Wednesday, July 29, 2009


This is a photo I took just before the garage project. I love it, and I'm not exactly sure why. The fact that a simple picture of my shadow on our dirty garage floor can look like a piece of artwork excites me. I love the potential of isolating something so normal and presenting it in an unexpected way. Who would look at this picture and guess a greasy oil stain created the corner shadow? Perspective is a powerful thing.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Personal Touch

Sending correspondence through regular mail has become almost unheard of with the exception of advertisements and financial statements. Email made it possible to instantly communicate with friends, family, and co-workers, no matter where their location on the globe. As social networking becomes more and more popular people prefer to communicate via text, tweet, or status update. While I appreciate the convenience and entertainment value of these options, even I, at 25, recognize that it comes at a cost. There is something lost in these technical approaches to dialogue.

When upon checking the mailbox I discover I received a card or letter, something not instantly tossed in the trash can or shredded, I get excited! It represents time, effort, and much more than simply paper.

When recently asked to send invitations for a friend's shower, I was happy to do it. But I decided I wanted to do something more and add a personal touch. I made the invites! It was a labor of love, and I am so happy I did it.

I think each of the girls who receives an invitation will at least appreciate that it is customized especially for our common friend. Plus, in making the invitations I discovered my newest crafting love....the edger punch! How stinkin' cute are these edges?!

I encourage each of you to find things that will inspire you to embrace the tradition of written correspondence. Send a letter to someone you care about! And then text them a reminder to check their mailbox...because I'm pretty sure most of my friends have abandoned that daily chore.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hearty Chicken Tortilla Soup

Make this. Make it now. It is so good! The soup is filling but not heavy, and the lime, avacado, and cilantro provide light finishing flavors that make it a satisfying summer meal. As an added bonus, this meal is healthy, full of vitamins and complete proteins.


1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon fajita seasoning
1 tablespoon seasoned salt

Vegetable oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large carrots, peeled, diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, diced
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon chipotles in adobo, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, deseeded, diced
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dried quinoa
1 small can mild green chilies
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 can sweet corn
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cilantro, washed, chopped
2 teaspoons lime juice

Avocado slices
Baked tortilla strips
Shredded cheese

Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and season with cumin, fajita seasoning, and seasoned salt.

Heat oil in a stockpot over medium-high. Add the chicken, onion, carrots, and red pepper. When the chicken is almost cooked through, add the green pepper. Allow to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring occassionally. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chopped garlic. Stir the pot regularly to prevent burning for an additional 5 minutes.

Add the zucchini, diced tomatoes, chipotle peppers, jalapenos, chicken broth, quinoa, green chilies, cumin, oregano, chili powder, corn, and salt. Heat over medium for 30 minutes.

Before serving, add cilantro and lime juice to taste.

Garnish with avocado slices, baked tortilla strips, and shredded cheese. I cut flour tortillas into thin strips with a pizza cutter and quickly crisp them under a broiler.


receipe adapted from

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Garage Project 2009

Earlier this week, Andreas and I decided we needed to organize the garage. We figured if we were going to unload everything, we might as well seal the floor while we were at it! In order to avoid an all-day project on Saturday, we planned to conquer the floor on Thursday and the organization on Saturday.

This is what the garage looked like when we arrived home from work Thursday afternoon. Not bad, not great. After watching the DVD that came with our flooring kit, we were torn whether or not to continue. It was over 100* outside, and the video warned that the chemical reaction for the epoxy would move dangerously quickly at temperatures above 85*. We decided to move ahead.

It's extremely important to get the existing floor as clean as possible before painting. The DVD explained the multi-step process. Andreas and I knew this was going to be an endeavor, but I don't think we could have guessed what we were getting into. Lather, rinse, repeat...or something like that, right?

Here I am, channelling Cinderella. Scrubbing the floor is hard work! Keep in mind it was hot, 104* in the garage to be exact. We scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until we had cleaned the entire floor, and then we did it all again. I would estimate this portion of the prep work took about 3 hours.

Then Andreas started scraping paint off the floor. It was like he couldn't stop. He just kept at it for what seemed like forever until I begged him to quit. Of course he was doing a great job, but I was getting impatient. It was late, and I wanted to move on with the process.

Then it was time to apply the concrete etcher. This basically consisted of scrubbing the floor all over again, only with a different cleanser. Add 2 hours.

Finally around 11:30pm we started painting, and when I say 'we' I mean Andreas. I happily sprinkled confetti behind him. It's a wonder we were both still upright at this point.

I think we got to bed an hour later. It had been a looooong day.

The next morning, we checked out our handiwork. Pretty!

This morning we got up and started to organize. Lucky for us, it was a pleasant 87*.

Bookshelf organized and weed eater hung.

Tool bench cleared and shelves in order.

Our garage is complete! Well, actually we are learning that in home ownership, nothing is ever fully complete. There are always things to be done and improvements to be made. But, Andreas and I made it through our first home project together, and we are so happy with the result!

Too bad we can't park in here for SEVEN days!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Top Golf

Last night Andreas and I went to Top Golf. What is Top Golf? Well I'm glad you asked.

