Thursday, March 31, 2011

Adios, March

Oh, March, I am so happy to see you go. As far as months, you are one of the worst and I can't wait to be rid of you. Your weather is all over the map. I certainly didn't appreciate your late snow showers. That's enough from you! You have absolutely no merit. Lots to look forward to in April! My birthday = cake. The last two birthdays for others that I have attended had no cake. NO CAKE! Appalling. Had I known there would be none present, I would have brought my own. Anyway, cake, and Easter too. Plus, spring will certainly come sooner rather than later. A potential long weekend getaway. More sewing, more projects around the house. Busy, busy! Can't wait!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Good Golly Gingham - Simplicity 2246

I believe that this is a relatively new pattern to the Simplicity line. As I was flipping through the Spring 2011 book, it caught my eye because I thought it would be perfect over leggings. I just purchased my first pair of leggings this past year. John hates them. I, however, am constantly searching for items to wear over the leggings because! This blouse fit the bill. As luck would have it, JoAnn's even had all of the fabrics used in these very projects from the envelope. How helpful! If you want to buy it online, you can do so here, or you can wait for JoAnn's 99 cent sale like I did.

Sorry the pattern picture is so small. My focus is on the pink and white checked tunic in the bottom left-hand corner. Although, I think I may make the shirtdress in the future because it's fabulous.

Here is the finished product hanging up. This was not without it's fair share of seam ripping. I have not yet learned my lesson to measure both the pattern and my body before cutting. I know just as much as anyone else that the given sizes do not necessarily correspond with ready to wear sizes. Silly Ashley. I made it work though. I just let out the side seams as much as possible. My hips are easily a size or possibly 2 larger than my bust.

I really enjoyed this project because it let me try some new techniques and sewing is all about learning, right? Can you believe I had never before used my automatic buttonholer? 7 years I've had trusty Sal. Well, let me tell you, Sal's automatic buttonholer? Not so automatic. I sort of got the hang of it but luckily, I tested on scrap fabric many times first. How terrible to get all the way to your buttons and run your project! Thankfully, that didn't happen here. I also learned how to make a placket. My stitching is a bit wonky here but I know over time it won't look so much like home sewing. And who's staring at the placket stitching anyway. Sheesh! Thirdly, I got another chance at darts. But darts are so easy, you say! My darts never turn out the way I want but they're getting better.


Leggings and wellies!

I really wanted it to be raining for these pictures. I wore my Hunters anyway. I would sew this again in a heartbeat. The fabric is cotton so it'll be really easy for wash and wear (plus iron). The only thing I'm not crazy about is that it's sort of a Mandarin collar. It's just a'ight for me. I'd prefer a pointed collar. Next time.........

So bright, I had to wear shades!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Red Garden

The Red Garden is the latest offering from Alice Hoffman. She is probably most known for Practical Magic, which I never read nor saw the movie. But, this was one of the most recently published books on my library's "New Reads" shelf so I snapped it up. The Red Garden is a year-spanning story about a little town in Massachusetts from its founding days in the 1750s up through nearly present day. In the town of Blackwell is a garden that will only grow red things, no matter what color they are when you plant them. The garden, however, is really a story and more of a common thread to the stories of the citizens of Blackwell. This is comprised of a series of vignettes about these people and how their lives are woven together. It follows families through the years, stories that begin with one of the founders and up through their grandchildren and great grandchildren. I enjoyed The Red Garden for all of its sadness and sweetness. It was different than what I normally read and I liked that departure. The intertwined tales interested me a lot more than whatever "magic" made the garden's harvest red. That part wasn't so exciting for me. Try this if you're looking for something different. Not the fastest read but it's not terribly long either. Rating: * * *

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #12

Only one new recipe this week and unfortunately, it won't be receiving a plastic sleeve in my recipe binder.

Maple-Walnut Chicken: This is from the October 2009 issue of Good Housekeeping. It's been in my 'to-be-cooked' stack since then so that tells you how excited I was to make it right away! It's a simple chicken in sauce. I think we only had to buy one ingredient (walnuts) to make this recipe happen, which is probably why I picked it for last week anyway. It had a good flavor but the sauce never thickened up like the recipe swore it would. So basically, this was a chicken breast in maple flavored water. Not great. You can skip this one.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hit the road, Jack!

