Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Life Lessons with Ashley

If you run out of spoons at work, you should just forgo your afternoon yogurt, instead of trying to eat it with a fork. You will almost certainly end up with a glob or two on your pants.

When making an eye appointment, don’t tell them you have contacts, even if you do. They will immediately double the charge for less work.

If running when sunny, be sure to wear a visor. This helps catch sweat and stops you from squinting. Be aware that if windy, the visor may blow off your head and taunt you as it bounces down the sidewalk.

When your waitress at a restaurant is someone you think you went to high school with but whom you did not actually know in high school, resist the urge to stare. This is off-putting to said person and they may find you strange. You will feel it necessary to tip better. You don’t have to, unless you’re a bad tipper to start. In which case, double it.

Try to avoid re-working your budget on pay day. You will think you have gobs of money. You don’t.

Crossing your legs Indian-style at work is comfortable, but unprofessional. If you must, make sure your desk is enclosed so you can fool passersby. Taking your shoes off under your desk is okay as long as no one can see your feet. And only if you put them back on to move about the office. And only if your feet don’t smell.

Cheez-its, though similar in color, should not be used as a substitute for an orange. They do not count as a fruit on the Food Pyramid.

A Snake in the Grass

(10 pts if you know the first thing I thought of when typing this post’s title)

On Monday, John and I were walking Sadie in our neighborhood when I noticed some movement in the grass next to my feet as I was walking. Did you see that? I asked him. No, he says. I don’t know what it was but there was an animal in the grass. When we turn around, you’re walking on this side. Ever the protector, he willingly switched sides when I remembered about 10 paces from the site of the first incident on our return. And good thing I did! RUN RUN RUN, he shouts. And I take off down the sidewalk with Sadie, who I think would have preferred to stay and fight. I look back over my shoulder and see him stamping on the sidewalk presumably scaring away the animal. We must have been a sight! He jogs to catch up with me and says, You were right. It was a snake. I shivered with the heebee jeebees and asked if we should continue running. He laughed at me (LAUGHED!) and said, No. I was convinced we were being followed by this snake in the grass. How big was it? Oh, he says holding his hands a foot apart, about this big. More heebee jeebees. Folks, I run or walk this route nearly every day. What am I to do? When meeting this creature alone I will certainly not be brave. Should Sadie come across him she will certainly go after him and I will not be reaching in her mouth after this slithery fellow. I could never be a herpetologist for snakes are my biggest fear. Please do not use this to your advantage in playing a cruel joke on me in the future. What was he doing so close to the sidewalk anyway? It’s a relatively busy sidewalk. Maybe 5-10 passersby an hour, not some remote location. And it’s near a busy road. Oh my. I am faklempt. I am not really scheduled to run for another few days, perhaps he will have moved on by then. Guys, this was no Bob Fosse Snake in the Grass (10 more pts. If you’re doing the snake dance) and so I am extremely frightened.

In not so scary news……the bathing suits I ordered arrived and they FIT! Now, save for new sunglasses, I am ready for vacation.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Do you do this?

Today at the grocery store I realized I was staring at the food on the conveyor belt soon to be purchased by the person behind us. Normally, I watch the monitor to see how much we're spending and to make sure everything rings up at the right price. (Yes, I'm obsessive.) Anyway, in addition to those duties, (John handles the money, like in the 50's) I also scope out what the next customer is purchasing. If their selections are mostly healthy, I commend them inwardly, not to their faces. However, if their purchases are not so healthy or they've chosen food items that can't really call themselves food, I scold them harshly in my mind. Do you ever do this? I'm a very judgmental person. I will own up to that. I guess the lesson is: if you're behind me in line at Meijer, hopefully your cart is full of fruits and veggies lest you risk a shameful glance from me.

P.S. While typing that paragraph, something crunched under the space bar and now the comma key works freely! We don't eat over the laptop so I'm not sure what was under there but I'm rejoicing it's departure.

