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Along Abbey Road | A Lifestyle And Family Blog : May 2015


5 Inspiring Movies To Watch On Netflix This Weekend

5 Inspiring Movies to Watch on Netflix This Weekend

1. Good Will Hunting. "We get to choose who we let into our weird little worlds..." That is one of my favorite quotes from this incredible film, and if you have ever seen this movie, you will know why Robin Williams won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as Dr. Sean Maguire. You can't help but feel all of the emotions while watching, and at the end you will want to chase your dreams and stick it to the man.

5 Inspiring Movies to Watch on Netflix This Weekend

2. Mona Lisa Smile. Ain't nothing like a good girl power movie. This one takes the cake. I love the message this movie delivers that you don't have to live within a specific mold. The storyline deals with women in the 1950s being born and bread to fill their role as a housewife, but Julia Roberts broadens their horizons. Nobody should or can tell you what is right for your journey in life, and it's important to stay true to your goals and dreams.

5 Inspiring Movies to Watch on Netflix This Weekend

3. Fried Green Tomatoes. Oh, Idgie. She is full of so much spunk and fire, and truly an incredible character. This movie inspires me because it speaks about how to stand up for what is right and just, even at the risk of your own life. Idgie and her friends are fearlessly loyal and fight for the truth no matter what.

5 Inspiring Movies to Watch on Netflix This Weekend

4. The Iron Lady. Ok, I will admit I haven't watched this one yet, but that is changing in approximately 24 hours. In my opinion, Meryl can do no wrong, and her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher BLOWS my mind. I do also have to admit that I do not know much about Margaret Thatcher other than she was the Prime Minister of England in the 80s and she was conservative. Obviously, my aim with this movie is to become more educated about her life, but I find it inspiring that she held such a powerful position as woman in that time. Are we noticing a theme here? No wonder Netflix always gives me suggestions for "Movies with a Strong Female-Lead." ;)

5 Inspiring Movies to Watch on Netflix This Weekend

5. Forrest Gump. I would be remiss if I didn't include ole' Gump on the list—run, Forrest, RUN! Easily one of Tom Hanks' top three roles in his impressive acting career. I am sure you have all seen it, so consider this a public service announcement that Forrest Gump is indeed on Netflix and you should go watch it to kindle those flames of motivation and triumph over life's greatest obstacles.

Image sources 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5



The Most Flattering Swimsuits For A Mom

Praise the high heavens because this mama finally found herself a flattering swimsuit!

Working out and doing the Bikini Body Guide has helped tone up my body, which obviously helps things fit better, but the cut of this suit is made for pulling in and sitting at all the right places. It is the Retro Ruched One-Piece Swimsuit in Midnight Black Stripe from Garnet Hill. I cannot recommend it enough should you be on the hunt for a flattering one piece. I have some junk in the trunk, and it doesn't cut in on my booty either.

I am thinking about getting the floral or blue paisley one, too. And they are on sale for $78 right now. It is worth every penny, and I think you get a 15% off coupon for signing up for their emails.
Also, this rose floral tankini looks like a winner.

Hope this helps if you are looking for a cute suit that helps out that post-baby body! Happy shopping!

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The Best Loaded French Toast Recipe

While aimlessly strolling through the aisles at Trader Joe's last week, I stopped in front of a beautiful loaf of Challah Braided Egg Bread. I immediately thought to myself, French toast! And sure enough, it was incredible, dare I say the best French toast I have ever made.

I suppose the part where it is loaded with Nutella is the kicker. It was breakfast pastry heaven, my friends. I know I say this about every recipe I post, but promise me you will make this sometime this week, okay? It's one of those things that is insanely easy to make, but seems like it takes an immense level of skill—that's a good thing. It's sure to impress the foodies in your life. ;)

Also, I am thinking I just need to start a separate food blog. I keep mulling over whether to start a whole new thing or just post more food on here. Decisions, decisions. People of the internet, what's a food-lover-and-styling-obsessed girl to do?!

