The queen of 300-400 mile road trips

I have been a little bit of a blog slacker thanks to being so busy with work.  I pulled this post out of the archives.  It's one I did for my girl, Renee, a while back.  I just couldn't muster the brainpower to write anything today.  Regardless, here are some tips to help you make the most of your summer road trips!

Today, I thought I would share with you all a few thoughts from a self proclaimed queen of the 300-400 mile road trip.  These little nuggets of wisdom have been compiled from approximately 30 trips of said mileage I have taken in the last 2 years.  I don't do the cross country thing, but if you are planning on spending 4-7 hours in the car, I'm your girl.

Do plan ahead and buy a car with good mileage.  Fiona the Ford Focus has racked up her share of miles, but did so without raping my wallet!

Don't leave or arrive at high traffic times. There is nothing worse than being 10 miles from your destination but still 40 minutes from arrival!

Do download games to your smart phone like Family Feud.

Do use either your car's Sync feature or an adapter to play downloaded games with the whole car. It's not fair to leave the driver out and you don't want to lose to the Jones' by yourself!

Do car dance viciously for as long as you can.  Not only will you get an ab workout, but you will brighten the day of those around you.

Don't fight with your navigation system, it will never agree you are right and will force you to drive around in circles in spite.

Do pee before you leave the house and at any stop you make.  If you're like me, your bladder will feel like it is about to burst when you are conveniently on a bumpy road 35 miles away from civilization.

Do play the alphabet game at least once.  Yep, it's still just as fun as when you were a kid and even more competitive.

Do drug your pets/children... that drive will get a lot shorter if they are knocked out.

There you have it.  Follow these tips and enjoy the ride!


Lies That Skinny Ashley Told Me

I was being such a good blogger and I had preplanned what I was going to write about today.  It was going to be all about my awesome time at the Chelsea Lately taping.  Sadly, despite our priority tickets, we didn't get in.  So, inspired by Chelsea, I give you Lies that Skinny Ashley Told Me!

I have been to the gym the last four days in a row, which is 3 more days in a row than any other time in recent history.  Like any soon to be former fatty, I have to tell myself a few lies to get there, get through it and go back for more.

Anyone that knows me well, knows I value the truth, I am honest to a fault and you'll always know where you stand with me... unless you are me.  You see, at the gym I have an inner liar.  Her name is Skinny Ashley. Here are just a few of the lies Skinny Ashley tell me at the gym.

"Just 5 more minutes."  It's never just 5 more minutes.  Skinny Ashley says this as soon as I walk through the doors and keeps telling me this until I hit my intended calorie burn for the day.

"See that totally fit girl, you can run/cycle/climb faster and longer than her.  Go ahead try it."  Skinny Ashley knows I like to compete.  Sadly I haven't won any of these silent competitions...yet.

"If you keep up this pace for the entire song, you get a treat on the way home."  Shut it Skinny Ashley, you never let me stop for ice cream!

"No one can see your fat juggling when you run."  I actually believed this one until I did a yoga class this weekend.  It feels like my muscles have been contracted since.  Oddly, it makes me also look about 3 months pregnant.  My burrito, french fry and everything dipped in ranch baby is a jiggling,  luckily I don't care!

"You don't sweat, you sparkle."  This picture proves otherwise.

"It's going to feel so great to get out of bed tomorrow."  No skinny Ashley, you are wrong.  In fact, I am so sore, I will be lucky to get out of bed tomorrow.

But Skinny Ashley doesn't just spew lies, sometimes she tells me the truth.

"You deserve to feel good about your body.  You can do this.  You are not a quitter.  You can live a happy healthy life."

Do you have an inner voice?  Is she a liar too?



I found out a couple weeks ago that a married couple I have always looked up to is separating.

Something about this news really shook me to my core.  The core that believes in love, marriage and commitment.

I'm sure you are thinking, "Ashley, didn't your divorce do that?"  and the answer is not really.

My divorce made me questions my judgment.  It made me feel like a failure.  It made me wonder if I was lovable.  But did I question the idea of endless love?  Never.  (Don't worry, I know now I am lovable and deserving of love.  Coincidentally as of today I am officially three years divorced.  To that I say cheers to the chance at a new beginning.

