Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Painting...with a Twist

Last week, my sister Heather's best friend set up a girl's night for seven of our family and friends. So Friday night we set out to do a little unwinding by painting. Painting with a Twist is a place where you pick a picture you'd like to paint and then there is an instructor that guides you along throughout the entire painting process. They supply the paints, paint brushes, aprons, and even the canvas. You supply the wine! That's the twist. ;) You're allowed to drink while painting! Who wouldn't like that?! Our design was of a cobblestone pathway that has lamp posts and trees along side it. Along the way, I snapped a few pictures to show the before and after of my magnificent creation.

Blank Canvas
You start by making guidelines to sketch out the approximate locations of where the cobblestone pathway will be. By using the edge of the paint brush we were able to create a "whispy" look that represented a sky in the background.

Brush Techniques

This was a three hour long event! Therefore, things can get a little overwhelming and the instructor has to keep moving along, so falling behind tends to happen quite a bit. But when in doubt..."take another sip!" That's one of the rules Painting with a Twist goes by. It helps for people to not become upset or frustrated. They even have an area where you can get up and hula hoop if you just need to get away for a minute.

Middle of the class 

In the middle of class, just for checking in on Facebook. I got this nifty bottle opener! How convenient! :)

Finally, we reached the end! Here's how my finished painting turned out. 

Not too shabby for my very first time at one of this events! The instructor mentioned that we don't have to use the exact colors that she uses if we want to make it more of our own. In our group photo, all of our pictures look very similar, yet the colors schemes slightly varied which made each picture unique!


So there you have it! Three hours later and we each have our very own painting! To learn more about Painting with a Twist, or to find one near you, click here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Physically and Mentally Drained

Lately, I've been so worn out. Work has been crazy beyond belief! I find myself going into work earlier and earlier each day, busting my ass and then just wanting to pass out when I get home. Sometimes, I nap. Most days, I find the toothpicks (aka coffee) to keep my eyes open the rest of the night. The list of things to do at work is never ending. That's not such a bad thing though. It pretty much guarantee's job security but it would be nice to have more space, more instruments, and more people to help get the job done. After increasing business by 10x over the past couple years we are in major need of some more hands on deck. However, that will never happen...not yet at least. So I'm just going to keep on keepin' on feeling like a zombie most of the days. I love my job but damn..sister needs a break!

I'll never forget what one of my anthropology professor's told me when I was in school. He said, "You need to break the system or else work/school wins." By this he meant that we need to take personal days off. We need to call off work or skip class every now and then or else we aren't human. We become robots that follow a specific system day in and day out. Now, this doesn't mean to call off all the time it just means to do it if you really feel like you need it. So next class, I see the note on the door, our professor cancelled class. Touché. That's exactly why I took a personal day off work this past Monday. I have PTO days so why not use one? The 15" of snow definitely helped me make the decision to stay home in my comfy bed but it felt good. No matter what day I take off, the daunting list of work will still be there when I go back, but at least I had an extra 24 hours to help me recoup so that I'd return and do even better work. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Now that 2015 is here there is one main focus of mine. I do not want to fall victim of sloth. One of the seven deadly sins. Life is way too short to sit around and be lazy all day. Instead, I want to go out and adventure more. Last year was a great year for me. I tried new exciting things, pushed myself to do more, and found that I was just happier all together. I want to continue that trend this year!

Pictured Rocks
I've lived in Michigan for fifteen years now and I have never been to the Upper Peninsula nor Traverse City, Mackinaw Island, Pictured Rocks, or even Silver Lake Sand Dunes. This mitten of a state has so much beautiful nature to offer and I've barely seen any of it. My objective this summer is to venture around Michigan some more. Picture Rocks being first on my list. I have heard too many rave reviews about this location to simply pass it up. I would want to camp onsite and then take a kayak tour on Lake Superior to get an even more exquisite view of this marvel. Also, I've only been to Lake Erie. Eventually, I would love to check off all five lakes that surround Michigan.

Not only would I like to visit more of Michigan but I would also like to check out Las Vegas this summer. It would be fun and definitely a change of scenery. Hey, your twenties are for having fun, why not in Vegas? :)

A cruise would be nice also. I've been on one to the Bahamas it is relaxation heaven! You pay once and then everything else is all-inclusive. You can't beat it! Sailing on the endless blue ocean under clear and beautiful skies is breath-taking. Even the thought of a nice tan is calling my name during this cold winter.

But to take matters even further around the world I desperately want to travel to Spain. I have been wanting to go there for years. YEARS! Whether or not I go this year, we'll have to see, but one day I'll be there. I have studied Spanish for basically my whole life and there is nothing more that I want than to fully submerge myself in the language and culture. The architecture is exquisite, the food looks delicious and the style of dancing is phenomenal. Yo quiero visitar Barcelona primero! Barcelona has always been first on my list of cities to visit while in Spain but I may even run with the bulls in Pamplona...okay maybe not run with them, I'll watch. BUT you can definitely count me in for La Tomatina Festival in Bunol. Who wouldn't want to join in on a ginormous tomato food fight?!