Back to matters at hand......I'm on a self imposed shopping ban. Did I tell you this? It came about because I added up some of my more superfluous purchases lately and decided to rein things in. Anyway, I went to the mall today and completely failed. Well, not completely I suppose. I scored 2 shirts at the Gap for a total of $8.00. But, non-work shirts were not on the list of approved purchases. Ho hum.

Here's the Story....

Every now and then I like to mix things up with an autobiography. Granted, Here's the Story by Maureen McCormick isn't the hard hitting writing that most people look for in an autobiography but for this week, it did the trick. For those of you who are not up on their pop culture, Maureen McCormick is the actress who played Marcia Brady on the Brady Bunch (great show!) for 5 seasons and countless subsequent specials. Her actual life was much more sordid. Like many child stars, she had a coke problem. But, she also had MAJOR family issues including a mother with syphilis, a developmentally disabled brother and a CRAZY brother who forced his father into elder abuse. She eventually cleans up her life and comes out on top. Yea! Here's the Story was more well written than some other actor turned author's attempts but not fabulous. It was a fast read though and her life is definitely something I wasn't expecting. It's worth it if you're looking for something different which is at times heartbreaking. (damn you comma key!)

Yesterday we had my cousin over for dinner and my sides bonanza was a hit! I made mac salad, broccoli salad, ambrosia, and my first attempt at pretzel salad, which the guys deemed a success. It just makes me yearn for summer! It was so hot it might as well be summer. I wore a dress and sandals. :) Only 25 days until vacation!!! And only 10 days till my mama comes. WHeee!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ashley Back on Top

Great news! Zumba war might be over!! Huzzah! I've been to 2 classes in a row (well 2 Thursday classes) with no incidents. Wheee!! I'm hoping this means I can look forward to going again instead of just going because I know that it will be good for me. On the other hand, I am at a fitness cross roads. (FYI - my comma key has been sticking so if you think a comma should be somewhere in my posts there probably should be but when I hit it I forget to go back and make sure it worked and I hate hitting it twice. Perfect example of a sentence in need of a comma or two.) About 2 months ago I decided that I had better start incorporating strength training in addition to my cardio so that I could firm up burn more calories and lose weight faster. (I miss you comma!) Where am I going with this? Oh the crossroads of fitness......this morning I put on my khakis for work (blah outfit today not gonna lie) and they were kind of tight in the thigh. WTF? I have been doing crazy lunges and squats and whatnot. If I really am building muscle I should also be losing fat right? So I don't know if I should stick with it and pray that it evens out soon? My thighs are my biggest problem area. They are the sole reason (or reasons) I can't get down to the next pant size. DAMN YOU thunder thighs! Oh or stop doing the strength and go back to all cardio. What would you do? What has worked for you in the past? In my heart of workout hearts I think it's only been 2 months and I should stick with it. But my self esteem when none of my shorts fit just plummets. Boo hoo indeed. I'll keep you posted on my decision. It won't be an easy one.

The DN's had their baby and there's a big sign on their door that says "It's a Girl -- January Faith Jones." No joke. 1) Are they kidding with that name? 2) Are they Mad Men fans? 3) Did they not Google the name before selecting the EXACT name of this actress? 4) I cannot stand the name Faith just not my style. 5) Are they hoping the daughter will grow up to look like the actress? 6) I just cannot condone this choice. 7) Why did I number this list? 8) I think it was to avoid missing commas.
..........I'm tired. Is it Friday night yet?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The 19th Wife

I just finished the 19th Wife by David Ebershoff and without beating around the bush, if you're fascinated by the polygamist culture like I am, READ THIS BOOK! Last year I read Escape (which is non-fiction) and I really enjoyed it. The 19th Wife is a mesh of present day and historical fiction about Brigham Young's 19th wife. It also chronicles Jordan Scott, a 20 year old previously banished by his fundamentalist community, in a search to free his mother -- also a 19th wife -- who has been put in jail for shooting his father. There is a lot of hopping back and forth 200 years but the stories Ebershoff tells parallel each other perfectly. I won't go into the plot too much, it's rather lengthy. It's definitely one to pick up though.

