Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Resolutions

This year, I promise to.... on my confidence more outgoing
...go out of my way to meet others
...organize my life a little better

<3 Ashley

What are your 2015 resolutions?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Year In Review

Is anyone else having difficulty believing that tomorrow is New Year's Eve? How did the year slide by this fast? It seems like yesterday I was eating the last of the Christmas cookies and promising myself that there would be a lot more treadmills in the coming year (at least until the weather got warmer!) As we get ready to look forward to 2015, I'm going to use today's post to look back on 2014. I like reviewing the previous year and use it as a tool to help me decide what my goals for the next year will be.

I am very happy to report that Operation: Healthier Living has been a success. I told myself at the beginning of the year that I would not cut out but rather cut back on the sweets and increase the veggie intake. Check! I also told myself that I would workout more. I have become a runner and even begin my mornings with a little bit of yoga. Check! Both of my 2014 promises have become part of my routine and I don't even have to think about doing them anymore--I just do. I am confident that these will continue on to 2015 so I can put focus on some new goals. More on those tomorrow!

As far as school goes, I told myself that as a college junior it was certainly time to buckle down. I think I have done pretty well. It is still a struggle to not let myself procrastinate--discovering Mad Men on Netflix may prove to do more harm than good. However, I did make some positive moves. I applied for and got into my certificate program! I also got my first campus job and am making the money that I need for grocery shopping. My roommates and I also found and signed the lease for our house for next year. All of these developments excite me and I am looking forward to seeing what happens in 2015 in my life at school!

I also rebranded the blog and dropped the All That Glitters name and opted for the new and wonderful Sunday Brunch! I can't wait to kick off the New Year here and am already planning some posts that you can look forward to in 2015!

<3 Ashley

What do you think looking back on 2014? Successful year?

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things: Christmas

Hello everyone! I decided that with the holiday I would take a long weekend away from the blog to relax and spend some time with the family. I hope that your Christmas was amazing and that you enjoyed dining with family and received the holiday haul that you were expecting under the tree! I know that Christmas is about way more than the gifts, but you can't blame a girl for being excited about what she has received! Santa certainly paid attention to what was on my wishlist this year. Above are some of the items that I found under the tree on Christmas. Not pictured is probably my favorite gifts being a quarter-zip Pitt sweatshirt (admittedly I need more gear because I don't have school spirit!) a Marilyn Monroe gold replica stamp and the vintage Gucci handbag that my mother and I spotted on our outings to the local antique store. Can a girl ask for a better holiday? I should think not!

This year was also the year of the scarf; I received two from my aunt and uncle. Also my grandmother took the time to knit scarves and winter hats for the whole family--the woman's dedication surpasses mine by miles! 

I hope that you were just as thrilled with Christmas as I was and are enjoying the last few days of 2014. Get to thinking about those resolutions!

<3 Ashley

What is your favorite gift from this Christmas?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Baked with Love

Tis the season for baking! If there is one thing that I must have every single year without fail is fresh baked Christmas cookies. Every year, my grandmother makes everyone their own bag of her pumpkin and chocolate chip cookies, which are amazing! Before we went on winter break, my roommates and I went on a little cookie baking spree of our own. My one roommate's mother came over with bins full of ingredients and in 6.5 hours we produced 11 different types of cookies. Now that's commitment! My favorite cookie that we made were the raspberry almond shortbread thumbprints. I loved them so much that I just had to share the recipe with you so that you can get in on the cookie goodness yourself!

- 1 c. butter, softened
- 2/3 c. sugar
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 c. raspberry jam

- 1 c. powdered sugar
- 2-3 tsp water
- 1 1/2 almond extract

What to Do:
Combine softened butter, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add flour; beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm.

Heat oven to 350°F.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Make indentation in center of each cookie with thumb (edges may crack slightly). Fill each indentation with about 1/4 teaspoon jam.

Bake 14-18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let stand 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to cooling rack. Cool completely.

Combine all glaze ingredients in bowl with whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cookies.

