Monday, January 31, 2011

Book 27

From Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox awakens after more than a year in a coma to find herself in a life—and a body—that she doesn't quite recognize. Her parents tell her that she's been in an accident, but much of her past identity and current situation remain a mystery to her: Why has her family abruptly moved from Boston to California, leaving all of her personal belongings behind? Why does her grandmother react to her with such antipathy? Why have her parents instructed her to make sure not to tell anyone about the circumstances of their move? And why can Jenna recite whole passages of Thoreau's Walden, but remember next to nothing of her own past? As she watches family videos of her childhood, strange memories begin to surface, and she slowly realizes that a terrible secret is being kept from her. Pearson has constructed a gripping, believable vision of a future dystopia. She explores issues surrounding scientific ethics, the power of science, and the nature of the soul with grace, poetry, and an apt sense of drama and suspense. Some of the supporting characters are a bit underdeveloped, but Jenna herself is complex, interesting, and very real. This is a beautiful blend of science fiction, medical thriller, and teen-relationship novel that melds into a seamless whole that will please fans of all three genres.

Clearly, I enjoy young adult fiction. Because I work with children, I feel as though I should read their books and in all honesty, some young adult books are far more though provoking than "grown up" books.

This book has almost 5 stars on amazon which is why I decided to read it. I'm not sure that I would give this book 5 stars, but it was an interesting read. This story wasn't really a mystery nor is it full of suspense, but it does make you think about the future.

Does anyone else love young adult fiction?

January Goals Month End Review

Goal 1.Menu plan every day in January, at least one week in advance.
I managed to menu plan for every single day in January. Gosh, I love coming home and knowing what I'm going to make every single evening. It takes the guess work out of what's for dinner.

I should probably start menu planning for lunches on the weekends too. We never know what to eat then and tend to go out far too often.

Goal 2. Use our cash envelopes. I also stopped doing this during our busy November. Prior to November we would withdraw a set amount of cash to pay for all groceries and entertainment all month. Once the cash ran out, we ate from the pantry and stayed in. This really helped keep our spending in check-- something that we should have paid better attention to in November/December.
We managed to accomplish this goal as well. We used cash for EVERYTHING food/mart related this month. I should admit that our Marts envelope is currently at 0 (we start at 50 every month), our Grocery envelope is currently at 0 (we start at 250 every month), and our Entertainment envelope has a whopping 15 dollars in it to end January (we start at 200 every month), but at least we used cash.

Goal 3. I am going to try the no shopping thing again-- I may NOT buy any clothing unless I use a gift card or purchase shoes. I really need new flats and new wedge shoes. Those will be allowed. =)
Ha. This was a ridiculous fail. Seriously. It's pathetic how bad I failed at this goal. In fact, I went shopping today. Crap.

Goal 4. Loosely follow this work out. Seriously, this man is amazing. I will go to the gym for cardio 3x per week in January and I will strength train 3x per week as well.
Technically, I've only gone to the gym like 5 times in January. Every time I've gone this month I've had to stalk my prey for 10 minutes to get a parking space (I'm serious). Well, stalking parking spots has made me arrive for work out classes right on time and I've found that there isn't a square foot of space to put a step or to do some salsa moves left in the room. Last Monday I actually walked in the gym and walked out within two minutes. The class was completely full and there wasn't an open machine in sight. It's actually quite sad. Maybe I'll try it again tomorrow.

However, I still think that I accomplished this goal. Basically, the gym=cardio. Despite not visiting the gym, I've still been working out 6 days per week. Three days of strength (using the workout mentioned in the link above) and three days of cardio here at home. Mostly, I've been following the Couch to 5K program on our new treadmill (a much appreciated hand me down from my husband's sister) on my cardio days. I've tried and quit the Couch to 5k program like a bajillion times over the last few years but it's worth another shot. I'd like to be able to outrun a monkey in the jungle and at this point I can't even run a quarter of a mile. It's worth learning.

Goal 5. This one may kill my husband but no dining out for the entire month of January unless someone else is treating us (or if already planned and on our agenda- one occasion). We are really considering a baby so we're gonna see how much we can realistically save in one month.
This goal was a big failure. We've eaten out less than ever before, but we still went out about once per week-- always on the weekend. Basically, when friends invited us out we wanted to meet them for dinner etc. This goal wasn't worth becoming hermits over. I'm going to try to be more realistic with this goal in February.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tweet Tweet

Earlier this weekend I tweeted that I wanted to repaint our bedroom.

I want to repaint our bedroom, buy a crappy dresser on craigslist and refinish it, and upholster our headboard (to be exact), but don't tell my husband about the other two projects.

