Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

This is Sadie's homemade costume. She is a cave woman, AKA Pebbles. I started just telling people she was Pebbles when every person I told about her costume replied, "A Cave woman?" Sheesh, people. Ever seen Tarzan. Come on, clowns. Anyway, Sadie loves to wear her costume. However, she does not like the bone on her head, which really makes the outfit. It's a Milkbone and she shakes it off her head only seconds after I have wrestled it onto her. I suppose I can't blame her. I picture her saying, "Treats go in my belly, not on my head." She's sassy.

Can you see the sneering lip, and the glaring eye?

Please give me that treat. Please! (Whenever Sadie wears costumes or shirts, her chest hair tends to stick out the top like an Italian mobster.)

I will dance for it if you want.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Living Room Makeover

I know I promised this forever ago. The makeover of our living room has been complete for awhile now but I've been busy and then the computer crashed and I couldn't upload pics. Excuses, excuses. I also cannot find the before pictures I took anywhere. I'm sorry you won't get to see the real transformation. I fail. Anyway, here it is!

This is the view from the kitchen. What I changed here was the artwork (details on that below), and the candles in the sconces. I also re-covered my throw pillows. Remember that? And I switched out the centerpiece. Sadie not included.

Here's a close up of the artwork. I painted a 20"x24" canvas with burnt orange paint. The saying is from World War II England and I love it. They are vinyl letters I bought from lostcabin on Etsy. They were a steal at $9.00! This picture is kind of crooked. Oops!

What's new here are the curtains! We didn't have anything before and while the blinds are still crappy, we're renting and I'm not buying new ones. Anyway, I think the curtains soften the area because they're just a sheer white cotton. I wish I had a before shot to show you. BIG difference.

Instead of a rod, I hung the curtains on little hooks. I think this is super clever. I can't take credit for that idea though. My sister sent an example photo of it to me from somewhere and I went with it. The hooks kind of blew my budget but I went as cheap as possible. More on that later!

Coffee Table Decor -- I already had all of this stuff so that line item in my budget read "free."

For the past year, we've had our engagement picture above the mantle. One day I realized that pretty much every picture we have framed is of us. We're really not narcissistic. Honest. Anyway, I thought this fall grouping came out nicely. I put the glitter leaves in the wreath. The Pumpkin egg I got in a cute little store in a nearby town. On the back it says "Happy Jack."
He sure is! I had the candlesticks and clock.
The bottles I got at Christmas Tree Shops for next to nothing. Holla!

Oh yeah! Those white pumpkins are Baby Boos and I am officially obsessed with them. I will be sad to see them go come December. I think they are so cute.

Happy Jack!

So there you have it, friends! Remember my $50 self-imposed budget? Here's how it all breaks down:

Artwork, self made $18
Curtains, IKEA $10
Candles, IKEA $4
Pillow Covers, self made $6
Hooks for curtains, Drug Mart (seriously) $14
Wreath, Hobby Lobby $8
Bottles, Christmas Tree Shops $2


Yes, I went over budget by $12. However, when I set my limit, I did not intend on doing curtains. If you have curtains, you know how expensive they are, especially including hardware. So, I think I did really well all things considered. And really, if I find those 'before' shots, I'll post them! I think the biggest money saver was my pillow covers. Since I made them myself out of a yard of fabric (with coupon!), I saved a ton. Throw pillows are pretty expensive, or they can be. Mine were still in good shape, they just need a facelift. Have I inspired you to do a makeover? You can do it on the cheap and still have it look great! I promise.


This past Saturday, we put Sadie in her homemade by me costume and headed up to our outdoor shopping center for a dog costume contest. The rain didn't keep us away, but it did keep most of the other dogs away which was a shame. We also got there with only about 10 minutes left in the whole thing. Drat. Anyway, here are some shots I got of other doggies in disguise. Sadie's costume pics are forthcoming...a little closer to Halloween.

Honest Abe Lincoln! This was one of my favorites.

I'm a sucker for a bully. There were more there but this was the only one I caught straight on.

This one is a little harder to see. Right in the center is a pug with the best spider costume. 8 legs and all! His owner was the web. I think they won best Owner Doggie Duo.
If not, they should have!

