Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Cookies

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In recent years, my favorite holiday activity has not been searching for gift ideas or even opening gifts on Christmas Day; it's been baking Christmas cookies. When I was back in Pittsburgh for school, we would pick a night in December before winter recess and get together with my roommate's mother for a cookie baking marathon. I'm talking the oven staying on for at least 5-6 hours and baking 11 varieties of cookie kind of marathon. All done while holiday music or a movie played in the background.

I plan on keeping this new tradition going this year. I'm beginning the search now for recipes to bake with my mother this year for a new batch of Christmas cookies. My plan is to bake a few varieties and put together some bags as stocking stuffers for the family and maybe even set aside some to take to Christmas dinner...if they can make it that far. :P

My favorite Christmas cookies are those that have peppermint in them. Last year, we made chocolate peppermint cookies that were absolutely to die for! Here are a few cookies that I have loved in the past and look forward to making again this year:




<3 Ashley

What are your favorite types of Christmas cookies?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Holiday Checklist


The holiday season is busy—there's no denying it. It's easy to let our to-do list get away from us and all of a sudden Christmas Eve is upon us and we have so much to do and so little time. I'm trying desperately to keep it together this year and not get frazzled at the last minute. 

I am someone who creates list to keep herself in check. Heck, I think I once put "make grocery list" as a bullet on a to-do list. Can you tell what kind of person I am yet? So lists will also be the crux of my holiday planning and execution. From the gift budget, people's wish lists, Christmas card lists, and recipe lists my holiday is looking like an organized one.

But I don't stop at just one list. No, that would be the human thing to do. I have lists in my phone, on my computer, on a pad of paper, on index cards in my bag, and in my planner. It may be a bit overboard; but you know...it gets the job done. My Christmas cards went out in the mail today to everyone on the list. No stragglers. No one to remember later. I got them all!

Next stop is the shopping. This year's shopping list is actually fantastic because I know EXACTLY what I'm getting everyone. I know where am going for these items too. How did I become this beta version of the person I was last year??

<3 Ashley

How do you stay on your game during the holidays?

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?

Friday, September 9, 2016

Beautiful Superfoods

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Going into my freshman year of college I resolved to change up my lifestyle in favor of a healthier one. Not to say that I was a totally unhealthy person beforehand, but my eating habits and physical activity probably was not top notch. Each student on campus had access to at least one fitness center on campus and is equipped with a meal plan that provides an endless array of possibilities. But those possibilities also include foods and snacks that are maybe not-so-good for you. Along with all of the other research I did for classes, I also focused some research on nutrition and what was best for consumption. I was amazed at the kinds of effects that these foods not only have on internal health, but also, externally, how it can be a part of your beauty routine.

While I certainly sing the praise of health foods overall, there are some that I won't even go near—get that kale and tofu away from me! But that's the thing: you don't need to be the big bad super foods monster. Pick and choose. What do you like and what will be best for you? Here are some of my favorites:

- Blueberries: This is my ultimate. I could snack on bluebs for years. I think I get this from my mother actually. It's one of those things that we have in common. I've read that these little blue orbs help to fight against premature aging of skin. Happy I started early! Blueberries are great for getting your brain up and going, and get you ready and focused. I actually make sure to have blueberries in whatever I am eating for breakfast the morning of a job interview!

- Olive oil: Not necessarily a food, but it is a staple in my food prep process. Anything that goes into the skillet or is roasted in the oven is accompanied by a healthy amount of olive oil. While it is great for you internally, you can also use the oil on your skin and in your hair if you're in need of some moisturizing. I would use it if

- Yogurt: Call me crazy, but I actually love a bowl of plain Greek yogurt (with some berries and granola mixed in!) Yogurt has a ton of calcium, which is wonderful for your bones of course, but also your nails!

- Dark chocolate: While I certainly go for the Dove dark stuff, I'm talking about some high cacao chocolate. Both my roommate senior year and I had a stash of bars containing at least 70 percent cacao. Dark chocolate is great for your skin and helps to keep it hydrated!