So why now?  I think it has something to do with how this couple made marriage look easy.   My perception of their relationship was skewed because I only saw it from the outside.  News of their separation made me feel like my ideal was shattered.

Looking back, I remember some of my friends taking my divorce in the same way.  Somehow it was about them and I didn't understand why.  Now I am beginning to get it.

I got to thinking about love and what love means and thus, this weeks little series was born.  It was a short series, but one that I really enjoyed thinking about.  Mostly it made me think about how I want to define love from here on out.  It made me consider if I love myself enough to really love someone else under my new definition.

The answer I've come up with is that I am a work in progress.

Aren't we all?

It also recommitted me to what I set out to do when I moved to California 7 months ago.  Figure out who I am, what I want and how I want to live.  You see realizing this new definition of love has opened up my eyes to something bigger.  Definitions, like life and love are always changing.  I don't have to be defined by my past or my perceived future.  I don't have to love or be loved in the ways I have in the past.  I can make my own definition.

Its very empowering to realize that you can define your life and your love and most importantly that no single thing has to define you.

I'm going to keep my eye out for other messy love stories and share them with you.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good fairy tale   I have just come to realize that the stories that aren't wrapped as perfectly tend to be more magical.

How do you define love?


A different kind of Lovin'

As you have probably heard from about 100 other bloggers by now, GFC will be disappearing on June 1st. This girl isn't so pumped about it, but since I am talking about love this week,I figured I could veer off in this direction today.

I know, it was a reach.  

The truth is, I haven't used bloglovin' much, but it looks like I need to jump on the bloglovin train. Choo Choo!  

So if you like me, my blog, what I write about, what I giveaway or any combination of the above,  go ahead and Follow Me On Bloglovin'.  

Cool?  Cool!  And by cool I mean, pretty pretty please!  My blog followers are the ranch to my mozzarella stick!  I'd be so sad to not get to connect with you all!  

I don't know how this whole transition is going to go, but I love my blog, so I am willing to work through these transitional phases and the messy bits!  See how I just brought it full circle?  Okay I'll get serious again tomorrow!


More Than A Love Story

Last month I attended my favorite wedding to date.  No offense to anyone else, your weddings were great too, but something about Ryan and Meagan's wedding really moved me.  The kind of love they have for each other is what I hope fills my life one day.
Photo Credit: Caleb Cooke Photography

This local news coverage really says it all to me!  Take a few minutes to watch their story.

Want to follow their story? Follow Ryan's Journey on Facebook!


Their Beautiful Mess

Love is taking over the cooking, the cleaning and the care-taking when she really can't anymore.
Love is letting her yell at him daily and then simply rubbing her arm and saying it will be alright.
Love is always defending her even when what she is saying makes no logical sense.
Love is always being by her side because she gets anxiety when he's been gone too long.
Love is never raising his voice to her.
Love is knowing what she wants to say when she is having trouble getting words out.
Love is putting aside the things that make you happy to make sure she is happy first.
Love is doing all these things over and over every day.
Love is teaching his granddaughter to be patient through the frustration.
Love is unconditional.
Love is watching my grandfather care for my grandmother.

While she hasn't officially been diagnosed, we are awaiting a confirmation of Alzheimers.   If you have ever spent much time with someone with the disease or any kind of dementia, you know they can be a bit of a handful at times.  If you've spent much time with me, you know that I am not very good at handling her mood swings.  My grandfather though, he is a saint among men.

My grandfather was the provider.  He worked hard to assure that his children (and me) would want for little.  Aside from his incredible brain power (the man was an aeronautical engineer) he is a fairly simple man.  He likes to ride and care for his horse, watch TV with the volume just a little too loud and enjoy a beer.  My grandmother always took care of everyone.  She was the quintessential of a housewife.  She cooked, cleaned and raised the kids.  She enjoyed her soap operas, a good game of solitaire and being needed.

