Monday, December 31, 2012


It's that time of year again....December 31. New Year's Eve. Made your resolutions yet? What are resolutions? They are the promises we make ourselves (and maybe secretly others) at the end of every year to better our lives the following year. However, they do not always stick as we have found out year after year. We have a white hot, new gym membership January 2nd that gets thrown aside by February 2nd. I find that we set the same goals for ourselves every year: general, a little far-reaching, and, if I do say so, a bit generic.

There is nothing I want more than to go a year with at least one of my resolutions still intact. So here's my idea for a fix: No more of "cut out junk food" or "go to the gym every other day" because let's be real...neither of those is going to stick very long with me. The awful truth is that as much as we want to say we do, our will power is not that strong. So instead of asserting these powerful promises tonight I will still make the generic resolutions, but not treat them as the end-all-be-all of my 2013 lifestyle. Baby steps will be my method.

Instead of completely cutting out junk food, I will set guidelines. I will taper off and hopefully by summer I will only have one day when I treat myself to a sugar-y sweet. Instead of going straight for the equipment at the gym, I will start small with an easier workout routine that I can do in my dorm until I am comfortable shedding the sweatpants for running shorts in the outside world.

In my view, the resolution a goal that you should work towards during the year, not something that you are going to force yourself to do. That's my thought at least. I am excited to hear what all of your resolutions are going to be for this coming year. Here are mine:

- Put more effort in a healthy lifestyle
- Try to put myself in someone else's shoes to understand them a little better
- Really try to discover what I want out of life (no, I still have not figured this out yet)

Those are just a few. I might think of some more at work...I do a lot of my thinking there ;)

<3 Ashley

What are some of your New Year's resolutions?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Yes, I am still up enjoying the wee hours of Christmas morning. I just wanted to take some time and wish you all a happy holiday before I spend my entire day with family eating, giving gifts, and watching A Christmas Story. I hope that you all enjoy your day with your families and the gifts that you receive.

<3 Ashley

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Stocking Stuffers

In the past week that I have been back working at Kohl's I have been told over and over again by my customers that the most difficult part of the Christmas shopping is the stocking stuffers! I have gotten to thinking about it as well and I agree; the big gifts and gift cards are way easier than those little extras. So here is a list for all of you last minute holiday shoppers (and I know there are plenty!)

1. Nail Polish/Manicure Set You can pick some of these up at stores like Target and Kohl's for under $10
2. Neat Stationary I always find some neat notepads and stationary in the bins at Michael's craft store.
3. Earbuds You don't necessarily need to get the best out there. I have never had a pair of earbuds that last more than a year (in fact, the left side of my current ones just fizzled out!) So you can always gift these to someone knowing that eventually they will need them.
4. Candy This really needs no explanation.
5. Ornaments Handmade or store bought, a lovely new ornament to add to the tree is a nice thing to find in your stocking.

These are just a few ideas to get the ball rolling for you last minute stuffers! I am sure that if you look hard enough you will be able to find other things. There really is no rule, it all just depends on whose stocking it is going into. 

In the event that I remain inactive on here through Christmas I hope that it is a merry one for you! Don't fret, I will definitely be back on before New Years....we have resolutions to talk about! 

<3 Ashley

What do you like in your stocking?

Friday, December 21, 2012


Oh what a Friday it was! Work, work work! I cannot wait to go back to school with a newly refreshed bank account. Christmas is only a few days away now and I am positive I will be beyond busy at work with all the last minute holiday shoppers. I just wanted to make sure that I got this post in on time :)









On another note: way to survive the end of the world everyone! Oh, the survival stories we can tell the children ;) I hope that as the year (and not the world!) comes to an end you find yourself in a good place.

<3 Ashley

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My 2013 Reading List

If you are merely getting acquainted with me right now, one thing you must know is that I love to read. I relish those moments when there is nothing for me to do and I can sit/lay down and read a book that I do not need to write an essay on. Unfortunately, I was not able to get through my entire 2012 reading list thanks to senior year of high school and fall semester of college (why so many reading intensive classes?!) My big triumph was completing Chanel: A Woman of Her Own by Axel Madsen. It was a great book and I do recommend it. But this next year will be different! I happen to know that one of my Christmas gifts happens to be a Kindle, giving me the opportunity to sort out my book hoarding problems. Just recently I bought three new novels that I guess will for now be my last physical book purchases. With that said, here is my 2013 book list!

1. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
2. Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen
3. Emma Jane Austen (I recently bought all three of these Jane Austen books, so I would love to get them read!)
4. The Devil Wears Prada Lauren Weisberger
5. Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life Lisa Chaney
6. Audrey: Her Real Story Alexander Walker (about Audrey Hepburn!)

