Saturday, December 20, 2014

making | rosemary olive oil cake

This has been a whirlwind week for me, but when one of the organizers for the company Christmas party emailed to remind me of the dessert contest with gluten free category.  I couldn't resist.  I was half-cringing when I replied that I'd love to bring something and to save me a spot.

I figured that I'd run to the grocery at dark o'clock in the am and whip up the cake before heading to work and then finish it off over lunch.  Tight, but doable.  Everything worked out in case you're wondering.

Brooke suggested that I make this cake again, I'd first made it this summer for a party that I catering sweets for.  The hostess picked out the recipe and I wasn't too sure, until it was in the oven, then I immediately made a second cake because I needed to taste it!  The next morning I was looking forward to having a slice with my coffee, when I discovered that Calvin got to it before me and the only thing left was a crumb, too small for a mouse.

Anyway, its delicious.  Light, lemon-y, and the rosemary adds a surprising herbal flavor.  The glaze keeps everything moist and if you throw a few sprigs of rosemary on top, it'll look extra-fancy.  I lost the grand prize to somebody's almond cake, but rumor has it this was the runner up.

Recipe here:  Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

The only modifications I made were using Cup4Cup in place of the flour, 2% instead of skim (eeew!) and baking it a bit longer because I was using a deep rosette cake pan.

Bon app├ętit!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

doings | crossfit foundations

I just completed my first 5 Crossfit classes.

After hearing so many mixed reviews of Crossfit, all of them falling into one of two categories, either "I love it!" or "Those people are crazy", I entertained the idea for a few months.  I'm a "calculated risk taker" kind of girl.  And very unathletic.  But after doing some not-so-sneaky research and listening to my brothers talk about it non stop, I decided I was going to sign up for the 5-night Foundations class (if there is one thing I learned through my scuba diving ordeal, it is, try before you buy).  I figured that 5 classes weren't going to kill me and I was really hoping that I'd love it and leave with a new hobby.

Walking in the door that first night was absolutely terrifying.  Actually, walking in the door EVERY night was terrifying.  The smell of rubber mats, sweat and fear met me.  Across the room, there was a man doing pushups.  While standing on his head.  The owner walked over and introduced himself and said "don't worry about him, he's just cooling down over there".  Of course.  The rest of my class arrived and we began with a warm up that was something like wrapping my one leg around my neck three times, doing a lunge with the other leg and then having to find my elbows and put them flat on the ground.  Our coach looked like he was chilling on the beach and my legs were a quivering mess.

Then we moved onto our basic Crossfit moves.  We spent 45 minutes going over the proper form of for pullups, burpees and pushups.  I was exhausted.  Mentally I'm thinking "you've got this Abbe, they'll probably have us do 5 more, 10 at the most and then let us cool down and go home".  Probably.  Then the coach says "okay, now were going to move onto what we call a WOD or Workout Of the Day".  Hello?!?  If that wasn't a workout, then what did we just do?  Let me tell you, our WOD included a few more than 10 MORE burpees among other delightful things, like pull-ups.

That was the first night.  The other nights included squats, crunches, ring dips and the alphabet soup code that make up Crossfit exercises names.  The coaches did an incredible job of making sure that we got all of the movements correct so that we will be able to perform the exercises quickly without hurting ourselves.  I had no idea I was so uncoordinated!  I, however, was not surprised at my fitness level.  This occasional jogger is really out of shape.

One night found me sprawled on the ground, forehead to the floor, 2 seconds away from crying my eyes out, because I couldn't do a pushup or even a modified pushup because my kneecaps were so bruised from burpees the night before.  It was a low point.  That night I saw a little bit of why people love Crossfit, I was the last one to finish the WOD, the last 10 pushups weren't happening and everyone got back down on the floor and did those pushups with me.  (it was really beautiful y'all)

I finished the course and while I'm not totally in love with it, there must be a slight affection in my heart because I signed up for the next 3 months of classes.  I'm also pretty sure that I signed something last night that said I'd look like a supermodel in 3 months or my money back.  That line was definitely in the contract. Haha!  With workouts this intense, it had better do something.

Working through all of that fear and physical exhaustion was such a good experience for me.  I'm not the type of person to exercise hard on my own, and having coaches that push me is great.  My brothers have also been supportive, in their own sweet little ways.  Dan and I have the same mobility issues and he reminds me everyday that I'm not an expert in all things Crossfit (what?!?).  The best part is talking about it when you're done, having someone to commiserate with when it hurts to walk up the stairs.  I told him that he was welcome to order me pink lifting gloves for Christmas.  He said he was in no way going to enabling me to be that much of a wimp.

And that is precisely the kind of support that I'm talking about.

Monday, December 8, 2014

finds | incredibles collector's phone

This is probably one of my favorite thrift store finds.  Of all time.  The funny thing is that the scarier the store, the better the stuff inside.  Sorry, that's just how it works.  

I ventured into said "scary store" a few weeks back, remember the ugly sweater search?  While this shop didn't have any Christmas sweaters, I did find a gorgeous vintage wool cape that has been so much fun to wear.  Ahem, another story for another day...

Anyway, back to my PHONE.  I was on my way out of the store and saw that it was sitting on top of a jewelry case.  Hmmm.  I kinda checked it out and decided to move on.  Wrong move Abbe.  The second I got in my car, I instantly started thinking about it again.  Then I googled it.  Because I'm slightly crazy or so my sister said after I refused to stop talking about it all afternoon.  It was all her fault for not making me buy it right the and there.