This weekend, John and I are headed to Lexington for a fun overnight getaway! I could not be more excited for this. We're only staying one night but that's okay; the hotel is 'spensive. The only drawback is that we have to board Sadie. She will be one sad pup when she realizes we are not coming to pick her up after day camp is over. Poor girl. Nevertheless, we're planning to visit some wineries and a bourbon distillery and explore Lexington. It's not quite horse racing season so we'll miss that. There's always next time. What I just found out, however, is that Ohio State is playing Kentucky on Friday night. You know, when we're planning to be out and about on the town. No, the game isn't in Lexington but I have a feeling our cheering won't be welcome in Wildcat Land. Oh well. Go Bucks! Don't screw up John's bracket!

I can't wait to report back on our findings.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hair Affair

I know you've all been waiting on pins and needles to see read all about my hair re-do. Luckily, it went fine. I didn't end up having to pay again, although that part of it was kind of awkward. Normally, she says thanks and goodbye at the counter after telling me how much I owe. This time, she said it by the chair and then walked semi-with me towards the counter. I slowly put my coat on to see if she would say anything else but she didn't. So I just left. No one called me to say I had committed some sort of hair misdemeanor by skipping out on the bill so I think I'm in the clear. And, I REALLY like the color now. I already loved the cut so she totally redeemed herself. I think it's only fair I give her another shot. She did fix it after all.

Sorry for the strange pictures. I took them myself, if you couldn't tell!

Here is the first attempt at color

Blonde again!

Much better!

Monday, March 21, 2011


This past weekend John and I tried two new places and they were both winners! I love researching new and fun places to go, restaurants to try, plays to see, etc. and so on. It keeps life interesting and even though we've lived in the area for 5 1/2 years, we haven't really ventured out to a lot of the places on my to be seen and done list. Hello -- See the title of this blog. Duh!
We were total fat kids and tried Smashburger on Saturday. We like Five Guys a lot. We disliked EO Burgers a lot. This Smashburger location has been around for a year, I think. It was super good! I got the Classic Smashburger and we split the Smashfries which were seasoned with rosemary, oregano and something else I can't remember. They were tasty and next time we'll try the sweet potato version. YUM! Can't beat dinner for less than $15. And we were out of there in about 30 minutes. We are fast eaters. :)

After a trip to my least favorite store (Lowe's) I was rewarded by trying a new wine bar/shop just a couple miles from our house, Bella Vino. This was a total winner too! They were tasting South American wines that night, John's favorite wine region. The atmosphere was cozy and the proprietors were so very knowledgeable. We did our tasting and took a bottle of verdejo for the road. Not actually on the road, mind you. Just a reminder, don't drink and drive. We'll definitely be back here in the future!
Oh yeah! I just remembered something else new that I did with a friend this weekend. John was not invited because it was a.....wait for it.......... pole class! That's right, like a stripper. Only I didn't take off a single piece of clothing. This was at a place called Femme Fatale Fitness. Thanks to a Living Social deal we got a "Teaser" class which taught a short burlesque dance routine, two different spins on the pole, and then we swung around on silks. CRAZY! The dance routine was simple but fun. Nothing I couldn't handle. My main concern with this class was making a fool of myself. Luckily, there were close to 20 women there all probably thinking the same thing. All ages, all shapes and sizes. After the dance, we hit the pole. Literally, for me, because I have a gigantic bruise on my calf from a fireman's spin gone awry. Swinging around a pole is hard, yo. More power to all you strippers out there. You earn every dollar in those g-strings, ladies. After the pole was my favorite part, silks! I had no idea these were called silks. These were really hard too. In one move, we were suppose to flip our legs up in a V upside-down. This will be easy, I thought. WRONG! Memories of not being able to flip over the rings on the swingset in my backyard for years came screaming back to me. Cue the "making a fool of yourself" music now please. Other moves I performed much better. I present, exhibits A and B:

This is me doing the splits with the silks. I thought my arms were getting more toned but let me tell you, they're nowhere near where they could be. I learned this on Friday because you pull yourself up out of the split by the silks. OUCH! My arms still hurt 2 days later. Actually, you're also supposed to push up with your legs to take some of the burden off your arms. I forgot this key element.

