Sunday, January 23, 2011

New floors! New stairs! New paint!

We're getting new floors installed in the house!

We moved in to this little townhouse in October 2009. The house was in great condition, and we got it for a song. But one of the most awful things about it was the flooring. The carpet and linoleum flooring were 17 years old. The carpet had a nice gray walk pattern and bewildering red stains that looked like deep, dark rust. They changed and grew every time we washed it. The kitchen had the linoleum that was chipping. The design on the linoleum had indented stripes that held onto dirt and grime, and after 17 years there was just NO removing it.

So, FINALLY we found the flooring we wanted, and someone who could install it. And this weekend was what I've called "Demolition Weekend" We spent all day yesterday, with the help of my mom and sister, emptying the room of all our possessions, moving ALL our furniture to the garage and tearing up the carpet.

On top of that, I've always wondered what our stairs looked like under the carpet. So, once we were almost done, we started pulling edges of the carpet up just to peek, and what we found was AMAZING. Well constructed stairs, with rounded edges and a proper nose (or lip, or whatever).

Unfortunately, I didn't take any full BEFORE pictures, but I DID take some "in-progress" pictures.
Today, we finish clean up, make sure every last thing has been emptied from the 1st floor, and keep pulling out staples on the stairs. If I have my way, I'm going to start sanding ASAP.

On top of that, we have a painter coming today to give us a quote to have our living room/stairway painted. We have gigantor ceilings and there's no way Mike and I could have done it without dying.

The floors are being installed Monday-Thursday and I CANNOT WAIT until I can see the finished product. And to have the 30 boxes of Pergo gone.

Monday, January 17, 2011


I still want to spend some time recapping my NYE celebrations, but unfortunately, I don't have time at the moment.

But last night, I made Golumpki Casserole.
Golumpki are delicious Polish cabbage rolls, filled with ground beef and rice and mushrooms, and covered in tasty tomato sauce.

I was first introduced to them by my very Polish college roommate. Whenever she would visit home, she usually came back with 3 or 4 golumpki, and she usually didn't want to eat them - so that task fell to me. I was in love.

In 2008, I made them on my own, but HOLY SHIT, it took forever. I couldn't get a handle on the rolling of the cabbage leaves. But they were still tasty.

Lately, I've been craving them again, but I had NO desire to wrestle with unruly cabbage leaves. So I decided to convert it into a casserole/lasagna hybrid.
When I tried to google recipes, I came up empty handed, so I decided to wing it.

Image via - but I DID NOT use this recipe

Golumpkie Casserole
1 head green cabbage
1.5lbs ground beef
2 small cans of mushrooms (stems and pieces)
2 cups uncooked rice (I am not sure what the COOKED yield is)
2-3 cans tomato soup
3 cloves garlic, minced
Worchestershire sauce
1 egg

Preheat oven to 325°
1) Core cabbage as best you can, and place in a pot of boiling water for 10-15 minutes.
Once the cabbage begins to soften, carefully remove individual leaves with tongs and place on a plate to cool. You will need 12-16 leaves.

2) Brown and drain ground beef.

3) While beef is browning, drain mushrooms, and dice finely (well, I diced finely because Mike doesn't like mushrooms, and they're less detectable this way)

4) Also while beef is browning, cook rice (I used instant white rice).

5) After beef is prepared, add garlic, mushrooms, rice, and about 1/2 can of tomato soup, and let simmer briefly. Season based on your preferences - I added a buttload of worchestershire, and added salt and pepper until I thought it tasted good. Turn off heat. Once this has cooled slightly, add egg and mix.

6) Start preparing your casserole dish: add enough tomato soup to cover the bottom of the casserole dish. Add about 4 cabbage leaves to the bottom, and then add a layer of the meat mixture, then cabbage, then meat, then cabbage. Add more tomato soup to the top of the casserole, enough to cover the cabbage leaves and prevent them from drying out.

7) Place in oven for about 1 hour, or until bubbling.

There you have it.
This is half for you, and half for me, because I didn't write this shiz down, and I definitely want to make this again. Mike loved it, and I did too.

Have a lovely monday!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Dear Ashley Version 2011...

In my last post, Brittney pointed out that I said I had a stangnant year, regardless of the fact that I DID a ton of stuff. But, here's the thing - every year since 2003, I've had some sort of milestone or dramatic event.

Let me explain:
2003: Started dating Mike, graduated HS and went away to U of Iowa
2004: Left U of Iowa, moved home, and Mike and I broke up
2005: Moved to Champaign, IL and started at U of I
2006: Moved in with BFFs and got back together with Mike
2007: Graduated college, moved in with Mike in Des Moines, moved back to IL and got my first real job
2008: Got engaged and signed my first year lease with Mike
2009: Got married, changed my name and bought a house
2010: Stayed married, stayed with my job, stayed in my house...