Blinking lights.  It had blinking lights!!!
Among other fabulous features.  Spandex suit and batteries not included.

The deciding factor for me in going back to the thrift store (something I never do) was the fact that this little guy was for sale of ebay for upwards of $60.  Can you say collectors item!!!

I brought Miss Grace along with me for moral support and we marched back in to claim my prize, which was now on sale for an extra 30% off!  Just when you thought things couldn't get any better!  Haha!

Then we made a pretend superhero phone call/photo op in the target parking lot and sent it off to our closest friends.  I was Elastagirl (of course) and she was Violet.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

doings | a little bit of a lot of things

As I mentioned before, I took a little break.  November was a good time for me to attempt to relax a bit.  I reread one of my favorite novels, traveled, spent less time on my phone, did some writing.  It was great!  Not instagramming has left me with a collection of delightful little things that have happened over the past month, and because I'm usually terrible about going back and blogging things,  here are a few snapshots of what I've been up to.  Some of these photos will probably be expounded on in later blog posts (probably... haha!)

Chasing fall in North Carolina...  The last few days of gorgeous colors!

Oh, and I got to see my best chum Anna for a few days!

While up in the air, I flipped open my American Airlines magazine and saw this article.  While in Normandy last June, I had the pleasure of meeting these men and their group from the AirPower Foundation in a tiny restaurant one night.  Americans have a way of attracting other Americans.  It's because we're all loud.  Ahem.  It was such a memorable experience, Captain Frank Padilla, after grilling Anna & I on our motives for coming for the 70th Anniversary of DDay, presented us with commemorative coins made for the event.  If you ever want to see it, just ask, I always carry it in my purse.  Be warned, asking to see it means that you will have to endure my long winded stories.

Rita's Italian Ice in Naples, FL.  One of the best things I've ever ate!

My magazine cover came out!
After slacking off on running for about a, um, er, year... I ran the 5K Turkey Trot.  My time was decent.  At least for me, and it was the first time I've run 5k without stopping!  Races are so much fun!

This guy, however, has not been slacking off in the athletic department.  He's not a runner, but his overall fitness level from Crossfit had him placed 2nd in his age group.

Our first big snow.  And very scary road conditions.
Welcome to winter in the north.

A very simple Thanksgiving table.  I hand sharpigraphed (sharpie marker + calligraphy-ish skills) the place cards.  Next time remind me to give myself a few days to get that done.  Hand cramps!

Trimming the tree with these cute elves!  

Public Service Announcement:  both of these attractive people are single and on the twitter, 
I'm still not cool enough to hang out with the twitter crowd, but if you are, you should follow along.  @BrookeAlline and @danielrpowers

Ugly Sweater Party games!  Marshmallows and chopsticks make for a really good time!


And, last but not least, the gorgeous styled shoot that I worked on with friends last march, was finally published!  You can read more about our "Wedding Brunch at the Hunt Club" on Wisconsin Bride Magazine & Kathryn Grace Photography. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

thoughts | november

Dear family, friends, acquaintances & other,


It's starting to delight the socks off of me (wait! I never wear socks.  anyways...), as I find out how many readers I have.  For the longest time it was just me typing out some words about some stuff and my 10 year old sister would read it and laugh a little.  Now I'm quite confident that I'm up to at least 9 readers.

According to my blog analytics, which are hilarious by the way, I can see what people are googling to find my blog (my favorite is "is Topo Chico better than Perrier", haha! I did write that, perhaps Topo Chico would like to sponsor me and send me on a tropical vacation?), I digress.  But it is fun to be able to see the clicks that come in everyday and I do love it when friends mention that they've read my blog.

I began journaling when I was about 17 and didn't miss a day for years (my future grandchildren will read this and die of boredom), it was a lot of nothing, but I did start to develop a voice and found that I loved to write.  I'm a thinker, my brain is always going 100 miles a minute and writing slows me down and brings some clarity.  My sister @BrookeAlline keeps telling me that I should stop thinking so many thoughts, my brain might blow up.  If she only knew.

So I blog.  To keep the brain from exploding.  Or something like that.  It's a public record of what I want people to know about my life.  Honest, but not too personal, sometimes funny, mostly boring. Most importantly, it keeps me writing.

November has been quite eventful, but I feel like its the calm before the storm leading up to December.  I took a break from social media, deleting my apps (I discovered that if I'm bored, muscle memory takes over and I'm tapping without even realizing it.  Deleting the app = problem solved).  Deactivated my Facebook, and haven't missed it once.  Pinterest on the other hand, well... Next time I'll include that in my list of things to avoid.  But I'm planning a bunch of things right now and its my favorite party planning helper.  -ish...

We hosted Thanksgiving on Thursday (of course), with a slightly smaller crowd than last year.  Slightly.  It was a good one.  I settled on the thing that I'm most grateful for this year.  That through many "dangers, toils & snare, I have already come, 'tis Grace that brought me safe this far and Grace will lead me home".  I've tried to make a conscious effort to thank God for the hard things in life and realized that He has brought me through many trials and will continue to.  As Christians we are not called to a life without suffering and hardship, but we are able to endure because God is with us.

And there you have it.

Speaking of parties, our first Christmas party is tonight.  Mom swapped the house out for Christmas decor yesterday and we trimmed the tree last night.  I'm curled up in the parlor looking at it now.  We went for a classy mix of metallic as well as red and green.  And just a touch of tinsel.  Haha!

