Tuesday, December 31, 2013


365 days ago we were in this very same spot. December 31st is often a day of reflection. Another year in the books, a fresh start just around the corner.

I have now been spilling my thoughts here for 5 years, about to embark upon a sixth. Admittedly, by now I thought I would be discovered as a blogging phenom and have several published books under my belt (although truthfully - I have never aspired to write a book so I'm not sure where I came up with that dream.) Clearly, my goals were a tad too lofty. I quickly realized that wouldn't be happening but I kept writing all the same. My readership has grown at a snail's pace but I'm thankful for all my loyal readers. You may not like all my posts but you come back anyway. I'd like to think you've grown with me over the years too.

You've gone through life changes and exciting times, just like I have. When things weren't going your way, you moped about it just like me. In the end, the sun rises each day whether you want it to or not. Your only choice is to face it with a positive attitude. Something I've been working much harder on and have noticed a huge difference in my outlook on life because of it. If there's someone or something in your life spreading negativity and bringing you down, get rid of it! And don't feel guilty.

I don't mean to get deep on you. I'm really not a philosophical person in the least. Next week, I'll be back to my normal recipes, mileage tallies, and embarrassing stories.

I don't know what Ashley See, Ashley Does has in its future but, I sure am glad you're here.

Live happy, folks. Please?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Post-holiday Hangover

Well, well, well. It's the Monday after Christmas and I feel like if you put a quarter in me a cookie would pop out. Anyone else?

Things I Know

-I got so many awesome presents that I should probably get rid of some things in my house to make room.

-I should have worked out more than twice this past week.

-Catching up with family and friends, some of whom I haven't seen for a year or more, was totally amazing. I would have traded all my presents for more time with everyone. Well, maybe not ALL of them.

-My body likes a routine. It likes vegetables. I didn't get enough of either this week.

-I am incapable of staying up until 2:00 AM. I did that at least twice and I'm paying for it.

-All the planning, shopping, wrapping, hauling was worth it watching everyone open the presents we bought for them.

-But.....we had to take all the gifts north in two separate trips. Luckily, I knew at Thanksgiving that it wouldn't all fit. Next year, simplify.

Did you have a wonderful Christmas?

I sure hope so.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

The presents have been wrapped.

The cookies baked.

The visions of sugarplums will dance in our heads.

From me to you this year, a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

May your day be filled with family and friends and warm wishes this holiday season!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Beer Me: Top 5 Christmas Ales - According to Me

I have been lax in my beer drinking. My apologies. This is a fantastic time of year for beer lovers. The brews are warming and rich with flavor. Perfect for a snowy eve. Today, I'm bringing you 5 of my favorites, in no particular order. OK, the first one is my absolute favorite, but the rest are in no particular order. And they're all good.

1) Troeg's Mad Elf


This is the most expensive one at around $15.99 for a 6-pack (or it may be a 4-pack). It's also sold in 22 oz. bottles and is 11.0% ABV. But....it's worth it.

From the site: "The Mad Elf is a cheerful creation to warm 

your heart and enlighten your tongue. The combination of 

cherries, honey, and chocolate malts delivers gentle fruits 

and subtle spices. Fermented and aged with a unique 

yeast, this ruby red beer has significant warming strength 

that underlies the pleasant character of this intriguing yet 

delicious Ale. The Mad Elf is a jolly and delicious beer for 

 the holidays."

2) Southern Tier 2XMAS

Absolutely love Southern Tier and their beers. They make my favorite fall beer, Pumking, so it's only fitting that their Christmas offering is high on my list as well. I wrote about them last year HERE.

3) Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas

Now, I heard rumor that the brewer of 12 Dogs used to work for Great Lakes Brewing and tweaked their Christmas Ale recipe to come up with the 12 Dogs of Christmas. I don't know if that's true or not but it seems plausible. This is for sure one of my favorites. I wrote about it last year HERE.

4) Fat Head's Holly Jolly


Fat Head's consistently puts out some quality beers and this Christmas is no different. I believe this is a new offering from them this year and it's a winner! Full of spice!