Moving on. Let's get to the recipe of this fantastically delicious dish, shall we?

The Best Loaded French Toast Recipe
Serving Size: 6
Prep and Cook Time: 20 minutes


1 loaf Trader Joe's Challah Braided Egg Bread
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup Nutella
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup powdered sugar for dusting


1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk eggs, milk and cinnamon together.

2. Slice the bread into 2-inch sections. Take a slice and make an opening in the bread with a paring knife that is about 1 inch deep. Stuff the slice of bread with 1 tablespoon of Nutella. Dip it generously into the egg and milk mixture, making sure to coat it on all sides.

3. In a buttered frying pan, cook the bread on medium-low heat until golden brown on each side. Make sure to cook it on the tops and bottoms, too, for a crispy edge.

4. Place on a plate and let it cool for about 30 seconds. Load up the inside with strawberries, and dust the top with powdered sugar. Serve with a glass of milk and enjoy!

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Things To Do In Dana Point Harbor

One of our favorite places to go for walks along the beach and watch the sunset is Dana Point Harbor. It's tucked away behind some cliffs and is ridiculously photogenic. There is a rock jetty walkway and places for seals to sunbathe. The beach is a protected area, so marine wildlife and beautiful shells are scattered on the shore.

I think there may even be a chance mermaids live here. Don't tell me that doesn't look like a rock Ariel would perch upon! I bet there are gizmos and gadgets aplenty under these here shores.

Living in Southern California near the beach is a dream come true, and I am doing my best to make the most of this amazing area we live in. As we get out and explore more, I want to share fun activities to do with kids in Southern California. I know I love any tips and recs I can get, so hopefully they will be helpful.

If you haven't been to Dana Point Harbor, add it to the list. Like I said, it is a gorgeous beach, and there are boats, yachts and ships to explore for the wee pirates in the family. Baby Beach is right in the thick of the harbor as well, which is a great beach for little kids since it has no waves. (Hence the name of it—imagine that!) You can also rent bikes and cruise along the beach while popping in and out of the cute shops in the village.

The local restaurants in the area serve fresh seafood and have that classic seaside, laid-back vibe. We've had the fish and chips from Jon's Fishmarket. They were pretty tasty, but I have a hankering to try out The Harbor Grill for lunch soon. The Mahi Mahi with Mango Chutney BBQ Baste is calling out to me. I can hear it now ... "Eat me, Abbey! Eat meee!"  Also, Coffee Importers apparently has a killer bagel. I might have to see what that situation is all about this week. That is if the boys don't have pinkeye. (Insert ALL the horrified emoji faces.)

I hope you get a chance to get out and explore Dana Point Harbor if you haven't already. It's a fun day with the kids. And Happy Memorial Day! Hope it's been a pleasant and relaxing day with family, honoring and remembering those you love who have passed on and those who have bravely served our country.

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Just Kids Book Review And Discussion

Reading Just Kids opened a window into my soul I didn't realize was there. Or rather, I realized it was there, I simply just forgot about it. This memoir by Patti Smith is haunting, poetic and captivating. She truly has a gift for the written word.

It starts with painting the scene of her childhood and moves along to how she met Robert Mapplethorpe, her undeniable soul mate. They truly were just kids who found one another in the harsh world and reality that is New York City. Together they starved, scrimped and nursed one another back to health—physically, intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally.

I guess what I love about this book so much is that she doesn't sugarcoat the horrifically low points (such as trench mouth and being homeless), but somehow they flow out of her with the softness of whipped cream. Her heart and soul are in the ink and words on each and every page.

Below I have gathered some discussion and review questions from around the web, and I am taking the liberty of answering them myself this time around. Just promise me you will read this book if memoirs and the 60s are your cup of tea, alright? And mark your calendars for the release of her second memoir, M Train. I cannot wait.

1. Were you somewhat familiar with Patti and Robert before reading this book? Have you heard her songs/seen his artwork/photography? If so, how did this book change your idea of them?