I always knew my grandfather was a good man, but over the last couple years, with my grandmothers advancing dementia  I have come to understand that my grandfather is a great man.  The kind that I would be lucky to find.  The kind that I question still exists. At times I find myself wondering if this unconditional love is becoming extinct. Those are the times the hopeless outweighs the romantic.

He loves with his actions not his feelings.  He loves her.  No matter what.


The Messy Bits


A seemingly simple word that I think has one of the most complicated meanings in life. I'm a self proclaimed lover of love, but lately my admiration has been challenged.  What I called love has failed too often and I've started to lose faith.  This hopeless romantic needed to redefine love before the word romantic dropped off and I was just left hopeless.

So, I consulted Webster and the Thesaurus  (side note:  Do you ever think of a dinosaur when you say the word thesaurus?  Instead of spitting out black sticky venom like that nasty little somethingsaurus in Jurassic Park, it spit out synonyms and antonyms.  Anyone? No? just me? ... moving on.)

Websters dictionary defines love as the following:

 A strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties (2) : attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3) : affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests.  

And Thesaurus (that clever little dinosaur) came back with:
    feel affection for; adore; worship; be devoted to; care for; find irresistible; be keen on; be fond of

Hold up just a second Webster, where is the part about drawing hearts all over your notebook, dreaming up your perfect wedding on Pinterest and living happily ever after?  I didn't see the word fairytale mentioned once!

Call me naive,  but I always had this vision of what love was suppose to be. It looked something like a Nicholas Sparks movie.  It blossomed in small towns with adorable main streets, mostly in North Carolina or after overcoming some kind of antagonist.  Love happened when things just magically fall into place.  When butterflies filled your stomach.  When it felt like the birds were singing just for you.  When you find someone who you never fight with.  love was someone making you happy, giving you a ring, saying it'd last forever in front of your friends and family and then living happily ever after.  Or at least that is what I always envisioned love to look like.  Even after my divorce, I clung tightly to this vision and waited patiently for my knight in shining armor to rescue me from the flame breathing dragon called single life.

But recently I had an epiphany.  Love isn't the pretty, perfectly packaged bits, it's the parts that are messy and unkempt.  Love is the part that they leave out of the romcoms.  Love is the part that seems taboo to talk about.  It's not the butterflies or the diamond ring.  It's not even saying vows you say before your friends and family.  It's how you live out those vows, it's how you face challenges and its how you deal with the shit life hands you.  It's not a feeling, but rather your actions.  It was like a lightbulb went on.

Lately, I have been seeing love all around me.  It's not nearly as put together as I had once imagined, but honestly,  it's far more beautiful. Like a Jackson Pollock, it's a disaster, but when you really look at it, it's easy to see the complexity of its beauty.

I'd like so share some love stories with you all this weeks. These love stories aren't my own, but rather my version of love as I see it, in all its chaotic splendor.  Join me tomorrow for my first beautifully messy story.


Pretty Picture, Lackluster Words.

Nope, that photo has nothing to do with this post.  I just get really excited when I take a pretty picture.

Okay so this is just a quick post to say that I didn't write anything clever today because I used all my writing juice (also know as copious amounts of diet soda) to work on an awesome series of posts for next week all about love.

What business does a divorced, happily single girl have writing about love... I guess you'll have to come back next week and see.

It's been a heck of a week for me, so cheers to the freakin weekend kids!  Clink!  That was me cheersing you with my imaginary (if it's after 5pm, not so imaginary) wine glass.

I'll see you on the other side of Sunday!

P.S.  Today is the last day to use the code SPARKLE to get 50% off all add space!  If you are interested, click on that little Sponsor button up there on the top of the page.


I'm Not A Player, I Just Crush A Lot

Today (in part because I have a mad case of bloggers block and because I have a lot of blog crushes), I am linking up with Erin for her super fabulous Blogger Crush Link Up.

Just like my Freshman year in high school, I have a lot of crushes!  The difference is, this time I don't have to seduce my crushes by batting my eyes at church camp.  Nope, I can declare my love right here and link up with others doing the same.  So let's get started!