Nuts.com shares a few more ideas about some great super snacks that do wonders for your skin, hair, and nails. Check out this neat graphic!



You can also do a little bit more research on the greats like goji berries, matcha green tea, cacao nibs, and chia seeds.

<3 Ashley

What superfoods do you include in your diet for their health AND beauty benefits?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September

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Can you believe that the last weeks of summer are upon us? Pretty soon the air will feel a little chillier and the leaves will start changing color and falling. Fall is—as with many women—my favorite season. The transitional seasons are just the best because they are not extremely hot or cold. Fall is just right. I am waiting to break out the boots, I want scarves back in my life, and it's only a matter of weeks before I show up shaking at a Starbucks demanding a large Pumpkin Spice Latte.

While I'm not one to wish the time away, ya'll know how this summer has treated me (per my last post). I'm ready to jump into a new season and new adventures...hopefully I will have those new adventures by the time fall officially starts.

Fall also means the return of college football; who needs the professional stuff? Be forewarned that Pitt is playing Penn State next weekend and I will be back in Pittsburgh for the game. Steer clear of my social media if you want to avoid the unreasonable amount of alumni school spirit and certain level of trash talk. ;P

<3 Ashley

Are you ready to ditch this hot summer for fall's cool embrace?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Day 112: Still Nothing

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I've been very quiet on here lately and I apologize for that—to be honest I'm kind of upset at myself for it. I am almost four months into my job search and still have not nailed down a regular morning commute. Did I think that a job would land in my lap upon leaving the Petersen Events Center on May 1? No. No I didn't. But no one ever told me about how long it could take for me to land my first post-grad job.

Summer 2016 will definitely go down as the least fun for me. Most days were spent in the confines of my bedroom pouring over listings on Indeed and Glassdoor, fielding email rejections from "Do Not Reply" addresses, and only just recently landing a few phone interviews. Note: I have actually had a couple of interviews for a job that I super want. Fingers crossed I get a face-to-face meeting in the next week! 

There is a lot that I wish I had done to make this process and summer as a whole a little easier on myself and my now insane stress/anxiety levels. 

I wish I had gotten myself a summer job. Maybe I should have just bitten the bullet and listened to my parents—but when does anyone my age ever really want to do that? As much as working retail in high school really destroyed my soul maybe I should have just gotten a job. Now, I have applied for a couple; to no avail. In a moment of sheer panic (those have happened sporadically over the past month) I did bring back my Care.com and Upwork.com accounts in search for short jobs that would give me just a little bit of money to work with. That being said: if anyone is in need for a freelance writer/editor...hit a girl up!

I also wish I had just gotten out of the house more. It's tough since I have a grand total of one friend still here at home and she works through the week. I was really envisioning a summer made up of more happy hours and nights chatting it up. Of course, I initially was also imagining a summer still in Pittsburgh. 

The biggest lesson I've learned through this whole process and ordeal of a summer is this: very little is probably going to work out the way you think it is. Especially at this point. My future is still in a very uncertain place and to a personality like mine that is a scary idea. I like to have a plan. I like to know. I have also learned that the waiting is the worst. No company will respond in a matter of days no matter how much you will your email to show an incoming message. There are companies I honestly waited months for just to be rejected. As someone coming from part-time jobs and internships that came a bit easier, this can be a pretty rough realization.

I just hope that with the few interviews that I have started to schedule that a trying summer will give way to an active and fruitful autumn.

<3 Ashley

How do you/did you deal with your post-grad job search? 
Also: in all seriousness...freelance editing/writing...I got you. I don't charge like crazy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Surf vs. Turf

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The internal argument for me used to be: to shop or not to shop? Now that I understand myself and know that the perpetual answer is to shop, a new question has presented itself: shop online or in-person?

While getting out of the house and walking a distance greater than that of my bedroom to the kitchen would be the healthy and logical answer the world of online shopping can seem so much more alluring at times. It can be more convenient, you can take as much time as you need without the sales associate breathing down your throat, no waiting in lines, and sometimes it can be easier to spot the deals. Do I sound like an anti-social millennial yet?

