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Monday, April 16, 2012

Countdown!

I got the idea of doing a countdown of little tidbits about me from Liesl at Fabulous Fashions 4 Sensible Style and just loved it!  I hope some of my other followers do this too, because I just love learning new things about people:)  Here goes!

TEN things I wish I could say to people (but don't say their name!):

1. Sorry about sophomore year.  We royally f****d up, and it was mostly my fault.
2. You were amazing in every way, but just not for me.  I hope you've finally found the one, and I wish you all the best.
3. I've forgiven you for all the awful things you said.
4. Same as number 3, only I've forgiven the things you did, too.  Believe me, it was hard, but I've moved on, and so should you:)
5. I wish we had kept in touch, chica!  We used to be best friends, and now I don't get to see you:(
6. You're seriously hot.  That's all;)
7. I'm more jealous of you than I should be.  I get that we're not in competition, but it still feels that way sometimes.
8. The poetry you wrote me was so beautiful that it nearly hurt.  If nothing else, thank you for brightening my days the way you did!
9. You may be superficial, but I still love you, and always will.  Just not like that.
10. I miss hanging out with you!  I may have woken up in a pizza box a few times, but life is never boring with you around:)

Nine Things About Myself:

1. I have a habit of peeling my nail polish off soon after I do my nails.  I can spend hours doing them, then just chip it off while watching television.
2. If I weren't going into History, I'd try to break into acting.  I don't have many passions, but I'm seriously into the ones I like.
3. My favorite food is a good falafel sandwich<3
4. I have a goal to visit every country in the world.  I've visited ~17 out of around 196.  Still have a long way to go!
5. I have a sponsor child in Mexico, and someday I hope to visit her and her family.  If I could, I would pack up a car full of amazing things to take to them and roadtrip through Central America.
6. I don't wear pants, except for exercise purposes.  I don't have any religious reasons for doing so, I just prefer the freedom of skirts & dresses:)
7. I'm afraid of sea turtles.
8. I'll try anything once as long as it doesn't violate my beliefs- so no killing or eating bizarre/exotic animals!
9. I legitimately don't see a point in wearing a bathing suit to the beach- they're such scanty little items, why not just skinny dip?



Eight Ways to Win My Heart:

1. Listen to me- nothing is more amazing than a good listener.
2. Have a positive attitude- "everything is okay in the end- if it's not okay, it's not the end!"
3. Be open minded.
4. Have a sense of adventure.
5. Be spontaneous.
6. Make the world a better place- even if it's just by opening the door for a stranger, kindness goes a long way.
7. Be calm, but not boring.  No violent outbursts, no psychotic rages, etc.  Having a temper is okay- using your fists isn't.
8. Don't be judgmental.  Everyone is different, and they all deserve to live their life the way they want to.  And that's okay.


Seven Things That Cross My Mind a Lot:
1. The future.
2. Philosophy.
3. The past.
4. Food;)
5. Travel.
6. My faith.
7. My beloved cats.

SIX things I do before I fall asleep:
1. Wash my face/remove makeup.
2. Brush my teeth meticulously.
3. Drag the cat into bed so she doesn't meow all night.
4. Moisturize my lips- I can't stand them being chapped!
5. Turn something on my computer to fall asleep to- Silence makes it impossible for me to sleep.
6. Make sure my alarm is nice and loud.

Five people who mean a lot:
1. My parents.
2. My grandparents.
3. My best friends.
4. My cats (do they count?  I'm counting them!)
5. Henry VIII.  I just love that man, and have no idea why.


Four Things You're Wearing Right Now:
1. MAC makeup.
2. A soft purple dress.
3. A cozy cardigan.
4. A cameo necklace.

Three Songs You Listen to Frequently (currently):
1. What Makes You Beautiful: One Direction
2. Glad You Came: The Wanted
3. Somebody That I Used to Know (Remixes): Gotye.