It's our 4th annual Ugly Sweater party.  I'd just like to say that we were on the early cusp of this trend.  Our first year, sweaters were everywhere and like $1.  This year, certain members of my family, who shall remain nameless, spent $20.  On ONE sweater.  At the GOODWILL.  Its highway robbery I tell you.  Brooke and I were not about to let the corporates over at Goodwill dictate our Christmas traditions, we went to the grungiest thrift stores around and picked up some tremendous little duds.  Mine cost $1.99 plus the $4.99 for the vintage plaid wool skirt that I'm wearing with it.  Instant Christmas cheer!

We've got about 30 friends coming, the largest party we've hosted yet in our little rental.  It should be fun though.  All the major party planning books tell you to over-invite anyway, it makes for a snappy time.  That, and all the food.  Good food makes for the snappiest of parties.

I've got to get back to my lists for the party.  Food to make, things to set up, games still left to figure out, prizes & scoring system, food to make, frosting!, shovel the front yard, er, sidewalk, more food... You get it.

Be back in December!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

thoughts | the last weekend of autumn

This weekend...

In my corner of the world, the middle of October signals the end of autumn and as the last leaf falls there falls with it our only hope of warmer temperatures and we brace ourselves for the return of the polar bears.  Or winter.  

We had an exceptionally stunning autumn this year.  Our town managed to make a "Top 10 Fall Color" list and brought with it, hoards of people.  The usual "summering" crowd made another appearance and our streets were once again crowded with tourists in white socks and hiking boots. And Land Rovers (one simply can't enjoy adventuring without a proper luxury SUV!).  But that was early October.  Once we passed the peak, everyone went home and our little town was quiet again.  We were just about to settle in for a long winters nap and then then the weather changed.  This past weekend was a complete bonus.  Gorgeous temperatures in the 70s, sunshine, and just enough color left on the trees to make the everything glow!

I woke up early-ish and was about to grab some coffee when I heard a knock at the door.  Hang on, let me back up...  I first got out of bed because Cal was convinced that he heard a strange noise in the garage and I quote "Probably a mouse banging on the door with a hammer".  Probably not.  Anyway, looked around for a sparkly princess shoe to use as a weapon and when I couldn't find one, I bravely opened the door.  It was nothing.  No mouse, no hammer, no anything.

Imaginative little children.

So anyway, the real knock at the door was our sweet friend (Hi Anna!) who was supposed to meet my sister Mim for a morning of trail riding.  Mim had disappeared into thin air and I was like "Hey! I'm sure she'll be right back, do you want some coffee?"  Heeheehee!  Anything to distract from the fact that I had just answered the door in my pajamas.

After all of that excitement, I was totally awake, and it was Saturday.  And I get cabin fever very easily and once I opened the front door and felt that wonderful breeze, I decided that staying in was not an option.  And also, an early morning meander through downtown sounded quite lovely, sort of like a modern day Audrey Hepburn, only with a gluten free bagel instead of a croissant and jeans instead of a black evening gown.  I also decided that putting my makeup on was a good idea.  At this phase in my life, I can't be too prepared to bump into a handsome stranger. 

Driving down the hill into downtown was breathtaking.  The lake was dark blue and sparkling.  Almost all of the piers have been taken out by now and stacked on the shore, but the few boat owners who were late to pull their boats out of the water were smugly zipping around the bays.  Our little library, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright's protege, was beautifully framed by a few bright trees.  I walked over to the bagel shop and ordered a gluten free bagel (extra crispy) with blueberry cream cheese, because I'm fancy like that, and then remembered that the latest Southern Living mag was out and due to our recent move and the fact that I've had the mail forwarded so many times that it throws everything off for a few days or more, it might maybe be in my mailbox!  I meandered over to the post office, overcome with joy because I love living in town (so much!).

No date with destiny at the post office, but my magazine was in my little box, one tall in a grande cup americano with cream later, I was sitting on the patio at Starbucks reading my magazine and trying to figure out how to make all of this last.  The coffee, the smell of the leaves, the EVERYTHING.  I was feeling very nostalgic about life until I was brought back down to earth with plans to meet my friend Sophia for a little leisurely shopping action.  

I don't want to brag, but we're pretty much professional thrift store shoppers (Brooke can be included in this club as well, she just wasn't feeling it this weekend).  Give us a few hours and we'll locate every designer brand in the place, along with vintage clothing and Anthropologie-worthy housewares.  I tried on the most fabulous 1980's party dress, I'm not sure why, but some 80's clothing suits me a little too well.  Maybe it's the jewel tones or the slightly over sized scale.  Maybe its because I'm 92 at heart...  Anyway, I put it back on the rack.  Just couldn't see it fitting into the dress code for any upcoming parties or weddings (black velvet sweetheart necklines top, emerald green satin full skirt and orchid purple sash.  WITH BOW!).  Not feeling it?  That's okay, neither was anyone else.

Friends of ours hosted dinner for the church ladies later that night.  I had every intention of leaving in time to get some packing done before bed, but then we got talking and laughing about important girly topics and the next thing I knew it was 11pm.  Which is the equivalent of 3am for this morning person.  Hey!  I'm not one to break up some good fellowship!

Well that was long enough.  Sometimes I have a lot of words to say, which is why it's taken me approximately 9 paragraphs to tell you what I did on an uneventful Saturday in October.

How was your weekend?  Any plans for this upcoming weekend?

Monday, October 20, 2014

quotable | little tiny baby ones

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm rooming with a 7 year old little girl for the next year.  

I'm rooming with a 7 year old.

Little girl.

Let's just let that sink in for a minute.


