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:





<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'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


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 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'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!