My husband hates my projects. He especially hates my painting projects. He prefers to spend his weekends relaxing, drinking beer, and doing whatever else boys do when girls aren't looking.

It's not my fault that I painted our entire living room as soon as we moved in and hated the color two months later and wanted to repaint. I (also) got that from my mother.

I try to explain to him that he is a LUCKY man. I want to change paint. Paint is like 20 dollars a gallon. Things could be SO much worse.

You'd think that I was asking the man for a new couch or a new car.

He just doesn't understand.

although, now that I mention it.... A new couch would be lovely.


DUDES. I am so cool right now.

I just modified HTML......

..... and I don't even know what HTML means.

If you are reading in reader, go ahead, click on my blog. Look at those fancy new pages up there.

I was trying to work with Bloggers "Pages" but they blow (blew) because you can't customize much of anything through blogger.

Well, thankfully I came across this little lady on the internet and read her tutorial. It was so easy that even a non HTML reading person could do it.

You know, I may need to go buy a custom domain name now that I'm such an internet goddess.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Love Trash!

{I've had two Skinnygirl Margaritas tonight so I hope this makes sense}

I love trash. Seriously, I contribute to overflowing landfills far too frequently. If it's not attached to the wall by 60 screws it is not safe around me. One could never accuse me of being a hoarder.

I think my disdain for clutter originally started with my mother. I think my mother got it from her mother.

Basically, my father's mother (my grandma) liked stuff. If you visited to her house on January 1st, you could find the same pen, pad of paper, magazine, coupons, plant, etc on her table come April 1st. It drove my mother crazy. My mother inadvertently taught me that it should drive me crazy.

It did drive me crazy.

I just don't like clutter and/or stuff and I am not against throwing things away. If I haven't used it for a month or two, it's OUTTA here. I tried to throw the waffle maker away today but my husband told me that I couldn't do it.

I'm currently making to do lists.

Now that football is almost over we have an entire DAY available to throw more things away. Today we managed to clean out every cabinet in the kitchen (only 70% of our things were spared) and our basement tool closet (only 50% was spared).

Seriously, I feel so much lighter. Try it. Throw shit away. It feels great.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pajama Jeans

I die.

Have you people seen Pajama Jeans?

Seriously, the mysterious European designer must have tapped my phone lines and spent the last few years following me with a hidden camera.

I love pajamas.

In fact, every day I walk in my house with my jeans already half unbuttoned and unzipped. I wonder what my neighbors must think. Hmm.

I hate jeans, but I'm American. I have to wear jeans.

I would love my jeans if they fit like my pajamas.

If you buy this, you must tell me immediately. I must know if these jeans really are softer than a baby's blanket, and if they are really worth the $39.95 price tag. Ha.

Fwd: Friday is Here!

This was my kind of week. Teacher work days on Tuesday and Wednesday. A snow day on Thursday and a 2 hour delay today! I could handle this schedule week after week....
Lets talk about busyness. Is it just me, or do people ignore your texts, phone calls, and emails?
It amazes me that in this day and age, I can only confidently think of two-three people that regularly respond to my calls/emails/texts within 24-48 hours (family not included) on a consistent basis or every time. Do I smell? Do people not like me? Is it just me?
I get that people are busy. But I'm busy too.
I work AT LEAST 40 hours per week. I spend an hour at the gym five days a week. I blog (almost) daily. I watch a lot of TV. I cook dinner every night. I meal plan. I grocery shop. I clean my own house. I do my own laundry. I read a book almost every week and I still could make time to do other things.
It's funny because I have friends that marvel at my ability to have a job, a life and time to blog. It's honestly not that hard. But it has made me start thinking-- am I not busy enough? Am I not cool because I have time to do other things and because I'm usually free to hang out if invited? How busy it too busy?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Valentines Day Wreath (Cont.)

We are back with part 2 of the Valentines day wreath tutorial. Sadly, I have more domestic goddess war wounds but the show must go on.

Earlier this week I showed you how to make the Rosettes. Now here's what you need to do with them....

Assemble 1 green floral wreath (mine was 12 inches), a hot glue gun and paint (optional).

I decided to paint my green wreath form pink, in case any of the form showed through.

Oh look who's back! He's never one to miss a good photograph....

Excuse me Ashley, what are you doing?

O'Snap enjoys being all up in my business whenever I whip the camera out. I swear, he runs and hides otherwise.

Okay, here I am with a pink wreath.

Next step, start gluing those rosettes on! There is no method to my madness. I just started in one corner and kept on gluing...