From the site: "Once upon a frozen evening way up north, a 

sweet local honey named Holly inspired our Jolly Fat Man 

(as only Holly can) to create this festive spiced holiday ale. 

We think you will enjoy his holiday creation with it's aromas 

and flavors of Christmas day. Sweet malt, ginger, honey 

and cinnamon spice. Sip this by the fire with your significant 

other. Who knows, maybe it will lead to a little inspiration of 

your own. From our Jolly Fat Man to yours, Happy Holidays."

5) Rivertown Winter Ale 


This is the Christmas offering from Rivertown but because it's a Winter, I'm hoping it will stick around through the new year. Let me say, the 6 pack we just recently purchased ($8.49) was the freshest I had every tasted! Like it came directly from the bottling line and into my glass 30 minutes later. Holy moly!

From the site: "Winter spiced ale is our winter seasonal offering. 

With its thick body, creamy head, ruby hue, and big bold flavors 

with hints of caramel, toffee, and cinnamon, it is sure to keep you 

warm through the cold winter nights. "

I did not include Great Lakes Christmas Ale. Blasphemous, I know. Truth be told, I do like it. I just like the ones I listed better.

Happy Beering!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Second Stitch Fix

My second Stitch fix arrived!
Unfortunately, I was not as enamored with my items as I was in the first Fix. In case you missed it, that post can be found HERE. I was so excited to get my second one having experienced the success I met the first time around but, sadly, I am underwhelmed.
Want to see what was included?

I actually like this black and white sleeveless blouse quite a bit. The design is like nothing in my closet and it’s a versatile piece that can be worn all year either layered in the winter or on its own in the summer. At $78, it’s not inexpensive but the quality is top notch. The cut, however, is not right for my body. It’s a bit big in the armpits and the cinched waist hits me at an unflattering spot. I was bummed it didn’t look great on me but I didn’t want to force it.

OK – I love a good maxi dress. Don’t we all? I especially liked this one because it’s form fitting through the waist and all my other maxi dresses are super flowy. However….where in the heck am I going to wear this? It’s pretty dang fancy and I don’t get invited to a lot of fancy places.

 John asked if I wouldn’t wear it to work? Uh, well, I suppose I could but I think I’d look a little overdressed. I offered New Years’ Eve as an option. That’s one night a year, folks, in case you’re keeping track. I feel as though I’d be looking for opportunities to bust it out and none would be presented. It’s $78, so not a bad price for a nice dress. I love the chevron skirt. But sadly, it’s going back.

This one. You guys. This COMPLETELY missed the mark. I don’t know who in their right mind wakes up in the morning and thinks, “Oh, today I should wear that sweater that adds about 50 pounds and kind of makes me look like a homeless person” but it ain’t me. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all? Well, okay. I liked the color and I liked the pockets. Tell me, would you wear this?

I didn’t think so.

On the accessory front, we have a teardrop bib necklace in a bright emerald green. All the rage these days, yes? I liked this, but was a bit put off by the fact that it’s all acrylic. (read: plastic) Not even the gold beads and clasp are metal. I don’t mind spending $28 on a necklace and as bold as this is, I think I would get a lot of use out of it. But, $28 on a plastic necklace that feels pretty cheap. Color me unimpressed.
Last but not least…

We have a camel cowl-necked sweater with a hi-low hem and leather elbow patches. I am a total sucker for elbow patches. I don’t currently own anything with them but am in the process of adding them to a sweater I’m refashioning. This was a hit with me right away…..until I saw the price tag. 

When I started Stitch Fix, I told myself it was okay to spend more than I normally would on clothing because I was getting unique, quality pieces. Somehow, I cannot bring myself to say that it IS okay to spend $108 on a single sweater. It’s a wool/viscose/cotton blend so it’s not like it’s cashmere. And those elbow patches? They’re vegan leather. (read: pleather) John encouraged me to get it. Truth be told, I was having a rough day and John encouraged me to buy lots of the pieces. What a guy!
I wrestled with the idea of keeping this sweater for awhile but I only had 3 days to decide. I didn’t want to eat the $20 styling fee so I felt I HAD to buy something. Do I drop a hundy on myself right before Christmas? Or, do I spend $8 more and just keep the necklace that I hope won’t break? Does referring to one hundred dollars as a 'hundy' make me sound gangster?

