Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Recap

Christmas was a raging success. Mike and I managed to play Musical Families and make sure everyone was happy. Everyone liked their gifts (or at least pretended to very convincingly). But most importantly, I can now say the holidays are over. NYE is easy...so it doesn't count.

Mike and I aren't much for thw holidays, so we've been looking forward to 2010 to really get a fresh start. We can refocus on the house and eating well and budgeting and going to the gym. I'm rooting for 2010 to be a significantly better year than 2009.

I'm off work until January 4th, so it's my job to work on getting our life back on track. Today I've got to shovel the foot of snow off the driveway. I've gotta start organizing the study and getting ready to PAINT. A very soft gray. I've got my fingers crossed.

Unrelated: I love tattoo shows (LA Ink iz on)

Have a lovely day, Birdies.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Droid!!

I am blogging at my kitchen counter blogginh from my new DROID.

Guys, I am in love.

Also. I am very glad the holidays are almost over. They have been exhausting!

Mature?

I wrote this gem on 12/15/05, my junior year in college during finals week.

T'was the Night Before Wasted

Twas the night before Thursday, and all in their rooms
not a female was stirring, all preparing for doom.

Their books were all opened and so were their notes
re-reading and memorizing their professors' quotes

The roommates where chained to their computer desks
The vast amount of studying had become quite grotesque

While the roomates are trapped in finals-week-hell
I had nothing to do but watch old SNL

When into my brain popped an excellent idea
"I'll rewrite this poem, with the word gonorrhea!"

I rushed to my room and opened a browser
The creative juices started flowing like, OMG WOWZA!

And what does my truly genius brain start to think
"Wow, our garbage really does fucking stink,

It's invading my room and offending my nose,
and I really feel bad for those studying hoes"

Come Friday a celebration is our ultimate goal,
With Smirnoff and Jack and Captain and Skol.

Lets go Bacardi and Grey Goose, Miller and Bud
We'll go to the bars and pick up a stud.

We'll choose a man with the same build as Claus
He'll be much younger 'cause of statutory rape laws

He'll have drunk rosy cheeks and a sexy beer belly
It won't jiggle nearly adorably as a bowl full of jelly

He'll be dressed in the appropriate douchebaggy wear,
With a popped collar pink polo and gel in his hair

He'll be pervy and horny and buy us all drinks
"getting action tonite!" that's what he thinks

With a wink of his eye, and a look up and down
We realized we should get away from this clown

We rushed to the bathroom, and soon we were free
Amen for the excuse "I have to pee"

The boys at the bars annoyed like a buzzing mosquito
This was our cue for a delicious burrito

Bar time was called and we exited fast
We saw the dude from earlier and ducked our heads as we passed

What a good way to end Fall 2005
Happy Drinking to all, and I hope all survive.

Nice. I'm quite the poet.
Have a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rest in Peace

My posting has been pretty lackluster lately, but I've been preoccupied lately. Mike's grandfather was hospitalized last Friday (12/11/09), and he passed away Saturday (12/19/09). We recently learned that he had been diagnosed with Lymphoma, though we are unsure for how long he had it before we were told.

On Friday the 11th, apparently Mike's grandmother (Honey) went to wake up his grandfather (Papa), but he was nearly unresponsive. He could barely walk, he couldn't talk, and he looked like death warmed over. Mike's dad and brother immediately came over to drive him to the hospital where he had been seeking treatment already.

We found out that his blood oxygen level was in the 30's, when for healthy people it would be in the 90's. His brain wasn't getting any oxygen.

On Saturday, he was a little better, he was responsive, and his vitals had improved. But that didn't last very long. By Sunday he had been intubated because his lungs were filling with fluid and he was having a lot of difficulty breathing . We were told that he had pneumonia. The hospital had to sedate and paralyze him because he was continuing to wake up and fight against the breathing tube.

From Monday to Friday the 18th, his vitals wavered between sable and unstable, until Saturday, when the hospital told the family that there wasn't anything left to do. The pneumonia was shutting down his lungs, he was losing blood, and his body was riddled with infection. He was taken off the ventilator Saturday afternoon.

You guys, he was 65. And literally, like two months ago, healthy and big and loud. Even at Thanksgiving, once we knew about the Lymphona, he was still larger than life. He was an unholy pain in the ass, and he was one of those people who was supposed to live forever, if for no other reason than to tease and harass and make fun of you until he outlived you.

Yesterday was awful. I went to the hospital not really knowing that they were going to take him off the ventilator. I thought we were just visiting. Seeing Mike's grandmother lose the most important thing in her life was the worst experience of my life, to date. They lived for each other. They worked together, shared the same bed for 50 years, as she said, she doesn't know how to live without him.

I thought I handled everything well, until we left Mike's parents' and stopped at mine. I. Couldn't. Stop. Crying. When we got home, it kept up. Part of the problem was seeing MY parents, and thinking about Mike's mom, and part of the problem was that Mike wanted to spend the night at his parents' so that he could play video games with his brothers, and the thought of sleeping alone made me lose my shit. I'm a baby. And a jerk.


We miss you, John

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Peeping Tom.

This has been the longest week in history. Every day has felt like Thursday or Friday, but clearly it hasn't been. And boy howdy, I am tired. Not to mention, I am totally sucking a life lately. But, we won't dwell on that.

No, I want to talk about people. And how much I love them. Not in like an everybody-is-beautiful-and-they-have-some-pure-goodness-in-their-souls kinda way. I like watching them...I loooooove people watching.

When I was in elementary school, I was pretty quiet on the bus ride home, but I used to watch the big, mean, loud kids like a HAWK. They fascinated me. One day, a horrible, mean girl caught me staring and asked, angrily (cause she was a bitch. And I would wager that to this day, she still is a bitch), "DO YOU HAVE A STARING PROBLEM?"
And in fact, I did have a staring problem...I still do have a staring problem. Even when I was a wee one, other people intrigued me.

I think that is why I love blogging so much. In reality, I don't consider myself a writer, and writing doesn't cleanse my spirit, or bring my great joy. Occasionally, it will bring me satisfaction if I compose something really cool...but that's pretty rare.
I like blogging because I get to be a peeping tom into the workings of other people's lives. See how you live, and what you do, and what makes you happy/sad/angry. I'm creepily studying everyone.

WOW. This post already makes me sound like the ultimate creeper. That's alright. I am kind of a creep.

But on another note, I think in the last two weeks I've said "I love freaks" at least four times, which is absolutely not a polite way to say it, and I would love another way to articulate my genuine affection for people who go to extremes. But I mean I love people like the Lizard Man

(image from theLizardMan.com)

and the Tiger Man

(image from dreamviews.com)

and Zombie Boy

(image from bizarremag.com)

I think they are insanely interesting, and I would LOVE for them to tell me about their life, and the decisions they've made, and how they got to where they are. These are mainly examples of extreme body modification - which I am always interested in. I'm planning to watch Modify this weekend. I started it a while back, but had to stop because Mike and my sister got grossed out.

But these people I've listed above, they have made the conscious decision to do these things. I am also also totally fascinated by addicts, and hoarders (the shows on A&E have made it possible to access their lives). Mainly because I don't understand, and I want to.

The same thing goes for serial killers, John Wayne Gacy, Ed Gein, Charles Manson.
Sometimes I wish I had gone into psychology or sociology or even criminiology, to try to understand why these people did what they did. Though I have a feeling you can never really understand why a man kept a pair of lips on a string.

Now, I've gone from making myself sound like a creep, to making myself sound really morbid and dark.

I recently gave one of my coworkers access to my blog, and after reading it she said, "I think I know more about you right now than I did 45 minutes ago." In blogging you often write about things that you wouldn't talk about normally, so it kind of gives people unrestricted access to your mind.
My whole point is that I had another commuting-epiphany, when I realized that the reason blog, is to read about other people. You guys are great.

Also, I really need to work on ending my posts. It seems like I just drop off.

Like this.
Bye.