So, aside from the pink things everywhere (oh wait, that my stuff, I mean the "extra" pink things), the fabulous Holly Golightly eye mask that she will NOT sleep without every night, and the turtles that I feel are TAKING OVER my life (she loves turtles.  Y'all, I will never understand.)  Aside from all of that, it hasn't been too bad.  Just don't ask what she thinks.  Miss Grace will undoubtedly tell you that I'm the meanest sister in the whole world and keep her up at night because I wont stop talking.  

"Don't listen to that man behind the curtain!!!"

It's been great.  I really love her crazy little personality.  The other morning, she woke up giggling and I was a bit concerned (Did you hit your head, Grace? Again?), then she told me.

About her wonderful dream.  

Unfortunately it was a dream and not real life.  Real life was oatmeal, not cinnamon rolls.

Friday, October 17, 2014

doings | gone with the wind turns seventy five

Did y'all hear the news?

Gone with the Wind had it's 75th birthday.  It's been a full 75 years since we first watched Miss Scarlett flirt with those Tarletan twins at the 12 Oaks barbecue.  75 years from the moment we cried as Atlanta burned and were convinced that tomorrow would be a new day.

And by "we", I mean, not me.  I was sadly not around for the original theater release, although my siblings might disagree with me.  They've taken to calling me "grandma" lately.  Which makes sense because I'm 92 at heart.  I was once told, by a man who recently celebrated his 99th birthday, that "you're only as old as you feel in your heart".  Bob Hope told him that.  I love Bob Hope and I do believe that 92 would be about as accurate age for me as you could guess.

Anyway, back to Miss Scarlett.

For two nights only, select theaters put this movie back on the big screen.  It was amazing to see how the quality stood up to modern movies.  After all of these years, its still a pleasure to watch the beautifully filmed scenes play out as the superb actors do their thing.  It's a timeless story of how people react when faced with difficult situations.  And one of my favorites.

I've read that most Southern women identify with either Scarlett or Melanie.  Which is funny to me, but also true.  It's not a happy book by any means, I read it cover to cover in about two weeks last winter.  All 732 pages, it was too cold outside to do anything else.  I just read and dreamed about warmer weather.  And got so very wrapped up in the drama.  Scarlett herself is a fascinating study, I just wanted so badly for her to break down, to be human, to show a bit of warmth.  But she never does.  She is so brave, but her bravery boils down to nothing but selfishness.  All of the characters really are fascinating really, sweet Melanie, wimpy Ashley,  shocking Rhett.  We all have our favorites.  My Mimi says that they are representative of the four main temperaments, which is probably another post for another day.

Tell me, did you get the chance to see this is the theater?  Have you read the book?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

photographed | my people | summer 2014

These are my people.  All nine of them.  And I love them.

It amazes me to look at them to see the variation of our genes.  Our theme this year was "bohemian family band", hilarious when you understand that we are neither bohemian or musicians.  I gave the kids a color scheme and generously offered that they could bring along any props that made their hearts go pitterpat.  We had an Indian headdress, various stringed instrument including a uke, coonskin cap, a coffee grinder, and Rosemary the turtle. 

Daniel tripping over a clump of clover...

It's Abbe Crocket and her glam sidekicks.

Do-Re-Mi and all of that...

Oh my heart.

The preppy Christmas card shot.

 The lighting was perfect that evening, we headed out to the our new house site and tramped through the fields.  Kathryn Grace (of course!) photographed us and we had a great time.  I like to throw crazy ideas for photo shoots at her and she always shows up with so much enthusiasm and then proceeds to capture the EXACT photo I had in mind!  I love it!

For more photos, click over here...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

quotable | lazy...

In my defense, I was up at 7:42am.  So sue me if I want to stay in my pajamas and drink my cup of coffee for a few hours after that...  It's the weekend!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

thoughts | twenty six

My birthday is the one of my least favorite days of the year.

I know how ungrateful this sounds.  God chooses to give me life and breath for another 365 days, filling my life and lungs with purpose, giving me grace upon grace and this is how I choose to react.  My parents and siblings put up with my shenanigans and grumpy moods all while loving and taking care of me and feeding me the occasional donut.  It's really quite pathetic.  I'm quite pathetic.  But hear me out.  This struggle is real in my life.

Every year, as September 23 draws closer, the same thought is on repeat in my brain...

"I thought I'd be farther along by now."

That's the hardest part.  Surely by 24, I'd be married to some dreamboat, probably have a cute little monogrammed baby with a hair bow the size of Texas, surely I'd have written that book, lost those 50 pounds, conquered public speaking, skydived and worn out 2 passports.  Surely.  Go ahead and laugh, I know that I'm crazy.  

A younger Abby (yes, I used to spell it with a "y"), would never have guessed that at 26, she'd still be a single girl, living at home, having opened and then closed a business, still trying to figure out if she is a round peg or a square peg and what hole she needs to fit into, and how, for Pete's sake, does one properly launder a wool sweater?.  The same crazy questions that I had at 12 are alive and well at 26.  You'd think I'd be farther along by now...

25 was good to me.  Scratch that.  GOD WAS GOOD TO ME.  25 held so much life.  So many beautiful moments when I thought I would burst from happiness, and hard moments when I thought my heart would break from it's burdens.  The loud laughter and the silent tears.  And God is always good.  

