Guilty Pleasures

Maybe we feel guilty because of a particular foods calorie count, or maybe we feel guilty because of the strange feeling of excitement one gets, or maybe we feel guilty because we have been conditioned not to enjoy certain things, but no matter who you are, we all have a few guilty pleasures.  Today I am sharing a few of mine.

Ice cream in waffle cone or with a chocolate shell.  For the most part, I could care less about ice cream.  However, for some reason, when you put that ice cream in a waffle cone or smothered in chocolate shell I can't help myself.  I'm talking to you Magnum ice cream bars, dairy queen dipped cones and boardwalk waffle cones.  

Seeing sappy love movies solo. Seriously, this is one of my favorite things to do when I'm alone.  Future boyfriend, you're welcome.  Don't get me wrong, I like to see movies with friends, but I get a strange sense of enjoyment out of getting carried away by an over the top love story.  There's no one to notice my goofy smile during a couples sweet moments or the inevitable tears that I will cry without trying to hide them.  

Taking notes from books I don't actually want to buy.  I love to learn, but I don't necessarily want to buy every single book, so instead I find myself a corner at Barnes and Nobel and take notes on all the important bits.  I know it's not a library, but I love the atmosphere.  

Drinking the whole bottle of wine.  Do people actually re-cork bottles?  I mean, I have a set of special corks that I'm told are really good, but I don't know if I will ever use them.  The only thing I dislike more than an empty glass is an empty bottle.  

Singing in the car.  I actually really enjoy long drives alone, because by the time I reach my destination, I am usually horse from belting out all my favorite songs for 5 hours.  I get really into it guys.  I take melodic and pitch liberties, add dance moves and fist pumps!

Sprinkles and glitter.  Both make everything better and just plain make me happy.

What are your guilty pleasures?


What's On Your List?

Most of us have a bucket list.  You know, the list of things you want to do before you "kick the bucket".  If you are like me, you list includes things like, "Visit all 50 states", "Go skydiving", "Complete a triathlon"etc. etc.  I recently realized there is something I've done, that should have been on my list all along, but wasn't.  In fact, I am of the opinion that it should be on everyone's list. 

* Go soul searching alone.

I've always considered myself to be pretty independent.  I'd flirted with the idea of soul searching before.  I've signed up to spend the summer across the country (with my boyfriend) in the mountains of New York teaching kids how to climb rock walls.  I've flown across the world (with one of my best friends) for an internship in London.  But it wasn't until, I left my family and friends a year and a half ago (alone), for a job in a place I hardly knew, that I stumbled upon my own soul search. 

When I left Arizona, I thought I was getting away from the troubles of my past.  I thought I was going to spend a couple months finding my feet and then be reunited with my boyfriend and live happily Californian ever after. Things didn't go as planned.

It was much harder than I expected.  For the first time in my life, I was really on my own.  I was lost all the time and not just figuratively, but literally.  After one particularly irritating experience trying to find a bank I had a total meltdown in a parking lot.  I found solace with sand between my toes, but adjusting to life without family and friends was a challenge.  I moved in with a stranger and soon my boyfriend and I broke up.  I was fighting the feeling that my move was a mistake.  

One Sunday, after crying in my bed for about 2 hours straight, I forced myself to go get lunch and then go see a movie... alone.  Slowly but surely I started to enjoy experiencing things alone.  I loved spending my weekends on the beach reading a book.  I loved going on little adventures to the Hollywood Sign or Santa Monica.  Being alone forced me to build new friendships and strengthen the ones that were important to me.  For the first time in my life, I built confidence in my work.  But most importantly, I got to know myself without anyone's influence. 

My California Adventure

Sometimes the deafening silence revealed such booming clarity.  Sometimes, it just felt lonely.  As I look back over the last 18 months and ahead to my departure in 2 weeks, I can't help but feel like this was a monumental chapter in my life.  For far too long I felt like I was struggling to move forward.  Crawling. California has allowed me to get back on my feet and in many ways, it's allowed me to fly.

I finally feel like I know what's important to me.  I know who is important to me too.  My perspective has changed.  My world has become so much brighter.  I see the beauty in things that for a while seemed so boring.  Most importantly, one thing has become abundantly clear: It's not where you live your life, but who you live it with.  

So I beg you, add soul searching alone to your bucket list.  Maybe that means take a big risk like moving to a new place.  Maybe it's going on a vacation solo.  Maybe it's just carving out time for yourself each week. Whatever it is, make it a goal to get to know who you are when no one is looking.  I promise you, you won't regret it!