Monday, December 14, 2009

i @m 4@><0r (or: I am Haxor)

I dId 50M37HiNG UN7hiNk@8L3 L@57 NigH7.
@7 $oM3 poiN7 0Ver 7h3 w3ek3nd, 0UR Wir3l3$ r0u7eR g07 j@CKed Up, and I7 m@n@g3d 70 CH@nG3 0UR n@7 s377INg5 70 $7rIc7 - 7HI$ m3@n$ MIk3 c0ULD n0 l0Ng3R c0Nn3C7 70 C0D.
7his r3@Liz@7i0n filL3D Him WI7h R@G3, @ND H@d N0 de5Ir3 70 7Ry 70 g0 7Hr0ugh 7He RiG@M@r0l3 70 7rY 70 Fix i7. h3 W@$ R3@dy 70 wRi73 0Ff c0d f0R3V3R.
h0W3v3r, i f0und hI5 rag3 7o 83 @wFuL @ND @nN0yINg, $0 i $7ar73d l00kiNg up DiReC7ioN$ 70 ch@ng3 n@7 $3t7InG5 (WhIch i$ In$@N3ly @nN0YInG, 70 5@Y th3 L3@s7). @f73R dI5@8LiNG, tH3n 3n@8Ling 0Ur uPNP, ch@Nging 0UR dmz 70 Giv3 7h3 X80x @n Ip @ddr3$5 0u75iD3 tH3 R0U73R (0r $oM37hIng LIk3 7H@7), @Nd 5377ing UP p0r7 f0Rw@RDInG F0r 3 P0rt$ - i FIx3d it.
L37 M3 saY 7hI$ @G@IN, i fIx3D I7. i r3p@Ir3d 7h3 b3@$7 tH@7 i h@73 7H3 m057. @nd N0W, It I$ $7RoNg3R 83c@us3 It h@5 my 8l00D, 5w3a7 @ND t3@r5.

i7'5 Lik3 h@rrY P0773R, wh3r3 VolD3m0R7 re7UrNs 70 P0wer @f73r 7@kinG H@rrY'5 8Lo0D.

I 70ld MIke 7h@7 7H3 P@ymen7 F0r MY 53Rvic3$ r3nD3R3D i$ 8r@ggINg @80U7 h0w @We50M3 i @m... h0W3Ver, 5InC3 h3'$ N07 0n 3M@il 70d@y, i'M g0ing t0 7@K3 c@re 0f i7 f0R him.

TRANSLATION:
I did something unthinkable last night.
At some point over the weekend, our wireless router got jacked up, and it managed to change our NAT settings to strict - this means Mike could no longer connect to Call of Duty (an Xbox game...his favorite).
This realization filled him with rage, and had no desire to try to go through the rigamarole to try to fix it. He was ready to write off CoD forever.
However, I found his rage to be awful and annoying, so I started looking up directions to change NAT settings (which is insanely annoying, to say the least). After disabling, then enabling our UPnP, changing our DMZ to give the Xbox an IP address outside the router (or something like that), and setting up port forwarding for 3 ports - I fixed it.
Let me say this again, I fixed it.
I repaired the beast that I hate the most. And now, it is stronger because it has my blood, sweat and tears.


It's like Harry Potter, where Voldemort returns to power after taking Harry's blood.

I told Mike that the payment for my services rendered is bragging about how awesome I am... However, since he's not here, I'm going to take care of it for him.


In summary, I am l33t, and awesome. And there was a lot of jumping around and screaming once it was fixed - because HOO BOY that was a pain.

Friday, December 11, 2009

ctrl+V, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME!?

I just spent 45 minutes compiling information to send in a work email.

I had to look up item codes, and manufacturing purchase order numbers, and I had to check three different screens. It wasn't thought provoking material, it was just so tedious.

And then...AND THEN...I selected all, just to make sure they were a uniform font, and accidentally ctrl+X'ed everything. No big deal! I can just ctrl+V it back!

NOT TODAY, SUCKER.
For one reason or anther, I couldn't.
I couldn't undo. I couldn't paste. It's GONE.

Moral of the story: I shouldn't do work. Just surf the internet.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Norway Lights!

Have you seen this?!?

(image from Universe Today)
This light was seen in the sky in Norway, and no one knows what it is.

First it was picked up by tabloids, now other news sources are starting to follow the story.
Universe Today
Gizmodo - WITH VIDEO...watch it.
Telegraph
The Daily Mail

However, there's this video below that shows an unrelated and unmanned spinning rocket booster. There have been reports of a Russian launch, but those claims have been denied.



UPDATE (12/10/09): The Alien Overlords won't be coming for us any time soon, say New York Times. Only a missile failure.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Something to be proud of?

I figured out Google Analytics! I defeated the beast!

It turns out that every time you change your layout, you're going to have to paste the TRACKING CODE from Analytics into your html. (I don't think I even did that from the beginning) But I did it last night, and all of a sudden! I've got STATS. People who visit, numbers of page views, average time on the site! SWEET LORD! There is no end to the information I can harvest! I'm really proud of the fact that I figured it out. And, oddly, the fact that people are reading my corner of the internet makes me proud too.

I still really like Disqus too. It makes me very happy to be able to respond to comments. It is a million times easier to build relationships and acknowledge that I like you.

And now for something totally unrelated:
All of a sudden I'm this ray of sunshine. It's like there's no room for negativity anymore.
I had a weird epiphany of acceptance yesteray in the car on my way home (epiphanies usually take place in my car while commuting), and I was all, "I'm not flawless, and that's OK"

Mike and I were talking the other weekend, and we realized that we are currently very indulgent. We don't deny ourselves much, we do what we want, and we aren't at the top of our game. But you know what, I'm OK with it...for now. My kitchen is messy, my job isn't my ideal, my commute is long, I have to do lists that remain un-done...BUT I'M OK.

I have no intention to remain like this forever. But we just moved, we're just married, it's winter and we're adapting. And that's OK. We put too much pressure on ourselves to be awesome, but we're already ahead of where we thought we'd be.

For now, I need to focus on being happy, and rediscovering the joy of hanging out with other people (I've been a hardcore hermit lately). I need to find a routine that is low pressure, but still gets everything done. I need to start crafting and sewing more because it is fun.
(I made a sad little stuffed christmas tree the other day...still need to take pictures).

I'm going to use this holiday to revamp my attitude, and 2010 to revamp my habits. I'm going to start making changes to head in the right direction, and make life more fun.

I think a lot of this has come from the awesome, sweet, challenging and supportive comments you guys have left.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Positives

My life isn't all mourning and despair - here are some of the good things we've got going on...

The house is starting to turn into a home.

- I hung a huge drape (floor to ceiling) to cover our massive window (which you haven't seen because I'm keep forgetting to take pictures). I created this 15 ft x 9ft masterpiece out of a painter's dropcloth ($20) and a curtain rod on sale from JoAnn Fabrics ($36). Idea snagged from various posts on Apartment Therapy

- I made The Pioneer Woman's meatloaf from her cookbook, and the Buttered Rosemary Rolls from her website. The rolls were ahhhh-mazing
Unfortunately, I needed to keep putting the meatloaf back into the oven...1 hour wasn't long enough.

- We're daydreaming about cool installations we can make for our ceiling:
(Image from LeSophie)

(Image from The Selby)

(image from Craftzine)

- The new year is right around the corner, and after we file our taxes, we'll find out how much we will receive in tax credits for buying the house. This opens up a WORLD of possibilities! Wood floor! Butcher block countertops! Making the office an OFFICE (instead of our storage room)!

Christmas is coming
- I decorated for Christmas and made finger-knitted-garland to go on the railing.

- This weekend we are getting our first REAL tree and decorating the shit out of it.

- Saturday I am participating in an evening in Chicago with some of my lady friends. We will bring drinks and food and stocking stuffers. And it will be great.

- I got the OK from my gracious and wonderful boss to take off 12/23 - 1/4. OMFG. I want to PEE because I'm just that excited.

Life isn't so bad
- My commute has consistently been 1 hr and 10minutes. UNHEARD OF!

- I have a steady job and a steady paycheck. And Mike likes his new position.

- The possibility of opening the etsy shop at the start of the new year is becoming a possibility. Maybe. I hope?

- I'm wearing a dress today. And I like it.

- I'm planning to follow along with the Demoiselles Getting Healthy project. I'm planning to do almost exactly what they do...only here. And linking back THERE to make sure I give credit where credit is due.

- I had a dream that I hung out with Kyla Roma and Your Wishcake and they were sweet and wonderful. And I woke up feeling so creepy because I've never met them, yet they've appeared in my dreams. The internet makes me weird.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Low-Risk Lifestyle

I've started watching the show Fringe on Fox, and OMGWFTBBQ!!! It's awesome. I would marry it if I could (and I wasn't already married). But it made me realize I lead a very low-risk lifestyle.