In this move, my foot is all wrapped in the silk as I lean forward. I rocked this one. Also, I look way skinny in this picture. I don't care if you don't think so because I know I'm right.
We have one more class to attend and that one is a class where you also get to drink wine. My kind of exercise. I didn't really break a sweat but like I said, I was way sore. More strength than cardio here
So what did you do this weekend? Something fun I hope. As for me, I'm just swinging on through to the next adventure!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #11

I managed to try two new recipes this week. Yea me! That's pretty impressive because we had a very busy week Chez G. These were both within the same meal. One good, one not so much.

Baked Seasoned Fries: I L.O.V.E. french fries. I would eat them everyday if my thighs and arteries didn't have somthing to say about it. We do baked fries a lot. No, they're not as crispily delicious but they do fill a void. These were a nice departure from our normal seasoned salt fries. A lot of flavors going on here and no salt. Heart healthy! Give them a try from Gina's Skinny Recipes.

Buffalo Chicken Sliders: I wanted to like these so badly. We had really high hopes for them. I had never made sliders before but figuring they were just small burgers, I didn't think I'd run into any trouble. Truth be told, these had a good flavor. We are buffalo lovers around here. I am just not a fan of the consistency of ground chicken. It's a lot mushier than other ground meats. I don't know if that's because it's so lean but even lean ground turkey stands up better than this stuff. Anyway, we were not looking forward to the leftovers on this one. So sad.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Minty Vanilla Goodness

A a rule, I do not celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I feel like it's a made up holiday. I don't have any decorations for the house for today. I'm not Catholic, not that only Catholics can celebrate because certainly all the drinking that goes along with the day is not very religious. Perhaps my Scottish roots preclude me from enjoying all the green that comes with March 17th. The ONLY good thing to come from this day is McDonald's Shamrock Shake. I LOOOOOOOOVE Shamrock Shakes. John and I are allowing ourselves the special diet dispensation of this delicious treat. Don't worry, we're splitting one.

Happy Shamrock Shake Day to you!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Escape Artist, part II

Guys. One of our worst nightmares happened. Last Friday night, John and I were in the kitchen. He was making dinner and I was sewing. Sadie, as she often does, requested to be let out to use the facilities (i.e. poo in the yard). The weather was unseasonably warm for having snowed only the night before. Welcome to Ohio. She was having a grand time. Because it was nice, we let her stay out longer than we normally do. About 15 minutes later, I poked my head out the door to check on her. And looked, and looked, and could.not.see.HER!

"Uh, John?"

John hurried to put on his shoes and race into the backyard. I was right behind him, except the only shoes I could find were his size 13 "backyard" slip on shoes. What a sight! Miss Sadie had worked her way under the fence and was standing in the grassy area between our fence and our neighbors fence. Though we were panicked, both of us knew if we yelled she would take off. So, we tried to lure her back in very sweet voices. Then, we couldn't get the gate open to get to the outside of the fence. John leaned over and managed to snag her collar. I was going to run through the house and meet him on the other side but he was able to pull her close enough to lift her up.

Sadie acted as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened. All she knows is that she's not allowed out unattended any longer. She may or may not know that a trip to Lowe's is in the works. We'll be rigging up some sort of lead to attach her to so that she still has the run of the yard with the safety of staying put. Crisis averted. We love that doggie too much to have her run away!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bibs for Ben

Some time ago, approximately 7 months, my sister said, "I want you to make liners for these baskets I'm going to use for dirty clothes for the baby." Sure, no problem. Although I feel like she's forever requesting projects from me. Just this morning, I received a link for curtains I'm supposed to make. I guess sometimes it's a good thing she doesn't live in Ohio. Having to pay shipping on the fabric for said projects probably deters her a lot. Love ya, B! Anyway..... my brother-in-law painstakingly traced and taped together multiple sheets of printer paper as a "pattern." With a pattern, sewing would be a piece of cake, right? Wrong. I thought things were going well for about 10 minutes until I realized that the sides of the baskets were sloped and I did not account for that. I apologized to my sister and dropped that project like a bad habit.