<3 Ashley

What are your favorite kinds of Christmas cookies?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Being a Part-time Family Historian

So this past semester I have spent a lot of my downtime on the internet (no...not on Facebook...all the time) doing research on my family. It took one episode of "Who Do You Think You Are" where celebrities go through research to learn more about their families and where they came from. Since the semester has ended and I am back at home, I have been able to spend even more time scouring the world wide web for information about where I come from. I did not think I would find much--we all think are families are pretty standard and run-of-the-mill, right?

I'm still waiting to break into the 19th century on my dad's side of the family since Italian and Norwegian records are not so accessible and that side of the family is relatively new to the United States. My mother's side of the family is a completely different story. I have learned so much more than I thought I would, and it's all through my grandmother's line. I have discovered this gem by the name of Desolate Baker who has quite the interesting story; lots of sex, man! I have also discovered that also in this portion of my family tree, two of his great-grandchildren married each there's that. In the past few days though, I have discovered some even more exciting individuals. On one hand there is Mr. George Hudson who fought in the Revolutionary War and was a scout for George Washington during the Christmas 1776 attack on the British. Even further back his line I discovered that one of my relatives was brother to Henry Hudson III, the explorer after whom the Hudson River and Bay are named. You'd be amazed with what you are able to find online!

<3 Ashley

Have you found any interesting individuals in your family?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

5 Sweaters I Need Now

Wile this has been a relatively dry and warm(er) December, I still have an unruly craving for sweaters, sweaters and more--you guessed it--sweaters. It is pretty much an essential part of my winter uniform. So I have scoured the internet, exercised impressive self-control and compiled a list of the five sweaters that I need in my closet right now:

This boxy turtleneck from Forever 21 is just asking for a spot hanging in my closet. When it comes to turtlenecks I like them neutral and simple; great paired with black leggings or dark skinny jeans. 

Cardigans are my go-to for some quick layering in the morning if I'm pushing the time a bit before class. I am loving this cardigan from H&M with color-block sleeves. Picture this over a white tee and some skinnies and a pair of boots or black flats.

There is not a sweater that I pine for more than a fisherman cable knit sweater. The one above is everything I dream for--the layering over a button down is perfection. Oversized plaid scarf too, maybe?

Sweater Dress
I only actually have one of these but I definitely need more. Loose, form fitting, long sleeved, short sleeved...I love them all! 

Christmas Sweater
I refuse to use the term "ugly Christmas sweater." They're not ugly...they're festive! 

<3 Ashley

What sweaters appeal to you?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Movies

I am not talking about classics like How the Grinch Stole Christmas or A Christmas Story. These movies are by no means popular. I am talking about: home movies. Our Christmas videos (the last great recordings of the '90s) are something that I like to revisit every once in awhile; I am a sucker for family memories. However, seeing myself in these videos is semi-embarrassing at times and I can understand better why my family enjoys laughing at me. I was an...interesting child.

I think in the earliest Christmas video I received an animatronic cow that walked and mooed. Cute gift, right? To a normal kid maybe; it was not so cute in my young opinion. In the video, when they turn the cow on, little me is visibly terrified of the the thing. I go from smiling and happy to hilariously wide-eyed in terror and running to someone on the other side of the room. That cow was most certainly going to hurt me! Haha!

<3 Ashley

What hilarious Christmas memories do you have? Do you like looking back to home movies once in awhile?

Friday, December 12, 2014

The List

What list? My Netflix list. There is a lot that has been added to my Netflix queue and now that I am done with the fall semester (going home today!) I have a little bit of time to park myself on the couch and binge the break away. I would love to finish up the third season of New Girl, I have to catch up on Arrow and I have found a new way of wasting my time in the form of Mad Men--I blazed through the first season WHILE writing a final paper.

Of course, I will be breaking up the marathoning with reading (for fun!) and hanging out with family and friends. I have to be somewhat productive and active, right? I am so excited to be able to take a break from the work and be in full time relaxation mode...for 3 weeks at least! I have a few blog posts planned and January is shaping out too--see...productive! Can't wait wrap up the year on here!

<3 Ashley

Are you getting ready to break for the holidays?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sunday (on a Monday) Brunch: Finals Edition

The last brunch of the fall semester occurred yesterday and it was just as dreamy and wonderful as all of our other get togethers. The difference? We took the brunch abroad to a restaurant rather than making it in our apartment. The reason, of course, being that it is FINALS WEEK--which is also why this post is coming to you late. None of us can barely find the motivation to make a grilled cheese let alone a fancy shmancy brunch. We decided since we were going out to find available study locations we could still have brunch and just let someone else do the cooking!