And here's little Miss Sadie to whet your appetite for her costume pics. Her new thing is hanging off the end of the chaise to check out a different point of view. I'm boycotting her haircut. She's so flipping cute with long hair. Even if she can't see.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I tried three new recipes on Sunday. 2 out of 3 turned out way spicier than I like. Next time, I shall cut the seasoning amounts in half and maybe I won't get heartburn, or crazy dreams.

One was this recipe for Flautas de Pollo. Flautas are my favorite Mexican food. They're hard to come by in these parts but in less than a month, I'll be in flautas heaven. These were super easy to make and were very tasty. I left out the jalapeno and they still had quite a kick. Just a word of warning if you don't groove on the spicy stuff.

I also made a Tomato Tortilla soup. This was WAY spicier than I thought 1 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes would garner. It was from Everyday with Rachel Ray and I ripped it out a couple years ago but only made it just now. It's super easy so you can make it too, if you can stand the heat!

I saved the best, and not at all spicy, for last. It was a low fat Pumpkin Bread from Hungry Girl. I couldn't convince John that the cranberries would be good in it so I left them out. This bread is dense, yo, but SOOOOO yummy. It was especially good with my homemade apple butter on it. I love Hungry Girl. I'm asking for her new cookbook for Christmas. Make this if you're in a sweet mood. I didn't have Splenda and ended up substituting 1/3 c. of regular sugar for the 1/2 c. Splenda the recipe called for. I thought that was fair because I think Splenda is sweeter than regular sugar.

See? I was a cooking fool. I feel like Sunday afternoons are perfect for cooking and it keeps me out of the mall. Since the holidays are upon us, I should be saving my pennies for gifts.....and for our vacation which commences in less than 30 days!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Life Imitating Art Imitating Life

On Sunday mornings, when we should be in church, John makes Belgian waffles. He's the breakfast lover around here but I'm warming to most breakfast dishes. I now like waffles, pancakes, eggs, most sweet things, etc. I do not like french toast. I just can't get into it. Anyway, after waffles, we get coffee and go to Target and grocery shopping at Meijer. Today at Target, we had a humorous encounter with a cashier. If you've seen the SNL skit at Target ("Approved!") you may already know where I'm headed with this, although our cashier didn't take it quite that far.

Cashier: Oh, this sweet 'n spicy tuna is the best kind!

(She tells us this every week. No joke. It is the best but, come on lady, we see you every Sunday.)

Ashley: Yes, it is.

Cashier: Look at this cute wrapping paper. Is this already in the Dollar Spot?

(It was Christmas wrap, the short rolls.) John, biting his lip to stifle a burst of laughter, has to look away at this point. He told me later he was expecting the lady to run over to the Dollar Spot much like Kristen Wiig does in the skit.

Ashley: Yes, it is.

Cashier: I just love these rolls because there's no waste. They're the perfect size.

Ashley: I know. We got 4 of them!

This encounter won't be very funny for you unless you've seen the skit. I found one of them on You Tube here, if you're so inclined. The quality isn't great but you'll get the idea. other news........

Unfortunately, since our computer has been slowly working its way back from the great beyond, not all areas and applications are working properly. The main one I'm concerned with is the ability to upload pictures. I have much to report including my living room makeover, Sadie's costume for this year and Saturday's washed out Bow-Wow-Ween. There's some good stuff there that I know you can't wait to see. But.... you will have to. My apologies.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Born Round

Despite the fact that I haven't been to NYC since 2006, I still read the NY Times everyday and am always interested in Frank Bruni's restaurant reviews as head food critic for the NYT. When I heard he had a book coming out, I put myself on the hold list straight away. Born Round: The Secret Life of a Full Time Eater by Frank Bruni was released just weeks ago. As someone who finds weight a constant struggle (don't we all?) I was interested to see how someone whose career revolves around food tackles this hurdle. Bruni deftly describes his weight issues as they began when he was a toddler and continued through his adult life. He goes into detail about his family and the role the Italian mentality regarding food played in his weight and the extremes he took some diets to. Eventually, he was hired as food critic for the NY Times, after he had gotten his weight under control. He shares the ups and downs of life and the scale in this relatable memoir. Bruni has a quick sense of humor that is always appreciated by me. As a reader, I am often looking for a literary laugh.

I really liked Born Round. I think it's one of my favorite memoirs from this year. It was particularly well written and as I said, relatable. If you've ever struggled with weight and wondered why, Bruni's journey will help you realize that everyone fights the same battles and what matters is how you approach them. Pick this one up if you come across it. Thumbs up!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Challenge met!

