Friday, March 23, 2012


I love this photo of JP and I; we threw a birthday party for a fun, ridiculous, awesome friend at college, and this is about halfway into it.  We were sitting on the front porch with our friends, giggling at how wonderful life was and so happy and comfortable with each other.  Our first year living together was just amazing, such a huge step to be taking as a couple; at that point, we both knew we were going to be in it for the long haul, and the whole marriage thing was a matter of time.
Tomorrow, I'm marrying John Paul and I can't wait to take that next step with the man who's become so indispensable to my life.  We still feel so lucky to have found each other (what if we'd gone to different schools?  What if we had different math classes?), and to have grown together, rather than apart, these last six years.  I see pictures like this replicated in my daily life, these little moments where I find myself looking at him and unable to hold back a smile that we fall asleep next to each other at the end of the day.
Really, what more can I say about marrying John Paul?  He's always the person I want to see, and I get to  snuggle with him for the rest of my life.  I couldn't be happier or luckier.
Needless to say, I'll be a bit out of touch while we start this new chapter with the same name.  Abbi D will return April 2.
Don't worry, I'll post pictures of the dress then.  It's almost as amazing as my man.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Happiness Project

This book came to me when I really needed it most.  Isn't it funny how life works sometimes?  I'd heard of Gretchen Rubin's memoir of a year spent on increasing her fun and happiness levels a couple years ago when it was released, and thought at the time, "Hey, I should pick that up.  Sounds like a fun, useful read."  Then I promptly got swept up in looking for a job, planning a destination wedding, traveling, working at a job when I found one, moving, etc.  Life gets complicated.  The Happiness Project is a great reminder of appreciating the small things in our daily lives and seeking out ways to create fun.
Rubin was on the bus one day when she realized that she was at risk of wasting her potential for happiness.  She wasn't depressed or incredibly down; quite the opposite, in fact.  She was a relatively financially secure mother of two who was happily married to a man she loved deeply.  However, she knew she could be happier and appreciate the things in her life more fully; thus began her year-long happiness project.  Each month for a year, Rubin tackled a list of to-dos that related to a larger picture; January's topic was clearing the clutter, so she completed a nagging task, cleaned out her closets, etc.  She tried everything from laughter yoga to reading memoirs of catastrophe to wearing socks to promote better sleeping.  Nothing in this book is revolutionary, but it acts as a great reminder for paying attention to our lives and being responsible for our own happiness level.
This would be a great beach read (I read it on lunch breaks on gloomy March days, which actually made the days seem a bit brighter), and will help you prioritize the little things.  I took away a few tips that have been remiss in my own life: let things go, cut people slack, don't let perfect be the enemy of good, etc.  Small mind reframing really helped me keep my irritation in check.  Maybe it will help inspire you to undertake your own happiness project!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Beet-Apple-Carrot Juice

This picture brings several thoughts to mind.  Here are a few of them:
-Wow, it looks like I'm drinking blood.  Do people think I'm a vampire?
-I can't believe I'm drinking something that has beets in it.  If only 15-year-old me could be here to witness it.
-What will my dad think when he sees this?
-Wow, this juice is surprisingly tasty.

Whatever this picture may make you think, I'll give the recipe below.  Try it out before judging; you may be a juicer at heart!

Beet Apple Carrot Juice
3 small beets, peeled (I used some from a pre-packaged, pre-cooked container)
1 green apple, peeled and chopped into thick cubes (I used granny smith)
4 carrots, peeled
Combine everything in a juicer.  Alternately, blend until smooth, then put through a fine-mesh sieve to get rid of excess pulp.
Serve with ice and a straw!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Last week in photos

 Summer came over for a girl's day on Saturday, and I made us some fried eggs with caramelized mushroom and onion biscuits, with a side of wilted spinach.  Oh, it was soooo good. 

 On the 10th, we went to the opening game of the 2012 season for DC United!  JP and I treated ourselves to a 10-game pack of tickets, so you'll be seeing lots of these photos in the coming months.

