "99 Problems" and I about died of happiness and excitement.
I can't say enough about how awesome last Thursday was.  Seeing both of these amazing artists perform, together, was mind-blowing.  Kanye plays the tortured yet egotistical artist, while Jay has the self-assured swagger of a man who's made it.  They play off of each other so naturally and comfortably that you almost can't imagine them touring separately.  
This post could go for several more days, so I'll just close by saying two things: if you get a chance to see these guys live, suck it up and pay the exorbitant ticket price, and many, many, many thanks to my boo for taking me as his date.  I already knew I was a lucky girl, but this certainly clinched the deal.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Sweater: J. Crew
Button-down: H&M
Skirt: Gap
Moccasins: Nine West
Necklace: Jewelmint
JP gave me the ultimate compliment on this outfit; I got home from work and he said, "Baby, you look like you stepped out of a J. Crew ad."  He knows the way to my heart!
I didn't really realize that I was into a preppy tomboyish look until reviewing at my iPhoto.  Lately, I feel most comfortable in a slouchy top with something tailored on the bottom, perhaps with some awesome jewelry or heels.  Things are pretty minimalist in my closet as of late, much to the ease of getting dressed in the morning.
 Mia gets all up on me during photo shoots.  I can't really say no to those adorable eyes!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Then We Came to the End

Joshua Ferris knows office politics.  This is a rambling, but fascinating account of life in an advertising agency in 2001, told from the perspective of the collective "we."  Although I haven't worked in a cubicle culture, it's an extremely effective way of communicating the camaraderie of a corporate office.  All of the characters, Tom Mota and Chris Yop and Lynn Mason, don't really seem to exist outside of the walls of the office; for better or worse, they're the best versions of themselves while they're at work.  Lynn has breast cancer, Tom Mota has anger management issues, Chris Yop can't accept that he's been laid off from his job... why do they continue coming into work day in and out?  After reading through the book and really feeling as though you're part of the novel, the last line will punch you in the gut with its perfection.
Ferris gets the whole thing about working in an office with the same people every day, and the trappings that go along with it.  Seeing the same faces daily is both comforting and infuriating; you don't want things to change, but you feel stifled by the at-times mundanity.  The narrative form isn't for everyone, but it's easy to fall into the rhythm of the run-on thoughts some of the passages have, and Lynn Mason's portion comes a bit out of nowhere to great effectiveness.
Although I'm a bit behind in reading this (it came out about 5 years ago), I'm so glad it finally dawned on me to add this to my hold list at the library.  Although it's not heavy, it still feels like literature.  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lentil Sweet Potato Apple Soup

John Paul's out of town this week, visiting LA for work.  I miss him a whole, whole bunch, but I do love eating "bachelorette food" when I've got full control of the kitchen.  He's not the biggest fan of soups, so I figured this was a good time to test out a new recipe for the fall.  I got it from a DailyCandy e-mail, although it originates from Soupergirl.  If it was good enough, I could entice him to try out this vegan, vegetable-laden, healthy soup.
There isn't anything in this soup recipe I don't like.  There's even cumin sprinkled in there!  And paprika!  And it's all blended together in a tasty, puree of sweet potatoes, lentils and apples.
I only tweaked one thing: added some sliced celery to the sauteeing onions, more for the health benefits than taste.
You know what?  I think this is the perfect soup for John Paul.  It's got a kick to it from the chili, richness from the sweet potatoes, sweetness from the all blends together into a perfect soup to toast some bread with and enjoy by the fire.  I hope he likes it, because this makes 8 servings!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pink pencil skirt

T-shirt: Madewell
Cami: Zara
Skirt: Anthropologie
Shoes: Mia
Earrings: F21
This was an all-around great day for me.  Great hair, great outfit, great weather.
I love both of these pieces, and just felt like the colors were perfect together.  The top is unbelievably soft, and, though the skirt doesn't offer much stretch, it fits pretty well.  With the wedges, my legs look a bit longer than usual, so what more could I possibly ask for?
Good start to the autumn!  I've got my bright pencil skirt and sparkly nail polish. Life is good.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What I'm grateful for this week...

Getting to see the first snow in DC this past weekend...short-lived, but this picture proves it happened!
While visiting my mom in IL, we went through our boxes of mementos, and came across this great baby blanket my great-aunt Maralee made.  I can't wait to use it for my own little family one day!
I bought a small bouquet for John Paul last week when he wasn't feeling well.  Beautiful dahlias and cosmos!
High-heel drag queen race last week in Dupont Circle.  I had five wonderful dates (two dogs included), and we saw some beautiful and entertaining ladies.  I particularly enjoyed this bumblebee.
Most importantly, I'm grateful for this guy.  My dad is celebrating a birthday today, and I can't wait to take him out in DC next month when he visits!  Honestly, I couldn't ask for a better father, and am so, so happy he was born.  Happy birthday, Daddy Man!