So, while I DID do a lot of things, as far as the big things are concerned, I maintained the status quo. But let me be clear! I am absolutely not complaining!

I think this may mean that life is leveling out, and instead of facing Big Uprooting Changes, I am working on refining what I've built and making my existence secure and comfortable and fun...before the NEXT Big Uprooting Change rolls around (kids?)

For 2011, I'm making few resolutions and one of them is to STOP making grand sweeping declarations and promises. I spent a good portion of 2010 CHANGING! MY! LIFE! and then not following through. I feel like 2011 should be spent, as I said, refining my existence. Not trying to overhaul, or force an square peg into a round hole.

Image via
Dear Ashley Version 2011,
Please know that in order for a year to be awesome, it doesn't need to be dramatic.

Spend 2011 doing thing that bring order to your life, and make you happy. Spend 2011 making your house a home and continuing to branch out socially. Spend 2011 doing new things, and hanging onto the old things that bring you comfort and peace.

2010 was a year where you came to terms with what it means (for you) to be an adult. You learned to anticipate difficulties and stressors and to prepare accordingly. You finally understood that no matter how much of an old soul you feel like, that actually being an adult is a juggling act that takes practice - and you're feeling pretty good about it.

This is going to be a good year. Not because of any decisive actions, or huge plans, but because I am very fortunate. I am lucky to have this life, and I need to spend 2011 enjoying it.

Have a wonderful year!
Ashley Version 2010

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010: Year In Review

2010: Year in Review

January 2010
Hosted an NYE party.
Started off the year in a slump.
Wrote my anticlimactic 100th blog post.
Re-started watching Lost.
NYE 2009 to 2010

February 2010
I got frustrated with trying to balance life.
Started a DIY: Trial and Error feature on my blog, then never touched it again.
Gave some thought to who I am, and who I am not.
I took a cringe-worthy look at my old Livejournal
Went to New York City for the first time, and assisted in doing $1.2 million in business over dinner. Felt important.
Was chosen to write for the Demoiselles: Getting Healthy.
Had a winter beach party for my sister.
Brittany's Surprise 22nd Beach Party

March 2010
Kept blogging because of her.
I celebrated my 1 year Blogversary.
Put pictures of myself in my underpants online.
Mike and I outside of Color Me Mine (may have been April) with Rache and Jay

April 2010
I wrote a post that had the highest views on my blog.
Discovered that the siding on my house was falling off. Boooo.
Downtown Chicago for Lisa's Bday

May 2010
Hosted a Derby Party!
Got my car totalled.
My sister graduated college.
Finished watching Lost, and was INTENSELY disappointed by the finale.
Celebrated my 1 year anniversary!
Britt's college graduation
1st Annual Derby Party

June 2010
Finally felt ADULT.
Turned 25 and got a Butters.
Celebrated a triple birthday in Lake Geneva.
Lake Geneva Bar

July 2010
Saw, and then slammed Eclipse.
Went to the CABIN for the first of two trips!
Visited Massachusetts.
Attended my first Pride Parade.
Taste of Crystal Lake/Lakeside Fest
Eating lobster in MA
St. Joseph backyard on the 4th
Cabin trip #1

August 2010
Made my first vlog.
Made 4 Simple Goals.
Had a moustache-themed bachelorette party!
Lauren's bachelorette party - James Hotel

September 2010
Met some awesome people.
Mike and I opened up a conversation about kids.
Saw Dave Matthews and Jason Mraz at Wrigley Field.
Skydeck with Emily and Britt
Dinner at Goose Island with bloggers!
Pre-DMB/Mraz concert in Chicago

October 2010
Two of our nearest and dearest got married!
Found out two of our closest were expecting!
Lauren and Jeff's wedding

November 2010
Was forwarded a shocking newsletter from my old church.
Celebrated the release of HP7 Pt. 1 with another vlog.
Ate Turkey Testicles!
Parkside Pub - home of the Turkey Testicle Festival

December 2010
Civil Unions were legalized in Illinois!
I got festive. Really festive.
Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

Overall impressions
I made a LOT of promises, vows, plans that I DID not keep.
I wrote mostly when I was crabby and frustrated. I wallowed A LOT.
I did NOT write enough about the good and exciting and FUN things I did.
It seems like I relied on Rachelle to fill in what I skipped.
2010 was a good, but stagnant, year.


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