In non-book news, my wellies arrived today!!! Those coupled with a lot of recent unnecessary jewelry purchases (and 2 bathing suits) mean I'm on a self imposed shopping ban until my Florida trip (only 29 days away!) Items I am allowed to purchase if found: shorts, capris, brown and/or black sandals. So, for the next month, I'll just drool over my boots and pray for rain while wearing all of my new jewelry. Oh shopping, you fickle seductress. I just can't seem to quit you.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

To the Zoo! -- a brief pictorial

Look at this monkey!
Les fleurs!
I'm a sleepy lion. This was right before he couldn't keep his head up any longer and plopped down for a nap.
Look at that blue. Insane! I would like a piece of clothing in that shade and I would call it my peacock shirt/dress/tank top.
Hey man, what's so exciting about taking my picture noshing on some kale?
This kitty was asleep leaning on the glass. I respected the "Do not tap on glass" sign and left him alone. Tired kitty.
More pretty tulips. It was Tulip Mania at the zoo and I LOVE tulips. They are, hands down, my favorite flower.
Hey, little fella! The zoo babies aren't really put on display until later on in May. I don't know how old this l'elephant is but he was cute (and smelly).

No fewer than 4 times did John have to say, "Don't look over there" because some zoo keeper was standing on the paths holding a snake or lizard or reptile in general. The first one especially took me by surprise because when someone says, "Don't look to the right" your natural inclination is to look to the right. I had to hop to the other side of John so I had a buffer between me and a slithery snake. *shivers* Later on, John didn't so such a hotshot job at warning me and I found myself passing reptiles with no notice. These animals are supposed to be captive. That's why they're in a zoo. There's a reason I don't go in the reptile house, zoo people. I didn't pay $11.00 (and that was the discounted price!) to be scared to death. Other than that, it was just a lovely day. We had even packed a lunch so we didn't fall into the fried food trap that would have tacked on another $20 to an otherwise not so inexpensive outing. Go us! We did split a twist custard though. YUM, and so worth it.

........non-Zoo related............

I beat my personal record for 3 miles AGAIN today. 28:53. I'm on a serious roll! At the rec, I thought I'd try my hand at some intervals and boy did they pay off. I'm attributing it also to my new racerback tank that I got at Target on Sunday. Those missing pieces of fabric on my deltoids made all the difference. I need to go back and buy it in another color maybe. Some disheartening news though. Even with my added strength and upping the cardio and green tea incorporation, I still feel like my main trouble spot (thighs) are in not so good shape. I tried on some capris at the mall today and my normal size didn't even really fit. So either, the store is cutting them weird (and granted that store's sizes are all over the map) or what I'm doing isn't working. I knew results from strength wouldn't happen overnight and I can definitely seen more muscle definition in my thighs but, come on guys, I tried on my shorts from last year and they weren't looking so good. Of course they were too big in the waist (story of my life lately). I don't want to have to get my bottoms altered all the time. Too time consuming and expensive. I'm just hoping that the added muscle will really start helping me burn fat off my thighs soon, even though I know you can't spot reduce. All I can do is keep at it I guess.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ho hum Thursday

Good news! No nemesis in zumba tonight. Oh happy day. And, my babies arrive by Tuesday approximately. It was very sunny today, which is a plus. LOST was pretty good last night. Are you a LOST fan? If yes, we can chat about it.

Weekend PLEASE!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I first discovered Marilynne Robinson when she came to the Literary Festival I worked for in college. At the time, everyone knew her from her first novel Housekeeping. Since then she had written some non-fiction and teaches at the Iowa Writer's College. So, she came to us and did a reading and lectures aplenty and I met her and whatnot. Then, she got all huge and Pulitzer Prize-y for Gilead. Wait, I take that back. Gilead came out right before the Lit Fest and really, we were lucky to land her at that time. I digress. Home is her most recent novel. It's the sad story of Glory Boughton and her dying father as they cope with the prodigal son, Jack, who has returned after 20 years to make amends, or something. This book was kind of depressing, I'm not gonna lie. I don't have a dying parent so I couldn't really relate. I also don't have a transient brother, but the heartache that nearly every single character experienced in this story was palpable. Don't read Home looking for an uplifting plot by any means. Read it for the superb writing and character arcs. other news.........