TWO Things You Want to Do Before You Die:
1. Go somewhere forbidden...a country or city that I'm totally not supposed to be in.
2. Hike to Choquequirao and see the more hidden ruins:)


ONE confession:

1. I hate surprises.  No idea why:(

Thanks for reading all this crazy stuff about me.  Now, it's your turn- are you going to do one of these lists?  If so, let me know, so I can read yours too:)

Until Next Time,

Ashley


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Snakes!

Sometimes, I'm okay with living the country.  I'm a city girl, but hey, we can all use a little peace and quiet every now and again, right?

Of course, as with everything else, there are downsides to living in a really rural area.  You know, not living near a grocery store, coyotes outside the window at night, etc.

But the worst?

These dudes:


Eek!  He was hanging out in our garage in a roll of tar paper.  We thought he might be poisonous (spoiler alert: turns he was totally harmless for humans), so my dad used a rake to fling him off the shelf and kill him.  I couldn't watch it because, as a vegetarian and animal lover, it pulls at my heartstrings to watch anything die- even something that terrifies the hell out of me.

Originally, we thought he was a poisonous Timber Rattler, like this one from last summer:


But after a little hunting, we found out he was a totally harmless Grey Rat Snake....of course, living in the country, there's a big rat problem.  Happily, we have three cats and stay totally rat free (then again, we have 7-10 different varieties of snakes living on our property, most of which are totally dangerous).

                                                    My dad with the snake

Come on, guys, tell me I'm not the only one who's terrified of snakes!  Let me know what you think in the comments:)

Until Next Time,

Ashley

Saturday, April 7, 2012

New Year's Resolutions: March Check-In

March felt like it lasted forever, I'm not going to lie.  It just was not a good month.

Anyway, onto the resolutions!

1. Original Goal: Lose weight/tone up/ get stronger.

     Basically the only thing I did this month was work out and study.  Seriously.  That's it.  I tried hiking this BEAUTIFUL trail in Tennessee, near Lynchburg.  It has two beautiful swinging bridges, which are so much fun to run across!


2. Original Goal: Make all A's this semester.
     I felt SO accomplished- I made a B on my first English test, and with a lot of hard work and determination, made an A on the next one:D

     I also made As on both papers I turned in.  Lovely month for my studies:)  I'm incredibly excited to transfer and get started on all my major course work!

3. Original Goal: Get accepted to all my transfer schools.

     One of the schools I'm applying to has been absolutely hounding me with fun postcards and emails.  On one hand, it's really flattering and I'm loving the personal attention, but on the other...I already know I'm not going there and will probably not even apply in the first place.  So...kind of a waste of their resources, I suppose.

4. Original Goal: Assorted Blog Goals:

     Terrible month for blogging...only four posts in one month?  Sheesh!  I've been having trouble thinking of things that people would even want to read.  I look through my favorite blogs, and their lives just seem so interesting..and mine seems pretty dull in comparison.  I was thinking of diversifying a little, since I've been too busy to cook something spectacular and delicious every night.  Any suggestions on things you guys would like to read on my blog?  Let me know in the comments!

5. Original Goal: Stop Stressing the Small Things & go to Church more.

     Bad month for this too.  I feel like I stressed my way through this month, and didn't go to Church a single time.  C'est la vie, right?  At least April seems to be starting out pretty well- and as a bonus, it's my last full month at this school (hopefully!)!  

I seem to be failing in my goals more than I would like, but the thought of being accountable to a bunch of strangers all over the world on the internet seems to keep me going.  Are you keeping up with your resolutions?  Let me know in the comments!

xoxo

Ashley

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sixlets Cake

I can't believe it's been like....two weeks since I posted anything.  I feel so lazy, ugh!!

I was going to post a lot more over spring break, but I had a terrible allergic reaction to a new sunscreen I tried and wasn't really able to leave the house for the entire week.  It was terrible and totally ruined the break, so I didn't really feel up to blogging.  Bummer!

Anyway, Friday was my mothers birthday.  We're pretty low key about birthday's in my family, usually going for some kind of family trip or just having a nice meal at home/in a restaurant.  We're really just not party people, I suppose:)

A few months ago, I posted this, where I detailed 10 dishes I was absolutely going to make this year.  I've already crossed off numbers 1 (stuffed Vidalia onions) & 4 (pasta aglio, olio, e peperoncino), but today I get to add a new one!