Have you all met Courtney from Shabby Loves Chic?  Well not only is this lovely lady hanging out on my sidebar this month, but girlfriend also knows how to put an outfit together.  Basically I have a crush on anyone who can pull off an OOTD post.  I'll be honest, I consider it a success if I get to work with either my hair done or my makeup done.  If I spent the time on both, I either have a meeting or I woke up early.  Both of which are rare.  Last week, I drooled over Courtney's shabby chic wedding pictures.  I mean,  you can't get more charming!  If When I get married again, I hope my next wedding has as much charm (or that I get to elope to Fiji...)

If you didn't meet Bethann when she did a guest post for me last month, you should go check out Bethanimal Print ASAP!!  Again, I told you already how I deem any fashion blogger crush-worthy, but Bethann is in a league all her own.  BA is a real life friend, turned blogging friend.  BA isn't just an abbreviation for her name, but I think its also for Bad Ass.  I mean only a BA could pull off glittery gold heals on a bike ride.

My next blog crush is on Chrissy from Let Me See You Sparkle.  Chrissy is a like a ray of light on a gloomy day!  Seriously,  she spreads joy and if you sign up to be a part of her happy mail mission, she's even send you a piece of happy mail!  I just adore her and you will too!

(Speaking of Sparkle,  I happen to be currently running a promo code for sponsors spots... just saying)

All three of these women are awesome and their blogs are part of my daily read list!  I can't wait to see who everyone else is crushing on! It's like the first day of school when you can't wait to see which boys you'll spend the rest of the year giggling about.


People Warned Me About You

I usually try to give Monday a chance.  I believe in equal opportunities for all days of the week. I try not to believe the rumors about Monday and it being such a nasty biotch.

You know, Monday can't help that it always follows the weekend!  I mean, imagine if you always followed a performance by Adele.  If your voice sounds anything like mine, people wouldn't be to thrilled when you came around either.  Just like the girl in 3rd grade that was supposedly making out with all the boys behind the portables, I say Monday can do whatever it wants, to whoever it wants, as long as it's nice to me.

Well today, Monday lived up to it's reputation.  I won't go into the details, but I'm just going to put this out there: Monday, I'm going to let this one go, but don't let this crap happen again.  Talk to your friend Tuesday and see how you can make it up to me!

I think to finish off this Monday, I just might have to open up a case of something.  I'll give you a hint, it rhymes with leer.

How do you get through a case of the Mondays?


Life Lately: I'm back

Hi loves!!!

You may have noticed a few changes around here... again.  What can I say, I embrace change! I dropped the "of what ifs", I spruced up the place and I have some exciting things coming down the pipeline.  Thanks for sticking with me through this transition!

I've been a busy little bee these last couple weeks, so I figured I would catch you up on life lately according to my IPhone.
1. One of the most amazing weddings ever! 2. Do you guys remember this couple?  If you were following this story, you do! Ryan was able to stand on his wedding day with the help of a standing chair.  I've never been more inspired by love.  3. Just a couple of my beautiful friends at the wedding. 4. Gotta love a new manicure! 5. After attending a fundraiser at my new favorite salon in Newport Beach, I walked away with some seriously sweet swag!  I can't wait to share more about this salon in an upcoming feature! 6. Just a couple of books I am reading and recommend.  7. Thumbs up, excited about a weekend with friends! 8. Just your typical blogger selfie showing off my bright lips.  9. Bacon wrapped shrimp that rival my recipe.  10. After the pilot taping for Hello Ross, Ross Mathews Talk Show.  11. A particularly great hair day!

 This post wouldn't be complete without telling you about one of the most exciting nights of my blogging life!  I "hung out" with two of my blogging idols, Jenni from Story of my Life and Erin from Living in Yellow!  It was so inspiring to talk to bloggers from across the country.  We drank wine together, we talked biggest blogging mistakes, post regularity, organization and much more!  Check out all the ladies I spent the evening with.  They all have fantastic homes on the web!
Meagan from The Egg Out West
Christa from The Me And Mine Book 
Alisha from Alisha and Brandon
Erin from Read Eat Create

And check back with Erin to find out how you can be a part of a blogger hangout too!

Whew, well I think I am all caught up!  It's good to be back!  See you tomorrow loves!