Coming to grips with the fact that I am that 20-something single girl that I always looked at with pity has been hard.  I mean, the day to day isn't so hard, but being "that girl" is a blow to my pride.  I've never really wanted to turn this into a single girl blog, but as you get older people ask more questions about your love life and it's my thorn in the flesh, so here goes.  I grew up wanting to be a wife and a mom, spent several years as a feminist disgusted with it and then had an encounter with God that changed my mind again.  I could see that family was a big deal.  That the only way we change culture is by getting married, having babies and doing government (thank you Candace Waters!).  And of course God would want to make all of my wishes come true.  Of course!  And year after year it seems that I'm in this same place.  Unmarried, wondering where I went wrong.  Both of my grandmothers married in their late teens, my own mother married at 22 and I seemed have completely missed out on that "charming and irresistible" gene, my being an awkward duck is another post for another day.  I've run the whole gamut of emotion and have come to rest upon the rock that is God's Will.  He will use whatever He needs to in our lives to make us more like His Son.  He knows how to design and use our struggles so that in the end its all for His Glory.  

These past few years have been of momentous growth in my life.  I've been in this valley of waiting for what seems like forever.  And God has used it to teach me things that I probably wouldn't have learned through marriage.  Some of us are really hard to get through to, which is why I'm still single.  God is trying to show me that He is enough and that a gorgeous husband isn't the end all in life (what what?!?).  He is Enough.  That is all.

It's hard for me to look forward to another year, when I feel so inadequate.  So immature, so "not-26" (whatever that means!).  When all I want to do is go back and make sure that I got "25" down perfect before moving on.  Sigh.  Wouldn't that be nice.  And it all makes me think of one of my favorite quotes from Elisabeth Elliot (that woman has become one of my dearest friends over the past year...). "Maybe this year will be the year of desire radically transformed".  Oh, how I pray this is what 26 looks like for me.

Well, today is my birthday!  I have no idea what I'll be doing with the rest of the day, but I can tell you that chocolate croissants will be involved.  Now that I've gotten all of my grumbling out of the way, I'm planning to thoroughly enjoy today.  To approach it with gratitude and lots of coffee.

Sorry for all of the words.  I've been feeling lots of feelings and thinking lots of thoughts recently.  Now back to our regularly rescheduled programming!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

quotable | "antelopes"

Envelopes.  He was totally asking for an envelope.  Golly, I love 5 year olds.  Good thing we figured it out because my next guess had to do with those orange colored melons...

Monday, September 15, 2014

thoughts | goodbye august... wait! september is half over?

Oh August.  I wasn't ready for you to leave.

I dream of summer all year long.  And then it comes, and before I have a chance to really, truly, actually, thaw out, it's gone.  And like some unspoken, "North of Chicago" rule, the calendar page flips to Sept. 1 and it's all over.  We go from 80 degrees and neon green grass covered golf courses to orange topped trees and a choppy wave covered grayish blue lake.  The leaves seem to instantly wither and jump off the trees before you have a chance to even get used to writing "September" in your checkbook (are the cool kids still writing checks these days?).

It was 40 degrees when I woke up this morning.

I realized that it's nearly the middle of the month and I never updated my summer bucket list (five for August).  I could sit here and type out some pretty fabulous justifications on why I didn't do half of the things I intended.  But I won't.  I would like to cash in my "get out of jail free" card.  No excuses.

And someone should probably stop me the next time I start coming up with a list of things to get done in the next 30 days.  Yeah, its probably not going to happen.

We moved.  

The above sentence seems very innocent.  I should add, we moved 11 people, 3 cats, 1 horse and a huge house into boxes, freight trucks, storage units, and a rental house.  Oh, and a barn.  The horse is staying in a barn (not a freight truck, I haven't researched it, but I'm quite sure that would be illegal).  We also were gifted a donkey two days ago, but this is another story for another day.  You would think that moving less than 10 miles from one house to another would be an breeze, but I am convinced that cross-country is the easier task.  I think my little Jeep was loaded and unloaded approximately 1 million times.  Today was the first time I realized that the backseat was empty.  Completely empty.  Okay, fine, so my giant L.L. Bean tote was still in there, but it gets to stay because it holds important things (like extra cardigan sweaters, newspapers and stuff like that).  Yes ma'am, we are just winning at the game of life over here.

The past month has felt overwhelming.  And I hate to even say that because I know that there are real people out there dealing with truly difficult situations, and I feel like a wimp.  My version of "overwhelming" just happens to be a pile-up of fancy problems.  When my parents first started talking about moving early this year, I figured it would take some time, that our house would never sell and that everything would be fine (glass half full) and I went on with life.  Then the next thing I know, our house sells, Mom and Dad find a new and very historic home that they want to add onto, start meeting with architects and builders and I'm googling best "portable storage containers".  We found a rental house to stay in for the next year.  Then U-Line started delivering pallets of cardboard boxes to our door and we had kids playing with sharpies and rolls of tape.  It got a little dicey there for a while when we realized that Cal was missing and the last time anyone had seen him was three days ago when we packed up the sleeping bags.  Totally kidding.  No children, or animals were harmed in the moving of this house!

It all moved so quickly and seemed very surreal that we would be leaving our house.  Life was really good for us.  We had plenty of space to spread out and we were constantly entertaining guests, and sometimes our house felt like a bed and breakfast due to the amount of friends staying overnight.  But we loved it.  I had my own little room that was more like a nest than anything.  Neat, tidy, all to myself and life was really good.  EVERYTHING. WAS. TOO. GOOD.

A wise man once told me "Sometimes we get too comfortable, and then God needs to move us".