At the beginning of the year, I tasked myself with reading 35 books in 2009. Well, 35 came and went and I didn't even know it! I'm currently on book #38. Can you believe it? Man, do I love reading. Anyway, in light of this revelation, I've thrown down a new challenge for myself. Dare I say......I'm shooting for 50 books by the end of the year. That was my original goal before I amended it to 35 not wanting to set myself up for failure. But, with a little over 2 months left, and a week long vacation at Thanksgiving, I'm confident I can make it. Sure, I may have to pick a few fast fluff books but, hey, those still count.

How have you done on your reading this year?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Supreme Courtship

Guys, my computer went nuts for a week! We thought we were going to have to replace it completely and since my recent car repairs were $900, I wasn’t too keen on another large expense such as a computer. But, my non-tech savvy man figured it out, I think. Regardless, I can now blog for you! Exciting, yes?

Last week, or the week before, I finished Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley. I have read a number of his other works and this is the most recent, though I think it was published in 2008. When President Vanderdamp’s first two nominees to the Supreme Court are turned down by the search committee, he throws them for a loop by nominating Pepper Cartwright, a popular TV judge on the series Courtroom Six. By the miracle of literature, she is approved and causes quite a fuss as she begins to hear cases and raises eyebrows among the other eight warring judges. In the midst of it all, the President decides he must wage a campaign for re-election. A romping tale of wacky divorces, unexpected romances, and general mudslinging ensues in this politically charged comedy.

Supreme Courtship moves along at a pretty good clip and had its moments to chuckle at but it’s not nearly as good as some of Buckley’s other pieces. I enjoyed Thank You for Smoking, No Way to Treat a First Lady and The White House Mess far better than this one. If you’ve not read any Buckley, and even if you have no interest in political humor, I think you might enjoy one of the three I rattled off. Just don’t start with Supreme Courtship. It was really nothing to write home about.

I didn’t get to post about my in-law invasion and now it’s come and gone! Lots happens in a week, apparently, when you don’t post even though you think your life quite dull. John’s parents have never visited us and this past week, they made the 3 ½ hour drive to do so. We had a great time! I won’t list all of the details but they wore us out. We have had a string of weekends in which we don’t really feel we’ve accomplished much at all but have no room to relax. Let me also say, November is shaping up to be extremely busy. How is October half over already? How come I had to scrape ice off my windshield yesterday? Cut a girl some slack!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Transportation Woes

Last week, my car started doing strange things. I took it to Saturn and had to drive around with a technician. This was slightly unnerving. I always feel as though my passengers are judging my driving. I don't feel I'm a poor driver; I just don't usually have an audience. On this co-piloted drive, of course, my car was behaving perfectly. I went on my merry way, stupidly optimistic that the problems would subside on their own. Saturday, I took it in for a routine oil change. In the 3 days prior, it seemed my problems had indeed gone away on their own. Fingers crossed anyway.

Forward to Monday and my darn Check Engine light comes on. I was disheartened at first but knowing that my car probably wouldn't have righted itself, I was glad that they now had something concrete to look at. I took it in today after work knowing full well that it costs $86 just for them to hook my boy Blue (that's my car) up to their handy machine that tells you why your lights come on.

I hadn't heard anything by the time I was supposed to so John called my new buddy Dale over at Saturn. I hate cars and I'm also car stupid. John's not a whole lot better in this area but he agreed to call and check on it anyway. He also deals with the unpleasant money situations in this marriage. He already knew he would be fielding the call about the bill for this service because if it was over $500 (my hopeful amount) there's a good chance I would start crying. I'm not usually a big crier but I will confess an embarrassing story. One time when I was younger, too young to be driving or have credit, I went to pick up some pictures I had developed at Drug Mart. For some reason, they were way more than I thought they were going to be and I didn't have enough money. I started crying in Drug Mart. I had to leave and ask my dad for more money. He had been waiting in the car for me. I'm pretty sure he laughed at my misfortune and sorrows. I can't really remember as it was quite some time ago. Thus, why I don't deal with unpleasant money situations.

I digress.

