Finally Coming Together

Woah! I can’t believe that I’m finally writing more than one post a month! And to boot this one is actually about some home DIY! Jesse and I have been taking our sweet time working on our guest bathroom but this summer we’ve actually made a lot of progress. The last I left you in the bathroom saga, this is what we were working with: destroyed bathroomYep, that’s a giant hole in our bathroom floor next to where the toilet formerly was. We had noticed some water damage and it resulted in taking out the toilet and all of the tile, plus replacing the subfloor. We even had to replace a few floor braces, which was quite the task. We worked on it a little at a time, and then took the whole winter off. Finally come May we had some help from my father, who is a contractor, to lay the tile. new guest bathroom tileJesse and I had never tiled before, so having someone there to help was HUGE. He had all of the tools and he was able to knock the floor out in a day! One of the ways he was so fast was that he laid the tile by just eyeing it. No spacers or anything like that! Gray bathroom tileThe cement backerboard and the tile were laid before lunch and then after lunch we did the grout. The tile was on super sale for $1.99 per sq. ft. at The Home Depot. It’s the 12×24 Metro Charcoal porcelain tile and I am absolutely in love with it! I chose a light gray grout in the hopes that it would look less dirty than white over time and that it would compliment the tile. It definitely is complimentary, but only time will tell it’s durability. pretty blue bathroom makeoverAfter the tile was done, it was time for painting! The paint is Olympic Alpine Valley, it kind of reminds me of Tiffany Blue. The truth is I wanted to paint this room a pale pink, but Jesse was absolutely not on board. Instead I went with the girliest blue I could find that I thought would pair well with a few pale pink accessories. I’m totally a great wife. guest bathroom total makeoverI gave myself a deadline of before our July 4th party to finish painting so that we could put in our brand new toilet before filling our house with people. There’s nothing like a toilet shortage when there’s 30+ people hanging out at your house. That self imposed deadline definitely kept us motivated and now we are so close to being done! Painting the cabinet is one of the last major things and it’s already been primed. painting bathroom cabinetsWe will be painting the cabinet this weekend and then I think we will end up painting the wood trim in this room. I know that we (aka Jesse) have been opposed to painting the trim, but we put in some new white trim since we could not find wood to match and we love it. I think the room can work without painting the trim around the doors, but I also want to paint the closet doors, so I feel like we don’t have much of a choice. ;)

So do you love my new tile as much as I do? How about the paint color? Does it have that girly vibe that I’m looking for?

4th of July Throwdown #2

Hey there folks! Remember me? I know I’ve been pretty AWOL lately, but I do have a few posts up my sleeves and I have really missed you guys! And this blog. One of my favorite posts from last year was when I recapped our ‘Murica party. We had so much fun that we decided to have another big party this year with a slightly different theme, Action Heroes. I used a lot of the same decorations from last year with a lot of added camo and a few Chuck Norris posters, plus some super fun costumes! There were several Katniss Everdeens, Rambo, Indiana Jones and Khaleesi. I was video game action heroine Lara Croft and Jesse was John McClane from Die Hard.lara croft costumejohn mcclaneWe had our usual party food spread of buffalo chicken dip, bean dip, punch, sangria and meatballs. Our party games weren’t any where near as elaborate as last year’s True American, but it was still a blast playing beer pong and slap cup. IMG_2571This party was also a great time to use my new favorite toy, the selfie stick! I’ve been using this stick for our vacations and I took it to a wedding a few weeks ago and I love it. It was only $10 and well worth it. I got a lot of fun pictures with our friends, but for privacy’s sake I wont be sharing them on the blog. Unfortunately, the only picture I got of our decorations was when I was demonstrating to a friend how to use the selfie stick. IMG_2581So who wants to come to our next throwdown? Mark your calendars for the first weekend of July. ;)

Tulips Are My Favorite

Hey there! I hope everyone’s weeks are off to a good start! Sorry for my absence, we had a pretty crazy awesome weekend celebrating our anniversary at a Bryan Adams concert in Raleigh. Seeing Bryan live was one of my bucket list items so I was especially excited. I love having a husband that likes making my dreams come true. :)  Bryan Adams