Sounds like online shopping wins. But, hang on! What if you are like me and your sizing is by no means consistent? I'm looking at you jeans! There are several situations like this where it's just easier to go to the store and spend some time trying everything on since there really is no telling if the item in your online shopping cart is actually going to fit the way that you are expecting it to. Then you have to return it if it doesn't and that takes even more time on top of the 5-7 business days you spent waiting for the item initially.

When I shop I prefer to do it in-person if I can. That way I don't have to play the waiting game and don't have to pay for shipping. If no store has what I am looking for, only then will I turn over my attention and my card to my good friend, Amazon.

<3 Ashley

So what about you? Do you surf the web for your fashion finds or do you prefer to see the options right in front of you?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

#BeachDayMusts

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When the sun's out and the temps are up it can be difficult to find the motivation to step out of the air conditioning. The only way you will find me out in the heat is if there is a cool body of water nearby. For those blessed afternoons spent lounging in the sand or poolside I have an arsenal of items that are essential to the perfect day. 



Swimsuit and coverup. Of course you have to wade the water in style! While swimsuit shopping historically draws up strong (read: negative) emotions, I love going through the different options and colors to find what works best for me. Lately, I love a vintage silhouette—high-waisted bottoms and a slightly conservative top. I'm in love with polka dots so my pick from Adore Me is perfect! It's cute, classic, and perfect for an afternoon reading and catching rays by the water. When it comes to coverups, I like to keep it simple and classic. Adore Me's Gwendolen cover is lightweight button down shirt, which works with my aesthetic; like a beachy Holly Golightly! 

Bold sunnies. I have a problem: sunglasses. I simply have too many, but I just can't stop. Ask my brother...he yells at me every time he notices a new pair on my face. But no two are the same. In my opinion, sunnies are one of the best accessories that show case your personality—there are just so many fun shapes and colors! Ban.dō is one of my favorite websites to figuratively window shop for bold and colorful accessories. This pair of sunglasses features a fun, gold cat eye frame. And if you know me...you know I try to paint my life in gold. 

A nautical tote. I'm a sucker for a theme and aesthetic. When it comes to the beach, the sea and sailing are themes that I take the whole nine yards. This striped tote from Kate Spade's Broome Street collection speaks to the theme. Is there anything better than blue and white stripe against the background of the open sea? The answer is 'No. There is not.'

Reading material. While getting a little wet should be a goal when walking down the sand toward the water, I take advantage of the R&R opportunity and usually carry along a book and a few fashion magazines. You check back on my summer reading list for some inspiration for your next beach read.

Don't forget a towel, SPF, and H2O. Oh—and it's probably a good idea to have some money on you. You know...for when the ice cream cart comes your way. ;) For more swimwear ideas check out the swim selection on Adore Me—they have great styles in many different sizes! 

<3 Ashley

What are your beach day musts? Share along on Instagram with Adore Me and myself using the hashtag #BeachDayMusts!

Monday, July 18, 2016

"I Don't Know About You.."

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"...but I'm feeling 22." Yep. Another year older but none the wiser. But it's only been a few days so give me a minute and maybe the wisdom will show up. :P

The one thing I love about my birthday is that it tends to be a quiet affair. It's in the summer, tends to be during the week (really...a Saturday birthday would be swell!) and, especially now, very few friends are home to celebrate. But you won't find me disappointed in the fact that I can't celebrate by painting the town red into the early morning hours. I love spending the day grabbing a meal out with the fam. And last night was actually my preferred method of celebrating myself: homemade nachos, many helpings of margarita, my birthday cupcake, and an in-home double feature (who says no to Sex and the City AND The Devil Wears Prada?)

