May Foodie Penpals

Dana has been participating in the Foodie Penpals program run by Lindsey from the Lean Green Bean for a few months now. I was planning to sign up for April, but I missed the deadline. This time, our roles were reversed, and I was matched with Kristen from Pudgie Pies.


Lancaster Vanilla and Caramel Soft Cremes: These were fantastic. I mean, how could they not be? Every time I opened the bag, Rascal came running to beg. I didn’t give him any, of course, but I did let him try a piece of…

Venison jerky: I love jerky when it’s done right, but the good stuff can be difficult to find – there are too many dry, tough jerkies out there. This, though? I was shocked by how tender it was. I’ve only eaten venison a few times in my life, but I’m definitely starting to develop a taste for it.

Maple candy: I love maple. Who doesn’t? Terrorists, that’s who.

Amish soft pretzel mix: I’m planning to use this over the weekend. Being from the Philly area and living in Pittsburgh means I don’t often get to enjoy a soft pretzel too often. I’ve also never made my own before, so I’m really looking forward to these.

Biscoff spread: I had a feeling this would show up in my box – Kristen mentioned that she had received something in an early box that she now sends to everyone, and knowing how delicious Biscoff/cookie butter/speculoos is, I figured this would be it. I haven’t opened this jar yet, but when I do it’ll go quickly.

“Chicken Poop” lip balm: I never buy lip balm for myself, but I probably ought to start – especially in the winter months. This stuff is pretty great.

Coconut oil: While we were exchanging e-mails about our tastes, I mentioned that I like the flavor of coconut, but can’t stand the texture of it when shredded. Ergo, coconut oil. Dana uses this pretty much constantly, so I gave it to her. It’ll almost certainly go into a few meals and baked goods that she gives me.

Turkish taffy: I’m nowhere near as big of a fan of chocolate as Dana, our roommates, or pretty much everyone I’ve ever met. I like it, don’t get me wrong. I’m just not obsessed with it. But this was good.

Pocky: I would say this was my least favorite item in the box, but that’s more to do with the other stuff being great than not liking it.

Blueberry whirl lollipop: Haven’t tried yet, but looks good.

Also included were a note pad and a book of s’more recipes (which may come in handy since we’re going camping in a couple of weeks). Thanks for a great first experience with the Foodie Penpal program, Kristen!

If you’d like to sign up, check it out here. You don’t need to have a blog to participate.


Zoo Diaries: Happy Birthday, Rascal!

Rascal wasn’t quite 8 weeks old when we got him. He was nameless, had a bladder the size of a pea, and cried often. He was also only a little bigger than a coffee cup:


Somehow he made it from GreenTree all the way home without peeing in the car. Kyle said it as a good sign.

He had floppy ears and a very black face. He was afraid of going down stairs and jumping off our bed. He had a preoccupation with the bathtub that none of us ever figured out (it was convenient for a minute there – we’d drop him in the bathtub with a toy and he’d be good for a solid 20 minutes).


His nose got longer and all of a sudden we remembered he was part Sheltie. We’re thinking he’s more Sheltie than Beagle (fingers crossed he never figures out how to howl).


And one day his ears started perking up all the time. And got way too big for his head….


But he grew into them eventually. Someone tells us how foxy he looks (hehe) almost every time we walk him. One day around 7 months he turned into a cuddlebug. Which Kyle and I take full advantage of.

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What can I say? We’re a little obsessed.


His big celebration will be on Kyle’s birthday (next Friday) and will include a bacon wrapped steak, but I want to do a little something special tonight. I made him a little cookie/cake…. thing. With some of his favorite foods (peanut butter, oats, coconut oil). I topped it with torn up pepperoni and goat cheese for icing. 2014-05-29 21.36.46


Happy First Birthday, Pup! We love you!

The Best Peanut Butter Brownies

I have made a lot of brownies in my lifetime. Nothing quite squashes a chocolate craving like a brownie fresh out of the over. Particularly if they are the consistency of fudge and dark on the chocolate. Of all the brownies I’ve made, I think this recipe might be my favorite.

But not only is this my new favorite recipe – these ones are actually not that bad for you. At All. In addition to packing 5g each of fiber and protein:

1) They’re vegan

2) They use black beans instead of flour

3) They use 1/2 to 1/4 of the sugar that your average brownie uses

4) They don’t taste like any of the above things are true


Do I have your attention now?

The recipe comes from the Minimalist Baker. I’ve been a bit obsessed with this blog lately (and not just because the author is also named Dana).

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The trick to making black bean brownies work is a blender. I don’t know if I’d try this recipe if you don’t have either a blender or food processor (you might end up with big chucks of black beans in your final product– um, yuck).

One of my favorite things about baking is combining a bunch of unlike ingredients to make something unique and delicious. In this case it was particularly fun because it all looked kind of gross to begin with:

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The recipe called for dark chocolate chips, but I used carob chips instead. Have you come across this stuff yet? It’s like chocolate, but naturally a little sweeter, has no caffeine, and is safe for dogs. Talk about a win.