As a single girl on Valentine's Day it would be easy to write something about my distaste for the day or how it's a commercial holiday.  If I'm being honest, I have a post sitting in my drafts about the ghosts of Valentine's past.  It chronicles the harrowing tales of a young me navigating a day that occasionally fell in my favor but most often did not.  But after it was finished, I realized being in love isn't the only thing Valentine's Day is about.

I have decided to spread the love instead!

First let me say thank you! Thank you for giving me a place to share my soul.  Thank you for allowing me into your home, or your office, or your mobile phone and sharing the exciting journey that we call life.  Thank you for supporting me through the ups and downs of the last 3 years.  Thank you for your support, your encouragement and your feedback.  It means more to me than you know.  I want you to enjoy this space as much as I enjoy curating it.  Want to see more of something? Please, let me know!

Second, blogging is more than just a two way street.  It's a community.  There are so many fabulous bloggers out there and I want to make sure you get to know them too!  Here are a few of the completely unsolicited bloggers I love!  Spread the love and introduce yourself to them!

Chrissy, or as I refer to her, my sparkle bunny is an absolute doll!  She's a photographer, a crafter and regularly commits random acts of kindness.  You may remember her from this guest post!

I love Aunie's raw honesty and she is pretty adorable too!

I met Allena last year at a blog conference and adored her ever since.  Get this, she is a jewelry maker, blogger and chemist. 

Jenn has a serious online obsession that rivals my own and she appreciates a good glass of wine.  Join her as she navigates her 20's.

Tammy's blog is one of the reasons I started blogging.  She is breathe of fresh San Diego air!

Tyler is a lawyer with her own brand of sassy southern charm!  You may remember her when she wrote a guest post for me here!

You might recognize Katie from this guest post.  She is absolutely fabulous and I often feel we share the same soul.  Her words are full of whimsy and gumption.  Simply put, read her blog!

Nay is amazing.  She has so much soul to share.  She is unapologetically herself and that is why I love her so much! You will be captivated by her kind hear too!
Nikki is a fashionable sweetheart with an adoration for lip gloss, hence the name.  I love her fashion posts because I can actually afford her style and she inspires me to amp up my daily style. See her guest post about Vegas style here!

I hope you'll find some new blogs to love!  Happy Valentines day and of course Happy 102nd Birthday Arizona!


Savory Brunch Strata

A little entertaining is good for the soul, don't you think?  

Last weekend I co-hosted a brunch and we made a delicious, half gone before I could get a good picture of the finished product, strata!  You may have already caught on to how much I like breakfast casseroles from this post.  Seriously, anything that can be made the night before and popped into the oven in the morning, is my kind of dish! And this savory strata was a winner for me and our guests! 

** Note: This needs to be prepared the night before you plan to serve it.

1. Use a super sharp knife to cute the bread into little 1 in. by 1 in squares.  If your knife isn't super sharp, your bread will be super squished.

2. Use the butter to grease the bottom and sides of a glass 9 x 13 inch casserole dish (we had enough to cover a large and a small casserole dish).  Then line the whole dish with the bread.  make sure you put the crust side down, because you want the bread to soak up everything else that will be going on top of it.  

3. Top with half the cheese, all the tomatoes, the broccoli and parsley.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, mil, salt and pepper.  You'll know you're done whisking when everything is combined and the mixture gets a little frothy.

5. Pour the mixture over the bread, making sure to evenly soak everything.  

6. Add dollops of ricotta on top (see picture below for our mad dolloping skills).

7. Sprinkle strata with remaining cheese and herbs de provence.  Never heard of herbs de provence?  I hadn't either.  Basically it's an herb blend that goes great with eggs.  Try it with your next omelet!

8. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

9. In the morning remove the strata from the fridge and let it sit out for about an hour to let it get to room temperature. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375.

10. You are going to bake the strata for 45 mins. to 1 hour.  Just keep an eye on it and when it's puffy and golden , you'll know it's done.  

11. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes and serve!



I've known for a long time I wanted to be an entrepreneur.  

When I was nine years old, my grandmother made a complaint about all the Christmas gifts that needed to be wrapped. My ears perked up and in minutes, I sat at the computer adding an elf graphic and my name to mock business cards.  I called myself Little Elf Wrapping Company.  I handed out my cards to my family members and for fees based on box size, I would take care of all your wrapping needs, provided that you supplied the wrapping paper.  For $0.25-$3.00 I would wrap any gift, saving you time and energy.  I think I made about $15.  The taste of money was sweet and over the years I sold everything from homemade bracelets at garage sales, to lemonade on the corner, to pomegranates from our front yard. 