In reality...this is probably a stretch for me to finish all of these books within the next year considering school and work, but who knows! Hopefully I do find some free time!

<3 Ashley

Any books you are looking to find the time to read?

Christmas Cookie: Double Chocolate Biscotti

Sorry, once again I have been a little flighty with updating the blog. Between work and the excitement of the holiday and seeing everyone I have not been able to find much time. Plus, I am planning big changes for the site. The New Year will bring many lovely things I think. To make amends to you for my slight absence, I am pulling out the recipe for, possibly, my absolute favorite dessert for the holidays: double chocolate biscotti. Yummy! So good with coffee after a big Christmas dinner.

Here's what you need:

- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 (1 ounce) squares white chocolate
- 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

And what to do:

- In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in cocoa and baking powder. Beat for two minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in flour by hand. Mix in white chocolate and chocolate chips. Cover dough and chill for about 10 minutes.

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Divide dough into two parts, roll each part into 9 inch long log. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet, about four inches apart. Flatten slightly.

- Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick placed in the center will come out clean. Cool for five minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling for one hour.

- Cut into 1/2 inch wide diagonal pieces. Place slices on ungreased cookie sheet, bake at 325 degrees F for nine minutes. Turn cookies over and bake for 7-9 minutes. Cool completely and enjoy! Store in air tight container. Makes about 36 cookies.

I hope that you all try this and enjoy it as much as I do! I am an absolute sucker for anything chocolate and this certainly does the job. :)

<3 Ashley

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's That Time of Year...for Reflection

Home sweet home. That's right, after a stressful week of finals I am sitting in front of the Christmas tree with my mother, eating cheese and crackers, and watching Finding Bigfoot (recommended ;P)

Since I have met my the end of my first semester of college and almost the end of the calendar year, I thought that this would be the proper time for a time of reflection (New Year's Resolution post will come later!) As a student going into her first year of college I think that I had a lot of fears and expectations. I thought I would not be able to find people who were interested in the same things as me and led to some pretty solid friendships. I thought I would get overwhelmed in my classes. I thought that I would be faced with the pressure to do things that made me kind of uncomfortable since these people did not know me.

Let me break down the facts. I did make friends who were had very similar interests and senses of humor. We often hang out late into the evening. Never once did I feel overwhelmed in classes. I actually think that this semester helped out my time management since I often had long sections to read for a certain class and multiple papers to write at a time. It taught me to prioritize my work. The professors were also super helpful and willing to answer any and all questions a student had. As for the pressure, I really do not think it ever came. I was asked if I wanted to join people, but I would just answer honestly and no one batted an eyelash. They were very accepting.

This semester was my first time away from home. It was very difficult at the beginning, but contact is everything. I call my parents on the weekend and we text various times throughout the week. My friends and I have to Skype's #1 customers at this point. We chat nearly every other day. In all, college is proving to be very comfortable and livable for me, which is what my concern was all along. I hope this leads you to do some reflection of your own within the next couple of weeks as you formulate your New Year's resolutions. And for those of you considering colleges, let me know if you have any questions. I have only a little experience but would love to help :)

<3 Ashley

Will you reflect before the New Year?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Cookies: Chocolate-Espresso Snowcaps

Fa-la-la-la-la finals :| Sorry...this inhabits my thoughts lately. I have my first one tomorrow at 8 AM in a class that I do not do the best in. Getting me up that early is automatically setting me up for failure. But I will try to remain confident. In any cookie recipe for all! I found this one courtesy of Martha Stewart.

What you need:

- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 tsp. instant espresso
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2/3 cups packed, light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
- 1 tbsp. milk
- confectioner's sugar to coat

What to do:

- In a medium bowl mix together flour, cocoa powder, espresso, baking powder and salt. With an electric mixer cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well combined; mix in cooled chocolate. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat in milk until combined. Flatten dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Freeze until firm (about 45 minutes).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Shape dough into 1 inch balls.  Pour confectioners sugar into a medium bowl and roll the balls in the sugar.
- Place two inches apart on baking sheet. Bake until cookies have spread and cracked about 12-14 minutes. Cool and enjoy! Makes 18 cookies

<3 Ashley

The Final Countdown

Well it's here: finals! Yes, the dreaded f-word is upon college students nationwide. As this semester comes to a close we spend these next few days up late in the library, chugging coffee by the gallons, and driving everyone around us crazy or even shutting themselves in and keeping everyone else out. While being in the throws of it all for the past few days as a newcomer I have compiled this list of steps to success when you go into the test room. Let's call it The Final Countdown.