I recently stocked up on grain sweetened carob chips from the co-op, so I added some of them.

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This part is my favorite! Drop the pb/ powdered sugar mixture on top of the brownies and swirl until it’s pretty! I also added some more carob chips for good measure.

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Bake until carob bubbles and batter pulls away from the edges slightly.

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And viola! Warm, fudgy, healthy brownies!


Now if you’ll excuse me I think I may go help myself to another one…

Did I inspire you enough to make some? Let me know if you do! I’d love to hear another person’s take on them 🙂

Picture it: 5/23/2014

Happy Friday!

Good Lord this week dragged! I wasn’t even in the office the whole week. Crazy. To be fair, my best friend Molly is visiting this weekend! So there was probably a good reason this week dragged on.

Not a whole lot of pictures this week. But here’s a little peak into life at the Abbott House.

I made fudge! Recipe to come. It’s a 4 ingredient winner.


Spent LAST weekend with this girl. Times flies when we’re together- it’s nuts.

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Tequila flight at Verde. Mmm I absolutely need to learn to make the sangrita chaser.

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I’m a parallel parking pro. Particularly when parking Snow White (did I mention I named my car? 🙂 )

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She never fails to make me laugh.

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Sidewalk chalk/ sunlight patches

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Stumbled on this while walking through the neighborhood:

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Brownies. I cannot stop eating these – but it’s ok because they’re healthy! Recipe coming Monday.


Puppyface. He responds to the following: Rascal, Rackal pup, puppy, bud, buddy, dingus. “Come” is finally starting to click, which is convenient.

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Nicky’s Thai kitchen! The north side location has way better decorations. But I was kind of disappointed in my vegan duck (should’ve gone with the pumpkin curry – it’s been ages since I’ve ordered that!)

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Have a wonderful long weekend!

Things I learned from 7 (ish) months on crutches

This time last year I wasn’t allowed to walk without crutches.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to put on my shoes without sitting down. I slid one chuck onto my left foot, and didn’t quite get the heel on. That happens to everyone, right? Well, I stomped my foot down, annoyed that I hadn’t gotten my shoe on with the first try. And then I laughed at myself- a year ago, I wasn’t able to put on my shoes at all without sitting down, let alone walk at all.

Cheating with one crutch at my grad party. At lease there was cake.

This time last year I was recovering from a femoral stress fracture. I literally had the worst sort of fracture, in the worst possible bone, in the worst place. A fracture that just couldn’t seem to heal itself. And the doctors still haven’t pinpointed the reason (though I’ve been assured the odds of me having another one are relatively low, so that’s something).

Using crutches for any amount of time is pretty terrible. When the doctor first told me I would need to use them for at least 7 weeks, I literally broke down crying in the exam room. I later joked to my my mom that I was “mourning for all the things I was going to miss during my last semester of college” (I also told her that I wished I had been accepted to Hogwarts more than ever).

In the coming days I realized not only would I be missing out on a whole lot, but everything I did on a day to day basis would get ten times harder. From sleeping (tossing and turning & sleeping on my right side = bad news) to eating (before chowing down generally one has to move the meal from the kitchen to somewhere to eat it). Oh, and of course this was the one and only year I’ve ever lived by myself.

Went camping twice during this whole thing cause I’m a BAMF. Or just stupid.

Had I known then that it would be almost eight months before things felt remotely normal again I might have totally lost it.

But I didn’t. If I could go back and have it not happen I would in a heartbeat. But I can’t, and when it was all said and done- I learned more from the experience than I ever could have imagined.

We take the most basic things for granted- Walking is awesome. Case in point.

People want to help- Whether they have been on crutches themselves or not. I had classmates take me shopping when we were supposed to be doing a project. I always had a ride to my friends’ houses. No stranger ever let me attempt to open a door by myself if they saw me struggling.

When you reach your limit you have two options- You can either laugh about it or cry about it. Most of the time it’s better to laugh. Cliché, but life is too short. That said, sometimes sobbing until it hurts is healing too.

Escalators are doable- but absolutely terrifying. Avoid them whenever possible.

Sometimes distraction is the best medicine- I’m all for dealing with your emotions etc. etc., but there’s a time and a place for it. When I was teetering on the laugh/cry scale, I turned on Netflix and broke out my pastels.

Small talk becomes way easier- For some reason when you’re on crutches, everyone feels the need to talk to you, but it’s almost okay because always have something to talk about. And people generally want to wish you well.

You are more resilient than you think- The thing about resiliency is that you don’t know how much of it you have until it’s tested. I developed a system for everything – opening doors, carrying things from room to room, hell- showering. My arms got stronger and allowed me to keep doing more things than I ever expected.

A lot of mundane worries kind of fade away- You just constantly have bigger fish to fry. I hate to generalize, but in my experience women tend to overanalyze everything. I always have. But since this experience I’ve found myself doing it a whole lot less. At the time, there are just no extra space in my brain for it. When I finally got through the surgery, the riding the bus with crutches, and the months of physical therapy I found that I didn’t slip back into my old habits. Sure, I still overanalyze a lot- but significantly less than I once did.