Because, like many sewers, I am a fabric hoarder, I hung onto the remaining scraps for an as yet unnamed project. Last week, my sister asked if I could make some new bibs. Seems my nephew is growing in Texas. The nerve! Here is Sadie modeling for me. They are flannel on the front and terry cloth on the back. I hope they fit him okay. They seemed to fit Sadie. Although she's not really as sloppy an eater as a 6 month old just starting out on solids.

4 bibs comin' atcha Baby B!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Corduroy Mansion

In an effort to make my new, tiny library work for me, I took a gander at their "new releases" section for my next read. If you think 2009 makes a book 'new' then you came to the right place! However, I hadn't ever read anything by Alexander McCall Smith. He wrote the popular No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which I probably should have started with.

Corduroy Mansions takes place in England. It delves into the lives of all the tenants in Corduroy Mansion, a large apartment building in Pimlico. There's a wine purveyor, the woman who wants to live with him, and his grown son whom he wishes would find a place of his own. The mother of a member of Parliament, whom everyone despises (the MP, not the mother). A number of 20-something gals in one flat of various careers. Etc. and so on. Oh, and a curious dog named Freddie de la Hay.

Honestly, I would try to give you an actual synopsis but I really can't. I have no idea what the central theme of this book was. When you have an ensemble cast such as this, there's usually a common thread among there stories. Corduroy Mansion had some of that but not to the level that I would have liked to see. The main extent of their commonality was the fact that they all lived together in this building. Maybe that was the whole point and I just missed it.

Upon further research, I found out that this is the first in a series. I just was not all that invested in any of the characters to continue reading this at all. I should give Alexander McCall Smith another shot some other time. Oh, and to add insult to literary injury, I had to get this in LARGE PRINT. I felt like an idiot reading it.


Rating: * 1/2
P.S. I think this is only my 7th read for the year. I better get on the stick!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #10

This week's new recipes were a bit different in that neither were main dishes. I just didn't have it in me while meal planning to try a whole new recipe for dinner. Instead, I focused on carbs. Namely baked goods. Always a good idea for two eaters trying to lose weight, right? Just you wait.

Irish Soda Bread: Believe it or not, I had never actually eaten Irish Soda Bread before I made this. John was shocked at this discovery. He, growing up Catholic, has fond memories of Irish Soda Bread. Me? I just figured it's bread, I'll probably like it. And like it I did! This recipe came from Skinny Taste, a healthy cooking blog I just found and am in LOVE with. It had the added bonus of my having all the ingredients on hand, including buttermilk. YEA! You should try this, Catholic or not, if for no other reason than each slice is only 125 calories. Oh yeah, and it's suuuuuper tasty!

Caramel Pudding Pumpkin Cupcakes: This recipe can be found in the original Hungry Girl cookbook. John and I have a "healthy" dessert every night. We love our sweets! These cupcakes had only 100-some calories. They were pretty yummy however, the same thing could have been achieved by mixing a can of pumpkin with a spice cake mix. They taste identical, only this one has a lot more ingredients. I'll stick with the easy version.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Reading Rut

Guys, I am in a total reading rut. I haven't been that interested in anything I've borrowed from the library lately, which is sad. I love to read and like to make sure I read a little every single day. However, when you're not super excited about the book you're slogging through, it makes it difficult to want to crack the spine. I need an awesome book to get back into it, I think. I do have the last 2 books of the Outlander series waiting for me but they're so long!

In other news, I am really into TV these days because two of my fave reality shows on the Style network returned! It's probably not good that I'm so excited about TV and so uninterested in reading, right? Well, Ruby and Too Fat for Fifteen are worth it. Man, I love a good weight loss show. I especially like these two because they're not a competition. There's no monetary compensation for losing weight. I find them so inspiring as I continue on my journey to lose weight. No, I don't and have never weighed 700+ lbs. like Ruby but I still find her fascinating. Losing weight is hard for anyone, no matter what size you start at.