For example, in the 2nd episode, there was a murderer who picked up hookers to do surgery on...while they were paralyzed, but fully conscious. (It was awful.)
And I started thinking "Oh, wow. How awful to be abducted and put in such a horrible sitation" and I realized that I have very little reason to fear - I don't live in a major city. When I do visit a major city it is as a tourist, usually during the day, and in well populated areas. I'm not risky.

But beyond that - my life outside of my location and its respective crime rate is also very low risk.
I went to college in state.
I bought a house in my childhood neighborhood
I've had the same friends since I was 14 or younger
I've never traveled internationally

I make all my decisions carefully - weighing pros, cons, financial obligations, time obligations, etc etc.

But, I didn't always used to be like this. In 2005 (my junior year of college, which some of you read about the other day, but I have since deleted it) I was a nude model for a life drawing class. I participated in Alternative Spring Break at the Carnivore Preservation Trust, where I fed tigers and drove across the country with bunch of strangers. I was the housekeeper for the most interesting man I've ever encountered.

I mean, maybe those weren't some of my best decisions, but I made them without consulting everyone, and that's the point.

Right now - what I'm doing is working; my bills get paid, my family gets fed, I'm decent at my job. My life is very safe, and in very little danger of being disrupted or uprooted...but honestly, maybe that's what my life needs?

All this deep thinking has made me start to wonder whether I should get away from blogging. It makes me look my sedentary, robot existence in the face, and I'm very displeased with what I see. Plus I use this blog for writing about the negatives, rather than all the positives - which is just counter-productive. I just don't know how to start steering my life in the direction I want it.

Three Things

1) Google Analytic
It keeps telling me that I have no visitors. But clearly, there are visitors because I receive comments, and every so often someone new shows up (which makes me SO happy) - and they have to come from somewhere. Literally, Analytics is telling me that I have no activity here, whatever. Can anyone help? Is something wrong? I mean, I have no trouble believing that I don't get any referrals from search engines, but really?

2) Pioneer Woman Day.
OMG. Let me first say that this was my first book signing, and will likely be my last. Ree Drummond is a lovely and gracious woman, and obviously, the logistics of the signing weren't up to her - but WOW.

I arrived around 5pm, she wasn't set to speak or sign until 7:30, so I knew I had some time. At the door they were giving out signing numbers, and at 5pm I was 111 - which I don't have a problem with. People came by early to pick up numbers, I could have done this, but didn't realize it was an option.

The worst, and most annoying part of this whole affair - the thing that really ruined it - the goddamn temperature. Before the crowd got there, it was 80 degrees. Once the crowd arrived and we were herded like cattle, it jumped about a MILLION DEGREES. I was down to a Hanes v-neck tshirt and ready to pass out.

There were a lot of, um, hardcore fans. And I just didn't know what to do with that. But, there were a bunch of really cool cats, and fortunately, I got to talk to bunches of them WHILE WE WAITED IN LINE FOR 2.5 hours.

Here's the thing about me. I don't like lines. I don't like waiting. and I really don't like crowds. So this was awful for me. Plus, I'm just not that person who wants/needs a signed piece of something by someone who doesn't know me. I THINK I understand the appeal, but it just doesn't appeal to me.

I really hope I don't sound like an asshole, but this was a learning experience for me, and it will take a HUGE draw before I try something like this again. Ree Drummond was adorable, she brought her (hot) husband and (adorable) sons. And the people I met in line were wonderful.

3) Disqus?
This is working out so far? No negative feedback? I REALLY like it. I like being able to reply to your comments. Hooray.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pioneer Woman Day

Today is Pioneer Woman Day.

Yesterday at lunch I went into Target to get a lock for the gym. The next thing I know I'm walking out of Target $95 poorer, I have a new outfit...and no lock. I forgot the lock.

The point is - I got a new outfit for Pioneer Woman Day...by accident.
And I planned to wake up early to make sure I was dressed and ready (because I'm not coming home after work).

But last night, I forgot to set an alarm. And I woke up an hour late. Fortunately for me, I work shifted hours (I come in and leave an hour earlier than everyone else), so I was able to get to work at a normal time. But I didn't have the time I was hoping to have this morning.

Which has contributed to me being really nervous about seeing The Pioneer Woman. Because she's really cool, and has a cool life, and a cool blog, and a cool cookbook.

I'm also nervous because I just know that she's going to be impressed with how punctual I am (I'm going to get there at like 5, because the bookstore is literally down the street from my work, and my house is like an hour away), and my new Target Blackout Outfit (especially my boots - I'll put up a picture, because they're that great), and we'll talk and she'll think I'm cool, and she'll want me to pick up my life and move to Oklahoma to become Pioneer Woman Jr.

And I'm going to have to do it, because you don't say no to an offer like that.

Anyone else going to meet Ree Drummond in Skokie today?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Comments

HI!
I changed my comment format to use Disqus.

I've had to sign up to use it on other blogs and I love it. I love that it tracks where I've commented and that you can see the replies.

If you hate it (the 4 of you that leave me comments, haha) I'll totally change it back. But give it a try, I love it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

NO MORE HAIRCUTS

Dear Ashley,
I know you love short hair, but listen to me for a minute - YOU NEED TO STOP GETTING YOUR HAIR CUT.

This doesn't look good

Every year you cut your hair short, thinking it will make you happy, and it doesn't. You leave the stylist temporarily pacified, but within two days you're always longing for the ability to throw it in a ponytail. Your hair is too thick, too heavy and too coarse to be cut into a cute spiky style. Not to mention it does grow quickly, so very frequent trims become necessary in order to maintain it.

Here's the problem: once you decide to grow out your hair, you stop getting your hair cut regularly. You grow it out until the ends are split, and it looks heavy and lifeless. Next time, instead of drastically chopping it all off, get a style. Have it trimmed and shaped, and I PROMISE you will end up much happier.

Sincerely,
Ashley

Friday, November 6, 2009

25



Happy 25th Birthday.
I love you.

That Darn Cat

So Tuesday night, I'm getting ready to go to bed and my mom calls and tells me a story about how there's a little kitten wandering around the neighborhood. My mom, sister and our neighbors were trying to catch the cat, and it jumped into a window well.

My 16 year old sister, was the only one small enough to get into the well, but she was terrified that she wouldn't be able to get out (it was a tall one). Well, she gets in, and the cat freaks and makes terrible noises and my sister leaps out like a piece of toast from the toaster. At this point my mom is laughing her ass off. The cat eventually got out of the window well (by climbing over our neighbors head) and got away.

Wednesday, I come by my parents to pick up Maddie, and my mom comes in to let us know that the kitten is back and eating some cat food we left out for it. So my 16 year old sister (Cailey) and I go outside to see him. When we get there, he's gone, but we can hear him meowing...so we follow the noise and he's under the neighbors deck.

For a good 30 minutes my sister and I are on either side of the deck watching the little cat. He's just a little guy (looks to be 8-9 weeks) and scared as shit. He's not feral because he KNOWs people...he's just scared of them. So we bust 0ut some tuna, put it in a cage and hope that he walks right into our little trap.

Before I proceed, our neighborhood is a well populated suburb, we don't get many strays. One of the other neighbors said there were more kittens and it looks like they were dumped (by assholes), but we haven't seen any others. And it is very obvious that this kitten will not survive if he's outside for much longer. We're looking down the barrel of frosty nights, and this little kitty isn't big enough to stay warm.

Back to the story...eventually the cat starts moving towards the tuna and out from under the deck, but he gets about 4-5feet from a person and won't come any closer. So I start meowing (sometimes one of my mom's cats will respond when I meow) and what do you know? Little Orphan Kitty starts talking to me. For 45 goddamn minutes, I am laying in the grass in 40 degree weather, in my work clothes meowing at a stray cat. He keeps walking towards me, but just as quickly backs up.

After a while, he sees his escape, runs past me and through the fence and bolts down the street. At this point we're like "screw it, lets pack it in", but as we get ready to go in the house, we see kitty coming back towards the house, meowing.

We lure him closer with tuna, and eventually he comes into the garage, and me, Mike and my sister are on the floor trying to keep him in the garage so we can close the door. SUCCESS. Kitty is now trapped in the garage.