And since not everyone is around at one time to celebrate the day with me, that only means that the celebration must be spread out—I'm not complaining. I love setting up dinners and happy hours with friends as they find they are available to set aside some time to hang out; especially since my summer has consisted of sitting inside for hours weeding through job descriptions and applying to companies that may or may not get back to me. Perhaps being another year older and wiser will bring good things on that front. :)

<3 Ashley

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Flavors of Summer

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One of my favorite things about the summer months—besides the sun, tans, blue skies, summer storms, and morning coffee outside—is the direction my diet travels in. When it's hot as Hades outside the last thing I want to eat is the big, heavy, starchy meals that rule my life in the winter. Summer is a time for citrus and berries, grilling, salads, infused water, and light pastries. My summer is basically one long, perfect brunch in the sun. Here are a few of my favorite bites this season:

Berries: I'm all berry, all the time. The past month has seen me fitting a handful of blueberries into each day—mostly for breakfast. Cereal, oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and whole wheat pancakes are made ten times better with those delicious little blue orbs.

Citrus: Oranges and grape fruit are two of my biggest loves. Yes, I am a woman with many loves...don't judge. When I need a snack I reach for one. They are also some of the best flavors in my favorite summer cocktails.

Quinoa: Admittedly, I usually reach for the quinoa begrudgingly. The box sits next to the pasta and 9 times out of 10, I want pasta over quinoa. However, when I finally resolve to eat a bit better I am a happy lady. Yeah, I find quinoa to be incredibly bland, but you know that I'm one for experimenting and spicing things up. Red peppers, basil, olive oil, and mushrooms are a wonderful addition to a bowl of this tiny grain.

Tomato and Mozzarella: This is the flavor combination that holds incredible power over during the summer. Bruschetta, salads, sandwiches...it is appropriate and yummy in so many different dishes. Add balsamic and basil and your taste buds are soaring; at least mine are. :)

<3 Ashley

What are your favorite things to eat during the summer?


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Morning Light

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Rise and shine, lovelies! That's right. It's 8:30 a.m. and this girl is already showered, fed, and halfway through a cup of caffeine goodness. How is this possible? Sure I'm not one to cower in the face of daybreak's light, but I'm also not one to get the kettle going until right around this time. This surprising change in routine came after I was unceremoniously awakened at 4:30 this morning. Yeah...that would mean I was up before the sun. Unfortunately, returning to sleep was not an option so I turned to Netflix for a few hours.


It was around 5:45 when I learned how early the sun actually starts to rise. With the morning light creeping through the gaps in my drapes and the beginnings of a gorgeous day underway, I decided that in an attempt to be a proactive adult I would throw on my running gear and hit the asphalt early. Yes. It was a beautiful run and a great way to start my day. This little change (that I would not have done had I not be unable to get back to sleep) really injected some energy into a day that probably would have played out like everyday of these two months since graduation. I have spent the weeks since leaving the 'Burgh scrolling through job descriptions and applying like a madwoman to jobs that may or may not be my dream job—who really knows anymore? Some of those days are even punctuated with the occasional rejection e-mail.

However, today's job search will be performed with just a little more excitement and a little more passion than these last few weeks. This unplanned, and admittedly slightly annoying, early rise and time in the daybreak sun has inspired me to look forward with positivity and put a little more effort in my day—I mean...I am blogging right now. That's a start, right? ;P

<3 Ashley

Are you an early riser? When are you the most productive?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer Reading List


Ever since graduation I have filled my days not only job hunting, but also reading. It is very difficult to maintain a good level of pleasure reading when your nights are filled flipping through text books and doing research in the library for 10-page papers. So over the past four years, naturally I haven't been able to keep up very well with new books. Now that I have a bit more time on my hands, that has changed. In the month since commencement, I have blazed through three books—all three loved. Even still, there are a number of books that have sat on my bookshelf that past few years very much untouched and unopened. That's changing this summer. My task for the summer is to read thmy bookself—and yes, mom...find a job. Here are the books that remain untouched and are therefore on my summer 2016 reading list:


America's First Daughter -Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie *
Me Before You -Jojo Moyes *
All The Light We Cannot See -Anthony Doerr * 
The Time In Between -Maria Duenas currently reading
Sense and Sensibility -Jane Austen
Emma -Jane Austen
Tender Is The Night -F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Last Tycoon -F. Scott Fitzgerald
Anna Karenina -Leo Tolstoy

* = have finished reading. You can find my post about America's First Daughter here.

