Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Week in Photos

This past week has been so busy, I couldn't even get photos of everything that happened!  Here are a few things that kept me entertained...

As you may have heard, the National Book Festival was in town last Saturday and Sunday.  My mom came all the way from Illinois to see authors, and we truly had a literary visit.  Here's Jeffrey Eugenides (author of The Marriage Plot, The Virgin Suicides, and Middlesex, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize) giving a little speech about how much he likes DC (who doesn't?).

On Sunday, Mom and I woke up early for a 6-mile run with Mia, who was so tired afterward she needed three pillows to soothe her achy muscles.  At least she was tired!

Summer joined us for the Sunday festivities!  Here those girls are, listening so intently to some grown women talk about being embarrassed in middle school; the NBF gets real, y'all.

Mom had a question for the Steads, who wrote the Caldecott Award-winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee.  They were an adorable couple!

Steve Inskeep from NPR's Morning Edition was there, too; weird to see a face when you're only used to hearing a radio voice! 

On Monday, we went to yet another author talk, this time Naomi Wolf discussing her latest work at Politics & Prose.  What a fabulous bookstore!  They have 475 author events a year; what a logistics fun-for-all that must be! 

Armswag for Tuesday morning's stroll through Georgetown.  From left: Declaration Boutique, self, gift from Jessilyn (cute owls!), Fossil, self, gift from Haley (love the beads!), gift from Mom (old, old, old from Cracker Barrel!). 

No trip to DC is complete without sweets from Baked and Wired!

I had about 15 minutes between my mom's departure and Belen's birthday arrival on Tuesday; here's JP, Belen and her roommate celebrating with Georgetown Cupcakes!  So cute.

Not pictured: Mandu with the betrothed Ana and Adam (I need photos next time!), DC United game on Sunday night (we won- currently tied for 3rd in the eastern conference and so close to play-offs), Comet Ping-Pong pizza with Mom, mushroom and dumplings for dinner on Saturday, and cute new work pants from J.Crew.  Let's hope this weekend has a little breathing room to recover! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Night Strangers

I'll be honest: I'm just proud of myself for putting this book on my hold list at the library.  It's not often that a scary book piques my interest, but DailyCandy recommended this book (last fall!  My reading list is so behind!) and they have pretty good taste in literature.
The Night Strangers is Chris Bohjalian's latest work exploring the depths of human emotion and behavior.  Chip Linton is an airline pilot recovering from a well-publicized plane crash in which 39 passengers are killed.  To move along the healing process, Chip and his wife, Emily, move their twin daughters to a small town in New Hampshire to start fresh.  Their new home is admittedly a bit dark and has incredibly creepy wallpaper, not to mention the small door in the basement bolted with 39 locks (the spooky number of locks is not lost on either Chip or Emily).  Things get complicated when the Lintons get to know their neighbors, the 'herbalists,' who seem oddly interested in their 10-year-old daughters.  Chip begins having very real interactions with victims of his plane crash, who feel the 'breathers' owe them something; will Chip actually go through with what the ghosts are asking of him?  What's with all the baking and 'tinctures' the herbalists make in their own greenhouses?  What exactly is buried behind the door in the basement?
I was hoping this would be a story of recovering from extreme loss, and coming to terms with a new place, both geographically and emotionally.  The first half of The Night Strangers is riveting and spine-tingling, with points-of-view from Chip, Emily, the twins, and one of the herbalists, and goes into the thought process of a man grappling with survivor guilt, a marriage on the rocks, and daughters trying to figure out their place in a small town.  When Bohjalian brings in the herbalists as main characters, things get a bit too 'The Crucible' for my taste, and I was disappointed with the ending.  Perhaps read through page 200ish, then come up with your own ending?

Friday, September 21, 2012

My Life This Week

 JP and Mia were my dates to Anthropologie last week; look how patiently they wait while I check out.  So sweet!

Last night's dinner: sweet potato risotto and white wine with ice.  Class all the way.
One of my favorite West End restaurants is Ris, which specializes in farm-to-table American staples.  They send out monthly e-mails about events (August was everything Julia Child, as Ris trained with Julia), and the last note on each letter is a brief paragraph about what's in season.  For those interested in September produce...

Tomatoes, eggplant, green beans, corn, melons, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers and raspberries are all on their way out. Peaches are gone :(, but apples and pears are here! Greens are moving back in - kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, lettuces along with garlic, fennel, carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, winter squash, sweet potatoes, leeks and celery.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Gone Girl

Holy.  Bananas.  This book is intense.
Several people have personally recommended Gillian Flynn's new novel to me, and I've seen it all over the web since it was released over the summer.  It tells the story of Amy and Nick Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary, aka the day Amy went missing.  There are signs of a violent struggle in their home, but Nick insists on his innocence.  Told between alternating narratives from both Nick and Amy, this novel will keep you on the edge of your seat.  Why would Amy have planned her annual anniversary treasure hunt if she was planning to leave?  Why won't Nick answer his cell phone in front of Amy's parents?  And just what is in the shed behind Nick's twin sister's house? 
That's it.  I honestly can't tell you anything else without ruining the twists and turns of Flynn's latest work, which are many.  Summer read it directly after me, and sent this text upon finishing the last page, "Gone Girl was good but a little disturbing."  At the end of the day, that's the most succinct review I've read yet.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Grilled Eggplant with Quinoa

I'll tell you a little story about this recipe.