This, dear readers, is Top Golf. It's a two story driving range with various targets scattered throughout the field? green? course? Whatever it's called, you get the point. There are different games you can play - hit specific targets, points for hitting any target, etc. I played make contact with the ball. Okay, that's not really a game, but it was my personal goal for the evening. Each player gets their own set of golf balls equipped with an RFID tag or something technical of that nature. When a ball is hit, the computer registers which player hit the ball, where the ball goes, and how many points the player deserves.

In reality, Top Golf is a place where inexperienced players like myself can publicly embarrass themselves. See all these people? They get to watch while you whiff the ball...repeatedly.

But it's all in fun! This is an extremely popular place. We had to wait over an hour for a bay to open up, on a Wednesday night no less! Good thing they serve yummy food and drinks, and we were in the company of friends.

Here I am on the girls' bay. Just take a look at that form. I'll be going pro in no time. Or not. You can't see it well in the picture, but my shoes are argyle. Fashion is an important aspect of the game.
Here Andreas shows us the proper golfer's stance. I'm sure all you seasoned golfers could point out technical flaws, but I think he looks pretty convincing!

It was a really fun evening overall, and we will definitely be going back. We plan to go with Kirk and Megan when they come visit!

Side note: West Palm Beach in 2 weeks. Get excited!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Baby Birds

Can you take the cuteness?! Last night, Andreas and I were enjoying a late summer evening with our Starbucks out on the patio and spotted these little guys. Two baby birds were happily hopping around the yard, flapping their wings every once in a while, but never getting more than 3 inches off the ground. They were chirping up a storm at their mama who was perched on our roof.

This morning I could hear them chirping again! I wanted a picture, but I was terrified their mama would show up and swoop at me if I got too close. Those who know me realize that I am not a bird lover, so that fear probably does not sound so irrational to them. No worries though because I never saw mama.

Friday, July 10, 2009

25th Birthday

My 25th birthday was amazing, fantastic, delightful, and delicious. Thank you for all the birthday wishes. The phone calls, emails, and messages made me feel so loved!

The collective generosity of family and friends have contributed to my home decor, my health, my wardrobe, my library, and my chef skills. What more could a girl ask for?! (If I'm 25, do I still get to call myself a girl? I think I'll stick with it and reevaulte in 5 years.)

This guy

was sweet enough to treat me to a special evening to celebrate the occasion. He took me to the new Wolfgang Puck restaurant, 560, at the top of Reunion Tower. It's hip, modern and serves Asian-American fusion food with impressive presentations. Most of the dining patrons were playing it cool and weren't taking taking snapshots every five minutes, but we wanted to bring the experience to you guys too so we happily sacrificed our image!

This, my friends, is 'ALASKAN HALIBUT, THAI SHRIMP, AND KAFFIR LIME WITH PINEAPPLE CHILI SAMBAL'. Soak it in. It tasted even better than it looks.

It made me a happy girl. This is what a happy, 25 year old Ashley looks like!

Here are a few shots of Reunion tower and view of the Dallas cityskape from our table.

And now, for the grand finale. BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE. Upon bringing the souffle to the table, the waitstaff proceeds to cut it open, revealing piping hot chocolate ganache. As if that weren't decadent enough, vanilla and chocolate gelato are placed into the steaming hole and the entire dessert is topped off with chocolate sauce. *sigh*

What a memorable way to mark a quarter of a century!

Hi Ho, Hi Ho....

This week at work has been crazy, and I just haven't found the time to update. I will have a full birthday recap up soon!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Texas Heat

You know the heat is getting to you when anything under 100* feels comfortable. The Texas summer is here, and the sun is in full effect.

And as brutal as the heat can be, it's totally worth it for the cookouts, shaved ice, afternoons spent poolside, summer showers, tanned skin, weddings, farmers markets, and most of all vacations!

I love summer.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dallas Arboretum

On Friday, Andreas and I decided to do something special to celebrate our engagement date and our day off. We headed out to the Dallas Arboretum, where we could enjoy some time together outdoors. Originally we had planned to take a picnic lunch, but it was insanely hot, and we opted to grab a bite at home before heading to the gardens.

It was beautiful!

There were very few visitors, so Andreas and I took full advantage of the open space to test out the self timer on our new camera. It certainly was a memorable experience.

During our visit we took a necessary break near the outdoor concert venue to cool down in the shade and down a couple bottles of water. Mostly we strolled along enjoying the sun, taking pictures, and talking about how much we were sweating - definitely different than a typical Friday in an air-conditioned cubicle farm.

I leave you with one more self-timer photo. I assure you there are many more photos as a result of this half-hour session, but they are far more ridiculous than even this one! I can only stand so much embarrassment at once.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Previous Engagement

Three years ago to the date, Andreas asked me to be his wife. God has blessed us so much since then, and I can't wait to see what he continues to do with our marriage.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Perfect Ending

Andreas and I love Pei Wei, and I mean we looooooove Pei Wei. Where else can you get a relatively healthy, delicious, and filling meal for two for under $10? Not to mention the free fortune cookies! There is one particular Pei Wei that Andreas and I are partial to. It's 'our' Pei Wei. We can recall sitting in the same booth, time after time, enjoying one another's company, laughing, talking about the events of the day. We decided to bid on our first house in that booth. There's just something speicial about it.

After a long day at work, I can think of no better way to relax than dinner at Pei Wei and watching a Redbox movie with my husband. It's the perfect ending to the work week, and the perfect beginning to this three day weekend!