Let me tell you, that was a WORD.  True in my life and applicable to the right now.  I needed to hear that.  I feel like God had given us a sweet season of life and (though not without pain, and I should also add, that this new season is not without its sweetness.  The Christian life is a mingling of the two.  And God is always good.)  But because He loves us and because its easy to get soft and to stop depending on Him for our strength, He chooses to move us.  We leave the familiar for the unfamiliar and we are once again forced to rely on God for our only solace.  We see beautiful story after beautiful story in the bible of how God takes His children from one place to another, because those in-between places teach us some of the most important lessons we'll ever learn.  More about ourselves and our weaknesses, and more of God's grace and faithfulness.  Moving requires faith.  But God provides everything we need because He is the Faithful One.

I've tried to keep all of this in perspective as we've made the transition.  As people and friends ask how things are, I'm quick to remind them that everything is fine.  Really it is.  Sure, our kitchen may be half the size, but hey! it takes half the time to clean!  I'm sharing a room with two messy girls who shall remain nameless, but hey! I now get to enjoy the "late, late show with Gracie" every night (oh golly, she is animated!).  I'm also five minutes away from the office and more importantly, Starbucks.  Oh, and pizza delivery.  It has been ten long years since we've lived in range of the pizza delivery man.  You should have seen my face when I realized that I can order a gluten free pizza from my couch and have it delivered in twenty minutes.  Welcome to the big city Abbe!

I know that a year flies by like nothing and I want to be able to look at this time in our little rental house and say "it was hard, but it was good".  To dwell on the sweetness.  I know that I will fail miserably at being gracious and that I will miss nine out of ten lessons that God is "clearly" trying to teach me.  But my heart's desire in this season, is that God would use it (ALL. OF. IT.) in my life for His own glory.  And He will.  He already has.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

friends | "zucchini will change your life, abbe!"

(Today's post was written by a sweet and very hilarious friend of mine.  The other day we started ranting about zucchini and she had me in stitches, I said " you should write a guest post for my blog", two days later this was sitting in my inbox.  And I laughed more.  Thanks Shell!  p.s.  Lovely photo from the pinterest - lovely recipe link here.)

Hello Everybody!

My name is Shell and I am so honored, I mean, Abbe SHOULD be so honored  to have me guest posting today! I am here to share with you the countless AMAZING uses for a humble, beautiful little vegetable. Enter the zucchini. Now, here is a funny thing; so many people I know don’t like zucchini. The poor thing has become the brunt of bad jokes and locked cars (note: there is a church in our area who's reputation proceeds it, when attending service, you lock your car doors and windows unless you want the backseat filled with unwanted veggies.). Why, why, why?? I guess I just don’t understand people. If they only knew that zucchini could potentially save the world, they WOULD NOT treat it in such a careless manner. So today, to begin breaking the myths surrounding my friend, I will share with you some uses of this darling of the vegetable world. Together we can break the stereotype that has trapped the zucchini.

Let’s start in the kitchen. Okay, so I know you have all made double chocolate zucchini cake or bread or whatever. But come on, can you even taste the zucchini in that stuff? All your other junk covers up the delicious, subtly earthy flavor of the sun ripened tomato, er zucchini. Really, let’s use the stuff properly. My most famous recipe is Zucchini Bars. Folks, let me tell you. Heaven in every bite, or your zucchini back. The crust is a spin on a shortbread cookie, but instead of all that bad-for-you butter, I substitute... Zucchini!! It creates this delicious flour-y zucchini layer of crunch. Can’t. Begin. To. Describe.

Then you whip together a fluffy cream cheese layer with powdered sugar, zucchini extract (look it up,
I think I got mine on Amazon) and about 8 cups of shredded zucchini. This goes on top of your zucchini
crust, and then must be chilled for two hours. Mine usually doesn't last that long. I keep nibbling at it!!
And then before serving, slice up some more raw zucchini for garnish. I like to use different sizes, so cut
up some baseball bat size zucchinis, and well as some medium and small ones. Cover the entire cream
cheese layer in the slices, and then dust with powdered sugar. Oh yes!! Pass the coffee with this one. I’m
thinking of having my wedding cake be a version of these bars, they are that good. Oh, and sorry, I can’t
give the exact recipe to you, it’s a family secret. Maybe I could start mail orders, though. Hey, there’s an idea....

How about the next time you are having a campfire and making those nuggets of goodness called s’mores, swap out your chocolate square, which by the way is full of sugar, corn syrup, and calories, (and DON’T tell me you use dark chocolate) for a beautiful slice of zucchini. This is where it’s at
girls. To take it up a level, swap out that marshmallow, (soo bad for you), and substitute a big ol’ chunk of zucchini, or you could even trade out the graham crackers for zucchini slices. The possibilities are
endless. You could even do an entire s’more made entirely of zucchini. Bliss. Pop it on a stick and get roasting. You are revolutionizing the campfire experience right here!

How about zucchini around the house??

- As a mop. Cut the biggest zucchini you can find, lengthwise, and use it to scrub your floor. Wet it if you need to. Your floor will thank you.

- As a dish scrubbie- step aside Steel Wool- zucchini has arrived! Use a medium one cut into your desired shape and get scrubbing those dishes. You won’t even need dish soap, zucchini enzymes are all the cleaning power you need.

- The list could go on...I’m working on a zucchini-based bleach right now, so stay tuned...

Okay, so how about some tips for using zucchini in the beauty world, peeps?? Zucchini, I believe, is going to be the next thing to sweep the cosmetic universe. Let’s start with some simple ways to incorporate this miracle into your beauty regime. First when doing face masks, swap out those wilted
cucumbers for some raw zucchini slices. Zucchini will bring back those bags under your eyes in no time!  Also a zucchini face mask. Mash up some cooked zucchini (I like to leave the skin on and the seeds in. They both work as a wonderful exfoliate for your skin) I also don’t like to blend the zucchini first, as you lose the beautiful chunky, mealy, and stringy texture if you do. Apply to your face. Wow, your skin will glow. Seriously, this stuff fills in wrinkle lines, minimizes pores, and lifts sagging skin. Leave the mask on as long as you like, it can’t hurt you.