Remember last year when I was totally gaga for eggplant?  Well, it's totally the right season for the vegetable, and I found the Sprouted Kitchen's delicious-sounding recipe for grilled eggplant with herbed quinoa last week.  I bought lots of eggplant, some quinoa, and set out to make the meal.

A few adjustments had to be made: I don't have a grill so just used a cast iron skillet, and used smoked paprika instead of qa'tar (mostly because I've never heard of that spice and, unfortunately, don't have it in my pantry).

I spent an hour and a half prepping the eggplant, making the quinoa, putting everything together, only to find out that...I don't like eggplant anymore.  What happened in one year?  I'm pretty sure I prepared everything properly, and yet I seriously did not want any of it in my mouth.
The quinoa, however, is delicious.  I highly, highly recommend it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My Life in Photos

 I absolutely love this Instagram photo of JP and Mia (you can follow me at @thelovelyprelude).  He traveled for a few days last week, and she was so happy to see him upon arrival home.

 These girls are just unbelievable.

 And strong!

 This is a little game called 'Find Mia.'  Hint: look for a black tail in the middle!

I was bequeathed this elephant pin the last time Haley cleaned out her jewelry box, and I love pairing it with chunky sweaters.  It's definitely a conversation starter.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

13.1 miles- done!

Y'all.  It's done.  I've completed my #1 2013 resolution of running a half marathon.  Holy bananas, it feels amazing to say that!
In June, Summer and I decided to run the Parks Half Marathon, and Amber said she would come up from Florida to join us!  We've spent the last few months keeping up with each other's training schedules, trading tips about how to get through the pain, and what to wear.  I've caught up with all of my running buddies to discuss tips and advice from people in the know.  On Saturday, I spent the night with Summer and Amber so we could wake up at 5am Sunday to head to the starting line.

Sunday was perfect weather for a race: 55 degrees, sunny, low humidity.  I followed Haley's advice of, "Just start running...and don't stop," and just put one foot in front of the other, quickly, for 13.1 miles.  We went from Rockville to Bethesda, MD, mostly along Rock Creek Trail.
JP said he would meet me at the half-way point with a surprise, and when I came up to the 6ish mile marker, he was there with a camera and KATRINA AND KEVIN WITH ENCOURAGING SIGNS!!  It was amazing, totally sweet, and just what I needed to keep the momentum going.

(This is at the end of the race, but the signs were equally wonderful at the mid-point!)

The course was absolutely lovely, with lots of shade, trees, and just enough puddles to keep me on my toes.  At one point, we ran through a residential street and there were people spraying hot runners with hoses to cool them down!  There was a laid-back atmosphere with the runners, which helped me maintain a positive attitude throughout.
After about 2 hours, I could tell the finish line was coming up, and JP caught me at the tail end of the race.  I got really emotional after the end; with all that adrenaline and endorphins, I just felt incredibly raw.  And sweaty.

Now, I realize this is not an award ceremony, but I'm going to give a shout-out to some pretty important people.  If I had won something and had a chance to speak, here's what would have come out:
Wow!  I can't believe I've run 13.1 miles before 9:30am!  If only 15-year-old me was here.  
Running is a solitary sport: we cannot pass the ball to someone else to complete a play or ask someone else to sub for a race.  It can be lonely to hear only your own footfalls on a trail on a Saturday morning.  But this race has shown me that running creates a community of people supporting each other to accomplish a goal that seems insurmountable at first.  Katrina and Kevin woke up incredibly early and even brought their dog to cheer us on, and Katrina gifted me a very stylish headband to make me feel pretty throughout this sweaty endeavor (which is seriously amazing.  It's Lululemon and everything; that girl is classy.).  Luke woke up at 5am to drive us 45 minutes to the starting line on a Sunday, and that boy likes to sleep in.  Summer and Amber were excellent partners to train with, and put up with the insane giddiness I got from the temporary tattoos we wore during the race.  My dad, Haley and mom all called the night before to wish us luck, and Aunt Cheryl even wrote a poetic text.  And John Paul bought me coconut water to replenish electrolytes, toweled me off after 10-mile training jogs, drove in horrible traffic to take us to packet pick-up, took these awesome blog photos, massaged my achy calves, and tells me that he never doubted I would finish this race and truly believes I can run a marathon.  God bless his crazy heart.  

I'll close with this photo, which pretty much sums up how we all felt after the race: glamorous and ready for a close-up.

JP got a ton of great race photos; check them out at his Flickr account.

Friday, September 7, 2012

My Life in Photos

Last weekend, my sister-in-law became a bride-to-be!  Congratulations to Ana and Adam; I am so excited to watch your wedding come together and celebrate your love next fall!

