Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hair Affair

Did I tell you I’m trying to change up my hair washing routine? I have always heard you don’t need to wash your hair everyday and that it will be healthier if you don’t. I have never been able to skip days. NEVER! My hair is relatively thin and the grease just comes right through. Likewise, I have never been a night-time showerer. I must shower and shampoo in the morning. I don’t wake up feeling fresh when I shower at night. What if the bedroom is hot and I sweat? Then, you’re walking around wearing last night’s sweat all day. Pass.

The problem is, I work out nearly every day. So, I shower and shampoo in the morning to start my day and in the evening following my work out. Murder on the hair, skin, and amount of product I go through. A couple weeks ago I vowed to try something new. And here it is: wash my hair only once a day.

But, how could you possibly get away with this, Ashley? You ask, knowing what you’ve just read. Well, it’s rather simple, you see. We’ll start in the evening. After work, I either run, do yoga or go to zumba and then I shower and shampoo. In the morning, I still shower (see above comments: sweat) but I skip the shampoo. GENIUS! For now, I just pull my hair back but there’s a chance, at the risk of feeling like a 70 year old, that I might purchase a shower cap. Following the shower sans shampoo, I still style my hair. Previously, I would just blow dry my hair straight and that would be that. Nothing inventive, same style every day. Now, because I don’t waste the time shampooing, conditioning, and drying, I have time to curl or straighten to my heart’s content. C’est si bon!

Admittedly, the first few days of the experiment did not go well. As I expected, my head felt greasy and I thought I looked disgusting (though John said I didn’t). But, the longer I stuck with it and the more I curled instead of straightened, the more I liked it. Straightening flattened it against my head too much. I’m now even able to set my alarm 5 minutes later (surprise added bonus!) I stopped using my salon products because of the cost so I’m hoping my new drugstore brand (Aveeno) coupled with this new shampoo schedule will help my hair to be the shiny, healthy hair I know it can be.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sunday Slumber

I don’t have a Super Summer Sunday Salad Supper for you this week (or next week) but I do have a Sunday-related topic for you, even though it’s Tuesday. More of a complaint, if you will. For me, Sunday night provides the absolute worst night of sleep out of the entire week. I never wake up rested and it always takes far longer than normal for me to finally fall asleep. This has been the case throughout my life but it just keeps getting worse and worse. It makes for a very tired Monday, already an inauspicious day to be sure.

Try as I might, I cannot keep to the same sleep schedule on the weekend and I know this lapse is detrimental to my Sunday slumber. Who wants to go to bed at 10:00 on a Friday? Well, if I’m home, usually I am asleep on the couch by 10:00 but that’s beside the point. I also do not bother to wake up at 5:30 on Saturday or Sunday. Who would?! On Saturday, I get up to take Sadie out in the morning when she jumps off the bed but then I fall promptly back to sleep for a couple hours. Sunday mornings, however, are John’s day for morning Sadie duty. It’s so peaceful to just roll over when he takes her out, roll over again when he can’t fall back to sleep and finally gets up to make coffee for us. What a delight!

All of these things, combined with, in all likelihood, a glass or two of wine to unwind on a Sunday night and we have quite a tossing, turning problem on our hands. I realize I am impeding my own sleep progress by throwing off my schedule AND imbibing the wine but what fun is a weekend if you can’t break the routine?

What is to be done about this insomnia? Probably nothing I’m willing to try.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire

I didn't expect to make it up the list so fast for Stieg Larson's second book in the Millennium series, The Girl Who Played With Fire. But, I did! So, I put my other book on hold so make it through this one. If you haven't read Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, start there. Just a suggestion. Girl Who Played with Fire picks up where Dragon Tattoo left off.

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is riding the publicity wave off his book about his side of the Wennerstrom affair published by his magazine, Millennium. His relationship with hacker Lisbeth Salander has fizzled to nothing. In fact, Lisbeth has just spent the past 2 years since Hedestad incident out of the country, traveling around, doing her hacking, etc. and so on. Another writer named Dag approaches Blomkvist and Berger, Millennium's editor in chief, about publishing his book about sex trafficking. His girlfriend Mia has also been researching and writing about the topic. Together, they plan to expose the roles policeman and low ranking criminals in the sex trafficking business.