Unfortunately, after the concert I ended up pulling a muscle in my back, so I’ve been laid up for the past few days. Since I’m not exactly up and about I figured I would share a project that I didn’t post about a few weeks ago, my Passover table. This table was definitely one of my favorite settings ever, mostly because it featured my favorite flowers: tulips. Tulip table settingsThis table setting was thrown together at the last minute because I spent the day of Passover at a funeral for a very close family friend (part of the personal stuff I’ve referenced last week). When I came home I wanted a cheery task to distract me, so I bought some tulips and got to work. Spring Table settingI already had some yellow and pink faux tulips on hand, so I chose pink and yellow for the real flowers to match. I also had some pink and white striped napkins on hand from my birthday in January, which added some extra color and to compliment the faux flower garnish. Passover table settingI also loved having my green bowls from Ballard Design to complete the look of my table. They are fun and a super great quality. Plus they also compliment my green stemless wine glasses! Pink, green and yellow decorEven though a put this table setting together super quickly, I think it’s one of my Passover favorites. You can’t go wrong with pink, green and tulips! Tulip centerpieceSpeaking of tulips, the reason I had those faux tulips on hand is because I used them to make a simple spring wreath for the front door. It was April and I still had a snowflake wreath on the front door. Totally home decor slacker over here. Spring wreathThis wreath was super easy to put together, like ridiculously easy. I simply took a few of the faux tulips and stuck them into a grapevine wreath. Seriously, that easy. The only tricky part was getting the spacing correct, but it wasn’t that much trouble. Spring tulip wreathI love coming home everyday to this cheerful springy wreath. It always puts a bit of a smile on my face, even when I’m sad (or crippled). I think it’s important to make sure that you never stop letting the little things make you smile. Life is always going to be busy, full of disappointments, sad at times, stressful and just plain unfair, but if you let the little things keep you smiling it all seems bearable. Tulip grapevine wreathSo what are your favorite flowers? Do you use them a lot in your spring decor? I also love hydrangeas, but those don’t bloom until closer to the summer. I’m anxiously awaiting that time of year!

My First 10k

Hey there folks! Happy Hump Day! Sorry for the silence over here, there’s been some personal stuff going on, but things are finally getting back to normal.

I wanted to take some time today to chat about running my first 10k two weeks ago. Running a 10k was something I never thought I would be able to do. A few years ago I started small by running a 5k twice, and it pushed me to put running a 10k on my bucket list. And there it sat. A “maybe one day” thought on my list, but something I still didn’t think I would ever actually be able to do. Until I started my new job and started working with a personal trainer at the company gym. That first session with the trainer really opened my eyes to what being healthy and in shape was all about. I learned that I had bad cholesterol, slightly high blood pressure, and a terrible BMI for a 26 year old woman and I wanted to change that. I started running two plus miles and doing a weight routine and saw great improvement, I even started looking into doing another few 5k’s.

A few weeks later, I was talking about all the 5k’s and my gym routine with a coworker  and she said she was looking for a running buddy and suggested we start running together. I was really nervous at first since this girl used to run cross country and was in much better shape than me, but I did it any way. On our first run we ran almost 4 miles without stopping and I didn’t die. Then a few days later we made it the full 4 and I was hooked. I also decided what the hell! if I can run 4 miles without dying then I can run another 2 and actually complete a 10k. So for two months I trained with my coworker, and by myself, until March 28th when I finished my first 10k. Monument Ave 10k

I’m not going to say it was easy, because that would be a total lie. It was hard and it was 35 degrees outside. I’ve never been so sweaty but been able to see my breath at the same time. There were times I thought I was going to vomit and I was sore for 2 days after, but I did it! I pushed through my mind telling me to give up and accomplished something that last year I never thought I’d be able to do. The energy of the people around me and the early 2000′s rap playing on my iPod pushed me and I’ve never been so proud of myself! 10k complete

My final time for the race was 1 hour and 4 minutes, which I think is pretty good! Especially since my first mile was almost 13 minutes because the starting line was so crowded. (That’s one thing I wish I had done differently. I started in the slowest running group and there were 1,500 people in it. If I run the Monument 10k again I will definitely start in a smaller, faster wave). 10k results

Accomplishing something that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do has inspired me in so many more ways too. I’m learning to push through being tired at the end of the day to clean the house or work on a project, instead of just vegging out in front of the tv. I’m learning to push through cravings so that I make better food choices. And I’m learning that I’m capable of a lot more than I think I am. Getting fit has been a life changing event for me, and this 10k was the catalyst of it all. Monument 10k

I’m also pushing myself even harder and will be running a second 10k at the end of April. This race is smaller than the last one and has more actual runners rather than walkers, so I’m hoping that will help push me. I would love to run this race in under an hour, another thing I never thought I’d be able to do! I’ve been in the gym running and pushing myself to be faster and I will let you guys know after the 26th how I did!