As an adult, the idea of running my own business was still appealing, but the reality of start-up costs (because wrapping paper isn't actually free), loans, investors and liability kept me away from the entrepreneurial arena. Reality has a way of shepherding in fear and as we grow up and the freedom of youth goes into hiding.

Every time my ideas were considered "too big" or "impossible", I would silently file it away.  I knew that one day, the right idea would come along, and  I would be ready to run the show.  I work my ass off to be great at a job I love, but part of me longs to be working for myself- pursuing things I am passionate about, pursuing things that excite me and pushing the limits.  

But being someone else's employee is safe.  The likelihood of failure somehow seems smaller.  The pressure builds when it's your ideas and your plans shaping your future success. When you have no upper management to fallback on and all successes and challenges fall on your shoulders, my faith seems to dwindle and I let my head take the reins from my gut.  

I am starting a business.  It's a business that I think about day and night.  It's an industry that I love.  It's an idea that I believe in.  But, it's also the scariest thing I have ever done.  And no, I'm not ready to give specifics just yet.  

Even though my business partner and I are only in the early stages, I've had to learn so much.   The most challenging lesson has been that I can't know it all.  I've read as many books as I can get my hands on about successful business models and start-ups, but I have hardly scratched the surface. Business has never been my strong point and now I am wishing I hadn't been so good at putting off going back to school for my MBA.  

With every day, both my fear and my determination grow.

I think the only way to continue to develop is to challenge yourself and by far, starting my own business has been the most mentally challenging thing I have ever done.  

In life, I have always been a person of passion.  I have followed my heart and always taken the outlook of "leap, and the net will appear". I've found it easy to go with my gut feeling when making big decisions. Some people call that courage- I call it faith.  I've always known I can come out on top, or at the very least, figure out which way is up.

That, however, is not the case when it comes to business decisions.  In business, I get timid.  In business. I fear failure.  In business, unknown outcomes make me cautious.  In business, it takes me time to find my feet, analyze a situation and take cautious steps forward.

I think my biggest challenge in the coming months will be learning to balance.  Not just balancing my life, a full time job, a start-up company, lofty health goals and family commitments, but also learning how to balance following my heart, head and gut equally. If years of dance has taught me anything, it's that the best way to achieve balance is with focus, a strong core, trust in yourself and practice.  Chances are your will fall at some point, but without the falls you can't learn how to rise.  


Happy Anniversary Facebook

Facebook has changed a lot since it's inception in a Harvard dorm room, but so have we as a society.  It was the biggest thing since Oregon Trail and easily as well loved.  In honor of Facebook's 10 year anniversary  (and because I was inspired by my neat little look back video), I thought I might spend some time reminiscing on how far my personal Facebook has come.

November 30th 2004:  I created an account on The Facebook and wondered to myself, Who is this Mark Zuckerberg character.  At that point I think the only thing you could do was update your relationship status and your daily status, but only if you could come up with something that cleverly followed the words "Ashley is...". If you joined The Facebook before the end of 2004, like me, you get to count yourself as one of the fabled originals- part of the first one million users. Congratulations!

In early 2005 it looks like they introduced the wall.  This is where we all stumbled around for a while writing things that sounded like weekly yearbook notes.  We left wall notes reminiscing about freshman year,  we'd talk about how much fun we had last weekend at a party or how much we would miss each other over the summer, but the only way to follow the conversation was to go from wall to wall. I always felt so popular when more than one person would write on my wall in a day.

In late 2005, big changes were happening.  Now you could upload photos and you could even tag people in those photos.  I remember after parties or big weekends, we would all sit eagerly by the computer to see who go the best pictures and quickly untag any pictures that weren't so favorable.

As the years went by, Facebook dropped the "The", invited high school students and eventually anyone could have an account, which means we all were running a Facebook smear campaign to our parents so that they would avoid Facebook at all costs.  Every now and then you would get into a poking war that might end in a the virtual gift of a rose or a birthday cake.

Soon we started seeing companies develop pages and the iconic thumbs up "like" option was introduced. Then timeline was introduced and we all signed petitions to go back to the old design.  Nobody likes change, even virtual change.  I'm pretty sure I made empty threats about leaving the site because I didn't like the changes.

Before we knew it, we all had the Facebook app on our iPhones,  we added instagram to filter and quickly retouch our tans and constantly share every Buzzfeed list ever created.

Oh Facebook,  thanks for eating up so much of my time.  Happy 10 year anniversary!