One night after Lisbeth returns to Stockholm, Dag and Mia are found murdered. Lisbeth's prints happen to be on the murder weapon and she is accused of committing the murders, and the murder of her guardian, Nils Bjurman. Trouble is, the authorities can't track her down. Blomkvist is convinced Lisbeth is innocent. The police are convinced she's guilty. What ensues is a breath-taking race against time for everyone!

Again, that was a super brief and full of holes summary of The Girl Who Played with Fire because I don't want to give anything away. I really liked this one! I think it was better than Dragon Tattoo because we were already familiar with the characters. Larson's first book had a lot of exposition and this one cut down on that. Read this one for sure!

I'm 20th out of 73 on the hold list for his latest (post-humous) release, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I'm hoping I'll make it to #1 by Labor Day for the cruise. I think it would be a great vacation read.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sadie Sadie 2x4

On Tuesday, John and I made an impromptu visit to the vet with Sadie. She had been all out of sorts since we were visiting family in Cleveland a week or so ago. I was chalking it up to the heat but she had a very suppressed appetite and was not going regularly, if you know what I mean. John, ever the pessimist, jumps directly to the conclusion that she has cancer and she certainly has a long hard battle ahead of her. I’m happy to report that she doesn’t have cancer but we did discover something at the vet on the scale.

Sadie is a little porker! She had been consistently holding at 20 lbs for I’d say the last year or so. Now, she has ballooned up to 22.8 lbs! That may not sound like a major increase but she’s just a little pup. Imagine strapping a 3 lb. weight to a small dog. Not good. So, Sadie is on a diet. As much as we’d like to think she doesn’t get fed people food, we are probably way wrong about that. Every time I make a salad she comes running for cheese. As soon as she hears the bag, she’s at my feet in a flash. And I give in. Not much, mind you, just a few shreds but still, nearly every day. She also is a big fan of Cheez-its. Baby girl LOVES the cheese! She takes after her mother. Again, I don’t think we give her too much but I’m probably wrong. The one thing we’re good about is holding back on actual dog treats. Truth be told, since they’re lean we ought to give those more freely and cut back on the other stuff.

Anyway, we’ll be cutting back her food portions from now on and trying to exercise her more. That’s hard in this Ohio heat but she needs to drop 3 lbs pronto. Otherwise she’ll start to lose her girlish figure, and her puggle boyfriend Stanley will start to lose interest in her. The horror! Don’t worry. She’ll be shipshape in no time at all.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Running Request

Dear Inhabitants of the Neighborhood Where I Run,

Please refrain from grilling between the hours of 5:30 and 6:30 pm on the days that I decide it's temperate enough outside for me to run. The delicious aromas wafting from your Webers are mouth-watering. While this may entice some and certainly put smiles on the faces of your diners, I do not care to smell your tantalizing temptations. The burger fragrance interrupts my running groove because from thence forth, I can think only of a big fatty burger or dog, dripping with ketchup on its way to my mouth. This means I'm not concentrating on my breathing, stride length or increasing my times.

I'm sure you can see where this might be slightly off-putting to a jogger. Joggers, by nature, are in the act of attempting physical fitness. Fitness cannot necessarily be achieved by consuming your grilled cuisine, not that you invited me to sup. Furthermore, I cannot use my own grill on my balcony and so it's doubly frustrating to smell but not taste. I beg of you. Just let me and my nose run in peace and nobody gets hurt.


Famished Fitness Fanatic

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Super Summer Sunday Salad Supper - part deux!

I feel like I've been a lazy blogger, once again. I'm sorry. I just don't feel that I'm terribly exciting as of late so I don't know what to write about. I'll keep trying to find my mojo. I think part of it has to do with these long books I've been reading. Have you noticed I haven't reviewed a book in awhile? It's throwing off my whole system. Anyway - today I am back with another summer salad. This one has a southwestern theme!