Also, if you’re interested, I use the app MapMyRun to keep track of my runs. You can add friends, join challenges, and save a record of your workouts. I also love that it alerts me each time I run a mile, gives me my time for that mile, my total time, and my average time per mile. It’s a great resource to help keep a steady pace and set personal goals. I used it for this 10k and for all of my training runs. MapMyRun 10k

I know this post isn’t something you’d typically see from me, but this blog is about my attempts at life in general (see what I did there) and so I don’t want to skip over something because it’s not house or DIY related. Beyond that, I hope I can encourage someone else out there that maybe isn’t looking for a fitness blog but could use some motivation.

And thanks for those of you that have cheered me along via social media. You guys rock! :)

Spring Decor and Mantlescape

Welcome to April folks! If you’ve been around this blog at all then you know that April is my favorite month. I think it has a little something to do with the fact that Jesse and I’s anniversary is in April. Plus Passover is also usually in April and it is definitely one of my favorite holidays. April is also a month of rebirth, flowers are blooming, things are coming back to life and the weather is finally warming up, it’s just a happy time. This year I really wanted to bring some of that life into the living room in my spring decor. Spring Mantle 2015I love the colorful Alomestria blooms. They are always so inexpensive at the grocery store and they last for freaking ever! I made the vases using old Frappachino containers, they remind me of old school milk bottles. To keep with the colorful display I also framed a fun picture of my favorite dessert, macarons! The picture is actually a card that my old coworkers gave me for my birthday last year. Spring MacaronsOn the other end of the mantle is an apothocary jar, but without lid, filled with fun colored eggs. I got the eggs on clearance at Target (I’ve been super lucky there lately!) the same day I picked up my new dining chairsEaster Egg GaloreOver to the right of the mantle is our wood stove which I’ve decorated to be super bright and cheerful as well. The white candle holder and little bunny are also from Target and I threw in some “springy” books for balance. I also had to add some greenery to the display with the rest of my Almosteria. Spring touchesUnderneath the mantle is a large square hole. It seems like it was maybe originally supposed to be the fireplace, but then the original owners decided to go with a woodstove instead. It has been quite a pain to decorate over the years, but I usually go with the “fill it until it doesn’t look terrible” strategy. It works ok. This time I filled a tin bucket with some glittery stems and flowers and the card mailbox from our wedding. Also birds and teal are totally a winning combo for spring. Fireplace Spring DecorationsI love how bright and colorful this display is. It has to be one of my favorite mantle displays that I have ever set up. I also think all the bright colors and flowers compliment the decor in the dining room too. Spring FireplaceEaster Mantle DecorAnd of course no spring decorations in our house are complete without a wedding photo here or there. This one happens to be my absolute favorite. I paired the picture with one of my favorite candles (it smells like clean laundry and who doesn’t love that smell?!) and some purple Almosteria. Our wedding colors were green and purple, but not in a Barney kind of way, so I thought this was a cute way to tie it all together. Spring Wedding DecorNow that the house is all decorated it’s time for me to actually clean it. Unfortunately, creative Ashley and clean Ashley can’t coexist so if the house is decorated then you can guarantee that outside the scope of the lens there is a disaster area.

What do you think of my Easter/Passover/Spring mantle? Do you have a favorite month or season that you tend to go a little overboard with? I’m definitely a Christmas and Passover person. Which is actually kind of hilarious if you think about it.