I don't know if I'll be able to accomplish all of these places in one year. If I do, that's awesome. If I don't, there's always next year. Mainly, I just want to "do" more things this year. Even if it's going to concerts, sports events, or just playing basketball outside with the neighbors, I'll be happy. Sloth won't do me any good so I refuse to let it get to me!

If you  happen to have any input on some of the locations that I just mentioned I would love to hear about it! It would help me decide where to travel first or let me know if I missed a great location or event that I should add to my list! :)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Whoa. It's been a while...

Yikes! I can't believe that I've been missing from the blogging world for over three months now. Time seriously flies. Needless to say, a lot has happened within those past three months. For instance, holiday after holiday, Chicago for my brother-in-law's 30th birthday, and snowboarding. Chicago was a blast so I figure I'll talk about that for now. About fifteen of my brother-in-law's good friends and family all headed West to Chicago on New Year's Day. We all purchased this awesome Groupon, which I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to deal with, and stayed the whole weekend for cheap! This was my first time purchasing a traveling Groupon and now it most likely won't be my last either. Most of us took the Amtrak train there too. It was my first train ride, too! So many first experiences happened on this trip. Overall, we did multiple different party/touristy things while in town. We all got together to have a birthday dinner for Joey and went to Lou Malnati's. It is a well known Chicago-style (of course) deep dish pizza joint. Man, was it delicious! Best pizza I've had in Chicago hands down.

For some tourist events, I rode the subway for the first time ever. Yes, ever...and I loved it. It's so convenient and easy to use! I was shocked. I also saw the "Bean" for the first time as well. Although, it looked more like an egg. The weather was gloomy and snowy so the top portion of the Bean was covered. However, a little snow and ice doesn't stop me from sight-seeing! I'm from Michigan people and we're currently getting snow as I speak, er, type. A ton at that! We have already gotten 8" and there's another expected 8" on the way. I'm taking work off tomorrow, just saying. Anyways, back to Chicago. 

I was fascinated by the Bean. It's so cool how you can see Chicago's skyline (on a good day) in its' reflection. Also, as if I wasn't short enough to begin with, it acted as a fun mirror. I looked half my size. Even walking underneath the bean was a unique experience. All of these swirls that the angle of the surface makes flips your image in different ways. Then, the fun part was trying to find where the bean flipped your image. I found myself in multiple locations!

Underneath the Bean
Fun Size
             I love how in the picture below the snow and ice covers our faces perfectly! 

Then, we went to the Museum of Science and Industry. Let me tell you, that place is HUGE! There was so much to see it was unbelievable! We spent hours there. It happened to be the time of the year in which they decorate a bunch of different Christmas trees to represent different countries. For example, Belgium had Belgian waffles hanging all over it and the United States tree had a bald eagle as it's tree topper. I apologize for my photo clarity, I was just using my phone's camera at the time.

Belgium Tree
United State Tree
Finally, we grabbed some of the famous cheddar/caramel mixed popcorn at Garrett's Popcorn. You can never go to Chi-Town without picking up some of their awesome popcorn!

So, there you have it! Joey's Chicago birthday trip to celebrate his "dirty thirty." Needless to say, I definitely want to make a Spring or Summer trip this year back to Chi-Town. There's so much more to explore and the night life is great! 

Thanks for sticking out the long hiatus with me. I promise I'll post more frequently now. Talk to you soon! :)


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tis' Wedding Season

Fall always seems to be a very popular season for weddings. I have a wedding this Saturday to go to. Another wedding in two weeks and it's Heather and Joey's five year wedding anniversary today! Congratulations you two! So many joyous occasions to celebrate!

With many dressy occasions come many dressy outfits. I'm pretty sure that I have the dress that I want to wear narrowed down to of course a little black dress. What could go wrong with wearing a little black dress? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. While wearing a LBD you can never be too dress up or dressed down. It's the perfect go-to dress. 

My problem arises at what shoes to wear! Should I go with my nude pumps or should I go with my black heels. I can't decide. The only thing that is swaying my decision to the nude pumps is that my current black heels are platform. I don't want to people to think that I look like a stripper. I don't think that would be the case though since a TON of shoes are platforms these days. I'm also only 5'2", so with the added four or five inches, I won't stick out like a sore thumb. I'll be average height. As for the nude heels, it's beginning to be fall and I am gradually becoming more and more pale. Good-bye gorgeous Virginia Beach tan! Welp. Anyways, I feel like the nude heels may make my legs look even more pale. Nothing that a little self tanner can't fix but still. I'm stuck. What I really want to do is go out and buy a new pair of heels. I think a fun blue or pink would add a nice color pop to the black ensemble. I doubt that will happen though.

On to jewelry, the neckline of my dress is rounded right at the collarbone. So there's not a whole lot that I can do with a necklace. I would say maybe a nice bib necklace would do the trick but I'm not loving that idea either. My dress has subtle sparkles throughout it with a fine mesh on the sides and back. I think a great pair of earrings could do the trick, actually. Just skip the necklace and wear some bold earrings. Yeah, I think that's what I'm going to do. I don't know. I'll have to try a bunch of jewelry on! What do you think would go best? 