I started with spinach and then threw in a whole can (drained and rinsed) of both black beans and corn (hello, fiber!) John seasoned up some chicken with cumin, chili powder and seasoned salt and threw it on the Foreman. Then, I found this light and creamy dressing recipe. Oh yeah I'm all over that. Part of the problem with eating light dressing is that you sometimes miss out on the creamy consistencies. Mix this up for a refreshing and not at all heavy dressing!

Creamy Southwestern Dressing (adapted from Real Simple magazine)

1/3 c. plus 1 Tbsp. light sour cream
2 1/2 - 3 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
pepper to taste

Whisk together and voila!

This was a delicious, healthy and hearty supper salad.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Yoga for me!

I have been trying to incorporate weekly yoga workouts in the hopes of looking like a celebrity. You know how celebrities always say their fitness secret is yoga? That's what I'm going for. I don't go to a studio to take classes because that costs money and takes lots of time. Time that I don't have with all the driving and whatnot. When I do yoga at home I can start dinner, do yoga, shower and then eat. It's a beautiful thing.

My yoga workouts are On Demand on my TV. This is super convenient because the workouts happen in my living room at a time of my choosing. The part about this that's not so great is that I've done them all many times and unlike the other cardio and strength workouts, the yoga routines aren't rotated as much. So I am super bored with them. The other day....all that changed.

My new yogi Steve Ross is awesome! I met him on the Oxygen channel. He graces my living room with his presence from 6:00 - 7:00 am every weekday. I have taken to DVR-ing them to store up seeing as how I leave for work at 6:30. His practice is intense. Also, he plays really groovy music that isn't yoga-like at all and I totally dig it. Steve is crazy flexible. He has so many poses in his arsenal it's not even funny. A true yogi. There are times when he folds his body in half with his legs all pretzel like and his head on the ground and he does it all with a big smile on his face. I'ts insane!

Today, Steve helped me master the Wheel. If you're unfamiliar with the practice of yoga, it looks like this.

Photo from

That will help me look like a celebrity, right? I think so. Steve will help me.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Little Bunny Foo Foo

Every day this week I have seen a little baby bunny outside my window at work. He typically comes around breakfast time to munch on some delicious grass. Munch munch munch away. Passers-by don't frighten him. He only ran away once when a helicopter flew overhead. But, he came right back. The grass outside my window must be very tasty. I know he's a baby because he's so small he could fit in one of my hands, if he would let me pick him up. I know he's a he because I said so. I tried to take a picture of him but it didn't come out very well. I'll keep trying.

I always wanted a bunny growing up. Alas, it was never meant to be. I had a mouse named Gus once, in addition to multiple cats. Gus smelled really bad. Then I gave him to my cousin and he met an unfortunate accident with a cat. Bunnies are so cute. I like how they hop around and they're so soft. Does that make me sound like Lenny from Of Mice and Men? One time I got to pet the rabbits at the fair. Then, John thought I would get a disease so he made me stop. Spoil sport.

The best of all possible situations would be for me to capture him and make this an office bunny. He could hop around bringing joy to all. Then he could curl up under my desk for naps. I would share my carrots with him, which he would really enjoy. Sigh....a girl can dream, right?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Super Summer Sunday Salad Supper returns!

They're back! Last year, John and I started having salads for supper on Sundays. Usually our meal on Sundays only needs to feed us for one night so it's perfect for a large dinner salad. I think it will help in my weight loss goals too. So, this gorgeous beauty has spinach, grilled chicken, strawberries and bleu cheese. I also made my own dressing!

Sage Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3-4 sage leaves, chopped

Pour balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Whisk while streaming in EVOO until it reaches the desired consistency and thickness. You may need more oil depending on your tastes. Stir in sage. Voila! This made enough to cover the whole salad which was probably 4-5 cups of baby spinach.