Ta Da!

Obviously, I'll never be a professional cake decorator, but it was sooo much fun to make and decorate.  I knew as soon as I saw this yummy, candy colored cake that it would be something my mom would go totally nuts for, and I was right!

Since it was her birthday cake, she picked the type of cake and I went with it.  She chose a lemon cake, and I added a raspberry liqueur buttercream frosting.  So tasty!

I really wouldn't actually recommend that you guys make this particular cake with the candy, because (in my opinion, at least), the flavors of lemon and chocolate just don't go together that well.


But hey, birthday girl gets to pick, right?

:)

The lemon cake is absolutely fabulous though, and perfect for summer.  If you or someone you love likes lemon, this is the perfect surprise!

Lemon Cake Recipe:

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
Zest from 6 to 8 lemons (I used five lemons, and got roughly 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of zest, which was   perfect)
3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (juice from about two lemons)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract.

Don't be intimidated by the weird/lengthy ingredient list!


Instructions:

1) In one bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a second bowl, combine the lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla.

2) In yet another bowl, (this one attached to a mixer!) cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy (~5 minutes).  Add the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest while the mixer runs at medium speed.

3)  Alternately add your flour and lemon juice mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour.

The baking pans are totally up to you- the recipe calls for loaf pans, but I used a medium sized cake pan, sprayed it with cooking spray, and baked three layers for 35 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  As usual, check for doneness with a sharp knife or toothpick.  When it comes out clean, it's done!

If you want to rapidly cool, like I had to, slide the hot cake on a pan and find a shelf in your freezer that isn't near anything else.  Freeze the cake until it's about room temperature, and you'll be able to frost/devour the cake much, much faster!

Recipe found here.

Sixlets Cake recipe found here.




If you try, let me know how you like it!

Until Next Time,

Ashley

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tacos & Spanish Rice

You know those taco kits you get in the grocery store?  The ones with the really, really salty taco seasoning?

Ugh.

Just thinking about it makes me feel dehydrated!

I'm on spring break this week, which means I'll be cooking huge, longer to make, and slightly more difficult meals.  How exciting, right?  ;)

Anyway, instead of using seasoning packets to make tacos and rice, my mother figured out the perfect combination of spices to use for the tacos.  The rice, I found the recipe to myself:)  Sooo delicious.

Speaking of which, this weather is crazy, isn't it? So hot, and only March!  To enjoy the lovely weather, we ate outside on the beautiful veranda.  Unfortunately, my parents had already started eating by the time I brought the rice out, so I didn't get any pictures of either the food or the pretty table.  Tomorrow, tomorrow.

Anyway, to the recipes!

Tacos:

Ingredients:

1 bag Morningstar veggie crumbles
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons dehydrated onion
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water

Directions:

Prepare the veggie crumbles in a skillet, like you would ground beef (on the plus side, no need for any kind of oil!).  Add the liquids and stir in carefully.  Add the spices and stir again.  Turn the stove on high and let the excess liquid boil away.

Meanwhile (or way before, actually), you'll want to make the rice:

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped or put through a food processor
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups white rice
3 cups vegetable stock (I'm still a big fan of Better Than Bouillon)
1 big tablespoon of tomato paste
1 pinch of oregano (roughly half of a 1/4 teaspoon)
Salt to taste

Directions:

1. In a large skillet brown rice in olive oil, medium/high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook onion rice mixture, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes, or until onions are softened.


2. In a separate sauce pan bring stock to a simmer. Add tomato sauce, oregano, and salt. Add rice to broth. Bring to a simmer. Cover. Lower heat and cook 15-25 minutes, depending on the type of rice and the instructions on the rice package. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.


The recipe is from this site.  