The whole blasted point is: it's now almost 9:00 pm and an hour ago, after they had been looking at Blue for 3 hours, they still didn't know the crux of the problem. They know it is transmission related, not a cheap fix, but can't say for sure how to repair it. THIS IS YOUR JOB, Saturn Technicians. You work on the same models of cars all day long. There are only so many issues that can possibly arise. They're keeping Blue overnight, and there's a good chance they'll also have to wait a few days for parts. Eff it. This sucks.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Because of my foot issues that have not yet subsided, I am forced to use the workout room instead of the indoor track at my local recreation center. This upsets me for a number of reasons first and foremost being hygiene issues. I don’t know what is so difficult about wiping down machines that you have just sweat all over but apparently, it’s very taxing. For this reason, I wipe down everything I use before and after I am on it, just to be safe.

Also troubling are the noises that some people make in this room. There are both cardio machines (bikes, elliptical, etc.) and weights in the same area. I don’t think I have ever once felt the need to grunt while doing strength exercises but, that seems to be the common sound of choice to make while lifting. The way to avoid hearing this is to turn up your ipod as loud as possible. However, if your ipod volume is considerably high, you will not be able to hear when other people talk to you. I take the following conversation as an omen to just ignore any future contact. People will stop talking to you if you ignore them when they notice you have headphones in.

Let me paint you a little picture. I’m getting on my stationary bike, minding my own business and an old lady flops onto a recumbent bike two spots down from me. She has to be in her 70’s and has her hair pulled into a tight bun. Her neck is adorned by a beaded necklace which is completely inappropriate for the gym. She’s got on a red shirt and black pants, neither of which I would classify as workout wear, and no bra to speak of. A portly person, she also has lipstick far outside her lips and in general, looks about 6 shades of crazy. I’m trying not to stare as she makes a comment about the Bengals score but then says, “Oh, you have your headphones on.” Stupidly, I pull out one of the buds:

Ashley: I’m sorry?

Crazy Lady: I just was wondering what the score is.

Ashley: They haven’t shown it yet but I think it’s zero zero.

Crazy Lady: Do you go to Centerville or a different high school?

A bit thrown, I’m not too sure how to respond. Yes my hair is pulled back but does hair being down really age me? Also, I’m wearing a wedding ring. This should be a clue for her.

Ashley: Uh, no I’m 26.

Crazy Lady: Oh, what college do you go to?

At this point I can’t decide if I should be offended or flattered. At first, she knocked 10 years off my age, and now she has no concept of how old college graduates are.

Ashley: I graduated college 4 years ago.

CL: Where do you work?

Honestly by now, I am trying to figure out if there is any way for me to just leave the room. Quit talking to me so I can get on with my workout, weirdo.

Ashley: I work down in Cincinnati.

CL: You drive down there every day?

Ashley: Yes.

As she crosses herself…..

CL: Bless your heart. My son is a lawyer and he works 24 hours a day trying to hold onto his job.

Ashley: That’s too bad.

Pedal, pedal, pedal. Thankfully she stopped talking to me and I went about my business. She may have said something else to me later on, much like the lady who asked me if I could also squirt her paper towels when I was cleaning my machine because she couldn’t find the spray. What is wrong with these people? That’s the problem with rec centers. Every geriatric gets a membership because it’s cheap and they don’t know proper gym etiquette. Also, some old man stared at me while I was doing squats. I was facing him. I’m not sure if that makes it more or less creepy. I wanted to tell him to take a picture and it would last longer but I just pretended I didn’t see him looking. Rough.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tales of an Office Bathroom - Part 7

You know what I think I hate more than bathroom talkers? Walking into a bathroom that stinks to high heaven. I realize this is a hazard of using the restroom. Not everything comes out smelling like roses. It’s just a fact of human nature. There is something to be said, however, for not fouling up a public restroom. Others don’t buy into this. Oh, a public toilet? Let’s see what I can produce to make the next person’s visit as unpleasant as possible, they think. I think what’s even worse than walking into a particularly pungent restroom, however, is walking into the stall that has clearly just been vacated by the offender and thus making you the offendee. It’s like sitting in the scene of the crime, right? The smell just envelopes you and you try to hurry things up so you can get the heck outta there. At least, I do.