Stay tuned for next week's salad!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Goal

It feels like I'm forever setting and re-setting fitness goals for myself. Maybe you feel this way too. But, I've got a good one this time and I actually think it's totally attainable (famous last words). Anyway, I'm really trying to up my mileage on my runs this summer. I consistently run 3.2 or so miles each time I'm out despite my foot issues. I really want to get this bumped up to 5 miles. It's just something that I need to spend the time to work up to. When I first started running about 4 years ago, I could only run for 45 seconds at a time and then I had to walk. So, I did intervals. Small increments until I was able to increase my running time to 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, then 30 minutes. Sure it took me a few years but I'm finally where I am now so it's time to get busy.

My new goal is to be able to run 5 miles. Oh, I already told you that. Anyway, I want to hit 5 miles by our cruise over Labor Day. I have about 2 1/2 months to do it. To make it a bit easier, I don't have to run all 5 miles, just most of the 5. Let's say, I have to run at least 4.5 miles but if I walk a little in there too, that's okay. The best part is my reward. I have always always wanted to get a massage on a beach in one of those grass huts. It just so happens that on the cruise I will have 2 opportunities to get said massage. But, only if I hit 5 miles. Run Ashley Run! Straight to the massage table!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cruising Confidential

I found out about Cruising Confidential: A Hit Below the Waterline by Brian David Bruns on the Cruise Critic message boards. For all you non-cruisers, this is a website devoted to all things cruising. There is a wealth of information there about various cruise lines, ships, ports, etc. If you have booked a cruise (like we just did!), you might venture over there yourself. I never post anything but it’s fun to read everyone’s questions and comments and glean tips for traveling. Anyhoo, this book was mentioned over there and I thought I’d check it out for myself. I was a bit leery, not wanting to read about anything gross that might happen on a ship. Kind of like how you wouldn’t want to read a health inspector’s review of your favorite restaurant. Rest assured, you won’t find that sordid information here. Cruising Confidential is a rollicking good time!

Bruns is purportedly the first American ever to survive working a full contract in the dining rooms of Carnival’s fleet of ships. He embarked on this voyage to follow the love of his life, Bianca. Though they were not together on the ships the whole time, they did spend a period of time working together (happily and unhappily). He recants tales of grueling tasks, never-ending days and weeks, hours and hours of working for very little pay and, of course, what life is like for the crew living in the depths of the ship. For those who think it might be neat to work on a cruise ship, Cruising Confidential will likely encourage you to select a department other than dining. At times, the workers are forced to work from breakfast right on through the midnight buffet with little or no break. Pass.

If you have cruised before, you will find this travel memoir extremely interesting. If you’re unfamiliar with the world of cruising, you might still find it a worthwhile read as Bruns has a very conversational style of writing and is a completely likeable author. Bonus points for me, I read this in one day! It’s not particularly short but I was so into it that I was determined to finish between errands on a lazy Sunday recently. I really enjoyed this one and I think you will too!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Straight No Chaser

I am always looking for something exciting to do around Dayton. You may or may not know but Dayton is a hotspot for, oh right, NOTHING! I am constantly reading about upcoming events that I have no interest in, don’t feel like paying the ticket prices for or the worst fate of all, come to town on a weeknight. Imagine my excitement when looking at the listings for summer concerts at the Fraze, an outdoor venue in a nearby suburb, when I saw that Straight No Chaser was coming. And on a Saturday! If you’re unfamiliar, Straight No Chaser is a 10 man a capella group and they’re great! I first happened upon them this past Christmas. Maybe you’ve seen their version of 12 Days of Christmas on YouTube. It’s not to be missed. I have one of their Christmas albums but they do non-holiday songs as well which is what they’re performing on the current tour. So, I snapped up 2 tickets that day and not so patiently waited for June 5th.

All week I was growing concerned at the forecast. These concerts are supposedly held rain or shine and it was looking bleak. The percentage of storms kept going up and up, along with the forecasted humidity. I didn’t want weather to ruin our fun night out. As luck would have it, it poured earlier in the day and got it mostly out of its system. Only a few drops fell during the show and quickly subsided. The humidity, however, was another story. Of course with all summer thunderstorms in Ohio, this one brought with it a curtain of soupy humidity that my hair did not agree with.