I won my ebay auction for my Hunter wellies. Come to mama, babies!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fit as a Fiddle

So, I don't usually go to the rec during the week but it's cold out and I wanted to run and the rec I go. I haven't run in over a week so I wasn't thinking it would be a very successful workout. I was totally wrong! I ran 3 miles in 29:49. A new personal best!! My reasons for a rockin' time are two-fold: 1) I have really been hitting the strength hard. More than I ever have in all my exercising years. And I think the added muscle must be making me stronger, and 2) Some sweet new tunes courtesy of LP. Good call, friend! I won't run again until Saturday or Sunday so we'll see if it was a fluke but, I'm proud of it anyway. Looks like someone deserves some new workout gear.....

Man, am I a sucker for a make over show. It's make over week on the Biggest Loser. These contestants have already made some incredible transformations. Then they get to see their family members and oh, just tears. I wish Ron would just go away though.

If you hadn't heard, I'm going back to blonde in T-minus 2 1/2 months. I've decided the brown just isn't me. Sorry, brunettes. I'm defecting back to the party squad.

In other news, one of the scrapbook stores I go to sometimes is moving WAY closer to me, like 2 miles away. I'm assuming it's a bigger space because they're going to do crops. I feel like I definitely need a good 4-6 hour chunk of time to knock out my honeymoon and then start the wedding (ahem) a whole year later. (Read: slacker) My fear of these crops is that it will be a bunch of middle aged women, or old moms, or just otherwise a bunch of people I can't relate to. Is it worth it to spend time with yet another group of non-friends to get the scrapping done? Time will tell, I guess.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Communal Living

This has got to stop! I have moved every year for the past 5 years and I'm tired of sharing walls, hallways, yards, etc. When we moved into these condos, we had a new outlook on life. A 2nd bathroom, colored walls, heaven. The sparkle soon faded and now, I've realized, we're still renters. Last week (or the week before), Downstairs Neighbors -- I don't know their name -- stopped John in the hall to complain about our exercising, well, MY exercising. They "claim" the ceiling was shaking. Thanks for calling me a heifer, DN's. Anyway, supposedly, they were nice about it and non-confrontational and supposedly, the female DN is pregnant, I don't know why that matters but I wanted you to have all the facts. Anyway, I know the Jillian Michaels' Boost Metabolism has a whole lot more jumping than the No More Trouble zones but sometimes, I don't want to just work on my trouble zones. I need to bust out the fat too. So, I suppose I'm stuck with the strength only at home and will get my cardio in outside, at the rec, and at zumba. In my defense, I honestly did not think they were home at the time I was boosting my metabolism. What is it with everyone harshing my cardio?

In other news, I think it will be warm enough this weekend to go to the zoo. WHEEE!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Such a Pretty Fat

This week I started and finished (it was a fast read), Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster. This is Lancaster's third memoir the other two being Bitter is the New Black (which my library refuses to give me) and Bright Lights, Big Ass (which I read a few years ago). Such a Pretty Fat is the tale of Lancaster's attempts at weight loss. Since weight is always something I have struggled with, and having really enjoyed Bright Lights, I had high hopes for this one. I have to say, I really enjoyed Pretty Fat a lot. I always like when I laugh out loud during a book and this one let me do that a number of times. Lancaster's writing style is very conversational but sometimes I find that a bit more approachable, especially when you're trying to relate to an author of a memoir. Her documentation of the trials and tribulations of realizing how much weight she had gained and then trying to lose most of it in order to be able to write said proposed book was very relatable and just reiterated for me that everyone has trouble losing weight, some more than others. It's definitely worth reading if you're looking for a laugh, or even if you're just looking for a little motivation. Check out her other stuff too! V. funny.