These are all important questions. I think if it weren’t Christmas time and my credit card bill wasn’t giving me palpitations, I would have had no issues buying the sweater. But knowing full well that I’d be receiving clothing in a few short weeks anyway, I wavered.
In the end, I liked the sweater but didn't LOVE it and wouldn't get my money's worth out of it. I kept the necklace and sent everything else back. 
I did schedule a third Fix for myself to arrive in January. I requested to have the stylist I got the first time around because she did a great job. I asked for pattern and color and adjusted my styling profile a bit. I'm hoping that helps.
Don't let this dissuade you from trying Stitch Fix out for yourself. If you want to order your own Fix, use THIS LINK. I get a $25 credit if you do and that would make me smile.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The World's Strongest Librarian

You know how Amazon makes suggestions of books for you to read based on your reading history? This was one of those books.


The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family by Josh Hanagarne

Good Reads' Synopsis: "Josh Hanagarne couldn't be invisible if he tried. Although he wouldn't officially be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until his freshman year of high school, Josh was six years old and onstage in a school Thanksgiving play when he first began exhibiting symptoms. By the time he was twenty, the young Mormon had reached his towering adult height of 6'7" when — while serving on a mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints — his Tourette's tics escalated to nightmarish levels.

Determined to conquer his affliction, Josh underwent everything from quack remedies to lethargy-inducing drug regimes to Botox injections that paralyzed his vocal cords and left him voiceless for three years. Undeterred, Josh persevered to marry and earn a degree in Library Science. At last, an eccentric, autistic strongman — and former Air Force Tech Sergeant and guard at an Iraqi prison — taught Josh how to "throttle" his tics into submission through strength-training.

Today, Josh is a librarian in the main branch of Salt Lake City's public library and founder of a popular blog about books and weight lifting—and the proud father of four-year-old Max, who has already started to show his own symptoms of Tourette's.

The World's Strongest Librarian illuminates the mysteries of this little-understood disorder, as well as the very different worlds of strongman training and modern libraries. With humor and candor, this unlikely hero traces his journey to overcome his disability — and navigate his wavering Mormon faith — to find love and create a life worth living"

What I Thought: This was a very interesting memoir. I don't know anyone with Tourette's, just what you see on TV, but Hanagarne described it in a way that made you understand the syndrome a whole lot better. Josh's journey took a circuitous route ending up with a life he probably couldn't have imagined happening and the ride there held my attention. It's a quick read but worth a shot.

Rating: * * *

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Recipe Reblog: Crockpot Cheddar Beer Chicken Tacos

This recipe comes from one of my favorite bloggers over at How Sweet It Is. It called to me because it was for the crockpot and I love a good slow cooked meal.

Crockpot Cheddar Beer Chicken Tacos: I really liked the mix of seasoning in this. No sodium-riddled taco packet here. No, sir. I ended up using 6 chicken breasts instead of 4 so we could have this for three nights but I didn't increase the amount of seasoning and it turned out just fine. For the beer, I used a leftover amber red ale which added to the full-bodied flavor. After 8 hours, this came out super moist and just fell apart while shredding. Wrap it up in a tortilla and you've got yourself a tasty dish!

P.S. The other night at 7:00 pm, I was tucked under a blanket, drinking sleepytime tea and knitting. Basically, I aged 50 years overnight.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Beer Me: Fistmas Holiday Ale

Ah, the Christmas beer season is in full swing! I have been drinking my old standbys for awhile now and I hope to do a Top 10 (or 5) post for you soon. I am running out of time though. Less than two weeks until Christmas. EEK! But, I do have one here for you today that is new to me this year.

This is Fistmas Holiday Ale from Revolution Brewing Co. Bonus points for the cool can design, right? Its rich amber red color is quite festive too.