<3 Ashley

What books are on your summer reading list? Any good recommendations?  

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

May Flowers


I am thrilled that the warm weather seems to be consistently in place for the next few months. These past few days have provided me with some warm and sweaty morning runs (these are the kind I like.) And with the beautiful weather has come the beautiful blooms—the wildflowers that dot the side of the road on my runs and those leading up to the front doors of my neighbors. Even our flowers have started popping out. I would share a photo, but unfortunately we have bunnies living under our front porch. RIP flowers.

While the flowers outside are gorgeous, I love bringing the blooms inside to decorate and bring spring into the home. Here are a few of my favorite pieces of floral inspiration per my Pinterest page:

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<3 Ashley

 What kind of florals do you like to display?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Book Club: America's First Daughter


Here's a fact about me that you may not know: I'm a huge U.S. history nerd. Why did that feel like a huge confession? Haha! More specifically I find the American presidency to be an incredibly fascinating subject of study; especially the earlier presidents—I'm talking Founding Fathers here. During one of my admittedly frequent trips on the Internet reading up about the first ladies, I stumbled upon a bit of reading that is actually super recent!

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie came out just this past March—I think this is the earliest I have ever read a book after its release (not counting Harry Potter!) The novel pieces together the story of Martha Jefferson Randolph, the oldest daughter of Thomas Jefferson and the woman who acted as his First Lady since he did not have a wife at the time of his presidency.

Much of the research for the book was done by reading the many letters that Thomas Jefferson is so famous for writing to friends, family, and some of the greatest thinkers of the day. Those letters also play an important role in telling the story.

The story is told from Martha's perspective as it opens in Monticello immediately following the death of the third president. She moves to his desk to go through all of his correspondences (each chapter opens with her reading a different letter) and to burn those that would have too great of a negative effect on her father's legacy. The timeline moves from her youth when the family was forced to flee Monticello as British forces closed in on the house, to Paris where Jefferson was assigned and where his daughters got a convent education, back to Virginia and the beginnings of Martha starting her own family while also keeping after her father, to Washington and her time as White House hostess, back to Monticello and the declining years of her father's life and her marriage.

This books was very difficult for me to put down—there was one day that I plowed through 200 pages before even realizing it. And the way the story is written drew so much emotion from this reader; I can't express the number of tears that I shed while reading America's First Daughter.

I definitely recommend that you add this one to your summer reading list...it's still early. While this novel certainly fed my inner historian, it also paid attention to my admiration of romance in literature. The relationships that Martha shares with William Short and her husband, Tom Randolph were filled with such emotion and both relationships were intense in their own different ways. If you do pick this book up, I would love to hear your thoughts on the story and how it is presented!

<3 Ashley

Do you enjoy historical novels? What's on your reading list this summer?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

When Left To Your Own Devices


It doesn't happen often now that I am back home, but I take every occasion when I am left in the house alone for a period longer than three hours as a treat. You may not know this, but I do identify as an introvert. Because of this, I absolutely need my alone time—I love hanging out with my family and friends, but girlfriend needs sometime to veg on the couch and marathon on Friends.

For those blessed times when I have a day or night entirely to myself, I take advantage of the silence and take the opportunity to do both what I need and want to do. Here are some great ways to make the most of the alone time:

Clean top to bottom: My mother may not expect it, but when my parents take a trip I tend to take it upon myself to dust the tables, wash the windows, and give the bathroom a good cleaning (my brother likes to ignore the shower. Yuck!)

Solo dance party: Turn the volume up a notch or ten to dance around the house a la Risky Business—yes, pants optional. 

Wine and dine: While you are dancing around and getting down, take the party into the kitchen and throw together a delicious meal for yourself. Grab everything in the fridge that tastes good together or experiment with your culinary prowess with your trust glass of wine by your side!