Appropriately, Mia and I came across this rope on the marina in Georgetown on a walk.  Love is in the air...

 Mia got a new friend this week, a cute little stuff squirrel.  She's been carrying it around the apartment and cuddles with it at night; I think they call that 'sleeping with the enemy.'

Of course, she also sleeps next to JP, and he is hardly an enemy.
She's allowed on the bed when we want to sleep in on the weekends.  It's hard to say no to such a cute face!

This is one of my awesome birthday gifts from JP.  Now, this is going to be a slightly long caption.
There is a store in Georgetown (Charm) that fills its windows with these great statement necklaces that catch my eye every time we walk past.  I've never considered myself an earthy jewelry person, but I recently I caught myself ogling some gorgeous stone pieces.  JP presented this wrapped gift to me, and said, 'I know you'd never get something like this yourself because you don't see yourself as a certain type of woman.  I think you just the type of confident woman to pull this off.'  I was a happy teary mess when he pulled this beautiful necklace out and put it on my neck; who doesn't want to hear that your partner sees the aspects of you that are hidden away, and pulls them to the forefront?  I'd always said that JP brings out the best version of myself, and here he is proving it. 
This is not a special day, no anniversary to celebrate, but I'm so glad I've spent the last 80 months loving this man. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Cove

I've extolled my love for Ron Rash in the past, so I won't delve into my affinity for his writing style and deep character development.  His latest novel, The Cove, left me sucker-punched (in the best way literature possibly can) and reading into the wee hours of the night.
The Cove takes place during WWI and tells the story of Laurel Shelton, a lonely young woman thought to be a witch by her neighbors in Mars Hill, North Carolina.  She was born with a dark birthmark, and everyone truly believes that she is responsible for the dark and gloom of the cove.  With both of her parents dead, it's Laurel and her brother, Hank, against the townsfolk.  When Hank reveals that he is planning to marry a local girl and leave Laurel in the cove by herself, Laurel begins to think that she may live the rest of her life as a hermit.
A man stumbles near their home one day, and Laurel's fear dissipates.  The stranger cannot speak, but he can play the flute beautifully, as well as help Hank prepare the small farm for the winter.  Soon, Laurel is planning a future away from Mars Hill, but how can she trust a man who cannot tell her where he's been?
This story is woven with a separate narrative about Chauncey Feith, a young army recruiter in town who is also a bit of an outcast; rather than fight in Europe, he stays behind to enlist others.  He's always a bit on edge, and feels the need to prove himself as an important person in his community. 
Their storylines meet in  a tragic way, and Rash does a great job of switching up the reader's feelings for Chauncey so you never quite know what to expect of him.  The book got off to a slow start, but ended with me staying up until 2am on Sunday to finish it.  Beautiful prose, fleshed-out characters, vivid locale...everything I would expect from Ron Rash.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sushi Roll Edamame Salad

Are you suffering from too much butter and sugar?  Do you feel as though you're constantly coming down from a nasty caffeine buzz?  Maybe you're just burnt out on summer hamburgers.

This is the meal for you.  Shutterbean's Sushi Edamame Salad will cure what ails you.  It's jam-packed with greens: romaine, avocados, scallions, even kale!  There's a delicious green miso vinaigrette, full of fresh ginger and agave!

You can even serve it two ways: above (the regular ol' Abbi way) or...

...the Great Wall of Avocado, John Paul way.  We made it for dinner last night and it was a smash hit.  I topped it off with a bit of sriracha for some heat.  
We'll be fighting for the leftovers today.  I don't know if I can take the man who built such a foodie-architectural beauty, but this salad is worth it.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

My (late) Week in Photos

 I'm superlate with these, aren't I?  On my birthday (8 days ago!), JP and I hit up the Corcoran Gallery for their free Saturday through Labor Day program.  There was even a concert going on to supplement an exhibit based on the West Coast!  Two musicians, a cellist and violinist played Brian Wilson...very cool.

JP is my art guru; I love going to museums and galleries with him.

 We went to dinner at a fancy Indian restaurant in our neighborhood, and I wore a BB Dakota dress (via Second Time Around) with my awesome Shoemint sandals.  Animal prints, unite!

I'm planning to wear this dress every day and night until it just falls apart on me.  It's so cute and flirty!

I'm not generally someone to show off gifts, but this one is too precious to not mention.  A girlfriend got me this from an Etsy shop; I can't wait to bake a pie in it!

Mia hates my Toms.

How beautiful and colorful is this tofu noodle bowl?!  I love the brightness of veggie dishes.

We were at the DC United game when Dwayne DeRosario scored his 100th career soccer goal!  He's only the 7th player in the MLS to get that many; it was pretty awesome to be there and cheer him on.  In case you're wondering how this feat compares to other sports, check out a little math here.

And let me close with this picture of Mia with her Aunt Belen.  She came over, we baked brownies, then waited on the floor for them to finish.  Mia didn't seem to mind the company.