 A failed attempt at making sweet potato gnocchi by hand.  I'll get 'em next time.

The latest addition to our home: this lovely wood, dome-backed chair from Crate and Barrel.  Complete with pillows from West Elm.  It's my new favorite place to sit.

 My nails for this week: fiery red with one copper glitter.  It looks really cute, if I may say.

 5 days till he's mine. 
Well, I guess I'll share him with Mia.

 We had brunch at IHOP a few weekends ago; I can't say no to pancakes.

I spent my Sunday afternoon packing for the honeymoon.  Yes, I packed nearly a week early.  It all made sense yesterday, but now I'm concerned that this picture shows how completely neurotic and pre-planned I can be when it comes to travel.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Great House

I've always loved stories that are interwoven: Cloud Atlas, American Music, A Visit from the Goon Squad.  There's something intriguing, as a reader, about discovering the thread that holds characters together, and forces me to think of my own life in terms of how I connect with the people around me. 
Great House, by Nicole Krauss, connects people, not by relationships to each other, but to a large desk.  The silent main character is a hulking wooden mass of drawers, owned by (perhaps) the great poet Lorca, a Chilean writer tortured by the police in his country, a woman reeling from the loss of her only child during the Holocaust, a modern writer who feels the loss of the desk as a physical pain, a woman who watches her lover's father drive himself to solitude while recreating his own father's office.  It's a beautifully written, touching story of how our possessions can come to define us, and the delicate cord that holds families together. 
While I thoroughly enjoyed the stories and characters, I did find that some of the passages seemed to drag, and I had a hard time reading it for more than, perhaps, 50 pages at a time.  Because there is so much exposition and inner dialogue, it could be difficult to imagine the physicality of the characters; I love having a good image in my head of what's going on.  Most of this book, if it were going to be drawn out, would be a person staring into space while deep in thought, without much action.  Of course, there are some passages where something happens, and it brings the story right back into focus.  Not a beach read; you'll need to spend more time on these themes and characters than that.

Friday, March 9, 2012

My week in a few bullets

(photo courtesy of Jessilyn!)
  • This week I started wearing contacts.  I thought I was a die-hard glasses-wearer, but it turns out that people don't like nerdy-chic at weddings.  Thus, due to massive amounts of peer pressure from my loving cousins and sister, I picked up my first pair of contacts on Monday afternoon.  It took me twenty minutes to get them out of my eyes that night, but I'm down to about 5 minutes as of Thursday night.  Getting them in is getting easier, too, as long as I take it slowly and use lots of lubrication.  (Snap!)  Anyway, I feel like a real grown-up now, and especially appreciate all of the endearing texts to help get me through this first ridiculously difficult week of no-glasses!  I have such a cute family.
  • Speaking of wedding stuff, this time in two weeks I'll be getting my nails done in anticipation of marrying John Paul.  It can't come soon enough!
  • I finished Friday Night Lights on Thursday, and am really bummed that it's over.  The Taylors became like family to me, and my new mantra in times of difficulty has become, "What would Tami do?"  I got so attached to some of the characters (there is a very special place in my heart for Tim Riggins), and hope they're all doing well in fictional Dillon, TX.  Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose. 
  • Oh my good gracious, I just heard that the follow-up to The Passage will be released on October 16, and I already have my calendar marked.  Squeal!  I can't wait to read this post-apocalyptic thriller!  Read more at EW.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Sweater: Forever 21
Dress: Madewell
Belt: H&M
Shoes: Cooperative via Urban Outfitters

I've been planning this outfit for a while, and am so glad it came together well.  I love the muted color scheme, and think the Peter Pan collar sticking out of the sweater is sweet without being too cutesy.
Also, can we please acknowledge that there are some cute animal sweaters out there?  There's no need for kitten sweaters, but I think this one is pretty well done.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pancakes a l'Abbi