Read, read, read: With quiet around the house and nothing pressing to do, it is a great opportunity to catch up on some reading that has moved to the back burner; thanks, college! My current read is a new one called America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie about Martha "Patsy" Jefferson Randolph, the daughter and First Lady of Thomas Jefferson. I love learning about history and the presidents, so this one is perfect.

<3 Ashley

What do you do when you are left to your own devices?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Swimsuit Season

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After all of my time stuck in the cave that is finals and the end of my college career, I have emerged to do some research in prep for the summer. The biggest research I have done—what swimsuits are new and hot this year.

Let me tell you; I am very excited about what I have seen! Before I left Pittsburgh, my friend and I did some shopping with our graduation money. One stop was in to American Eagle where I caught a glimpse of some VERY cute high-necked tops. I am very excited to see some more material in use—it's the old lady in me—not so much in favor of conservatism, but rather in favor of creative and interesting new shapes and designs. Here are some of my favorites that I have found:


off-the-shoulder (similar) | halter (similar) | one piece (similar)

<3 Ashley

What is your favorite swimsuit style to sport poolside?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

When Will Spring Be Sprung?


I don't know what the weather situation has been like for everyone else, but I'm having hopeful flashbacks to just a few weeks ago when every day was sunny and in the 70 degree neighborhood. This was in Pittsburgh...it was magical. I'm back home now and the temps are still in the respectable 60-70 range but the sun has only made some very rare appearances. It's the middle of May. Where is the spring that I know and love?

My runs in the morning are still a bit chillier than I like. My skin is still a bit paler than it usually is this time of year—hey...if the sun is out, so am I!

I need the warmth, the sun, the bare legs to be here stat. For now, I'm inside avoiding completely unpacking all of my stuff from school and forced to commit most of my time to the job hunt. Dear employers, hire me and give me monies and responsibilities!

<3 Ashley

Are you enjoying fun in the sun yet?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Hello From The Other Side


Hello...it's me. Ya ya, I know. It's been like a million years since I've been seen around these parts. I have good reason: the last months of senior year proved to be the worst. I took the bare minimum of classes this semester and still ended up in tears at least three times during finals week. What? But it's all over and now...*drumroll* I'M A COLLEGE GRAD! #Pitt2016

Years of schooling later, I am sitting here in a half-empty apartment room trying to comprehend what this weekend was. I submitted my last final Saturday morning (like 1 a.m. Saturday morning) and jumped right into running around for photos and grad ceremonies.

Yesterday, we all gathered in the Petersen Events Center on campus to celebrate the end of the undergrad road. It was difficult not to get emotional the minute the confetti cannons fired a the speakers blasted one last chorus of "Sweet Caroline"—the last chorus we heard as students. What made the experience even more emotional for me was the fact that I spent the ceremony sitting next to my roommate from freshman year.


I didn't really realize it until that point. She was the first person I met at Pitt—we actually met over the summer for lunch and shopping—and she was the one I stood next to as we closed the book on undergrad and opened the cover on the rest of our lives. There is no one who shaped me more than her over these last four years, and no one I would have rather stood next to during that ceremony.

So now I sit here, still not very sure what the future (not even the next few months) holds in store for me. I am both excited and nervous. But I did get this far.

<3 Ashley

So how are you?! Sorry it's been so long. :) Also congrats to my fellow college grads!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Spring Break: NYC


And just like that, it's over. A couple of my roommates and I just got back from a few days in the Big Apple for Spring Break and I already want to go back. There are still a few more days to be lazy and wander around Pittsburgh, though, so I will try not to waste the time wishing I was back window shopping down in Soho. Here are just a few of my favorite snaps from the little four-day vacation:

 
The moment I traveled to NYC to have...a cupcake from the Sprinkles ATM <3 Salty Caramel is a wonderful flavor.

 
Not pictured: The older gentleman who had some SERIOUS ice skating skills (sassy facial expressions included!)

 
The best kind of free entertainment. Seriously hilarious!

 
There could have been a better picture...if there had not been kids climbing all over.