We packed backpacks with textbooks, notebooks, lecture print outs and tech and elected The Porch right on campus as receiver of our money and giver of food. Boy did they give! I ordered the "Porch Scramble" and couldn't have made a better decision. There is chicken and mushroom in that egg pile up there. So much yum! They also came with some wonderfully spiced potatoes, a homemade English muffin and a side of their HOMEMADE ketchup which also had a bit of a spice to it. Michelle ended up getting their quiche which also looked absolutely to die for. On top of the delicious meal and the wonderful company and conversation we are convinced that Pitbull was dining a few tables away--not really but this guy looked WAY too much like him. 

Now if you will excuse me, I still have one more paper to blaze through. (Prayers are being accepted)

<3 Ashley

Do you have a favorite restaurant you like to brunch at?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Turn Up the Tunes

To be honest, I have been listening to Christmas music since like a week before Thanksgiving. Usually I stick hard and fast to the "no merry cheer until after turkey day" but for some reason something inside of me was ready to wrap gifts and trim the tree way earlier this year. Since we have gotten back to school my roommates and I have been cranking out the Christmas jams to make getting through this last week of classes and preparing for finals a little more bearable. I love to compare music with others so I thought I would share a few of my favorite holiday songs with you!

1. "Merry X-mas (War Is Over)" John Lennon--thought I must say I am loving Sleeping At Last's version of the song!

2. "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" NSync--What could be better during the holidays than this fun and upbeat tune from hands down the best band of my childhood?

3. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" Dean Martin--This is my favorite until our annual holiday trip to Phipps Conservatory when two of my roommates sing the entire song on the walk there and back.

4. "Silver Bells" Bing Crosby--This list is in no particular order but I definitely think this one is by far my favorite.

5. "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" Paul Cardall--I love when this instrumental comes on my Pandora station. It is a gorgeous tune!

<3 Ashley

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs? How early do you start listening to holiday music?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Recipe Box: Roasted Mushroom and Brie Soup

Yuuuuummm :)

One of the reasons I love going home over breaks (aside from the obvious I get to see my family and friends) I get to experiment a bit more with my cooking. I do that here at school to an extent; but I can do more at home since I don't have to rely on myself to buy the food--does that make me a bad child? I'm a college kid on a's the truth! Over Thanksgiving break I found a recipe for roasted mushroom and brie soup. I made and OH MY! It was too good not to share!

- 1 1/2 lbs mushrooms, sliced
- olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp chopped thyme
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1/2 c. white wine
- 4 c. vegetable broth
- 1/2 c. heavy cream
- 4 oz. brie cheese (1-inch pieces)
- Salt + pepper

Step by Step:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
- Slice mushrooms (if you buy them whole like I do) and spread them out on a line cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and put in oven for 25 minutes, mixing once half way through.
- In a medium saucepan on the stove, melt butter over medium heat and add onions. Cook 5-7 minutes. Toss in garlic and thyme and continue cooking until fragrant. Add flour and stir about a minute.
- Pour in wine and deglaze pan. Pour in vegetable broth and add mushrooms. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add brie and heavy cream. Let cheese melt and fish out the rinds if you didn't remove them beforehand. Salt and pepper to taste
- Puree in blender until desired consistency is reached. Serve and enjoy!

<3 Ashley

Will you try this recipe? What are your favorite soups when it gets cold outside?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Wishlist: Reaching for the Stars...

Happy December, everyone! I am now 100% in festive holiday mode. I've got my pink flannel snowman pajamas on, egg nog candle lit and Christmas music blaring. Please excuse how annoyingly happy I am. Honestly, I'm pretty much Buddy the Elf level all of December. 

Get ready for lists, lists, lists! Gift ideas galore are coming at you all month plus Christmas cookie recipes. How could I not? Today I have my own Christmas wishlist--though it's not the real one. These are the things that I want but I know I will not be getting because of the hefty price tag they bear. Basically this my dream list; my reach-for-the-stars wishlist. We all have those, right? Feel free to wish along with me!

<3 Ashley

What's on your reach for the stars wishlist?