No matter, we had an awesome time anyway! The guys were great. They sang a wonderful mix of styles in both current and older songs. They were also surprisingly funny. I appreciate crowd interaction at concerts. They told lots of stories and jokes. The tickets were only $25. A bargain! Cheaper if you sat on the lawn. The Fraze is really neat.

You can’t tell from this picture but our seats were pretty close, even if they were off to the side a bit. That's them on stage, obviously. I hope someone else good comes and I wish Straight No Chaser would come back around Christmas time but according to their tour schedule, that is not meant to be. If you get the chance to see them, please do. A wonderful show to be sure!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stop the madness, stop the eating!

Okay, really? This has got to stop. I was doing so well and then it all seemed to backslide on me. I'm talking about my diet and the calorie-fest that has been my life for, oh about the last month or so. As usual, I do really well during the week with both eating and exercise and then the weekend rolls around and out the window with the good habits, and an un-welcome hello to the bad ones. Dinners out, wine, snacks, dessert. Skipping workouts. It never ends! And it's doubly bad when we head north for the weekend and stay with family. Their cabinets are stocked with forbidden snacks and there's always pizza (not our whole wheat crust, homemade kind either, of course) And of course, the next time we go home there will be two graduation parties and then another time to a wedding. You know what that means? Food galore!

So, I'm re-cracking the whip on myself. No more burgers and fries or alcohol during the week. Those glasses of wine add up, you know? Back to actual cardio and strength and not counting yoga or walking Sadie as a full workout. My zumba challenge ends in 3 weeks and I hope I've lost at least a couple pounds and inches. And I'd really like to hit an as yet unset goal before we go on our cruise. I'll have to think about what that goal might be. I don't want to set myself up for failure but I can't seem to attain even seemingly attainable goals lately. Here we go again!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jam Jar

Is this not the cutest wine bottle you've ever seen? It's a South African Shiraz called Jam Jar and it's super tasty! I happened upon it in a new-to-me wine shop a couple weeks ago. Drawn in by the picnic tablecloth print on the twist cap, I ultimately purchased it (for $9.99, I've since seen it elsewhere for $12.99 as well) because it was labeled as a sweet shiraz. I love a good shiraz and I love a good sweet red. This one sounded like winner winner chicken dinner to me!

It's very fruity and not overly sweet. Not as sweet as I thought it would be anyway. Very strawberry. Just like jam! I didn't eat it with anything but the bottle said it makes a perfect partner for bacon cheeseburgers.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I got Outlander by Diana Gabaldon for Christmas. Normally, a gifted book gets read right away by me. However, Outlander is more than 800 pages long and since I own it, it kept getting shelved in favor of other more favorable (Read: shorter) selections. About a month or more ago, I started Outlander and got about 300 pages in. Then I had to take a break. It's just different from what I usually read and I needed to step away from it for a spell. But, I came back and persevered and I'm glad I did.

Going in, I had no idea Outlander was a story of time travel. Claire Randall is a nurse in late 1940's England. She is newly married to Frank, an academic. They find themselves in Scotland on a honeymoon of sorts following the war, when they've been separated for many years. On a walk through the woods, Claire happens upon a strange grouping of sculptures and somehow travels back in time to the 1700's. She is captured by a Scottish clan who eventually grow to trust her and her skills in medicine. During this time, she is also paired up with Jamie Fraser, in a long twisting set of circumstances. Their love blossoms throughout the story as they fight to keep each other alive.

Once again, that was kind of a lousy synopsis. This book is so long, it would be nearly impossuble to succinctly convey all the pertinent details to you. There is so much I'm leaving out, though the ommissions are intentional because I don't like to give away too much. It's a romance and historical fiction all rolled into one. There's a lot of fighting, a lot of sex, and a lot of plot. But, it's worth sticking with. So much so that I went out and bought the second installment and you know me, I never buy a book if I can't help it.