Don't get discouraged, it's not going to look cute right away. Just put rosettes everywhere and try not to burn your fingers (Like I did. Three times).

After I added all of the rosettes, I hung a big red bow around it and hung it on my front door.

Isn't she pretty? If she didn't take so long to make I would make one for all of my family and friends.

I love how the wreath turned out and it was a super fun/cheap project. The wreath form cost me about $2.50 with a coupon. The paint was .59 cents and I purchased 30 sheets of felt for .29 cents each.

Not too shabby! If you decide to try this let me know how it turns out.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday 2011- Week 4

I've been doing What I Wore Wednesday for like 6 months now. I really need to stop using my camera phone to take the pictures. They appear more blurry than usual this week. Sorry, I will try to improve, but I take these pictures at like 6:45 am. You are lucky that I'm taking them at all at this hour. =)

THURSDAY: Well hello there new boots. Swoon.

Turquoise Dress- TJ Maxx
Sweet Boots- Anthropologie
Tights- Marshalls

FRIDAY- Total slob but I had to represent my team.

Steelers Sweatshirt- Walmart- little boys section
Khaki pants- AT Loft
Sneakers- Not pictured

SATURDAY- Dinner with one of my besties

Cardigan- AT Loft
Belt- Marshalls
Jeans- Gap
Shoes- Marshalls
Necklace- Forever 21


Cowl Neck Shirt- Target
Black Pants- AT Loft
Red Flats- Marshalls

TUESDAY- WORK- but with no kids- teacher work day

Gray Sweater- AT Loft
Purple Cords- Marshalls
Undershirt- Target

TODAY- Work- but it was snowy, rainy, icy, and we had a two hour delay and no kids. The principal wore sweats yesterday so I figured that I would today.

Black Cowl Neck Sweatshirt- Target
Black Yoga Pants- Walmart
Sneaks- Ryka


You all know how much I love CSN! They've recently contacted me to do another review for them and I'm more than happy to oblige. CSN has everything-- shoes (hello, girls!!!), athletic equipment, kitchenware, floor care and even a laptop messenger bag!

Most recently I purchased an awesome Euro Pro Shark steam mop from CSN and I'm in love with it. The price was comparable to what it would be on another online website and CSN shipped the mop for free-- which actually made it more affordable than what it would be on another website!! I feel better about using a steam mop with pets and a someday maybe baby crawling around on the floor.

This time I may need to buy something fun-- like shoes...... or perhaps a new step for my in home workouts?! Does anyone have any suggestions for me?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Real Favorites

I do love that little kitty (see below), but here are my favorite non-G rated You Tube videos.

I'm warning you-- there are like 234234345344523423 F words in this next video, but I love it. I have a major crush on Andy Sandberg and my husband and I bust out this tune ALL. THE. TIME.

My favorite days are those in which my husband walks in the front door blasting this on this phone.

Note: yes, we have danced to this in the tator tot aisle.

My other favorite You Tube video is almost as R-rated and I could listen to it on repeat all night.

1. Do you decorate for Valentine’s day?
Not really.. but I will be making a wreath for my front door.

2. Does your desktop have a picture or computer graphic? Is it organized?
It's organized and it has the name of my workplace on the desktop.

3. Do you use a paper planner, electric planner or no planner at all?
Despite owning a blackberry, I use a paper planner most frequently.

4. Do you change purses or bags often or stick with a good thing?
I usually rotate every 3 months

5. What’s your favorite YouTube Video?
Gosh, what a hard question. I like so many you tube video. This is the most G-rated video that I like...

6. Do you use Turbo Tax or a real person to pay your taxes?
Well my dad is the VP of finance for a corporation so he used to help me. More recently, we've had my husband's best friend help.

7. How many states have you set foot (or tire) in? Which ones?
I've been in/to 44 states. I've never been to Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Montana

8. How many countries have you been in? Which ones?
Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Antigua, Bahamas, St. Thomas, Haiti

9. How many pillows are in your house? (Sleeping or decorative)

10. How cold is too cold for flip flops?
I love flip flops. I try to wear them from March-November. =)

Brought to you each week by Roots and Rings

Ashley Bakes

I had a day/night alone on Saturday so I decided to pretend to be the Pioneer Woman and to try my hand at her homemade Cinnamon Swirl Bread.

I have never made bread before, but it sounded like a cool idea.

Plus, it gave me an opportunity to use my cute stand mixer. Do you think the Faces (our actual nickname folks) like the color green?

Why yes, yes we do.

PS. Yes, my cat O'Snap is an attention whore (or the male version of an attention whore). Yes, my cats sit on our dining room table. Do you think that's gross? Sorry, we don't.