I love Sunday mornings.  It's perfectly lazy: I get to sleep in, we let Mia hop up into bed with us because it's laundry day, not too many plans.  I like to include some pancakes with my Sunday mornings, as it's easy to customize to the season (pumpkin in the fall, strawberries in the spring), and can tailor to everyone's taste (buttermilk, vegan, floppy, fluffy).  While browsing through the internet for a new recipe, I decided to be creative and come up with a great basic pancake recipe for what I was feeling in the moment.  The result?  Vegan milk, but full-fat butter.  Whole wheat flour with sweetened shreds of coconut.  What's your favorite Sunday morning meal?
Pancakes a l'Abbi
2 c. whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. raw cane sugar
Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and whisk.

2 eggs
1 3/4 c. sweetened vanilla almond milk
2 Tbsp. melted butter
Whisk together in a small bowl, then pour into dry ingredients.  Whisk to combine, and add more milk if your batter is too thick.

1/2 c. sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 c. toasted almond slivers
Add to batter, and stir.

Heat griddle or frying pan to medium, grease with butter, and drop 1/3 cups of batter onto pan.  Cook until bubbly on top and golden and dry on the bottom, then flip.  Pancakes are done when both sides are golden brown.
Serve with blackberry jam, butter, and maple syrup (me) or maple syrup and pumpkin granola (John Paul).  Enjoy!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Oh, man.  Tiger Mothering is intense.  Amy Chua's book about parenting the Chinese way is very funny at some points, very enraging at others.
Being a tiger mother involves making sure your children follow these rules:
-no playdates.
-no grades less than A (A minus included).
-must be first in class in every subject but gym.
-no participating in school plays.
-must play piano or violin.
As Chua will tell you, though, these rules are difficult for both child and mother.  This Eastern parenting style is heavy on setting the bar high for your child, and believing they can achieve it.  Mother and daughters (in this case) are expected to practice on either piano or violin for several hours a day (Chua listened and gave advice, while daughters practiced); grueling, yes, but necessary to have your child play at Carnegie Hall in their early teens, which her older daughter did.  Chua went on very little sleep (definitely on her own accord) while helping her children, not just achieve the goals she set for them, but surpass them; in repayment, she expected total obedience and dedication to the tasks she put forth.  The sections on her older daughter, Sophia, show that this style worked well, which her younger daughter, Lily, struggled with the system and eventually made her mother give up on Tiger Mothering.
Okay, all of this sounds unbearably difficult, almost tedious, and counterintuitive to the American/Western parenting style.  I mean, she refused homemade birthday cards from her children because she knew they put very little thought into them and she expected more.  Harsh, much?  On the other hand, is it a bad thing to teach your children that hard work is necessary in life?  Very few people are able to coast through life solely on good looks or common sense- there is a degree of effort involved in succeeding. 
My mom, Summer, and I saw Amy Chua at the National Book Festival last year, and Summer and I agreed that being able to hear her voice and inflection in the pages in the book helped turn it into a humanizing look at a family's foray into Tiger Mothering.  Chua is able to step back and see that she's being overbearing, although that doesn't stop her from expecting the very best from her children.  Some of the book in tongue-in-cheek, and it's a memoir, not a parenting guide. 
I'd definitely recommend this book, and can see how it sparked such heated debate in parenting circles when it was released last year.  Go into the book with an open mind, and try to find someone you can discuss with afterward; I promise, the conversation will be worthwhile.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hearts Galore

Dress: Forever 21
Shoes: Urban Outfitters
Cardigan: J.Crew
Cross-body bag (my new favorite!): Fossil

I bought this dress knowing I would wear it for something wedding-related; honestly, how could I not?  The hearts are pretty darn cute, but keeping the pattern to navy blue and kelly green keeps it looking fresh and not overly adorable.  Rather than going super-girly, I let my bright orange oxfords do the talking.
Goodness, if nothing else, these photos should serve as a reminder to us all to use self-tanner!  I've got to get on that bandwagon before the honeymoon!