Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Take the Pledge: Shop Small

After a day filled with family, friends, football, and shameless carbo-loading we all tend toward the tradition that is Black Friday. I have gone out late with friends in the past few years to get a few small gifts and experience (for some reason) the rush of super early morning shopping. However, I have to say that I don't get the excitement. 

One day that has gotten me excited in recent years is Small Business Saturday. I am a massive fangirl of my hometown of Carlisle, PA and love to walk the streets and slip into the Revolution/Civil War-era buildings that boast some of the cutest businesses around. There are several stores that I practically live at when I venture downtown:
  • Miss Ruth's Time Bomb: Every time I step through the doors of Miss Ruth's I make a beeline to the back end of the store which boasts a large assortment of vintage clothing—I've seen some straight up 1930s garb! I have never gone in and not tried anything on before I've left. You can also get your fix of vintage hats, shoes, and dining wares!
  • The Clothes Vine: This is where I go to dream. It is a bit pricier than the Time Bomb, but the clothing is just so beautiful and you can tell that they've curated some quality product. The style here is very eclectic, which I love. 
  • Marjorie's Gems: I only just recently discovered this wonderful little store on one of the last First Friday outings of the summer. I don't typically shop jewelry, mostly because I don't wear it very often. But Marjorie's carries some of the most interesting pieces I have come across—and they're so well priced! Their $5 wall is a place I like to call home.
Small businesses really are our economy's backbone. Did you know that they make up about 54% of all sales in the U.S.? Yes, we love our super stores and larger chains for the ease and convenience they provided, but can we truly speak to the quality of some of these items. I always struggle with clothing from larger stores because you can tell from just the touch: this is not going to last. Small business provide care and quality. Sometimes the price tag might read higher, but you get what you pay for after all. Each of the businesses I've detailed in this post and even more that I haven't truly care about the products and services they provide their customers. Every time I walk into the Castlerigg Wine Shop on Carlisle's main street, the owner engages me instantly and ensures that I know where the wines come from (shoutout to the wineries we apparently have in Pennsylvania) and what is particularly popular. 

These businesses are important in our economy, yes, but also in our culture. They know us. They connect with us in ways that larger brands cannot achieve.

Fundera, a company aimed at helping small businesses on the financial end, is campaigning this year to bring out even more customers. This is certainly a movement that hits close to home and one that I can get behind. I pledge to continue to support local business and shop small on November 26. Will you?

<3 Ashley

So what do you say? Shop small with me this weekend? What local businesses do you love?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Prep

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Get ready, folks. Thanksgiving is upon us and it is time to check that grocery list and check it twice to ensure that you have everything you need—no one wants to spend the last minute in the grocery store. We are hosting the meal this year and I am taking charge of the turkey, stuffing, and the best pumpkin pie (ever). I am the kind of person who likes to have her ducks all in a row ahead of time so as to lessen the chance of something going wrong. I mean something can always go wrong...I just like to make it less likely. :)

Here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes and hosting tips to help take some of the stress off of you on Turkey Day:

  • The Best Way to A Roast Bird: There's a lot of debate about turkey prep and I know I won't be following this to a T. However, there are a lot of great tips in this post and the author wrote with such confidence that I can't help but put a lot of trust in it.
  • Hosting Checklist: The Food Network has provided a handy little graphic detailing how far ahead you should start your meal prep—from defrosting the turkey to cheating and making side dishes a day in advanced.
  • Cranberry Sauced-Up: I know a lot of people aren't the biggest fans of cranberry sauce. I don't understand these people, but I acknowledge they exist. Perhaps in lieu of the sauce, go a different route and serve up some pre-dinner cranberry cocktails, like these Cranberry Moscow Mules! Or if you want to be friendly to all ages, try this slow cooker cranberry apple cider.
  • Additionally, after watching a few episodes of Rachel Ray leading up to the holiday, I understand that she suggests going into the kitchen armed with a glass of wine. Depending on what your Thanksgiving Day schedule is this may be of some use to you. We are eating early and I'm not sure how much grandma will approve of me uncorking a bottle at 10 a.m.
I hope that you find success in your holiday hosting duties. Be sure to reward yourself for the good work by hitting up the stores for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Maybe even take part in Cyber Monday? 

<3 Ashley

What are your best Thanksgiving tips and recipes?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Finding Motivation With Skyfit

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Does anyone else find it difficult to keep up the motivation to stay fit and active when the temperatures outside drop? Glad I'm not the only one who lets their routine go by the wayside if you feel a cold chill nip at their legs. During the summer I manage to make it outside at least every other day if not everyday. I'm a runner. It's the one thing I manage to do consistently. Once in awhile I will look up a yoga or pilates work out if I'm feeling a bit more sluggish and, you know, bleh.

The running becomes a bit more difficult to do when we get into fall and winter. For some reason I don't dig the burning cold in my lungs, and refuse to step foot in the gym—on principle...I don't like working out with others. Yeah, I'm one of those.

This morning was another cool one, but I knew that I needed to get outside and break my week of not doing anything. While I was sipping my coffee and scrolling through my Instagram roll, I came across a sponsored post by Skyfit. I had seen the fitness app advertised before and figured that maybe the addition of a curated playlist and a supportive voice cutting in and out of the music would help me to keep up the motivation to move.