At this point, we decide to leave him alone to recover from the course of the evening and let him eat some food, and drink some water. We're all relieved because now we know we won't find a dead orange cat in our front yard.

We have dinner, and strategize about how to get kitty into the cage (we can't let him roam around the garage with the cars in there). To make a long story short, we traumatize the cat further by using push brooms to corner him into the cage.

(I'm sorry this sounds terrible! But this cat is scared and hungry and thinks we're going to eat it - we really couldn't get near it)

As it stands, we have this adorable 8-9ish week old, orange tabby sitting in a cage in our garage. He's already adapting pretty well, yesterday he let me pet him, and went into the little kitty trance when you find just the right spot under his chin. I've contacted a couple of local vets about getting him/her spayed/neutered and basic vaccinations, but haven't heard back from any yet.

Mike and I have talked about keeping him (especially if we throw down beaucoup bucks getting him vetted), but our priority is Maddie. If we can't get kitty to get along with - or at least be ambivalent towards - Maddie, then we can't keep it.

Our master plan for the moment is to call the vet (probably our normal vet, if we don't hear back from anyone), and take him in, get him a clean bill of health and then move him to me/Mike's house so we can keep him in our spare bathroom. Once he's inside it will be a lot easier to socialize him. After that, we'll have either fallen in love with him and become unable to bear the thought of parting with him, or we will find a new home for him.

Any words of wisdom? Any advice?

OH YEAH: I also meant to post a link to a description of Guy Fawkes Day yesterday in the title...that has since been fixed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Halloween WIN!

So, Mike and I had planned to let fate decide our Halloween costumes by going to the store Saturday morning and letting the HUGE SAVINGS AND DISCOUNTS decide for us. But when we arrived at said store, everything was 50% off...starting NOVEMBER 1st.

Sadness overwhelmed us, we got irritated with each other, and ended up having a not-so-whispered argument in the middle of the store. But eventually we found $8 angel wings and a halo, and $9 devil horns that are applied with spirit gum. Our costumes were simple (I wore jeans, a white shirt, and sparkly makeup; Mike wore jeans, a white dress shirt and a red tie) and life was good.

Mike's family came over for about an hour, then our friends came over. No one get hideously drunk, we played Apples to Apples, they ate my chili and cut up vegetables. I was complimented on being a good hostess (which was a huge point of pride for me). We did a community shot of tequilia...you know, for solidarity. And life was good.

But, sometime between 8pm and midnight (four hours...remember this) I drank 3 drinks (including the tequila). I was never drunk, I felt fine, but at 2am, I got a hangover and yaked my guts out. Three times...presumably once for each drink?
Really, stomach...liver? Three drinks and you've had it?

That pretty much sealed the deal for me, I'm not even going to bother drinking. Maybe one beer, but beyond that we get stranded on Headache Island, and occasionally we'll wander through Yak City, which is a bad part of town.

Oh yeah! Remember how I said we were going to get internet on Saturday? I lied.
We planned on going through a small, local provider, and we found out that there is a line of large, mature trees that obstructs the line of sight between our house and their tower. The internet guy couldn't get a signal. So now, the only way we can get internet through them is if we install a 6-8ft tower on our roof. No, thank you. So now we have to look into something bigger like Comcast or AT&T. Any suggestions?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Books and Halloween

Amen.
Saturday we're getting internet. So you will get inundated with pictures and posts and whatnot. Hooray. I was getting lonely without it.

On a different note, I finished reading Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. It was spectacular. It follows the Binewski Fabulon, a family of carnies and their uprising and demise. The Binewski children (Arty, Elly and Iphy, Oly and Chick) were all "created" by their parents using dangerous chemical cocktails to have unique genetic mutations. Arty, the Aqua Boy, Elly and Iphy the siamese twins, Oly the albino, hunchback dwarf and Chick... I'm not very good at writing summaries, and I couldn't find a good one that didn't give away plot points.

Be warned, it's not for the faint of heart. It's gross at times, shocking at others, but absolutely fascinating.

I wrapped this book up on Tuesday, I think, and then decided to re-read New Moon because my mom, sisters, Mike and I are planning to see the movie in the theaters after Thanksgiving.

My God, what a horrible transition.
Geek Love was a well written, compelling and intelligent novel, with a strong female narrator.
And then there's Bella. OMG, BARF.

I have a weird relationship with the Twilight series. I cruised through all four books last year, and the entire time I was reading it left a baaaaad taste in my mouth. I didn't like Edward, I REALLY didn't like Bella, the writing was poor, and their relationship was unhealthy. But I still read them.

I have no idea why I am putting myself through it again. But I am.
Barf.
I'm probably going to complain about it the whole time.
I'm fascinated by the Twi-hards and the fanaticism for the series.
I'm going to power through, guys.

Unrelated to reading, the house is quickly getting into order - at least every room except our "office" (it's just a storage space for boxes right now), and the garage. The good thing about this get-together on Saturday is that it is forcing me to get my house in order. I needed a kick in the ass.

But, Mike and I STILL don't have costumes. We're planning to go to the Halloween store to see what we can find for 50-70% off. Any ideas for easy/cheap couples costumes?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Stressed

I am terrible.
And unmotivated.
And totally overwhelmed.

This house + commuting + work + cooking dinner + getting ready for our Halloween "party" on Saturday = misery.

Ugh. You guys. Seriously.
Mike and I have agreed to have people over on Halloween, because we're the only ones with our own place. Recently, most of our friends have moved back in with their parents to save money - so, logically our house is the place to be.

BUT, DUDE! I didn't think it would take this long for me to get my act together. (I know - DUH, Ashley - moving is hard) But I really thought I would be better off than I am now.

Regardless, I've sent out an email invitation with the disclaimer that they need to come over prepared to overlook our mess. If they don't like it - they can pound sand.

So there's that.

In other news, I love my little dog, and it pains me to say anything bad about her, (because we DID uproot her little life by moving) but I am ready to light her doggie head on fire.

She's already needy and neurotic, but this move has turned up the volume on her anxiety. She's nervous, so she gets underfoot, and then she gets stepped on, and then she gets more anxious so she gets closer to your and your feet, and gets stepped on and yelled at again, so she gets more nervous and follows you up and down the stairs and into the bathroom, and stares at you. A horrible, soul-wrenching stare. This dog could make angels cry with her stupid, deep doggie eyes.

So...around Christmas...we're getting another dog. Maddie does very well when she has a doggie friend to hang around with, and she bonded really well with my mom's dog (who she still sees daily). A doggie friend will help keep her entertained and maybe chill her out?

We're planning to adopt from a shelter and have looked at some in our area. And I just found out that one of the girls who works with me (well, not with me, but in the same building) volunteers at an animal shelter, and we could tell her what we are looking for in terms of personality, temperament, size, breed and she could help us out. We feel pretty good about this.

We're getting internet on Saturday! So my internet presence (and pictures of the house) will be up and running. We were planning to do without internet/cable, but we realized that trying to live without internet, while not impossible, is dreadfully impractical. I pay all our bills online, gmail has all my recipes, we need to be able to check our bank accounts (because I've gotten lazy and rely on online banking to balance my checkbook. I KNOW, bad habit. We just got new checks, so we're also reevaluating our banking systems)

So - clearly there's a lot of reorganization/reevaluation going on in our lives.

It's kind of a mess.

Friday, October 23, 2009

101 Things About Me

Friday!
I started this list way back in July, and I've just now gotten around to finishing it up. Many of you feature this list on your blogs, and I find them fascinating, so I've created my own.

Plus it's Friday, which translates to "Slacker Day" and that applies to blogs too.

1. My hair is naturally red. I've only dyed it once, and I went brown,

2. I was voted Homecoming Princess my junior year of high school.

3. I gave Hot Topic the idea for the "I Make Boys Cry" t-shirt. I still have printouts of the emails.

4. I spent a semester as a housekeeper for a eccentric recluse who was apparently a semi-famous author. He created gumball machines, was a boxer for UCLA, and was incredibly lonely. I think the only reason he hired me was so he would have someone to talk to.

5. Once upon a time I was a hardcore feminist, now I lean more towards more traditional gender roles. Mainly because I hate working, don't mind cleaning, and want to raise my own kids.