 
Our hotel was in Midtown, not far from Times Square.

Also not pictured is our trip to Greenwich Village to see Carrie Bradshaw's apartment, the apartment building from Friends, followed by a short drive to sample a couple boozy cupcakes at Prohibition Bakery. I tried the Pretzels + Beer and Car Bomb flavors which were great–Pretzels + Beer was my favorite, though!

<3 Ashley

What are some of your favorite spots in NYC? What about for Spring Break?

Friday, March 4, 2016

A Much Needed Break

Image: here

Aaaaaaand BREATHE! Hello, weekend. I've been waiting for you. This week has to have been the hardest and most stressful week that I have had in a long while. This was our last week before Spring Break, and every professor on this campus made it their priority to have ever test, paper, project, and presentation due before the student body scrambled over each other to leave Pittsburgh.

I have night classes Monday-Wednesday and you better believe that I had something big due all three nights. One position paper, case study, presentation, and edited technical paper later and I am ready to hop in the car and escape for a week of no work and no worries. My break will be spent with my roommates in the Big Apple and we have big plans for ourselves.

On the schedule includes tickets to a taping of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, a bottomless brunch, lots of cupcakes, lots of (window) shopping, and lots of walking. On the other side of this break stands another month and a half until graduation, and honestly I am excited. I don't know if anyone could be more over their school work. But I'm not going to think about that right now–I have a week of fun to look forward to and the weather isn't supposed to be horrible.

Note: I welcome all NYC suggestions. This is the first time I will be staying for more than a day!

<3 Ashley

Where are other spring breakers headed to? Any places I should definitely check out in NYC?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Social Media Etiquette


Social media etiquette is a topic that I have been considering for the past year or so, ever since my friend made the comments, "I never post more than twice on Instagram in a given day," and "That post is from yesterday? You can't like it now!"

I understand perfectly that I fall into the millennial generation, technology is my lifeblood, and I speak in hashtags and take pictures of my food. That last one is true...but this pizza honestly looked too good not to capture. I also work as on of the marketing heads for our campus late night show, and one of our many responsibilities is social media, which requires its own rules and guidelines for the sake of the brand (ex: most tweets are accompanied by either a funny gif or a still image from an episode.)

Of course, I have been casually using social media since I was a freshman in high school. I can honestly say though, that up until recently, I had never considered that there could be rules about how many times I post in a day or what the shelf life of a status is. I guess by default I don't post too frequently to any social media that I am on just because my schedule is so packed I don't have time to come up with posts or stop and document something that is happening. Believe it or not, I am quite an "in the moment" kind of person.

But I am curious about what other peoples' stances are on social media etiquette: how many Instagrams in a day is considered excessive? How crafted is your tone on Twitter? How much time has to pass before a post is no longer "likable?"

<3 Ashley

What are your thoughts on social media rules? Are there any that you follow or have established for yourself?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Is That You, Spring?


So this weekend Mother Nature sent Pittsburgh for quite a loop: warm weather. That's right. February isn't even over yet and we got our first taste of spring. Saturday clocked in at a cool 64 degrees and I resolved to leave the house ASAP. I took all of my work (which if we are being honest is still not done) and took the long, sunny walk to a coffee shop for a bit.

The next treat was catching up with one of my friends who indicated an interest in dining al fresco that day. It was a mutual interest. Luckily, the college neighborhood of Oakland is not totally devoid of nice dining choices. We decided to walk over to The Porch and snag a high top outside where we split one of their delicious brick oven pizzas and sipped on white sangria. Just so everyone is aware: if you are in the area any time soon (the menu changes seasonally) and are hungry, the butternut squash pizza is to die for. I did not expect it to be as delicious as it was.

Even Sunday wasn't horrible with temps in the 50s. It was sunny enough that I was convinced to go for a run before gearing up for an evening filming Pitt Tonight. Episode III coming soon!

<3 Ashley

P.S. Today is National Margarita Day. Celebrate responsibly! 

Did you get some warm weather as well? How did you take advantage of it?