From the site: "Red ale brewed for the holiday season with specialty malts to achieve a beautiful deep red hue and the aromas of fresh baked bread, caramel, and stone fruits. Steeped with ginger root and orange peel."

What I Thought: Well, this wasn't as Christmasy as I wanted it to be. There was really only the slightest hint of ginger and I like a bit more spice this time of year. I also detected a bit more hops than I like to come through. It was an okay brew at $9.99 for a 6-pack but I probably wouldn't try it again. If red ales are your thing, you'll probably like this. But if you crave dark, warming beer this time of year, skip it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Make It: Knitted Headband

When the temperatures in Ohio reach the frigid category, I reach for my knitting needles. I made myself a couple cowls recently. A girl can never have too many cowls, although I would be embarrassed to count my collection. I wanted a project that would use up some small amounts of leftover yarn and came across the perfect one.

I made up my own pattern on this and I think it turned out okay. When I put it on and grinned at my handiwork, John said it was cute but looked a little like a flapper hat. Beg pardon?

 I used my size 13 needles with a partial skein of Lion Brand's Wool-Ease Thick & Quick yarn (one of my faves!). I cast on 14 stitches and went to town with my seed stitch. Seed is my absolute favorite stitch in the whole wide universe. To be fair, I only know 3 stitches but I adore its result.

I wanted to make the headband look like a giant bow but I only sort of succeeded. The center of the bow sticks out from my head a bit more than I'd like. I'm working on a second one now with smaller needles and thinner yarn so we'll see if that helps.

I didn't make any Christmas presents this year, which is odd for me. I also have no plans to sew a Christmas outfit like I did last year and the year before. But, we're about 2 weeks out from Christmas so chances are good that next week, I'll decide it's a good time to start that project.

What have you been creating lately??

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Allegiant the third book of the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. It's a dystopian series in the young adult genre. I always say this but please don't be deterred by young adult series. They can be totally amazing.


Good Reads' Synopsis: "The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories. 

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love. "

What I Thought: Well, unfortunately it has been several months since I read Insurgent, the second book in the series. In that time span, I plum forgot half the characters, which side they were on, and what they were attempted to do. That didn't do me any favors while reading Allegiant. However, this one wasn't the page turner that the first two were and that made me sad. I knew I had to see the series through and I'm still super excited to see the Divergent movie when it comes up but Allegiant left me a bit underwhelmed. It took until about 3/4 of the way through the book to give me some good suspense and then the ending just felt a bit anti-climactic. I wanted to love this. I just didn't.

Rating: * * 1/2

Monday, December 9, 2013

These Days

Come on in! Can I pour you a cup of coffee? What's new with you?

Did you have a nice weekend?

Oh, me?

I got all my Christmas baking done and only burned my hand twice. I made 5 different cookie recipes. There was a lot of bowl licking going on in these parts.

John and I finally got to go see Catching Fire and it was AMAZING! Catching Fire was my favorite of the 3 books although I think I liked the Hunger Games movie better. How will we wait for Mockingjay?

There are so many movies coming out for Christmas. When will I see them all? Until yesterday, I hadn't seen a movie in the theatre since.....Great Gatsby? YIKES!

And last week, I had a complete sewing failure. Instead of trying again, I just gave up. Not my proudest moment.

But, over Thanksgiving I got to catch up with some high school (and earlier than high school) friends and it was GLORIOUS! Friendships are so important. I need to work harder on them. I always feel completely re-energized after hanging up the phone with a good friend.

I'm impatiently awaiting my second Stitch Fix. I hope it's got some great stuff inside. Even though I shouldn't be spending any more money whatsoever. It arrives this week. Stay tuned!

Next weekend I have a hair appointment and I am counting the hours until it's here. I can't stand to look at my roots any longer.

I still don't have any vacations planned for 2014 and it's making me antsy.

I am thisclose to finishing my Christmas shopping. I like to be done by Black Friday so I am technically behind. I went to the mall much later than I cared to this past Saturday. It was just as terrible as I thought it would be.