There are some amazing people in my life- My sister conquered her fear of driving in city without any hesitation so she could drive me where I needed to go. Kyle did my laundry for months. Kyle and our friends Eva and Alex moved all of my stuff across the city when we moved into Abbott, on the hottest day of the summer. I am incredibly grateful to all of them.

Number 1 thing I missed next to walking: hooping!

When I think back on last year- I try not remember the times I got stuck on campus because the shuttle forgot to pick me up or the time the x-ray tech made me crutch all the way across Presby Hospital to pick up a single document. I think of all these things I learned  I think of all the wonderful people who were there for me when I needed them most.

Ok, and I also think about all the positive karmic energy I had to have built up from surviving this shit. This summer has to be awesome, right?

Favorite Things… It’s been too long :)

Hey Friends!

Thought I forgot about gratitude posts, didn’t you?

I promise I have not! I write one every day in a journal on my phone. Honestly, the reason I haven’t been posting as much is because I have a lot of trouble willing myself to turn my computer on after work since I stare at a computer screen all day.

I’m working on it. Anyhow, these have been my favorite things going on lately.

1. Eighty something temp’s we had last week
I have no doubt I would thrive in Florida.

2. The East End Co-op
I really need to suck it up and get a membership because I can’t get enough of this place. Annie and I spent waaaay too much time and money in there last week and I don’t regret it at all.

3. No-poo shampoo
I quit traditional shampoo/conditioner/ hair products three weeks ago. So far I am not regretting it in the slightest. More to come on this.

4. Barley and Peanut Sauce
Holy hell why have not being using barley before? It may be he most filling grain ever.
Also, remember that peanut butter sriracha saucefrom the tea party? Well I finally got the recipe from Eva! I have had it on every non-breakfast meal last week. And I might make more this week.

5. Hooping hooping hooping
Can’t stop won’t stop. But like, more than usual.

6. Leg Workouts
Who am I? Um I love sore muscles because it’s like my body is congratulating me for kicking some ass the day before. Also, I’ve had random pain in my knee which the doc said is probably because my right leg still doesn’t know what’s up (the body is not meant to endure 8ish months of crutches, just saying). Can we also talk about how wall sits are way more fun while simultaneously petting this face?


7.Mad Men
Last week’s episode was so freaking good (though nipples are freaking me out now in a way I couldn’t have predicted…). Except for Peggy. My heart is breaking for Peggy more than usual this season.

8. Lavender
I seriously considered buying an $11 bottle of lavender lotion at the co op last week. I had a lavender iced coffee from my new favorite coffee joint in the strip and it made the weird day I was having a whole lot better. And Kyle and I may be buying a lavender plant soon…

9. Summer plotting!
I took a trip back home last weekend and got so caught up summer adventure planning. I’ve been spending summer with some of those friends for almost a decade, and look forward to it every single year. And I am itching to get out and about as much as possible.


11. Snapchatting with my sister
Seriously, snapchat is a way better method of keeping in touch than I could have guessed. Also, this picture was not a snapchat but I’m so glad Aly has my back.


Picture it: Life lately

Last weekend I went to visit my hometown. It was a perfect little vacation. Every time I make the trip I’m reminded that it is something I absolutely need to do more often. There is nothing more grounding than connecting with people you’ve know for over half your life.

However- I was behind on day to day things before I left. And when I came back I threw myself into social obligations whist feeling generally terrible from a lack of sleep among other things. Ooof. Resulting in me feeling way behind on errands, cleaning, and life in general.

Will my pea coat ever make it to the dry cleaner? The world may never know.

All this is to say that lots if stuff has been going on in and around the Abbott house, but not too many posts are being written about it.

But here’s one! I’ll try to catch you up. Look out for more crunchy living, quote, gratitude, vegan pizza, and hooping posts soon!

So….Have I mentioned this yet? I bought a car! And yes, I am madly in love. Sound system + good gas mileage + heated seats makes for a very happy girl.


Mildly obsessed with local/ non factory produced cheese. I created a monster when I wrote that post about why I’m a vegetarian .


It’s been raining. A lot. New car also has better windshield wipers, so that’s cool.


Happy things on rainy days:


Rain = animal cuddles. I tell Kyle at least once a day that I am grateful that out animals our cuddlebugs.


Our little Chili Clemintine is getting bigger! Godiva still hates her. And hates me when I pay any attention to the kitten. I was all upset about Godiva being mean to me last night and five minutes later so comes into the bedroom wanting pets. So maybe there’s been a little improvement.


My first set of hoop supplies came in the mail! And as soon as I opened it I realized I have no idea what I’m doing- but that’s ok because the supply company is awesome! (Any hoopers out there with tips for me??)



A little oasis among city buildings.



And eats! I’ve been a little bored with food in general lately (which is rather bizarre for me). I have been (successfully) experimenting with vegan pizza, though. More to come on that. This was a particularly good batch.


Have a wonderful weekend!