I was briefly familiar with Patti's music, but I had no idea who Robert was before reading this book. Finding new artists always excites me, especially from this era, and it truly was a treat to research the pieces and put a face with a name. Somehow it brought the story of their love and relationship to life on a more realistic level.

2. This is a love story, but Robert is bisexual. How is this a traditional relationship? How is it a very unusual one? Did Patti sacrifice her happiness for Robert?

Bottom line, they loved each other for who they were. This wasn't about sexual orientation and stupid labels. Their love was about two souls finding one another and connecting in a way that only true love can. Sure, it was unusual and unhealthy at times when they weren't openly communicating their honest feelings. However, every relationship has those pitfalls. And no, I don't think Patti sacrificed her happiness for Robert. She lived her life and found her passions together and apart from Robert.

3. Both Patti and Robert became extremely successful in their lives. What drove them to their success? Was luck involved? Is it unusual for people so young to be so driven and confident?

Honestly, I think a lot of it was opportunity. They happened to be in the right place at the right time, and they knew the right people. Perhaps you could call that luck, but I think it is more fate than anything. We are all dealt a certain hand of cards in this life and you need to know how to play them. Patti and Robert knew what they had and went all in. Of course it wouldn't have happened without the hard work and confidence, but they had it all going for them.

What I noticed was that Robert was the one with the confidence. He wasn't afraid of networking and tirelessly self-promoting, which is essential to success. Patti was the more quiet reserved type, but she was smart and had a good work ethic. They were a great team in that regard, and I think the innocence and naivety of their youth worked in their favor. I wonder what their success would be like now if they were living in this day of social media. It's always interesting to me to read the stories of how young people achieve success.

4. How did a lack of money and resources play into their lives? Would having money at a young age (perhaps getting it from their parents, etc.) have ultimately robbed them of the experiences that shaped who they became? Does being handed things dissuade creativity and drive? What does this say about today’s youth?

Their poverty was an essential marker on their path to fame. If they had money they would have never landed at the Chelsea Hotel, which in my opinion was when they hit the jackpot. They struck gold living there. This is the time when Robert had trench mouth from being so malnourished and having a lack of proper hygiene, along with other diseases. The Chelsea was their one and only option really. If they had the money to bankroll their carefree youth, this story would have played out more like an Edie Sedgwick situation—too much partying without any real responsibilities to hold them accountable, leading to exacerbated mental illness and ultimately suicide or an overdose. Okay, maybe that's a bit of a melodramatic generalization, but you get the point.

I wouldn't necessarily say being handed everything can dissuade creativity or drive either, though. A lot of youth who have money are the ones who are "creatives" and "artists" living in ridiculously priced lofts in Brooklyn and San Francisco. And many of them become successful in their trade because of their talent in addition to the money and connections. But, I think a lot has to do with the parents and how much of an example or expectation they give to their kids about developing a good work ethic. Today's youth I would say are generally spoiled and we live in an era of immediate gratification. But, there are still innovators and thinkers, and they are the ones who will build the future, not the lazy, entitled bums.

5. Some readers might feel Mapplethorpe ‘took’ too much from Smith emotionally—that he leaned on her, perhaps even ‘used’ her at times—and that the relationship was unequal. Smith doesn’t seem to feel that way herself in this memoir. Why do you think she doesn’t?

As I mentioned above, I think she was completely aware of the situation and liked being needed. But she wasn't stupid and realized when it was time to move on. And she had plenty of moments where she leaned on him for emotional support. Robert was simply the moody artist. It has been shown in studies that "creative" types have a harder time closing off the flood-gates of stimuli coming into the brain and experience more mood and mental disorders. So, of course there is going to be a lot of stress and undulating emotions. Not to mention being hangry all the time. Hanger is real, people. Sheds some new light on the term "starving artist" doesn't it? Maybe all they need is a sandwich.