Updates to My Favorite Room

Hey there folks! Happy Spring! Like I’ve mentioned several times, this warmer weather has finally sparked my creative fire again and I’ve been working on some things around the house. The fun bright colors of Spring especially inspire me to work in the dining room. When I stumbled across these gray upholstered dining room chairs on sale at Target for $65, I knew they would be perfect for the ends of our farmhouse table. Target Threshold Camelot dining chair

I love the gray fabric and the silver nailhead trim around the outside. It really classes up our dining room and makes the whole room look a lot higher end. Nailhead dining chair

I chose the light gray fabric because it nicely compliments the light gray in the curtains in this room. Everything is light and bright in the dining room. The white from the chairs, the spring green walls, the fun splash of pastel colors from the plate display, it all screams spring. Dining Room Spring 2015

Next weekend Jesse and I will be hosting our 4th Passover dinner and I love that we can invite a few extra guests now that we have more seating. When we built our table we envisioned having a table full of people eating, drinking and laughing around it, and now our dreams coming true. Colorful dining room

This room is seriously my favorite in the whole house. It’s always so bright and happy. I love sitting at my new chairs and eating breakfast every morning, and sitting with Jesse and chatting about our days every evening while dinner cooks. Since this room brings me so much happiness, I eventually want to funnel that joy to other rooms. Everything needs a little pop of pastel and some greenery to make it come alive, and that’s what I want to do, make my whole house seem alive. Upholstered dining room chairs

What do you think of my swanky new Target chairs? Could you have passed up such a good deal? Can’t wait to tune in later this week to show you all my spring decor in the living room!

It’s Minted

Hey all and happy spring! I’m so happy that the weather is finally warming up. The warm weather makes me feel energized and motivated. I’m definitely on the lookout for inspiration for the house wherever it my come up, and I’m loving a lot of the art that I’ve been seeing on Minted.com. There’s seriously something for any room, no matter the color scheme or the style. Minted.com - More art Minted.com - Swift Fox

They also have fabric, which is super trendy and awesome. I absolutely love this feather fabric! I think the fabric would look wonderful on pillows in our bedroom. I’m totally ordering some this week! Minted.com - feathers fabric

And of course Jesse and I love to throw parties, so the photo booth backdrops would be an amazing addition to any party. I really like this city skyline, which gives me some ideas for future party themes. Minted.com - party backdrop

There are also fun banners and other party decor that I’m interested in for our big July party. We want to make it a yearly tradition to have a fun themed party in July. This year we’re thinking action heroes, but are undecided.

Minted also has some fun options for holiday cards, party invites, and baby shower paper accessories. I probably wont send cards again until Christmas, but they have so many cute options I wish it was normal to send spring cards. Minted.com - Christmas joyful

I will keep you all posted on the fabric for the bedroom when it comes in! I’m totally excited about it! Have you ever ordered any of Minted’s paper products? I’d love to know how they work out for parties!

Bring It All Back

Hey there strangers! Long time no see, er blog. Before you read this post I will warn you that it’s not about much in particular. I haven’t blogged in a long time, but I miss it so much. I miss having a creative outlet. I miss chatting with my blog friends. I’ve definitely felt something has been missing from my life without the blog, but I’ve been unsure how to fit it back in. After you take a break from something for so long you adjust to life without it. Now that spring is coming, even though it doesn’t seem like it, I want to return to the things I love doing when it’s warm. Those things definitely include DIY and blogging! Jesse and I never finished the guest bathroom (one of the downfalls of having three bathrooms for two people), I’ve got some furniture I want to makeover, plus a thousand others that involve painting and being in the garage.

I also have some personal goals for the approaching spring. I’ve officially registered for my first 10k at the end of March and I’ve been making excellent progress with my personal training plan. It’s amazing how much better I feel now that I’ve been working on my fitness. I don’t give into excuses for not exercising half as much as I used to and I just feel better. I’ve been using working out as an excuse to not do house projects or blog, but the real goal is to create a balance between the two. I can’t have a well worked body and not use my mind to create things. I want to be well in body, mind and house. Haha, did you like the last one? My house has also suffered a little with my constant trips to the gym. I know that I can’t do it all, but it’s still all about balance. working on my fitness

Now for something a little more interesting, some pictures of what we’ve been up to lately! Of course Valentine’s Day wasn’t too long ago and Jesse and I celebrated by avoiding the crowds and staying in. We went to Fresh Market and bought filet mignon, asparagus and some strawberries for chocolate covered strawberries. We watched the Valentine’s Day episode of Modern Family after dinner and spent the evening on the couch. It was simple and utterly fantastic. Valentine's 2015

After the snowstorm that hit Richmond on Monday evening we had Tuesday off and spent most of the day at my parents’ house sledding in their backyard. There is a giant hill back there and it’s always a good time. sledding

Jesse and I also went to a couple of fun new restaurants here in Richmond over the past few weeks. Cooper’s Hawk is a nationwide chain that is a winery and a restaurant. It’s so awesome to be able to drive 30 minutes for a wine tasting instead of an hour to the mountains. Cooper's Hawk wine tasting

The Tin Pan is a new restaurant and listening room. We had the opportunity of going to their soft opening and listened to a fantastic performer while eating their delicious food, including this AMAZING red velvet fudge pie. Tin Pan Richmond,VA

As always, when I’m not on the blog you can still catch up on what I’m up to by checking out Instagram and Twitter. But hopefully you’ll be seeing a lot more of me around here!

