Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Some of my favorite images from Thanksgiving 2009:

Mom & Me

Mom & my brother

My ADORABLE cousin!!

The food spread

The dessert table

My plate: before

My plate: after

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for Thanksgiving

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Oh how I love Thanksgiving! It's no secret amongst those who know me that I am a BIG fan of food and eating. My family used to call me the "human garbage disposal" because I could eat so much. Unfortunately as I've grown up all those calories catch up to me faster than they used to. For that reason, I love Thanksgiving because it doesn't matter how many calories you take in or how high you pile your plate! It's the ONE day a year where eating copious amounts of fattening comfort food is encouraged!

I'm in my hometown for the long weekend, spending time with immediate and extended family. We aren't actually doing our big Thanksgiving meal until tomorrow though so I have to wait another day for my delicious!

In honor of Thanksgiving, here are some things I am thankful for this year:
  1. This deployment is ALMOST over. My husband will be home verrrrry soon and I am so thankful for that.
  2. My supportive friends and family. I don't even know how to express how thankful I am for all the support we've received over the past year (and all my life for that matter).
  3. A stable lifestyle. Alex and I both have stable jobs and a nice rental home to live in. In this economy, that's certainly something to be thankful for!
  4. All 4 of my grandparents are alive (and spunky as ever)! As I get older, I realize how truly lucky I am to still have all 4 grandparents in my life. I can't imagine life without them so I hope that they all live to be a LOT older so that my future children can be blessed to know them, just like I have been.
I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. I feel an upset coming on. Beat the HELL outta t.u.!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

All I Want For Christmas... the things on this list! I always love reading/hearing about other people's wish lists because it gives me ideas of things to ask for and/or give for gifts. I readily admit that I suck at thinking of things to ask for as gifts and I REALLY suck at giving gifts. I can just never think of anything good when the time comes to actually buy something for someone. Maybe it's the pressure?

Anyway, below is my 2009 Christmas List that I started way back in early October so I could be sure to have time to think of stuff. The dollar signs at the end of each item stand for the price range:

$ = $50ish or under / $$ = $55-$150 / $$$ = $155 and up

Ashley's Christmas Wish List 2009
  • Bare Minerals SPF 15 Foundation in “Fairly Light”: I love me some Bare Minerals but it's so expensive that I refuse to buy it for myself. I've always been a drugstore makeup kind of girl so it's hard for me to justify the extra cost of this stuff, despite how much I love it! $
  • Workout Apparel (tops, shorts, Capri pants, sports bras, etc.)
  • Bike Seat Gel Pad (for Spin class) $
  • This work-appropriate dress in size 6 $$ SOLD OUT
  • This perfume from Mary Kay and matching solid perfume and lotion $
  • Mary Kay Microderm Abrasion Set $
  • Mary Kay Timewise Miracle Set: Can you tell that I went to a Mary Kay Party recently?? :) $$
  • Non-nickel Earrings: (I’m allergic to nickel). Especially the big dangly kind. $
  • Digital SLR Camera: I honestly didn't expect this to be something I would actually get. I've been asking for one for going on two years now without much luck. But this year my husband is actually buying me one!! I guess the deployment made him a softie. Plus, he's getting a new the least I should get is a new camera! :) I can't WAIT to see what he picks out and to use my new camera. $$$
  • High-quality Cookie Sheets: The heavy duty, non-stick kind. My cookie sheets are from my college days and they have seen better days. $
  • Flip Mino HD video camera: We have one of these at work and I love it. So small and easy to use! $$
  • Cute Cosmetic Bag: Not picky on color/style as long as it’s cute. I like medium-sized ones usually. $
  • High-Quality, King-Size Bed Sheets/pillow cases: in white, light blue, or mint green. We only have one set of sheets for our master bed because nice sheets are so dang expensive and it seems ridiculous to spend $100+ on a backup sheet set! $$

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Clutter-Free is the Way To Be

Today I set about to clean off my dirty, makeup-caked bathroom counters...this is one job that I tend to neglect. I'm pretty decent about remembering to wipe it down with a Clorox wipe every now and again but it still needs a deep clean once in a while.

{This is a side note from the point of this post but my tip for really scrubbing off all that caked on mess is to spray whatever bathroom cleaner you use all over the counter and sink. Then wet a scrub brush and go to town scrubbing! It really gets all the grime up! Then take a damp sponge and wipe up all the crap that you scrubbed up with the brush. Rinse and keep wiping down until your bathroom counters are SPARKLING!}

So I started clearing off all the CLUTTER that had accumulated on the products, ponytail holders, clips, toothpaste, deodorant, lip gloss, etc. Once the counter was completely cleared off I was shocked when I realized how much more RELAXED I felt looking at an empty counter top.

Right then and there I decided to find a home for all the clutter. Because this was a last minute and unexpected decision, I didn't get any "before" photos of my counter...but just trust me, it was pretty bad!

In the end I only left necessities and pretty things (like perfume bottles) on it. And it looked SO much better:

It's amazing how a little change like this can make me feel so much better! Clutter-free is the way to be and I hope to continue with my de-cluttering in all the areas of my house.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Deployment Carbonara

I've eaten a lot of pasta during this deployment. It's easy, it's filling, and you can make it in small portions. At first I mostly just ate pasta with olive oil, salt & pepper & parmesan cheese but after a while I started experimenting with other simple options.

I absolutely LOVE Spaghetti me it's basically like an adult macaroni & cheese. What's not to love?!? When I feel like a traditional Carbonara I make this recipe that I featured on my old food blog. But one day I was craving Carbonara and didn't have any bacon or parmesan cheese. What I did have was goat cheese so I experimented and ended up loving the result!