If I had had the time, I would have tried making it with brown rice, but I was a little pinched since we had just come from the grocery store. Tomorrow, I'll post my recipe for chocolate-chip oatmeal cookie bars, which usually vanish in ~3 days:)


Until Next Time,


Ashley

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kony 2012


I'd like to preface this by saying that I've seen the criticism.


Believe me, I've seen it.

I get that people are more than a little angry about how commercial it seems.

That the whole non-profit is run by a bunch of film makers, not professionals.

That only 33% of the money goes to the actual kids, etc.

But really, it's more than the money.  You don't have to donate to help.  You don't have to open your wallet and donate a single red/green/purple cent of your hard earned change.  What is most important is that you take 30 minutes out of your day (because I know that statistically, many of us spend far more than that watching TV, playing video games, and reading blogs like this one), and watch this movie.  Then share it with your friends.  Share it on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or just show it someone you love.  The most important thing is to get the word out.

It's more than a little heartbreaking to know that things like this go on in the world- I know that for me, I find it easy to forget that not everyone has as easy a life as I do.  But it's SO important to make sure that everyone knows this is going on, and that it has to be stopped.

And for those who say that this is promoting "slacktivism"?  It may be- but isn't that better than nothing at all?  Even if we can't help, even if we don't have money to donate, or the ability to do anything really meaningful to do, it's still important to know this is going on and do what little we can.

Oh, and if anyone lives in/near the Huntsville Area and is interested in "blanketing the city", I'm SO up for it.  I stay up all night anyway, so I might as well be doing something good with my time.


How do you feel about this movement?  Will you be sharing/donating?  Let me know in the comments!

Until Next Time,

Ashley


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New Year's Resolutions: February Check In

I can't believe another month has gone by! Actually, I can.  This month feels like it's dragged on for ages.  Anyway, another month, another resolution check in!  I'm surprised at how well I've been keeping these.  They're surprisingly easy when broken down on a day by day basis.

1. Original Goal: Lose Weight

     People who have been reading my blog for a bit know I just completed the Bodyrock February 30 day challenge(!!).  My fit test results have improved by leaps and bounds, and I'm seriously astonished at how much stronger I've gotten in just a few weeks.

Oh, and those three pounds I lost last month?  I gained them back.  And then lost them again.  One of the many cycles of life, I suppose.

But what's more important is that I've gotten so much stronger and that people can actually see a difference in the way I look.  The scale can go hang itself, I've got more tangible results than a silly number on a scale:)

2. Original Goal: Make all A's this semester.

This feels like the month of tests & papers (but in college, aren't all months like that?)

I had two (count'em) math tests (108 & 93 respectively), a Biology test (104), an English test (89), & a History test (99).  With the exception of the English test, I think I'm doing pretty well:)

I'm particularly happy about math and science- I can't believe it was just two years ago when I was failing my Trigonometry class and making a D in Biology.  It really does make a difference when you have both good teachers and a great attitude!

3. Original Goal: Get accepted to all my transfer schools.

N/A at this time.  But check out this cute postcard I got from one of the two I'm applying to:

How cute is that?  It was actually hand written by one of their students.  I have to say, love the personal touch!

4. Original Goal: Assorted Blog Goals.

I haven't posted as much as I'd like, but as you saw...I've had plenty going on in the way of schoolwork. I should actually be working now, but this is more interesting (also, my middle name is basically "Procrastination").  Anyhow, last month at this time, I had 47 followers, and now....I have 72!  I love each and every one of them, and I feels so thankful that people who have never met me actually want to read what I have to say!

5. Original Goal: Stop stressing the small things & go to Church more.

Went to Church every Sunday this month (plus Ash Wednesday), which I find very calming.  It's nice to be able to sit back and relax (and stand, kneel, etc) for an hour a week and just listen and absorb without having to worry about anything.

As part of not stressing, I've been taking hikes on the weekends.  This past Sunday we went to Tim's Ford State Park in Tennessee, and had a looovely hike in the woods.  The woman said it was very easy and for people who didn't hike much....but we found it plenty strenuous as it was mostly up a steep incline.  But what can I say, I love a challenge!

I hope you all have had an amazing February, and I can't wait to see how March goes!