WIAW – Recovery Addition

Guess what! I’m alive! I was hopping on the train to get back to blogging and then I became deathly ill. I seriously didn’t get off the couch for almost 6 days. Now I’m alive and not high on Sudafed, and ready to get back to eating well, exercising, and blogging. Today I went back to eating better and I even managed to get in a short run before my stuffed nose stopped me from breathing. And since I’m back to eating better, that means it’s time to go back to What I Ate Wednesday!

I started my day with a Whole Life Challenge approved breakfast of scrambled eggs (no milk), a clementine, black coffee and a glass of water. Simple, but delicious. IMG_2130After being out for most of last week I’ve been playing catch up, so the morning went by pretty quickly. I blinked and it was time for lunch. I packed my lunch yesterday and it, surprisingly, did not consist of leftover Chipotle. I had some grilled chicken, green beans, baby carrots, hummus and sweet potato chips. The green beans are frozen French cut that I put in a Pyrex bowl with a little salt and pepper and then I cook them in the microwave for 2 minutes. It’s quick and really filling. IMG_2133For the afternoon I was working at the office front desk, which is busy but can be a little monotonous. Since I was planning on going to the gym after work I had a little snack of almonds around 3:30. IMG_2132After 5 I headed over to the gym. I’ve signed up to run a 10k at the end of March, so I’ve been slowly adding a mile to my run every couple of weeks. Unfortunately, after being sick I only got in a mile and a half before I was wheezing, cramping and my nose was stuffed all over again. I’m very disappointed that my run didn’t really work out, but it’s not a huge deal. I’ll get it later this week! IMG_2144After I cut my workout short I headed home where Jesse was waiting with dinner. I’ve got a keeper for sure. He made a WLC approved dinner of chicken, brown rice and sugar snap peas. I also had a little mustard for dipping.IMG_2143I did cheat a little last night with a glass of wine and a small bowl of ice cream, a girl has to live a little bit. I also know I’ll be cheating tonight for Jesse’s birthday. He wants Tiramisu for his “birthday cake” and I wont be able to resist that!

Happy Wednesday everybody! And don’t forget you can also join the What I Ate Wednesday party at Peas and Crayons every week.

Hey There 26

Hey everyone! First things first, thank you so much to those of you that wished me a happy birthday this weekend! My birthday was Saturday and Jesse did a great job of making it a very special day. We started by going to the mall and doing some shopping, and also cheating at the Whole Life Challenge. I had Chickfila for breakfast, Panera for lunch and chicken parm for dinner, plus cookie cake and all sorts of snacks.

We had dinner at Sapori, a local Italian restaurant that I really like, with a few friends and then we had more friends over after dinner for cookie cake and drinks. I wish there were some pictures, but somehow Jesse and I both forgot to snap a few. At least I have the special memories. :)

On a totally different note, with this huge snow storm up North I’m dying for some snow here! So once again I’ve decorated my mantle with a snowy theme in hopes that it will control the weather a bit.

Let It Snow mantleI couldn’t part with all of my Christmas lights, so I decided to keep one strand up on the mantle and add some sparkle. The trees are leftover from my Christmas decor too, and so are the glittery pinecones. Evergreen trees and glitter scream winter right? Winter mantlescape 2015The snowflake votives were Target clearance scores. The combo of the blue and the snowflakes reminds me of Frozen. It doesn’t get any more wintery than Elsa the Snow Queen does it? ;)  Mantle decorI’m really hoping that this mantle does the trick and we can have a decent snow this year. Is it so wrong to want a day of sledding?! Winter mantle 2015So what do you think of my winter mantle? It is my absolute favorite mantle that I’ve ever put together. I don’t know if it’s the lights or the glitter, but I absolutely love how it all came together.

Do you decorate for winter? Or do you embrace the bare surfaces left behind after the Christmas decorations come down?

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