6. I missed my professional calling. I'm hoping to remedy that. Someday.

7. I love video game culture, in theory. In practice, not so much.

8. I am fascinated by pin-up culture. I think I'll always be an outside observer rather than an active participant.

9. Mike and I have the best dog we could have asked for, and I am a huge advocate of adopting from shelters.


10. I always carry water and chapstick. If I am ever without those two things I feel very anxious and will often go to the closest gas station to purchase them. Leaving my phone behind doesn't usually bother me.

11. I can't sleep in anymore.

12. I feel strangely adult now because I have a lawyer, and Mike and I are looking over contracts. But. getting a Costco membership made me feel more adult than buying a house

13. I'm a reformed Internet creep. When I was in 7th grade and we FIRST got the Internet, I used to lurk around chatrooms, stay on AIM all night. As I got older, I trolled craigstlist rants and raves. I used to make online friends.

14. I have trouble dressing myself and I wear black so often that I look like a mourner.

15. I didn't expect to miss living with my parents once we got the house...but I do.

16. Planning the wedding made me really uncomfortable. I felt really awkward and guilty planning a big party that's supposed to focus on me and Mike and OUR LOVE. Who cares? I feel super strange about having people buy dresses or suits or travel out here BECAUSE I SAID SO.

17. However - the wedding was amazing. And I'm glad I went through with the whole production of it. Everyone I love was there, and happy.

18. I'm adore etsy.com. I'm obsessed with handmade items and trinkets. I hope to someday go back to my crafty roots and start a shop of my own.

19. I wish my life was greener...though currently, it's not so bad. I plan to someday have a compost heap, and be totally rid of traditional cleaning products. It's not much, but a step...

20. I have a love/hate relationship with TV. I love it. But I hate how much I love it. Sometimes I feel akin to Homer Simpson.

21. I love scarves. I haven't decided if they are a fashion statement, or a type of security blanket.

22. I hope, deep down, that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is real. Even if that DOES mean that I'm a Muggle. I just want our world to have magic in it somewhere.

23. I would love to be Ana Pascal from Stranger Than Fiction. If you haven't seen it, DO. I want to make people happy in this world.

24. I want to go to Japan. Not yet, though. I want to prepare by learning a little Japanese, and making sure that we have enough money to go and make sure no expense is spared.

25. I don't want to be boring...but I think I am already there.

26. I would love to get a tattoo sleeve. But unfortunately, I don't think that's in the cards for me.

27. I wish I were more feminine. I think girls that are ladylike are neat. I feel like wearing dresses is a step in the right direction.

28. I desperately want to exercise. My body wants to be in shape, but my motivation by the time I get home (after my near 2hr commute) is nonexistent. I would really like to run a 5K in the next few years.

29. I think cemeteries are beautiful. Especially when they are old, and it's Spring.

30. I love to read. Anything. Right now I'm reading Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.

31. I want to be a well-known and respected member of my community.

32. I also want to be a Stay-at-Home-Mom, when the time comes. I hope that Michael and I have the means to make this happen. My mom did it, and his mom did it, and it was nice to know that there was someone waiting for you

33. Mike and I are actually really excited about hosting dinner parties, having people over, and cooking.

34. I hope someday my life pans out just as I imagine it will.

35. I am married to my best friend and High School sweetheart, which is pretty sweet.

36. I'm realizing more and more that I am a very private person. It really never dawned on me before.

37. I am an extreme homebody. To the maxxxxx.

38. I'm terrible at staying up late. I'm perfectly happy to be asleep by 10pm.

39. I have a pretty awesome family, and I prefer their company to anyone's.

40. My mom is my best friend and and most trusted confidante. She's a pretty awesome lady.

41. I have two younger sisters, one is 21, the other is 16. We all have different natural hair colors, and our names are alphabetical - A, B, and C.

42. My 21 year old sister is hilarious. And blonde, and B.

43. My 16 year old sister is the nicest person I have ever met. She'll do anything for you. She's a brunette, and C.

44. My dad and I are very much alike. We butt heads constantly because of this.

45. I was a nude model for a life drawing class for a semester of college. It was a strange and interesting experience.

46. I love to try different shampoos. If I am staying over at someone's house, I am so excited to try their hair products.

47. I've recently learned that I am like a FURNACE when I sleep. We figured this out when Mike and I were napping in the car on a cool, rainy day. When we woke up, my side of the car was all steamed up.

48. I love sugary kids cereal. Reeses Puffs. Cap'n Crunch. Cocoa Puffs. You name it, and I'm all over it.

49. I also love kids' cartoons. So does Mike, and nothing pleases us more then finding out that there are 6 episodes of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack on a Sunday morning.

50. I am clean, but not always neat. And I really like to have my living space in order before I get ready to relax for the night.

51. The smell of lilacs and clean laundry will forever remind me of being a kid and playing in the backyard.

52. I am very fortunate to have the in-laws that I have. They're really awesome people, who tend to forgive Mike and I despite our shortcomings.

53. I can't wait for Halloween, every year. But then it usually comes and goes without much acknowledgment from me.

54. I get the worst hangovers in the world. In college I managed to escape them, but since I don't drink regularly anymore, approximately Tthree beers can make me violently ill for an entire day. If I only have one drink, I need to chase it with glasses and glasses of water or I will have a headache for hours.

55. My friends were convinced I was allergic to alcohol the first time I drank. Sometimes they still think I am. I just think I'm unlucky.

56. I am an exceptionally fun drunk.

57. I am a terrible dancer. I won a "Worst Dancer" award in High School.

58. I enjoy Daiquiris with my mom and sister. Rum makes everyone loud and festive.

59. I am extraordinarily clumsy. I walk into doorways, kick chairs, and always wind up with mysterious bruises. Mike gets nervous if I get too rambunctious because I am apt to accidentally punch him in the mouth.

60. Driving terrifies me. I am not a very confident driver and have been in too many accidents. I've been rear ended 3 times in the last year, and none of the other drivers were very nice about it.

61. I've just recently developed a taste for coffee. But I still put loads of sugar (or Splenda) and creamer in it. Though drinking it black isn't the worst thing in the world.

62. I have 4 tattoos. I got my first when I was 18 (4 stars on my hip), my 2nd when I was 20 (a cricket on my right foot), my third when I was 23 (a swallow the right side of my lower back) and my fourth when I was 24 (a band around my left forearm and the word "always"). I am enamored with tattoos - my own and those belonging to others.



63. Legally changing my name caused me to have a mini identity crisis. Just a little one. I'm still working on my signature

64. I enjoy doing bills. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and control.

65. I have a strange relationship with the blog-world. I want to be part of it, and I follow bunches of blogs for periods of time, but once a blogger starts constantly linking to their blog friends' blogs, then I feel alienated - I feel outside of a clique.

66. I love celebrity gossip. I shouldn't, but I do.

67. I also love terrible, terrible reality TV shows. Again, I shouldn't but I do.

68. On the flip side, I read classic literature, and watch intelligent movies and brilliant (but cancelled) TV shows. I just needed to clear the air...

69. On that topic, the saga revolving around Jon and Kate Plus 8 makes me so sad for those kids. Seriously. Stop exploiting your children.

70. My favorite bloggers are The Pioneer Woman and Dooce. They sort of embody what I want to be.

71. I'm still unsure about Twitter. I'm trying to use it, but really, who care that I went for a run? Or that my dog's breath smells? Or that I'm baking cookies? I'm going to keep at it.

72. I. Love. Harry. Potter. I am a devoted fan, and have been for about 10 years. It's the longest love affair I've ever had.

73. I DON'T LIKE TO EXERCISE. I just don't. I will, because I know it is good for me and it makes my legs look awesome. But I'm going to complain about it the WHOLE TIME.

74. Now that we've moved, I don't think I want to go without cable/internet. While I acknowledge that TV isn't the best thing for me, it's REALLY nice to shut down and zone out at the end of the day.

75. I'm going to live in Illinois for almost my entire life. My family moved here when I was two, and I lived in Iowa for about a year total. My family is here, my friends are here, and I know this place. When I have kids I want to make sure they know their grandparents and relatives (I never really did).

76. Singing Happy Birthday makes me feel so incredibly awkward

77. I am not good at long-distance relationships.

78. I used to play World of Warcraft. I loved it, a lot. I never got very far, but I had to stop playing because it became a time-suck.