In this case I used Lemon Goat Cheese, which gives the pasta a great lemony flavor but you could use any flavor of goat cheese! Or, if you just have plain goat cheese and still want lemon flavor you could add a squeeze of lemon juice to the pasta.

Lemony Spaghetti Carbonara {aka Deployment Carbonara}
Source: me

  • 8 oz. spaghetti, half a package {I use whole wheat}
  • 1 egg
  • 2 oz. lemon goat cheese, half a package {or any flavor goat cheese you prefer}
  • Salt to taste
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper

Boil water and cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, crack the egg into a small bowl and beat well with a whisk. Crumble the goat cheese into the beaten egg and then mix well with the whisk. It's okay if there are still lumps of goat cheese...just get them incorporated together. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to the egg mixture. Set aside.

Once pasta is al dente, drain water and then IMMEDIATELY place pasta back in the hot cooking pot. Quickly pour the egg & cheese mixture into the hot pasta and immediately stir to combine. Timeliness is key here because this is the only way you are "cooking" the eggs. If you don't do this quickly you will be dealing with raw eggs in your pasta...not good.

Add more salt & pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Makes 3-4 servings...depending on how big your servings are. :)
Libby wanted some Carbonara too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Grocery Store Guinea Pig

I am a sucker for new food products. I fully admit it. Anytime I see something new and different on the shelves I just HAVE to try it. Sometimes it works out great, sometimes it doesn't. So I decided to start sharing some of my food finds with my blog readers so that you can know whether it's any good or not without wasting your hard earned money! Pay close attention to the super-special, critically-acclaimed rating system commonly known as Ashley's Rating. Let the rating begin!!

Sunsweet Plum Sweets: I saw these Plum Sweets on one of my favorite healthy-eating websites, Hungry Girl {subscribe to her daily emails...they are awesome!!} I thought they were a great way to get your antioxidants both through the dark chocolate and through the prunes. My only complaint with these is that you can barely tell that there are prunes inside of the chocolate coating. It basically just seems like chewy dark chocolate and I personally wouldn't mind more plum flavor. ASHLEY'S RATING: One thumb up

Yoplait Delights: I've seen these on lots of commercials lately and decided to give them a try. I'm not really a big yogurt fan {I think it's the tanginess of it that I don't like} so I was hopeful that these would be a yogurt that I actually liked. After all, I LOVE the combination of raspberry and chocolate. After tasting them though, I decided I'm still just not sold on yogurt. To me it just tasted weird to have tangy flavored chocolate. But I guess if you like yogurt then you will probably like these. ASHLEY'S RATING: One thumb down

Alexia Onion Strips: I first saw these Onion Strips on Top Chef Las Vegas and was intrigued by them. I figured they would be frozen onion rings but they're more like potato chips. They are like Funyuns but way better! I couldn't stop eating them, which is not good since I am trying to be healthy and these don't exactly fit into the "healthy" category. Oh well! ASHLEY'S RATING: One thumb up {would have gotten two thumbs up if they were healthy!}

Jell-o Mousse Cups: I spotted these Jell-o Mousse cups on the shelves and knew I had to try them. For some odd reason, I'm not a big pudding fan but I LOVE mousse. I know...that doesn't make any sense. I think I just like the lighter texture of mousse as compared to the heavy texture of pudding. Anyway, these are probably my FAVORITE of all the new products that I tried!! The best part of all is that they are only 60 calories...score!! This is definitely my new go-to dessert to satisfy my post-dinner sweet tooth. {OH and if you go to the Jell-o website you can get a coupon for $0.50 off. Even bigger score!} ASHLEY'S RATING: Two Thumbs UP!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm Sorry

Dear Readers,

I'm sorry I've been MIA for almost 2 weeks. It's been a combination of things that have kept me away from my beloved blog.

1. I joined a new gym and I've been back on the working out train lately. I realized that Alex's homecoming is quickly approaching and I needed to start getting my butt in gear. So I've been working out about 4-5 days a week after work for the past couple weeks. This usually means I don't get home from work and the gym until after 7pm and by the time I eat dinner and relax a bit it's already time for bed!

2. I think I've reached the "I'm-Just-So-Freaking-Ready-For-This-Deployment-To-Be-Over-That-I'm-Apathetic-About-Everything...Including-My-Blog Phase." You can quote me on that phase. It's self-diagnosed, but I think it's pretty accurate and scientific!

3. I've been busy busy busy! Work has been super busy for me and I've been out of town a lot on the weekends. I've been out of town the past two weekends and I'll be out of town for the next two weekends too! Then I'll have one weekend at home and then I'll be out of town again (for Thanksgiving)....WOW. I've been having a TON of fun every weekend but not being at home for the weekends does mean that I tend to get behind on things and my life becomes hectic. I really need my weekends to play catch up! So needless to say, I've been behind on EVERYTHING lately and I don't see that changing soon.

4. I am not feeling 100% healthy. Granted, this has only been an issue the past couple of days, but it still counts as a reason why I've been MIA! I'm trying like crazy to fight off whatever this sickness is that I can feel coming on. So far I think I've been beating it by getting lots of vitamin C, drinking Airborne in my water, and going to bed early but I'm still just not 100%. Let's hope I can keep fighting it off without getting too sick! This is not a good week to be sick for me....too much going on!

Anyway, thanks for checking in to my blog despite my lack of updates lately. I hope to be inspired to blog about something more interesting than my "excuses" soon but I can't make any promises. :)