6. When do you think Robert became aware of his sexuality?   

I think he always knew about his sexuality. Robert was raised in a very strict Catholic household, which frowns upon homosexuality, so I think he tried to push it away as much as possible until he finally felt free to be himself. Fleeing to New York was the independence he needed to truly find his identity (or try a few on for size until he felt comfortable in who he was).

7. Is New York responsible for their success in a way? Imagine if they had met and lived in St. Louis, for example?

This book would not exist if they had never landed in New York. As mentioned above, they fell into the right circle of artists and piggy-backed on the Warhol movement. The Chelsea Hotel was their goldmine and allowed them to become a part of that fold. We are talking Andy Warhol, Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Loulou de la Falaise, etc. Any influential artist of the 60s and 70s you can think of they most likely knew, and ran in the same crowd.

8. Amongst readers and reviewers there seems to be a difference of opinion regarding Smith’s name-dropping. Some find her mentions of famous artists of the day pointless. Some admire that she kept the name-dropping to a minimum given the social scene she was a part of. Did you recognize most of the artists she mentions? Would you have liked Smith to delve into more detail about those scene-makers?

I keep a small moleskin notebook to jot down names of people, works of literature and passages that stick out to me in the books I read. I literally filled over three pages just from all of the references Patti Smith made to poets, writers, musicians and artists. Sure, I guess she name dropped a little, but that was her life and her experience. I think it's wonderful she shared it. It illustrates the scene for us in an understandable way.

9. How did knowing that Robert dies of AIDS at an early age shape your reading experience? Was there a tragic vein that ran throug the story knowing that he would die young?

Tragedy makes for great storytelling. And Patti is indeed a gifted storyteller, so I think it was an essential part of her memoir. Their love had a classical element to it, in that it was heart-wrenching, beautiful, and profoundly humanizing.

P.S. This month's book selection is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I've already finished it and it is a life changer, as in you must read it.

Discussion questions from here and here. Photos via here and here.

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Cute And Colorful Summer Outfit Ideas For Little Boys

Cute And Colorful Summer Outfit Ideas For Little Boys

Three years ago when we found out we were having our first boy, some of the initial fears and concerns that played through my mind were, Boy clothes are ugly! What in the crap do I dress him in?! There are, like, only three things boys can wear. 

I am kind of rolling my eyes as I write this, but it was true. I am a girl, therefore I was only familiar with girl clothing and fashion. (Give me all the pink, ruffles and florals!) And I honestly think that is part of the million reasons it is fun being a mother to little ladies. Although, I can give you a billion reasons why being a mom to boys is even better ;)

Anyway, it turns out that boy clothes aren't just dinosaurs, trucks and cars. Imagine that! There are plenty of adorable places to shop for man child clothes. (See this hilarious meme—I'm sorry, but I started crying from laughing so hard when I saw it for the first time. I also just spent the last 10 minutes searching for it. You're welcome).

My favorite places to shop for Luke and Wesley's clothes are Gap, H&M, Old Navy, Target and Zara. They are actually the only places I shop and I hit the jackpot every time without breaking the bank.

These three cute and colorful summer outfits for a little boy above are all from Zara. They are high-quality and survive the beatings boy clothes go through—and they make great hand-me-downs, which we believe in. Now that I have two boys, I have realized the little fellas really don't need that many clothes either. Really. Boys are simple, and boys are messy, and it's easier to dress them if there aren't too many options to choose from.

Here are the basics of what you need for a little boy summer wardrobe:

  • A few tee shirts. It's good to have some printed and graphic ones, as well as a couple of plain basics.
  • A couple pairs of shorts. Again, one solid and one with a fun print, or overalls.
  • Basic pair of pants or denim. Gray denim pants are my favorite. They go with everything.
  • A light sweatshirt or jacket. I've found that picking a vibrant color can actually pair well with most things.
  • A pair of sandals, a pair of sneakers (red is also a color that looks awesome with most things), and a pair of docksiders for dressier occasions.

And there you have it! Maybe get them a cute baseball cap or some shades to accessorize and you have a stylish little dude on your hands.