Also, I'm afraid I've bitten off more than I can chew in Ashley's Sewing World. I have so many projects on my to be sewn pile that it's pretty embarassing. And one of these days we'd probably like to eat at the table again (where my sewing machine is living) instead of in front of the TV. Nah (see above paragraph).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Breaking up is hard to do

This past Saturday I had an appointment with my hairdresser. Drastic cut and highlights were on the docket. It was an appointment I had been looking forward to for weeks! Since I went dark in December, I just didn't feel like me. I'm a blonde at heart and I was excited to get back to a brighter Ashley. Additionally, I'd been growing my hair for about a year. Much as I'm not a brunette, I'm really not one for long hair. Sure, I like the ease of a ponytail. Who doesn't? I just felt like the length was weighing me down and, even though it snowed today, I wanted a fresh cut for spring.

I was meeting with my stylist for the 3rd time. She took over my old stylist's clients when she decided not to return after maternity leave. That was a sad, sad day. I loved her. But, I also really like the salon that I've been going to for 5 years so I stuck with it and moved to this new person. The first cut went fine. The first color, not so much. She took me brown in December. I was there for 3 1/2 hours on a Wednesday night because she had to re-do something that looked crazy. I was not pleased. She also took a last minute client in the middle of my coloring. Typically this wouldn't bother me but I was shuffled around more than I care to be.

So, Saturday, in all my excitement, I get a phone call about an hour before my appointment asking if I can come 45 minutes late. She was running behind. Well, I had dinner reservations but I didn't want to miss my appointment so I said sure, already fuming. When I arrived, she said a client earlier in the day had not been happy with her color and they had to re-do a part of it. Hmmm, sounds familiar.

I gave her a very clear description of the color I was looking for. She said she knew exactly what I wanted. I expressed multiple times how excited I was to go back to blonde. She got to foiling and we chatted and had a normal stylist/client kind of time. When she washed out the color and sat me back in front of the mirror, I was already disappointed. It looked exactly the same color as it did when I walked in. If anything, it was MAYBE a light brown. Nowhere near blonde whatsoever. As she's drying she says, "Oh, there's not as much contrast as I wanted." Yeah, you think? There's NO contrast, honey. "It's probably because I didn't use bleach." Uh, why not? When you go from brown to blonde, you use bleach! I tried to reserve judgment until it was dry but I got a lot quieter and I'm sure I didn't look very happy. Not again.

The cut went well, thankfully, but as she dried it, my suspicions were confirmed. The color that I was about to pay a pretty penny for, was not really all that different than the color I had walked in there with. I wanted to cry. Later on, I did cry. I couldn't even muster up a smile. I just kept saying, "John's going to want it blonder than this." Hoping that would get me off the hook as the unhappy one. I don't care for confrontation. When I was checking out she said, "If you want it blonder, come back this week and I'll put some lighter foils in." I paid my small fortune and left.

Even now, I'm still so sad about it. I was really looking forward to a huge change and at dinner with friends that night, the only thing anyone noticed was the cut. Because the color looks the same! I'm annoyed that I have to waste time during the week when I should be working out to have her fix what she should have done correctly in the first place. And I had better not have to pay again. Do I have to tip again? I've never been in this situation before.

And so now, I'm torn. If she fixes it, do I give her one more chance? Or, regardless of if she fixes it, because it doesn't seem like anything is done right the first time, do I start shopping a new stylist, and subsequently a new salon, immediately? This is a tough call. John goes to her too but he could go anywhere. It's hard to screw up hair that short. Anyway, I guess we'll see what happens this week but, I'm not pleased.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dawn of a New Day

When I graduated from college in 2005 and set out to become an society-contributing adult, I needed some wheels. My very first car was a blue 2005 Saturn Ion. Blue. That's his name. Blue and I have been through a lot together. We've driven round and round Ohio together many times. We drive 70+ miles roundtrip each day to work. Lately, Blue has been making a strange noise when the heat runs. No matter. He reached a huge milestone last week.