For a full set of directions, refer to the link above but I'll show you some yummy pictures.

First step, melt butter and milk. Oh, yum.

Yeast. It's whats for dinner. The Mrs. Face also loves purple.

Bread with sugar in it?!? Yes, please.

The dough ready to rise.

We needed to help warm the environment. We like our dough to rise with class- which is why we use Steelers towels.

After two hours of waiting, I finally rolled out my dough...

And I added cinnamon and sugar and rolled it up.

Then, it was time for more rising. This bread requires 4+ hours of rising. This is the redneck way to let bread rise. We keep our house at a toasty 67 degrees, so I had to help the bread along. I put the oven lamp on, which helped to heat that area up a bit. I used to red bowl as a ladder to bring the bread a little closer to the oven lamp. Worked like a charm.

This is what I took out of the oven a few hours later. YUM. YUM. YUM.

I didn't wait long enough to take it out of the pan, so my bread became a bit lopsided. But, I did get to enjoy that hot, dripping cinnamon and sugar.

Helpful tips for next time-- You can eat bread immediately after removing it from the oven, but return it to the loaf pan after you cut a slice. This will help it remain upright. I'm stuck with a lopsided loaf now. Oh, well. I'm still gonna eat it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Anthro Inspired Pom Necklace

Ashley Crafts!

{Inspired by the craft-a-licious Little Miss Momma}

*Disclaimer- the first half of my pictures were taken with my blackberry cell phone camera. Then I remembered, OH SHIT, I should use our new camera. Doh.

Materials needed for this sweet little project:
- Cheap felt
- Hot glue gun
- Any color cotton fabric (I used black)
- Scissors
- Chain of your choice
- Hot tea- Cinnamon Vanilla via Trader Joes to be exact

Step One: Cut out five small felt circles

Step Two: Using the felt circles as a model, stack some black fabric and cut that into circles. You'll need a lot and they do NOT need to be perfect.

Step Three: Scrunch up your black fabric one petal at a time

Step Four: Put some hot glue on the bottom of the scrunched up fabric and stick on your felt circle. You'll need at least 10-15 scrunched pieces for each felt circle.

Step Five: Finish doing that for all five felt circles. Next, arrange your poms on a large piece of felt.

Step Six: Hot glue gun each pom to the large felt.

Step Seven: Hot glue the chain onto the back of the felt (sorry, I missed a picture of this step somehow).

Step Eight: Cut around the edges of the felt/poms until you end up with this....

Step Nine: Model it in your bathroom mirror.

Not bad, eh?

Step Ten: Marvel in the mirror and think, I am a domestic goddess.

Helpful Hints: I plan on making another one of these-- a brown one but I'm going to buy BROWN felt.

I used white this time around and it's still a tiny bit noticeable against the black. If you want to make black poms, go with the black felt as well.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Valentines Day Rosettes

Valentines Day Rosette Tutorial

First- go to Michaels and buy a total of thirty sheets of 9x12inch felt. I decided to go with a mix of hot pink (5), red (10), light pink (10), and white (5).

Start cutting your felt squares. Turn each 9x12 inch piece into four squares of equal size and one long strip.

Here are all of my squares and all of my strips. It's easy. I promise.

Next, cut each individual square into a swirly pattern as outlined below. They do not need to be perfect and this will be QUITE time consuming. I cut these out while watching the critically acclaimed lifetime movie-- the Craigslist Killer. Ha.

Then, starting from the inside of the swirl, out just wrap up your little rosette.

The best part about using felt is that felt sticks to felt so you don't need to hot glue every individual flower.

About halfway through the Craigslist Killer, I ended up with this...

I was going to make a wreath (I still am, but that will be part two of this tutorial) but I ended up burning my middle finger on some hot glue pretty early on in my crafting adventure.

I have a problem using hot glue guns. I swear, my hand gets hot hot hot glue on it every time I craft and I end up with some type of painful burn.

When I informed my husband of my burn he said....

"Ashley!! You are like Ralphie from a Christmas Story. I never should have given you a hot glue gun for Christmas."

Ha, so true.

So, the show must not go on until the blister is healed up a bit.

I did learn a super awesome way to treat burns though---

wrap your burn in aluminum foil. It worked like a charm.

Seriously, try it.

{I'll post my part two of my wreath felt rosette wreath tutorial within the next week}


It's STEELERS Sunday ya'll!

I'm anxiously awaiting tonight's game on pins and needles!

Happy AFC championship day to the only men that ever make me cry (cause my husband rules and doesn't make me cry -of course)