Next up, makeup! Do I do a smoky eye with nude lips? Or do I go with a more natural eye and have a bold lip color? Like red! I do love a nice red lip! I don't think that I can do a smoky eye with a red lip being that it might be too much for the wedding ceremony. Although...I could always do a nude lip for the mass and then whip out my red lipstick for the reception! Hmm...so many options! 

All I know is that I have to look good...damn good! I'm going solo and my friend (the one who's getting married) told me that a lot of her guy friends are going solo as well. I think she may be seating us at the same table at the reception. What a great friend! :) Hence, my dilemma on what to wear with my LBD!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Books. It's an Addiction.

Hello Everyone! I hope all of you are having a great day today :)

As you may know, if you read my post on fifty facts about me, I. Love. Reading. Plain and simple. Currently, I am reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. There are ten parts to this book and I am on part seven right now. Almost there! 

I love it when a good book captures your mind. It allows for you to leave this very moment and drift into the day of another person. A character. It's a perfect way to unwind after a long day at work. Your mind is at ease and nothing else matters other than what will take place on the next page. 

The Book Thief
Admittedly, I am a bit disappointed with the book thus far. I can put this book down. Now, don't get me wrong, it's a really good read but books that really capture my interest I just can't put down. This book, however, feels like it is taking forever to get to the good part. And I'm on the seventh! It's not like the author's writing quality stinks because it doesn't. It's wonderfully written. Also, the perspective that it's written from (a surprise that I didn't expect) was unique and intriguing. The setting was extremely detailed and convinced me that I'm in the exact city and year that the characters are in. If all of these combined make for a great novel, then why can I put this book down? 

I guess I just need a little more action throughout the book to keep my pages flipping. I told myself that I will NOT stop reading this book. I will finish it! I like the book, I really do! Plus, I want to watch the movie after I'm done because I've heard that it's amazing. Although, books are always (in my opinion) better than how Hollywood portrays them. The ending of a novel can definitely make or break the entire book though. Therefore, I will prevail! I'll let you know what I think about the book after I'm completely done. We'll see if the ending changes my mind about The Book Thief. 

Does anyone else feel the same way? Do I just need to hang tight and push through to the end? I'd love to hear your opinion as well. No spoilers though please :) 

For real.

XoXo, Ashley

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Last Weekend


Last weekend was a fun weekend. My sister Heather and brother-in-law Joey asked me if I could dog sit for them. They had one of Joey's best friends wedding to go to and it was in Kalamazoo. Yup, that's really a city here in good ole Michigan. Kalamazoo's about an hour and a half away and after a night of dancing and drinking they weren't going to drive back home. Smart choice. Now, it's up to me to handle the two pooches Daisy and LuLu. They can be a handful sometimes but always a fun handful! Of course, I agreed to watch them. (Plus, they offered to pay for some beer and pizza and gave me the okay to invite some of my close friends over, YAY) 

Friday night roles around and here I am with these two. Heather and Joey just planted grass seed a couple of weeks ago so I was told to walk the dogs out to a specific location. It was nice out all weekend so that wasn't a problem at all. The first time I had to take them out though I noticed that Daisy didn't really want to walk much. Shoot. Naturally, I started thinking of what could be the problem. Is she sick? Does she have a sore paw? What's going on with her? This prompts me to call Joey to ask if he had noticed her acting weird  before they left. He then fills me in that when he took Daisy and LuLu to get their haircuts they had to get their anal glands cleaned as well. What in the world?! No wonder the poor thing doesn't want to walk. I guess it's common for dogs that are smaller to have to get this done quite often though. However, instead of walking Daisy to her bathroom location, I had to drag her. Every five steps she wanted to sit down and Wouldn't. Budge. 

Well, that was an experience! Lucky for me, she was better by the next day and everything was fine. So, I decided to take Heather and Joey up on their offer of inviting my friends over. I asked Ashleigh and Allison to come over Saturday night. I met both of these lovely ladies in college! Both agreed to come and the "girls night in" was officially about to start! We ordered Jets pizza and chit-chatted away while we ate. Then we opted to watch a movie, Horrible Bosses (my all-time FAVORITE comedy) was in the running, Ashleigh had never seen it. After probably ten minutes or so we then decided to go to Family Video. Ashleigh and Allison mentioned the movie The Ringer earlier in the night and I had never seen it. So we picked that one up and agreed on a double feature of first The Ringer and then Horrible Bosses. Awesome! 

Allison brought wine and all three of us drank that. It was a type I've never tried before called Fruvi. A fruity wine. It was pretty good! We tried to pinpoint the fruit flavors that we tasted since they weren't listed on the bottle. The consensus was peach and raspberry for this particular type of Fruvi. As for the movies, I ended up really enjoying The Ringer. It was a great representation of people with special needs that are capable of doing just as much as anyone else can. I definitely recommend watching it for any of you that have not seen it. And the beer...oh the beer, it went untouched, surprisingly! Heather told me when she got back that Joey asked if we knew that they bought those for us. Who would pass up beer with their pizza? Now, they have some beer around when they want one or have company over. Anyways, the weekend was a success and overall I would give the puppies an B+ on their report cards. Only because of the whole bathroom situation. Other than that, they were gems!