So, I know, like essential oils are the rage right now, and I have been stewing about creating a zucchini essential oil. Can anyone say amen?? You could diffuse the invigorating smell of your favorite veggie all around your house! I’ll be accepting advance orders shortly.

So fans, go out and start using those zucchinis. Who knew you could use zucchini in so many areas of life? So unlock those car doors, roll down those windows, leave your garage doors open and welcome this fantastic, wonder-filled, revolutionary, world- changing little vegetable into your arms and homes today. Together we can make a difference!


P.S. One last tip: Incorporate zucchini into your workout routine, by using them as arm weights!  They even come in different sizes for whatever stage of fitness you are at! You can then go and use them in zucchini bars, a face mask, or to clean your floor. Multi-purpose weights, who would a thunk it??

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

doings | lamplighter guild 2014

My friend Anna was the connection to Lamplighter and Mark Hamby.

She first pitched the idea of going to London to work on the recording for Lamplighter Theater early last year and I jumped at the chance to go.  A live studio recording, London, time with my best friend,     sign me up!  I attribute my love of radio drama to many long hours on the road as a child.  To this day, that trip is one of my top favorite life experiences.  So far.

You can read more about our Lamplighter Theater adventures here...

It was there that I met Mark Hamby for the first time.  He's the man behind Lamplighter Books, a company that takes rare and out of print books and republishes them in beautiful hardbound copies.  Lamplighter is also passionate about the arts and for the past four years has put on the Guild for creative disicplines.  A way for students to spend a week studying under some of the best Christian creatives around. 

I was approached with the opportunity to work on staff for this year's Guild, confirming one of my favorite theories on life "opportunity breeds opportunity" and jumped on it.  I warned everyone that I'm not a creative, I'm an organizer.  Thankfully, they seemed to accept me.  Since I live so far away from the rest of the team, I mainly kept in contact through emails and the awesome invention that is "google documents".  After about four months of student registration highs and lows, and schedule updates, it was finally time for me to fly to Upstate NY for Guild week!

The challenge of the 2014 Guild, was that, we moved our location to a breathtakingly beautiful state park (see photo above), and by doing that gave up a full hotel of attentive staff.  It became a team of about 15 taking care of about 85 students and 9 teachers.  Our jobs included transportation, shuttling students to and from 6 different housing locations, no internet or cell phone coverage, massive rainstorms and constantly changing schedules.

The first official morning of the Guild, my mom texted me at 8:42am and said "have a fun day honey! we're praying for you!".  And I just started to laugh.  I was standing in the middle of a soggy tent, while the great deluge happened only feet away from me.  My shoes had about an inch of water in them and my hair had trespassed into lioness territory.  By 8:42 that morning, I had gotten about two hours of sleep in a rustic cabin with a bathrobe and borrowed pair of Anna's socks as my only blanket, our first shuttle run was a bit less than successful due to a change of locations, because RAIN, our cafeteria tent flooded and we'd moved the tables and chairs to higher ground TWICE, and one of our teachers had a hole in his car tire.  It wasn't even 9am!

Thankfully, things started to settle from there.  It was one of the busiest weeks of my life.  I literally ran from one place to the next, got about four hours of sleep per night and forgot to eat.

The week had so many highlights for me!  Three of our teachers worked with Adventures in Odyssey, it was so much fun quizzing them on different episodes or asking them for the story behind the story for our favorite plots.  Anna and I happened to schedule things just so we would be the ones to pick up Kathy Buchanan from the airport.  Shameless we are.  But it was so much fun!  One of the perks to my job was popping in on different classes and getting to see what the students were working on.  Creative people amaze me!  I chauffeured the filmmaking class around for a few minutes and ended up in the credits of their project. (you can watch it here )

My very favorite part was the people.  Oh my goodness!  Not only the teachers and the students, but these two, Katherine and Nolan (with "tired-eyeballs Abbe" in the middle) are the ones who made the crazy long hours absolutely delightful.  They were my bosses for the week and I was just amazed at their output.  By the time I left I felt like I was saying goodbye to my family.  The whole team (about 15 total) really bonded and it was so much fun to be a part of something with such a high level of camaraderie and trust.  We're already talking about Guild 2015! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

doings | five for august

So I had about a 50% success rate for May.  Let's just lower the bar and make it a "five for august".

Deal?  Okay, here we go.

1.  Go to a drive in movie.  Seriously, right now that feels like the epitome of summery doings.

2.  Host a mini party.  I'm fully aware of the fact that I failed at this in May.  If at first you don't succeed...

3.  Attend two weddings and one corporate event.  We were invited to three weddings this month, but will miss out on one due to said corporate anniversary party that I'm organizing.  So much socializing!  But I think you know how I feel about wedding cake.

4.  Do a picture tour of my room.  And then pack all of my little things into boxes, because we're moving end of this month!

5.  Read three books.  Any recommendations?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

doings | "when the game stands tall" movie

So this time it was my sister who got the email invite to attend a special movie pre-screening.


Guess who she took as her guest???

It was me, guys.
I am the least athletic person is the entire world, but I love love love a good sports flick.  This one was no exception.  Brooke and I showed up at the theater and the rep from Sony said that we were probably the most dressed up people to ever attend a showing.  Haha!