On our morning commute, Blue's odometer went from this:

To this!

I probably shouldn't be excited about this. I'm not, really. Ever since I made the last payment and now that he's over 100,000 miles, it's really just a matter of time before he has to be......replaced. Shhhhh, don't tell him. He's been good to me. But, all good things must come to an end. For now though, you're still my boy, Blue!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #9

Sad news, guys. This week's recipe was a total dud. Rachael doesn't usually let me down but this meal will not be cooked Chez G again.

Not-sagna Pasta Toss: This is in the Rachael Ray Express Lane meals cookbook. It's basically a pasta dish with all the lasagna fixin's using different noodles. I didn't skimp on any of the ingredients either, and there were a LOT of them. I finally got to use up the beef stock that's been in my fridge for months. The worst part about a meal that's not tasty is that we eat it twice. A 4 serving meal feeds the two of us for two nights. In this case, it ended up being 6 servings (portion control!) So, John suffered through a 3rd serving for lunch and the last serving we haven't decided what to do with. It will likely find its final resting place in the trash. Next time I'll just make regular lasagna.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wonder Wellies

Some years ago I purchased a pair of black Hunter Wellington boots on eBay. If you haven't priced Hunters lately, you'll know they retail for about $125. I got them for half that because they were already slightly blooming. Blooming is a sad phenomenon known among Wellie wearers. It's when a white residue begins appearing on the rubber of your boots. It's unsightly and you can't just wash it off. Very disconcerting. In fact, this is what my blooming Hunters looked like. :(

For quite some time, I had been researching ways to clean them. One girl even suggested olive oil. Yeah, that didn't work. Note to you: don't waste good olive oil on trying to clean your boots. Something I did think I could get behind was ArmorAll. I had heard of ArmorAll but really didn't know what it did. In case you are sometimes dim, like me, it cleans tires. Rubber tires. EUREKA! Heading to the automotive aisle at Target, I had no idea how much this would cost me. I also had no clue there were so many types of ArmorAll. At least 15, yo! I couldn't decide.

I settled not on ArmorAll but on this bottle of Wet'n Black Turtle wax. My reasons were two-fold. 1) The bottle was black and shiny like I wanted my boots to be, and 2) It was on clearance.

I had really high hopes that I would just spray on the Wet'n Black, wipe it off, and I would be able to see my smiling face in the toe of my wellies. That didn't quite happen. In fact, that didn't happen in the least. I sprayed and wiped. And wipe wipe wiped. And Sprayed and also wiped again. This wasn't light wiping either. I was literally dragging the blooming residue off the boots. Hours later, yes hours -- though not consecutively -- I had the shiny wellies I dreamed of!!

So pretty! And ready for a rainy spring.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick

You may not know this about me but I'm a borderline germaphobe. I will go to extreme lengths to avoid illness, and I'm generally successful. At the slightest tickle of the throat, I start mainlining Airborne like it's my job. So, when I saw The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick by Gene Stone on the Health shelf at the library, I thought, why yes, why not educate myself further about the avoidance of germs.

The book is split into 25 secrets, some of which are not so secretive. I would venture to guess that most people know that regular exercise, a balanced diet, and moderate sleep keep you healthy. Those weren't really 'secrets' I needed to spend time on. Others were pretty quacky. For instance, there was one gentleman Stone wrote about who swears by taking cold showers. I have yet to employ this tactic, nor do I plan on dunking my head in peroxide (I think that was it) also, you're welcome to try drinking your own urine. Hey, if it works for these people, more power to them! While I found it interesting, I'll admit I ended up skimming quite a bit halfway through. It was pretty dry. Let's face it. Have you ever read a medical-related book that didn't hit some dry spots? If you are a relatively unhealthy person who finds themselves oft under the weather, you should do yourself a favor and read this cover to cover. If you, like me, are already relatively healthy, you can probably skip it.

Rating: * * 1/2