After setting up my free trial (7 days!) I searched through the Outdoor Running list and found the Zombie Run workout. I loved it! It was a fun, Halloween-themed playlist—it's always great to close with "Thriller" right?—and a great workout to get me back into running since my little break. I absolutely loved the experience with the app and intend to use this free trial to the fullest extent. Who knows, I might even keep up with the subscription!

<3 Ashley

How do you find motivation to workout as autumn continues? Have you used Skyfit?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

How-to: Boot Care

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Fall for me not only means changing leaves and cooler days, but also means re-introducing my boots and booties into my daily wardrobe. As the season progresses further and we make our way into winter—sometimes early...did anyone else hear about snow in November? Is this a real thing?—our boots begin to show the scars of jaunts through muddy, snowy terrain. I'm here to share a few tips to keep your boots looking great through these next few messy months.

The issues I typically run into are due to snow and salt; my thanks and gratitude to the city of Pittsburgh for their HEAVY salt application on sidewalks. What I typically have been able to get away with is rubbing it away with some warm water and maybe a little bit of soap. However, another effective way of removing those salt stains from your leather is a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar. Either way, please be gentle!

In my research I have found that there are a number of proper ways to ensure that your boots are able to stand the wear and tear of fall/winter weather. From the quick tips to the products made for leather care, I have learned a lot about what I should be doing to make my boots last a lot longer than they do. Like leather conditioner??? Did you know that was a thing??? Well it is, and if you want a good way to avoid cracking (I have a few bags that could benefit) it is best to apply some leather conditioner.

More care should be taken to keep your leather boots intact and effectively protective. King Ranch Saddle Shop in Texas provides further tips that ensure that your boots last through the winter, which may be a bad one this year! I find it easy to take tips from those who know their craft and since King Ranch has been in the leather business for awhile (check out their men's and women's boots as well as bags) I trust them to know their stuff. They've even shared a nice little graphic, offering some of their best care tips:

<3 Ashley

How do you care for your leather boots? Do you have any tips?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Let's Get Deep

No, no. Not emotionally. Love you guys but I don't think that we are at that level yet! I'm talking colors. More specifically I'm talking colors for fall. I love this season when colors get a little bit deeper and take on a more natural palette reflecting the changing leaves on the trees. Does a burnt orange sweater give anyone else goosebumps? Just me? Cool.

This is the season when sandals give rise to ankle boots, and shorts are replaced by jeans and leggings. From sweaters to scarves to nail color, here are a few of my favorite things:

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<3 Ashley

What is your favorite fall color?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fall Flavors & Favorite Recipes

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There are many reasons that I love fall. The season brings about change in a number of different areas: fashion, beauty, activity, and best of all—and our focus today—food. There is not much better than the bold spices and rich flavors that grace dinner menus during this season. While on my most recent trip, I was thrilled to see the squash varieties lined up and the apples colorfully arranged. My mind started spinning with all of the possibilities: soups, sauces, and desserts are my favorite cooking categories during the fall. Here are a few recipes that I look forward to incorporating into my autumn cooking:

- Pumpkin Chipotle Soup: This is a recipe I shared about two years ago on here. I had bought an immersion blender for myself and committed to whipping up homemade soups and putting pride in something that did not come out of a can just to be heated up. This soup has a wonderful pumpkin flavor with a chipotle kick that will hit you right away, but fade off the palette shortly after—which I like. Spice is good, but after awhile it can be a bit overwhelming.

- Pumpkin Pancakes: This is actually just a small adjustment from the single serving pancakes recipe that I've shared before. I did not feel like going out of my way to find a whole new pancake recipe when I had one that I was perfectly content with. Instead, I kept the recipe and simply added a few fall spices and a few tablespoons of pumpkin puree. You can adjust amounts to your personal taste.

- Butternut Squash Pasta Carbonara: This is a recipe that I have been wanting to try since I first spotted it on Pinterest, my home planet. My friend and I had a full on fall day once last year and picked up a jar of butternut pasta sauce and were absolutely in love. I would love to try my hand at making the sauce from scratch. I will update with the imminent success story. #confident

<3 Ashley

What are your favorite fall recipes? What ingredients do you use the most during the season?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fall So Hard

#tbt to last fall and adventures apple picking in Wexford!

Did anyone else wake up this morning aggressively craving a pumpkin spice latte and a jaunt through an apple orchard? Just me? Great.

Fall is finally here. This is Christmas for my people (read: those with Pinterest accounts and a love of layering and booties.) For several reasons all unrelated to each other my summer has been hands down the worst on of my life. Seriously summer 2016, thanks for all the stress. But fall? Mmm...I can smell it on the crisp morning breeze; it's about to get good.

With the changing of the season I always find that my attitude changes. Call me crazy, but summer might actually be my least favorite season. For some reason I do not enjoy being hot, sweaty, and physically uncomfortable all the time.

This month I'm going to try super super hard (honestly!) to blog a lot more often. This summer just felt like one big creative slump. Seriously, my brain felt drained. But as things start to look up and I commit to being a lot more positive I think that the creative juices can start flowing again and you can expect to see a lot more fun content on Sunday Brunch!

<3 Ashley

Are you excited for fall? How do you experience and celebrate the physical and symbolic transitions that the change in seasons provide?