True story. One of my employees told me the other day that when he was washing his hands in the men’s room, a guy from the office across the hall walked in barefoot. I could think of no logical explanation to ever walk into a public restroom with no footwear. That is beyond disgusting. You couldn’t pay me to do that. We’ve got to get to the bottom of this, I said. It turns out, the barefoot bandit just had foot surgery. Oh, that’s plausible, you might be thinking. But, you’d be wrong! If someone just had their foot operated on, don’t you think it would be prudent to protect the area from foreign bodies? Where was the surgical boot? And why, if only one foot was the issue, would BOTH feet be bare? This same across the hall office person once handed my employee a newspaper on the way into the restroom and said, “Here, you can read this while you’re taking a dump.” Again, true story.

Sorry for the potty-related post. I’ll try to keep these to a minimum but I just had to share.

The Time Traveler's Wife

I wanted to read The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger before the movie came out. Well, at least before I saw it anyway. It took forever to work my way up the hold list, probably owing to the movie, but no matter. I’ve finally finished The Time Traveler’s Wife. I went in not really knowing what to expect. Clare Abshire and Henry DeTamble weave quite a web together as their lives intertwining through Clare’s perfectly normal chronological life and Henry’s ever-skipping one, explained by a genetic disorder. They meet with Clare is six and continue on throughout their lives together. I don’t want to give away too much of the story so I can’t really get very in depth with the summary. I’m sure you’ve seen the trailer.

This love story/science fiction novel is usually met by reviewers who either loved it or hated it. While I didn’t love it, I find myself in the middle ground. I do, however, lean much more toward love than hate. I’m stuck in like. I really liked both of the main characters Niffenegger created. Her supporting cast was well executed too. However, I’m not super into science-based novels and this one had a LOT of scientific roots carefully hidden by romance. I think my main issue is that I am, apparently, too dense to understand time travel. I had this problem with the most recent season of Lost as well. I’m not crazy about themes where you can just change all the rules whenever you feel like it. Obviously, so you will get the feel of time traveling, TTW jumps around constantly. That, I got used to and in the end it really did help to move the story forward. I will warn you, it’s a long one. It took me awhile to really get into it but by the end, it was quite a page turner. So, I do recommend it. Just know what you’re getting into.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Open Letter to Coffeemate

Dear Coffeemate,
You make delicious creamers for coffee. I really appreciate your craftsmanship and variety of flavors (though I think you could branch out in your fat free options). What I do not appreciate is that it is now the 5th day of October and I cannot find your seasonal Pumpkin Spice creamer anywhere! According to your website, it will not be released to stores until November. Why then, I ask, was my mother in law able to find this delectable treat almost a month ago? Are you having distribution issues in southern Ohio? It's not as if we are in the middle of nowhere down here. We have multiple metropolises (metropolae?) and yet you feel we are not worthy of your autumnal flavors.
I tried your tiramisu (blech) and I was less than pleased with your blueberry cobbler (skip) but this, the holy grail of Coffeemate creamers, second only to your Peppermint Mocha and perhaps your Gingerbread -- flavors of a Christmas variety -- brings me great joy. Please, I beg of you, please get Pumpking Spice in stores post haste.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Down for the count

Try as I might, I did not avoid John's cold germs and now, I'm sick. Somehow, thankfully I guess, I bypassed the sore throat stage. I am now in the congested head general feeling of ass phase of this cold. I'm annoyed because being sick really derails all plans of exercise. I was hoping October would be the month to jumpstart my weight loss but I guess my body had other plans. Oh well, here's to a healthier week ahead.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Product RAVE!

If you're like me, you buy whatever shaving gel/cream you have a coupon for or is on sale. Despite the fact that we're coming into cooler months which means less shaving (what? I'm lazy), I have the BEST product to tell you about. Skintimate's new Moisturizing Cream Shave. It is absolutely uh-amazing. I have never ever had smoother legs. After I got out of the shower and felt them I was floored! Luckily, I have another coupon when this bottle is empty but, I may have to change my ways and practice a little brand loyalty. I can't find a good picture to post here but they're not shaped like the normal cans. It's a plastic bottle that's kind of curvy with the rest of the shaving stuff. On the bottle it says "noticeably softer legs" and they're right! Way to go Skintimate.

In other shower news.....I forgot to tell you about this candidate running for trustee or something in the next town. His name is, wait for it, Harry Drain. Come on. What were his parents thinking? It's not as if drains are a new thing to be invented after his birth. Vote for Harry Drain!