79. I've been using the alias SilentA for nearly 10 years. It started after a weekend of watching Kevin Smith movies, and decided to create a persona after Silent Bob.

80. I've been blogging for nearly the same amount of time (10 years). I started out on OpenDiary.com, moved over to Livejournal, and here I find myself on Blogger. Hopefully the next step is my own site.

81. I have a really soft spot for Iowa. Particularly Des Moines. Mike went to school there, I temporarily went to school in Iowa City, and that's where Mike and I had our first apartment together.

82. I played the flute for 8 years. I never really liked it much, but I wasn't half bad. My teachers were always encouraging, but I was lazy and never practiced.

83. During my 4 years of High School, I was an active member of the marching band. It was totally nerdy, but the kids I hung around with (who weren't hardcore into it) dubbed ourselves the "Anti-Band".

84. That said, I have a soft spot for every member of that marching band.

85. I like making lists like these. They make me feel like I am learning things about myself.

86. I never in a million years thought I would be a girl who loved shoes...yet here I am.

87. Conversely, I still occasionally wear slippers out in public, and I don't care how sloppy I look.

88. I wrote a speech about my moccasin slippers my sophomore year of college. I didn't graded as well as I hoped I would.

89. I sometimes wish I had tried harder and focused more while I was in college. I think part of the reason I didn't stemmed from the fact that I went to 3 different colleges.

90. Attending community college was the best thing I could have done for my education. I saved myself a bunch of money while finishing general education classes. I wish community college didn't have such a bad stigma attached to it.

91. I love dreary weather. I could gladly live in a place like Seattle with limited sunshine. I avoid hot temperatures and sun because I am very fair and prone to sunburn.

92. I actually react very badly to sunburns...I get insatiably itchy, and freak out. I can't describe the feeling and how awful it is. My dad has the same thing, and when he was in Vietnam he had to be hospitalized because the itching was so terrible.

93. I have had the same group of friends since I was 12 years old. It's very bizarre to realize that I've known them half my life. But I love them.

94. Physical contact with people (other than Mike) weirds me out. But with Mike, I like to be discreetly touching him as often as possible.

95. I used to REALLY want to be interested in professional sports. I wanted to be cool like that. But I tried...I really did...and it holds no appeal for me, and I've accepted that.

96. I wish I was more interested in music. I have a couple bands/CDs that I listen to, but otherwise I'm sort of eh about it.

97. I'm not really sure what I want to be when I grow up. Some days it's a personal trainer, baker or teacher. Other days it's a stay at home mom, independent crafter, or entrepreneur.

98. I have no tolerance for radio commercials that use the sound of an alarm clock, squealing breaks, or emergency vehicle sirens of ANY kind.

99. Someday I want to be the type of cook that people are clamoring to get recipes from.

100. I'm extremely well-intentioned, but I severely lack on follow-through. Hobbies I pick up, ideas for gifts and costumes. Most of these things never come to fruition.

101. I also lack will power. I don't deny myself much. But I'm working on it. I'm working on a lot of things.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Moving Melancholy.

I'm back.
I've had a helluva weekend.

Saturday was moving day, wherein we employed all able-bodied men-folk to help us empty our storage unit, and relocate large pieces of furniture into our home. The incentive? Burgers and beer. It worked, and now we were (almost) totally moved in.

While we were moving one of our new neighbors came by to introduce herself and her kids - Joey and Jenny - and bring over some cookies. JUST LIKE THEY DO IN THE MOVIES.
Joey looks to be about 3, and Jenna about 6 months. And, when I saw them, my uterus started screaming "I WANT BABIES!"
The little boy carried the cookies and went to shake Mike's hand, but Mike asked for a high-five. He said please and thank you and he was SO GODDAMN CUTE. Anyway...

On Sunday, after being exhausted of moving and finding that our old TV and TV stand were atrocities in our house...we decided to make some ill-advised purchases and bought a giant, honkin' flat screen.

I researched a little, and we decided to shop around - my mom suggested Costco, and we borrowed her membership to go look. Within 10 minutes of walking into that glorious store, I decided we MUST. HAVE. A. MEMBERSHIP. And so we do.

OMG you guys! Have you been to/do you love HUGE club stores? They are the epitome of mass production and excessive consumption...but if loving them is wrong...then I don't want to be right.

While we were there, we got our obnoxiously big TV (because Mike said it was "the best deal"), and I also picked up Wii Fit Plus! I'm pretty excited about it. I haven't set it up, or even taken it out of the box yet...but I will. I will. Does anyone have one? Do you like it? Does it do any good at all?



Beyond that...we're slowly but surely moving in...and I'm learning that large life changes, particularly those that come with complete upheaval, make me mildly depressed. Not terribly, but enough for me to notice an increase in lethargy and general malaise. I've gone to bed at about 8pm since we've moved in, been closer to tears than usual, and I have no desire to talk. I realized all this was going on last night when I went to bed. It's kind of a bummer, but I'm certain it'll get better as the house becomes livable and my life feels organized again.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A survey for Friday

I was tagged by Melina of Owl and Peacock for a survey. And as I have no energy to create anything new, here goes:

1. What books are on your favorite shelf?
>> All 7 of the Harry Potter books. I've read the first 4 six times, and only twice for the remaining 3.


(image from weheartit)

2. What DVDs are on your favorite shelf?
>> Lost in Translation, V for Vendetta, Closer


(image from weheartit)

3. What are your two favorite cookbooks?
>> Williams-Sonoma Bride & Groom Cookbook: Recipes for Cooking Together, and it's not a cookbook, but it might as well be - tastespotting.com


4. Select 1-3 recipes you will cook for your special guests:
>> Stuffed Peppers, my parent's Caesar Salad, Lemon Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies


(image from McCormick.com)


5. What will we be drinking that's available?
>> Champagne cocktails (I <3 champagne) and Sam Adams

And 5 Random Facts:
1. I used to wear slippers almost every day during my senior year of High School. For a while I carried a blanket around with me so it was more comfortable to nap during study hall.
2. I could fall asleep at 7pm every night. I love slumber.
3. I created the "I Make Boys Cry" tshirt for Hot Topic. Swear! I saved the emails.
4. I've only every owned Dodge cars. I've only liked one...my Stratus.
5. Mike was one of the 4 "Hot Boys" on the 8th grade basketball team who I thought would never speak to me. Little did I know that he was a shy, shy nerd who didn't talk to anyone.

In the vein of wanting to know more about you:
1. RaeLeigh at Big Sky Girl
2. Mandy at Manderz Musings
3. A Green Teacher at Green Fires
4. Callina at Gingerbread House


Also - if you've emailed me...I'm so so so SO sorry it's taken me so long to respond. I'm going to write you back. Swear on a bear.

Have a wonderful Friday and an even better weekend.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Moving

Hahahahahahahah
Gross. I look like a zombie this morning.

I failed to wash my face before bed last night, and now I look like the dead, reanimated. Gross. Hahahha. But I couldn't help but share.

I've been totally neglectful of emails, and tweets and blogs lately because of the whole closing on our house. There were a bunch of last-minute sagas that I can't bring myself to relive yet, but we DID end up closing. On Friday. So all the papers are signed, we aren't as poor as we thought we'd be (pleasant surprise), and we painted the bedroom (pictures to come). This is the first time I've logged onto the interwebs since Thursday...crazy.

We closed on Friday and then started cleaning. Most of the skin on my hands has melted off thanks to bleach, paint, Goo Gone, nail polish remover and floor stripper, and along they way, thanks to the same chemical cocktail, most of my brain cells are dead and I can't breathe. WORTH IT.

The spiders that previously occupied the house are in turmoil because we're removing their nests, but sorry dudes, we don't want any squatters.

I've been off work since Friday in an attempt to try to clean and get our house set up so we can live there, but we're not quite ready yet. The bedroom is painted and cleaned and my parents bought us a fancy new Queen bed, and we slept there on Sunday night. But for all intents and purposes we can't live there yet.

The appliances, all 6 of them, are getting delivered on Saturday, and hopefully hooked up by the end of the day. We're also hoping some of our man-friends will be able to help move couches and futons and dressers and tables. I'm putting a rush on this because I still want to host a little Halloween get-together.