Advantage: Ashley

I braved a Thursday zumba class a couple days ago for the first time in weeks! Of course, my nemesis was there but she was sans posse. I took my position and had really psyched myself up for the class all day. "You're better than her. Don't let her get to you." This was my affirmation. Evil Nemesis was in the back of the class talking to some other students (new posse?) right up until the instructor said, "OK, let's zumba!" She works her way right up next to me, sort of. She was in the row behind me but she might as well have been next to me. So I told myself, just don't look at her. Don't watch her in the mirror. Watch yourself, the instructor and the other half of the class. And I did, and it worked! I just didn't worry about what she was doing. I think I figured it out. She doesn't want to stand in the front row, she just doesn't want to have anyone stand in front of her. Well, tough! You can't stand in the 2nd row and expect there to be no one in the front row. It's a sizeable class and there's not that much room. So, I think I'm winning. We'll see what happens next time her normal posse is there but for now, at least we can co-zumba civilly.

In other news, my birthday came and went without much fanfare. I got some lovely gifts and I want you to meet, Ingrid. She has joined my purse family and while the others are a little jealous of the new kid on the block, I think they'll warm up to her in time. Ingrid is a decent-sized bag which is a big change from what I was recently carrying. I don't really have enough to fill her up, which is fine because she'll be lighter that way, but she's much more business-y and that is what I'm looking for. A bag for when I'm giving people the business. Anyway, here she is! (Picture is from Ebay so not the best quality)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Note to Self

Stop watching the HGTV Sunday Open House which provides hours worth of programming regarding first time buyers, renovations and the like. I am consistently depressed each week by the time I go running and want to cry.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Doggy Tip of the Day

If your dog has hiccups, it is possible for you to help out! Just now (hence the double post), Sadie nestled in next to me after some jackassery this morning involving a CD (which she broke in half). After a couple seconds I realized she had the hiccups. Can dogs get rid of hiccups on their own? I don't know because I always get rid of them for her. Just when she's not suspecting it I yell, "SADIE!" It startles her and her hiccups leave. Now, I know scaring humans is supposed to cure their hiccups as well but that never works for me. I'm glad that this old wives' tale holds true for the canine persuasion. Also, have you ever seen it spelled "hiccoughs"? I think that is just madness.


Change of Heart

I finished Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult a few days ago after not having read anything by her for a number of months. I can read about 3 Picoult books and then I have to switch authors for awhile. Her writing style is very definitive and it sometimes makes all the books seem the same and run together. Moving on, Change of Heart is the story of Shay Bourne, an inmate on death row for the murder of a little girl and her father. He is nearing is execution date and wants to donate his heart to the sister of said murdered girl. Events occur in the prison that lead many to believe he's the second coming of Jesus. Throw in a spiritual adviser who was on the jury that found him guilty and an ACLU lawyer trying to get him hung so that he can donate the heart, instead of lethal injection, and you've got yourself a typical Picoult web of characters. This wasn't my favorite by her. If you've never read Picoult, don't start with this one. I enjoyed her twist, which somehow I never see coming, so that was a plus. The characters, for the most part, were likable enough. So, maybe it was just the story itself I wasn't crazy about. Anyway, it was just okay. other news.......................

Today is Ashley's Birthday Observed, because my bday falls on a Tuesday. We're going to the Melting Pot. Mmmmm, cheese. Sends well wishes please!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Three Cups of Tea

I definitely finished 3 Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen and some other guy I can't remember 2 weeks ago. Bad blogger. This is a nonfiction work about mountain climber Greg's efforts to build schools among the mountains of Pakistan. It is an incredible story of overcoming every possible obstacle from bad weather to kidnappings and lack of funds. I read it because it's a best seller and I was not disappointed. I was glad to mix in some non fiction and while this review is super short, it's worth the read. Although, I did skim some of it. Oops! Anyway, pick it up.

Good non-book news! After further research, those packages of fatty chicken were indeed mismarked. We have not been unknowingly ingesting mass amounts of fat. Rest assured.