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Our Trip To San Francisco (Part 2)

The second act of our San Francisco trip started at Fisherman's Wharf.  (See part one of our trip here.) We strolled along the waterfront, bought some gifts and ate clam chowder after we were harassed by at least five fish guys.

 I insisted upon visiting the Musée Méchanique to have my Julie Andrews moment à la The Princess Diaries. Worth it.

Since we were in the neighborhood, it was imperative we stop in for a sundae at Ghirardelli Square. Holy hannah was that thing good! Chocolate lined the walls of the store, AKA Abbey heaven.

A cable car ride later we found ourselves at an intensely large set of stairs, which led their way up to Coit Tower.

One of the things I was most excited to see in San Francisco was all of the artwork all over the city. This was a mural inside Coit Tower painted by Maxine Albro, a student of Diego Rivera. Very cool to see the detail and magnitude of the work in person.

Alcatraz! Clint Eastwood, where you at?

The views from the top of Coit Tower were equally breathtaking and panic-inducing. My fear of heights, er, my fear of falling is very real, so I made sure to stay at least one foot from the open windows. (Look at that dude hanging out in the picture above! Yikesabee!) It stands 210 feet tall and the elevator ride is exactly what I imagine the real life version of Tower of Terror at Disneyland would feel like.

Afterward we walked back down Upper Grant. I've decided North Beach is my favorite neighborhood. The shops and houses and everything were bright, beautiful and quirky. (I am 99% sure this area is part of North Beach, but please correct me if I am mistaken!)

Isn't the pink exterior of Music 101 fabulous? Wish I would have had more time to wander around the store.

We had to make a pitstop at the Roman Catholic Archbishop. The building and architecture is incredible, and it was amazing to step inside and take sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the streets outside.

We saw the Transamerica Pyramid and Columbus Tower. Again, more amazing architecture. City Light Bookstore was one of my favorite shops I popped into. It has major roots in the Beat generation and my heart nearly exploded when I read the "about" section on their website. "City Lights has been the head, heart, and undersoul of literary San Francisco for half a century, and—as the Gotham Book Mart in Manhattan long ago proclaimed about itself — 'Wise Men Fish Here'.” YOU GUYS, last month's book selection was Just Kids by Patti Smith (which I will be discussing in great length on Wednesay—stay tuned!), and she worked at Gotham Book Mart during that era. Their motto "Wise Men Fish Here" jumped out at me and I furiously scribbled it down in my journal when I first read it. So, you can imagine the elation I felt randomly stumbling upon City Light Bookstore. I just finished The Alchemist and can't help but feel like the universe led me there. It's the Language of the World in action! Chills. Also, how cute is that couple in front of the store?

Our next stop was to visit The Pink Ladies in Alamo Square, and spy on Uncle Jesse. I think I may have even spotted DJ Tanner and Kimmy Gibbler in their matching scrunchies. We then had dinner around the block at 4505 Burgers & BBQ. Matt said it was the best burger of HIS LIFE. Now, please understand this is a man who knows his burgers. I suggest you add this place to your food list. It was delicious.

Because I suffer greatly from FOMO, our day was still not over! We drove to the Mission District to visit Clarion Alley.

Finally, we ended our Saturday at the 16th Ave Tiled Steps. They are kind of funky and create an optical illusion that you are going down even though you are at the bottom. At least it looks that way in the picture. And might I say it was a wonderful place to end our journey that day. There was so much art and beauty everywhere!

Sunday morning we drove over Golden Gate and had breakfast at the Sausalito Bakery & Cafe. They have the biggest, chewiest chocolate chip cookies in all of California. The view of the city wasn't bad either. ;)

After wasting an hour debating if we had time to make it out to Muir Woods, we caught the shuttle bus. Honestly, San Francisco reminds me of the PNW in a lot of ways and hiking out in the Muir Woods brought a wave of nostalgia. Nature has a way of nourishing the spirit and it was a wonderful way to end our anniversary weekend.

San Francisco, you sure were grand. Until we meet again! (And cruffin, I am coming for you!)

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