5. S-L-E-E-P! This is possibly the most neglected thing during finals week but it is also the most important. I am not going to tell you that you should get 8 hours of sleep. While that would be absolutely ideal, I recognize that it almost completely impossible. However, it would be a huge mistake to spend all hours in the library when you could be sleeping. This week, aim for at least 4-6 hours of sleep per night. Your brain works a lot better when it has time to rest and process information.

4. Don't overdo the studying Yes there is such a thing. You can only study so much before all the information becomes muddled together and you can't tell chem from calc. Be realistic and listen to your brain when it says "We've hit the wall." 

3. Make time for fun This goes along with overstudying. If you don't break up the reading and outlining, your brain may explode. What I like to do is reward myself for 5-10 minutes after every full hour of studying. I use that time to check Facebook, get on Pinterest, or anything besides worry about the Civil War and Reconstruction. 

2. Watch the caffeine intake All I will say is, keep it under six cups! Eventually that stuff will begin to get toxic. 

1. Be healthy Sleep well. Drink PLENTY of water. Exercise (do jumping jacks after every chapter or practice test you complete) Eat something that is recognized as food and doesn't come in a crinkly bag (I'm talking about you, Doritos!)

Happy Finals and may the odds be ever in your favor ;)

<3 Ashley

How do you get through finals?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Cookies: White-Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

Here's a great recipe for some delicious cookies :)

Here's what you need:

- 1/2 cup maraschino cherries; drained and finely chopped
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup cold butter
- 12 oz. white chocolate baking squares with cocoa butter; finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 2 drops red food coloring (optional)
- 2 tsp. shortening
- White nonpareils and/or edible glitter (optional)

Here's what you do:

- Preheat oven at 325 degrees. Spread cherries on paper towel and drain well.
- In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained cherries and 4 ounces (2/3 cup) of the chopped chocolate. Stir in almond extract and, if desired, food coloring. Knead mixture until it forms a smooth ball.
Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar, flatten balls to 1-1/2-inch rounds.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until centers are set. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.
In a small saucepan, combine remaining 8 ounces white chocolate and the shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Dip half of each cookie into chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. If desired, roll dipped edge in nonpareils and/or edible glitter. Place cookies on waxed paper until chocolate is set. Makes about 60.

I am excited to try making these for myself! Hope you try them and give some feedback :) For this recipe and more go here

<3 Ashley

Saturday, December 8, 2012


I am getting this entry in while taking just a micro-break from studying. I am about 50 pages into my history book and have taken about 4 pages of notes. This final paper will be good...I can tell. While the stress of finals is most definitely weighing down upon me (and my fellow collegians!) I find comfort and relaxation in the creative exploits of Pinterest. It truly is a good study break activity if your break is a short one. Here are some of the pins that have helped to keep my mind from exploding as finals week kicks off









And that concludes the study break! I have about 200 more pages to read about the Reconstruction after the Civil War. I cannot wait to see the world on the other side of this week (going home for break and making some money!) Have a great rest of your weekend!

<3 Ashley

How do you cope with stress?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Social Networking

Just my bi-monthly reminder that you can follow me a bunch of places other than this blog as well. There is more that inspires me that does not quite make it onto the site. Follow me and get to know me a bit better! I will most definitely follow you back as well ;)

Tumblr  Pinterest  Twitter  Instagram 

Go ahead and comment below with your blogs and other sites! We will have one big follow fest! 

<3 Ashley

Christmas Cookies: Snickerdoodles

During a week like this one, it makes me happy that I have days like today. Two classes, one early and one late. It really makes me feel like I have a generally good day to myself. I have this time to edit a paper, come up with some more blog post topics, and finish my Mass Communications note cards (Study! Study! Study!) Tuesdays and Thursdays are truly my 'Get It Done!' days and I am truly grateful that I have those days. Next semester, I may not be so lucky but we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

Today's cookie recipe is a personal favorite of mine: Snickerdoodles! So far, nothing can beat my aunt's 'doodles, but this recipe does at least look promising. During a season of gingerbread and sugar cookies, snickerdoodles are what makes me happiest with a mug of cocoa (of which I may also have a recipe for!)

Here is what you need:

- 1/2 cup of softened butter
- 1 cup and 2 tbsp. granulated sugar; divided
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

And here's what you do:

- In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and cream of tartar; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Mix well. In a small bowl combine cinnamon and remaining sugar.
- Shape dough into 1 inch balls; roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes 30 cookies.

This recipe here

I am going home in just a week, so I will have plenty of time to fill my kitchen with cookies upon cookies. Yes, I am that girl (the one who will also be wearing a Christmas sweater and singing 'Jingle Bell Rock' while baking!) Have a lovely day today.

<3 Ashley

Who makes the best cookies in your family?
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