As soon as I walked in I realized that everyone else in the theater was either a coach or some type of high school sports star.  We were the only ones there not in baseball shorts or a school polo.  Thankfully, they let us stay and watch the movie.  And even gave us the coolest swag bags with mini footballs, tee shirts and lots of other goodies!

The story is about a high school football team that has the longest winning streak in history.  And what happens after they lose.  I love the theme of the movie "its not about how hard you fall, its how you get back up".  It's kind of a reverse story of your average football movie, but I enjoyed the perspective of how these guys work to overcome failure.

Go see it on August 22, 2014!  Take all your people!

Details are here:  When the Game Stands Tall

Friday, July 25, 2014

travels | normandy +70 | of lemon tart, castles & la vie en rose

I love this photo.  I remembered a darling customer from my shopgirl days who was always visiting France and was on a personal mission to find the best lemon tart in the world.  And suddenly, I was craving lemon tart!  Thankfully, there are patisseries on every corner and I was able to quickly locate the delicious treat.  We had decided to take the afternoon off, so after an absolutely refreshing 3 hour nap, I made some coffee and sat down to catch up on my journaling.  Hoping that the change in scenery would bring some clarity to my thoughts.  I found the perfect spot at a large wooden table that had been placed underneath a perfectly draping weeping willow tree.  It being France and in a garden, there were giant rose bushes lining the wall to my right and a perfect carpet of emerald green grass.  I couldn't have styled it better myself!  It was truly one of those "all is right with the world" kind of moments that you want to bottle and keep forever.  It's one of my favorite memories from this trip, and the tart was incredible!
It's a castle!  Anna is one of my best friends in the whole world.  We've had the opportunity to travel to some incredible places together and have some great stories to go along.  Our familys actually met about 6 years ago on a history tour (surprise!), then we went on another tour together, and another...  Both of us being introverts, we never really hit it off or talked.  At all.  Finally, on one tour, three counties, fifteen cities, and 12 days into the trip, she and I ended up on a castle wall, both very disgruntled at some kids who were climing on top of the ancient, already crumbling, walls.  We started talking and over the next year or so, a great friendship came to be.  Nothing like friction to bring people together!
We found an old castle not too far from where we were staying and all voted to visit.  It was probably in the worst shape of any I've explored, but was slowly being repaired.  It was also very small, most people think of castles as giant structures, but your average castle is really just a house that needed to protect one family.  This one had three walls surrounding it (paranoid much, sir?).  Above one of the arches was a disintegrating, cut stone, coat of arms or Richard the Lionhearted. How cool is that?!?  The legend goes, with this particular castle, that the family was being held hostage inside the walls while the enemy waited for their surrender.  One morning a flock of geese flew over the walls and off into the distance.  As the castle was invaded, it was found empty with no trace of the family anywhere.  It is believed that they turned themselves into birds and escaped.  (P.S.  I just love family chapels, this one was no exception.)
Our final stop before flying home was Paris.  Oh my heart.  This city will never be overrated to me.  We returned our rental car to a place right in the center of the city.  Our darling little Peugeot!  How it ever fit all five of us and our suitcases and our map that was literally the size of its interior, I will never know.  But it was fun!  We ate some lunch (salad nicoise, merci monsieur) and then Anna and I hailed a cab to take us to the Louvre.  Neither of us had been and we were ready to seize the day!
The hilarious part of the story is that I had found a Starbucks in Paris and was thrilled to finally have a coffee to go (and a new mug for my collection).  I was only a few sips into my americano when we got into the cab and took a wild ride around the city.  Well, I just so happened to get a cup with a lid that leaked.  With every turn, hot coffee was spilling on my hand and dress.  I tried to act real cool and nonchalant in the back seat.  "Who? Me?  No big deal back here...  Just enjoying the sights...".  I could see the cabbie watching me in his rear view mirror and rolling his eyeballs.  He dropped us at the curb and tried to apologize in broken English, but it was fine.  As was my dress.  I was laughing too hard to care very much  Just throw the coffee out Abbe!!!

Anna and me goofing off at the Louvre!  It was so hot inside and the humidity was approximately 500%, my hair started to go crazy.  I loved seeing all of the famous works of art, of course we stopped by to visit with Miss Mona Lisa and took a quick spin around Marie Antoinette's apartment.  The color scheme was just as magical as I'd imagined.  Marie wanted Anna and I to stay for tea, but we had to decline, perhaps next time.  Do save us some cake!
Whoever built this place knew what they were doing.  It's quite the view from the upper floors.  I would love to have a free pass for the day to explore every nook and cranny.  You know, behind the velvet rope and all of that.  Ah the daydreams of a museum volunteer!
We called it an early night and settled into our fabulous hotel (little boutique hotels are so much fun!).  We're probably the only twenty five year olds in the world who would find themselves in Paris and decide to hang out in their hotel room and repack their suitcases.  It's because we're introverts.  Anyway, I was sitting in my bed trying to decide if I should call home or repack said suitcase when I looked up.  Above the apartment building facing my window was a little spire and some flashing lights.  It took me a second to realize that I was looking at the very top of the Eiffel Tower.  All this time and I was practically sitting under it!

We flew home the next morning, after a visit or two to the airport Laduree for some much needed travel provisions.  Haven't you heard?  Macarons are the new pemmican.  

And that's a wrap!  A few more scars on my suitcase, a few more stamps in my passport and a lot of memories of time spend traveling with my friends.  Life doesn't get much better than than.