Additionally, Sunday night, after we've gotten our room set up, and we're getting ready for bed, I started crying, and crying and crying. I should be happy! Overjoyed that I am finally sleeping in the house we've been chasing and laboring after for so long. But I felt so guilty and grateful to my parents. My mom was at the house ALL WEEKEND painting and cleaning and removing stains, and my parents bought us a bed. ALL THIS after housing us and feeding us for over 8 months. I don't know how you can adequately thank someone for that. I felt sooo indebted.

And here's the thing about my family. WE love each other, and we know it, but we don't really hug, and we don't really say sweet, lovey things. We express love by being there for each other, asking questions about their day, and just generally expressing interest in our lives. We spend tons of time together, and drink daiquiris/bloody marys together. But we don't say "I love you", and that works for us. So, here I am, unable to really put into words how MUCH I love and appreciate the work and time and money my parents have put into us...so I had a meltdown. A sobby, snotty, hysterical meltdown. And the fact that I was sobbing, the first night in our new house, made me feel even worse because Mike was trying to make me feel better.

Eventually, I calmed, after many reassurances from Mike that my parents know, and are happy to help. And finally! FINALLY! We were able to sleep in a house alone, and enjoy the quiet that comes along with it,

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pioneer Woman Cooks!

Holy Cannoli.

Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, is going to be here:
Chicago – Skokie, IL
Thursday, November 19, 2009
7:30 pm
Barnes & Noble
55 Old Orchard Center
Skokie, IL 60077

That's like 10 minutes from my work. Less than that. 7 minutes. Oh. Em. Gee.
And I'm going to see her.
I'm going to go early (I get off work at 4...but I'll probably stay late), and then go get food, and see if I can have a face-to-face chat with Ree Drummond because I'll be there so early, and she'll be proud of how punctual I am.

If I play my cards right, maybe she'll say, "Ashley, I think you're great, and I want to adopt you so you can live on my ranch and learn to be amazing."

And I'll reply, "Ree, thank you so much for the offer! It would make me SO HAPPY to live on your ranch and learn to be amazing! I can't wait. Can Mike come? He would love to learn to be a rancher."

And she'll say, "Of course!"

And that will be that.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shut The Front Door

Guys. GUYS!

I've been so busy and so swamped. But I have topics I want to discuss with you, and they may or may not include:

1) Ex Boyfriend boxes - OMG, I went through one (it was hidden in the back of my closet) this weekend and it was a doozy!

2) Things I love. I've been making this list for a while.

3) My hair. I know, I know. I CAN'T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT. I'm planning to write an open letter to myself, for the next time I'm thinking of cutting it all off.

4) Where I live. I want to take you on a photographic tour of where I live. This will probably have to wait until after we're moved/settled. I like sharing, and you guys sharing with me. It's REAL nice. I do wish we could all have dinner sometime, yes?

5) I want to dabble in the realm of a mini-vlog. I don't quite know if I have the courage to look right into the camera and speak, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

6) THIS INSANE DREAM I HAD. Do you guys ever dream about tornadoes? I do, realatively often, and a quick Google search let me know that tornadoes are usually dream-manifestations of upheaval, or disruption - which is right on target. BUT, in this particular dream, there was a Jim Halpert/Mike hybrid who was with me and wanted to marry me. It was very bizzare. I had wedding rings on both hands and we were trying to get away from the tornado. This isn't my first Jim Halpert love dream.
I think it might have to do with this picture I found yesterday:

(Image from weheartit.com)

7) weheartit.com Have you been here? Have you seen it? Friend me. This website blows my mother trucking mind.

8) I'm trying to stop swearing. Son of a Biscuit. Mother trucker. Shut the Front Door. I need to adopt these.

8) OMGwecloseonthehousetomorrowWTF?!? It's been horrible. Which is why I haven't been around blogging or commenting. We were approved for our loan...with conditions. So we had to scramble all this week to provide proof that Mike was a student for all of 2007, and that a credit card that was flagged as an Identity Theft Risk was closed. It was really hard to get all that in a DAY, but we did it, and we're still on track to close TOMORROW.

Friday, October 2, 2009

An ode to Anonymous!

Dear Anonymous,
You left a comment on my biographical blog post - and mentioned working at MCC. You asked my favorite teacher - Mark Arctander. He was a painting teacher and a very talented artist.

I appreciate your comments and I would really like to talk to you. Please leave me another comment with a way to contact you!

As a matter of fact, anyone who reads this - email me. I love pen pals and emails to make the day go faster

Soon-Kitchen?

I've got a few things I want to blog about, but for the time being I am totally and completely preoccupied with the purchase of our new house.

We close in less than a week, and I want to make sure we are able to paint before we move all of our stuff in. Mike and I have spent two weekends at Home Depot, agonizing over paint colors, and dreaming about wood floors and granite countertops, and we've managed to figure out what we're doing with our bedroom. But the kitchen. Oh, the kitchen! It's a completely different animal!

So today, I've put together this little "inspiration board" of what we think we're doing.



The plates are our actual plates.
The white-ish buffet represents the white stain we're going to give the wood portion of our cabinets (the fronts are laminate, and we're hoping to replace them).
The colors are what we're both cool with.
The wood samples are what we eventually want to finish the floors with (Thank you, $8,000 tax incentive for first time home buyers!)
We want to put in little box shelving above the buffet that we'll use as a mini-bar
And the actual kitchen image is from Behr's website.

Unfortunately the countertops are white laminate. It's pretty ugly, but I figure we can live with it for now. But there are crazy tutorials online for refinishing your laminate counters...maybe I'll get daring someday.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Summer 2009 Recap

It's clearly Fall now. Very clearly. Overnight we plunged headlong into coat-wearing weather, and, dude, I don't know where my coat is. I'm ushering in the advent of a new season, with my new (and muuuuuuch talked about - sorry about that) haircut.



Don't judge this picture - it's not styled, and I was ready to go to bed. But I figured out that if I DON'T take any time to do anything with it, then I can easily end up looking like Mary Martin in Peter Pan



Now that fall is here, I'm like, "Whoa. Where did summer go? What did I do with it?"
Let's recap:

- I got married. Though, technically not in the summer (May 30th), but it was close enough.

- I changed my name. This originally caused a lot of internal turmoil, but I think I'm OK now, as long as I remember to sign my new name.

- I started to exercise...then promptly stopped. It lasted all of 5 days. Whatever. Don't look at me like that. I had good intentions!

- I went on more outings this summer than the last two combined
>> Arlington Racetrack
>> Museum of Science and Industry, and I got to see the Harry Potter exhibit and movie.
>> Bristol Renaissance Fair
>> camping at Starved Rock
>> Galena (twice!)
>> volunteered at the Sunset Festival
I'm pretty proud that I managed to get out and interact with the world, like a person.

- We put an offer on a house, they accepted it, and we gracefully (ha. ha.) dealt with all the drama that's gone along with it. It's going to pay off in about a week and a half (excuse me while I lose my shit: OMGWTFSqueeee...I really need to get out of my parents')

- Made some serious progress on my 101 things in 1001 days list. I've got 7 things in progress and 8 completed. Nice job.

- I totally got a promotion. And a raise. And an awesome boss. My commute is still gross, but my circumstances are a bajillion times better.

- I went to Atlanta, GA for the first time (for business), and I got to see Olympic Park. While I was there I also got to have dinner with one of my nearest and dearest. It was an awesome coincidence that he was passing through Atlanta on his way to Army Ranger School.

It's been a good summer, a productive summer, and a summer for hardcore transitions. We've really managed to pack it in, which is pretty cool. I'm really glad I put all my main summer activities into this one post - so I can see them all. It was nice to reflect on what I've been up to and figure out where the last 4 months went.

What did you do this summer??

Saturday, September 26, 2009

New hair, new outlook

A couple exciting things for the day.

If you're curious our wedding pictures are up. I posed the link on twitter, but I'll post it here too.

I found a new layout via shabbyblogs.com. They're free, and I'm not much for designing my own nonsense yet.

I'm making the plunge tonight - I've scheduled a haircut for tonight at 6pm. Chopping it all off. Though I keep waffling back and forth about whether I really want to do it. By 3pm today, I'll be convinced because my longish hair will have annoyed me.

BelleRenee's most recent post has me thinking about what I really want to do with my life. We close on the house on the 8th, and once we're in the house, it's time for me to start buckling down and making some changes, and the biggest change is figuring out a career, or a passion, or a degree - and figuring out how to make that happen.