I think that about does it. You're all caught up now!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Recipe Reblog: Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

Oh, I have a sweet one for you today!

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark: I first tasted this at a work function and ate more pieces than I care to divulge here. Even though it has two sticks of butter and it goes against my religion to use more than one in any single recipe, I made it anyway. Because I'm including it on my Christmas cookie baking list and it will mostly be given away, I deemed the butter consumption acceptable.

This is a pretty simple recipe and has only 5 ingredients. You may even have all of them in your possession right now! I used dark chocolate chips because they are far superior to milk but that was the only time I strayed from the recipe. If you groove on a sweet/salty combo, you will LOVE this bark!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

November Running Round Up

How was your Black Friday, everyone? I did some solid shopping (at a respectable 7:00 am, NOT the night before) and only have a couple more gifts to buy. Then, I'll be done shopping and can focus on card writing, cookie baking and wrapping.

On Thanksgiving as I looked out the window and saw snow, I cursed myself for saying I should run that morning. But, I didn't want to let myself down so out I went. It was pretty awful as my toes were numb the entire time even though I wore two pairs of socks. I only saw one other intrepid runner and may have waved a bit too vigorously. That run made me thankful for my treadmill. Probably not something you heard around the dinner table that day.

Nov 3: 8 mi TM in 1:13

Nov 5: 4 mi TM in 35:42, 8:56 avg

Nob 5: 4.1 mi TM in 36:31, 9:24/8:22/8:22/8:28

Nov 9: 3.5 mi TM in 30:05

Nov 11: 5 mi TM in 46:11, 9:14 avg-sore legs

Nov 13: 4 mi TM in 34:18,   8:59/8:34/8:27/8:18

Nov 16: 3.1 OT in 42:??, run/walk race for Girls on the Run

Nov 17: 6 mi TM in 54:05, 9:01 avg

Nov 19: 4 mi TM in 36:46, SORE

Nov 21:  3.3 mi TM in 29:33,     9:12/8:51/8:46

Nov 24: 4 mi TM in 36:09

Nov 36:   3.5 mi TM in 29:42  8:51/8:29/8:18/4:00

Nov 28: 2.1 mi OT, turkey trot in the snow

54.6 miles total

That's my highest mileage month this year. Yea hooray! But, I have a confession. I have been taking it way too easy on the treadmill. Hulu has made me slow. I get so wrapped up in the shows I'm watching while running that I don't push the speed or incline. I'm not losing any weight and I'm not getting any faster. 


For December, the only TV-allowed run will be Sunday's long run because I'm going for distance and not speed. The other two run days will be music only. We'll see how this goes......

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Walking Dead: The Rise of the Governor

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor (The Governor Trilogy #1)
Do you people watch The Walking Dead on AMC? In case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s all about zombies. Don’t worry. It’s not as cheesy as it sounds. Fact: It is pretty much the most awesome show on television these days. The series is based on a comic and graphic novel and now, the writers, Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga, have also put out (back in 2011) a series of actual novels. I picked this one up in the airport bookstore for John to read and when he was finished, I happily cracked the spine.
Good Reads' Synsopsis: In the Walking Dead universe, there is no greater villain than The Governor. The despot who runs the walled-off town of Woodbury, he has his own sick sense of justice: whether it’s forcing prisoners to battle zombies in an arena for the townspeople’s amusement, or chopping off the appendages of those who cross him. The Governor was voted “Villain of the Year” by Wizard magazine the year he debuted, and his story arc was the most controversial in the history of the Walking Dead comic book series. Now, for the first time, fans of The Walking Dead will discover how The Governor became the man he is, and what drove him to such extremes.

What I Thought: Well. This was quite interesting…..if you know the show. It had some great tie ins and explained a lot about the Governor and his roots. If you haven’t seen the show, I’m not sure if you’ll find it as good as I did. The story is captivating but I think that’s because I knew the Governor already. It had an awesome twist and I’m so glad I have the second book waiting for me at home because I can’t wait to start reading it.
Rating: * * *