Not much to report, and I've got even less time to report it in.

Saturday Morning

Good morning!

1) THANKS for not thinking I'm a creeper.

2) Time for some pictures. Maddie on Saturday morning. She's afraid of the furnace repair man who has been here since 9am. Mike has just renamed her Ming Su.


3) Here's Mike. He came home at 6am from playing video games. He's not really sleeping, he's rambling incoherent nonsense and has been since he woke up 15 minutes ago.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Narcissistic "about me" post - BUT I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT YOU!

So, I've been thinking about you guys a lot lately. Is that weird?
I mean, I have a long drive home, and plenty of time to think about random nonsense, and blogging usually takes up much of my thinking.

I kind of wonder what your life is like.
I mean, I know bits and pieces, a lot of bits and pieces. But I feel like I don't know much about your day-to-day, or mundane details. Like what do you like to do on a weekend? What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you have siblings? How did you like college? I mean, hook me up with a mini (or not so mini) biography.

Again...is it weird that I want to know this? The internet kind of blurs the line between what is considered creepy and what is totally acceptable. I think it would be weird if I walked up to one of my coworkers (that I wasn't super close with) and was like "What's your life like?" But here, I may get an awesome response. I'll take my chances.

I'll tell you about me. It's probably lame, but whateves. Everyone likes to write about themselves - its the spirit of blogging! If you feel so inclined, please write a similar post, and leave a link to it in the comments. I feel like this could be a getting-to-know-you sort of situation. Share as much, or as little as you'd like. Here we go...

My name is Ashley, I am 24, a Gemini. I graduated from college in 2007 with a BA in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I only attended UIUC for 2 years because prior to that I started off at the University of Iowa, but left at the end of my first semester because I was too unhappy to pay the exorbitant out of state tuition. I finished my general education requirements at McHenry County College.

I met Mike (husband) when I was 15. He was dating my best friend at the time. When we were 17 they broke up, and Mike and I started hanging out. There's a whole sordid story that I'll have to share another time, but when Mike and I started dating, we were no longer best friends.

Mike and I broke up when we were 19, and at two different colleges. We stayed "friends", I use quotes because I was clearly still in love with him, but totally in denial about it. During this time, I rekindled my friendship with his ex girlfriend/my best friend, and we ended up being roomates at UIUC our senior year and it was awesome.

Mike and I got back together when we were 21, in our senior year of college, and from the day we got back together we knew we were going to get married...granted, I thought I was going to marry him from the time I was 17. His ex girlfriend/my best friend (who shall henceforth be referred to by name: Rache) stood up in our wedding, and is currently a great friend to both of us.

Mike and I briefly lived in Des Moines, Iowa while he finished his last semester of school. I worked at a small internet start up, and for the entire time I lived there I was depressed and mean and heinous...and I cried a lot. It was the first time we lived together and it is a wonder Mike didn't dump my ass. At this point I had graduated college, had no idea what I wanted to do, moved to a state where I didn't know anyone, worked at a crappy job and I was misssssserable. Mike has the patience of a saint.
The house in which our first apartment was located (Des Moines, IA)

While we lived in Iowa we adopted our little dog Maddie from a shelter. We were at the shelter for a good 45 minutes before we even noticed her, and we went there not really intending to walk out with a dog, but there she was. She was sick with kennel cough, clearly underweight and shaking like a leaf. As soon as we took her into the little visiting room she ran back and forth between us, so excited and peeing, and we were sold. I think it was the pee that sealed the deal.
Little Dog Maddie. They day we brought her home

We moved back to Illinois and I started working at my current job at a publishing company just outside of Chicago. We're the number one publisher of children's sound books, and I promise, if you have a little kid, or know one, you've seen the books. I was recently promoted and I now work very closely with our children's line. I really don't mind the job, and I love my coworkers, but the commute kills me. I leave my house at 6am to arrive at 7:30am, and in the afternoons I leave at 4pm to get home at 5:30 - 6pm. It's kind of awful.

(omg. this is insanely boring. If you're still reading, awesome. But I think I've reached a point where I'm just writing to write. A good exercise, no?)

My dearest ambition is to be an Academic Advisor or a HS Guidance Counselor, though I realize I have to go back to school to do that. It's something I've been looking into recently, because I would like to have a plan. And soon. I've looked into teaching (I've always loved working with kids), but I can't financially justify going back to school and then student teaching (working full time, for free, while paying tuition. No, thank you), when we're on the cusp of taking on a mortgage.

Mike and I will close on our first house on Oct. 8th. It's a cute little townhouse in my parents' neighborhood. We'll be neighbors, which is a little weird, but I grew up in the neighborhood - I know it is safe, and clean and everyone is nice. We've been living with my parents in my childhood bedroom, and it's been reallllly cramped.
Our soon-to-be first house

The plan is that we're going to make it an awesome little house, do a lot of affordable improvements (and blog about them). We want to refinished furniture, and paint and basically start our married life off, because it feels like it's been on hold since we've gotten back from the honeymoon (remember, we've been living with my parents...) We've got huge plans to launch the etsy shop, get in shape, cook, garden, craft, write, read.

We want to have kids in the next 5 years. At first it was the next 8 years, now it's 5, but recently we've been talking about 3. We are very quickly whittling the number down. We're hoping to have two, and we've already talked about names. Haha.

Truthfully, we mostly have to wait because of our financial situation. We're buying this house, and we're going to be close to broke - so we need to rebuild our savings and make sure that we will be able to survive on one income, because both Mike and I feel that it is important that I stay home once we have kids. And currently, that makes me do backflips in excitement, because on principle, I don't really like working. I prefer to clean, cook, pay bills, run errands, and duh, take care of kids. Do most people prefer that? I don't really know.

I'm a hardcore homebody. I love blankets and pajamas and watching a movie. That's my favorite way to spend an evening. I also love to go to bed. And sleep. I love to sleep. Though, it does cause me a little anxiety because I feel infinitely boring. I feel like I SHOULD want to do other things, and enjoy nightlife, but I just don't. I like my house, and my bed.

Mike and I are still friends with our friends from high school. Our entire bridal party was made up of the people we grew up with. They are fabulous, and we've managed to maintain very strong bonds with all of them for almost 10 years, and they are totally understanding when I blow them off to sleep.

Our siblings and friends from high school (click to enlarge, if you are so inclined)

(If you're still reading...i kind of love you. But please. Don't feel obligated, this has become quite the tome.)

Our etsy shop is in hiatus. We've been brainstorming and figuring out what we want to sell, and how we want to go about it. We keep getting more and more excited about it. We hope it is somewhat successful, because we both love to do artsy craftsy things, and would love to have a really cool reason to do them.

Mike is a graphic designer by education and trade. He looooooves video games, and truthfully him playing them is one of our biggest battles. Partially because he's fanatical and can go a little overboard (though not recently!), and partially because I am unreasonable and needy. Someday we'll reach a truce. Someday...
He's currently running the show with the acquisition of the house, making the phone calls setting up appointments - While I take care of things on the back end, finances, budgeting, paperwork. We have both taken on the roles that we prefer, and it's going swimmingly.
Michael is a daydreamer and has an insane imagination. I am much more pragmatic and in the here-and-now. He is the art to my science and I am the method to his madness.

I am lazy, and usually feel very awkward. I obsess over cutting my hair more than a healthy person should. I've recently discovered a love of artichokes, and I. Love. TV. but it is a total time-suck. I complain more than necessary, while I should be counting my blessings (a house, a husband, a loving family, non-insane in-laws, my health, a job) instead. But I've found that you make more friends commiserating about things than you do advertising how awesome your life is. The longest love affair of my life has been with Harry Potter, and I still feel very passionate about him to this day. I think doing dishes by hand is relaxing, and I find solace in a clean living space. I am obsessed with Food Porn, and I collect recipes that I will someday make. I am fascinated by pin-up culture, but am an outside observer. I think tattoos are beautiful and I have 4, while Mike has 5, and intends to eventually have a half - 3/4 sleeve.

Beyond that...I've got nothing. That's a lie there's plenty more - but I think this has gotten insane enough.

Remember, if you feel so inclined, please write a similar post, and leave a link to it in the comments. I feel like this could be a getting-to-know-you sort of situation. Share as much, or as little as you'd like.

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