Grateful for Bloggers

When I was writing last week’s Five on Friday post, I was shared this post by Kristyn at Chits & Giggles. Kristyn posts about negativity – and used the topics of blogging and body image as examples. Her thoughts on some of the negativity between bloggers spoke to me. I’ve seen it, and as Kristyn mentioned, there’s an entire website dedicated to people making mean comments about bloggers. But, there is so much good in the blogging community, and for that I am incredibly grateful. 

Feeling Gratitude Continue reading Grateful for Bloggers

Five on Friday

Time for another Five on Friday update. It seems like this week just flew by! 

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Let’s talk about bathing dogs. 

Katie-dog is generally 90% angel, 10% imp….for me. For Dave, it’s a different story. Maybe 50% angel, 50% imp? I swear she does things just to irk him. She throws bones into his electronics, chews bones on top of his electrical cords, tries to destroy his copies of the Harvard Business Review (thankfully the cover is very durable), gets underfoot whenever possible, and screeches when he tries to cuddle with her. The exception to all this is bath time.

When I brought Katie-dog home for the very first time from the Indianapolis Humane Society, she was in desperate need of a bath. Ok, she was in desperate need of a bath and a haircut, but I needed to get her shots up to date with the vet before I could take her to a groomer. So the first thing I did with her when I brought her home was throw her into the bath tub. It didn’t go very well. She kept trying to escape, which resulted in me getting very wet. She finally did escape, and rolled herself dry on the couch. I haven’t had very much success bathing her ever since.

When I met Dave, he kept making comments about how she needed a bath and that I must be exaggerating about how horrible she was in the bath tub. Despite the fact that she’s generally much more impish for him than for me, she turned out to be a little angel for him in the tub. She doesn’t even try to escape. I don’t get it. So – Dave became the official dog bather. Unfortunately he doesn’t particularly like this role.

I should probably mention that Katie-dog has a condition called atopic dermatitis. She gets really itchy, then she licks. The licking can lead to bacterial infections, which then require a trim to the vet and giving her antibiotics several times a day for a couple of weeks. To try and prevent all that hassle (and make sure she’s comfortable) we have to give her medication, and a while ago our vet suggested that we bathe her with medicated shampoo every two weeks or so. Groan.

Lately Dave’s been trying to hand the dog bathing ole back to me. Sigh. Don’t get me wrong, she’s my dog, I love her, and I enjoy taking care of her….except in the bath. He had been bugging me to give her a bath all week, so yesterday afternoon I grabbed her out of a peaceful slumber and threw her into the tub. It was a general disaster. We have to let the shampoo sit for about 5 minutes, then rinse it off, condition her up, let that sit, then rinse her off again. I tried to take some pictures of her to put in Instagram while we were letting the shampoo sit. She had no desire to sit still because she kept looking for an escape route…

Katie Bath

Katie Bath

 

Everything changed when Dave got home. He came into the bathroom while I was conditioning her, and she sat still like a little angel. That’s when I was able to get this gem of a picture….

Continue reading Five on Friday

Babies, Babies, and More Babies!

I swear there’s something in the water. I mean, I know we’re at the age where a lot of our friends are having kids, but the number of people we know who are expecting right now is off-the-charts ridiculous! We’ve got friends in Chicago expecting their first (a girl) very soon, and friends in Iowa expecting their second (a boy) in early April. Then our friends Adam & Lacey, who live really close to us, are expecting in early July. Technically they’re due July 8th, but Lacey’s been early with her previous two boys. I’m hoping this one is about a week early so we can share a birthday! That said, my birthday and anniversary calendar is overflowing in July (and August) so all our friends and family really need to stop having kids and getting married in the summer! Just kidding….kind of. On top of that, my Facebook feed and Bloglovin’ feed are overflowing with pregnancy announcements and updates. As I said, there’s something in the water…

Gender reveal cake. Continue reading Babies, Babies, and More Babies!

House Update: Closets

This weekend we headed out to the house and were very surprised to see that the closet shelving and my desk built-ins had been installed. This was something I was really looking forward to seeing, but we ended up having a lot of questions and concerns. 

Our first question was about the paint in the closets. Back when the paint first went up, I was walking around the house and wondering why our closets weren’t painted. Dave was already e-mailing our design consultant about a few things so I asked him to check and make sure that they’re painted the same as the surrounding room or hallway. We got an e-mail back confirming that they were painted the same as the room color. Unfortunately, that was a mistake. Our design consultant intended to say that they were painted our TRIM color, not our room color. So, for the past several weeks we’ve been under the assumption that they would be painted when the next coat of paint goes up. Having the shelving go up in the closets made us very confused. It’s obviously much easier to put paint up when there’s nothing in the room that needs to be taped off. So we asked, and found out about how all of our closets (with the exception of our master bedroom closet, which matches our master bedroom) are supposed to be painted the trim color. Sigh.

The right side of the master bedroom closet
The right side of the master bedroom closet

Continue reading House Update: Closets

Five on Friday

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If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen the picture of my brand new iPhone 6! If you don’t follow me on Instagram, and want to rectify that problem, you can find me here  :-P 

The phone arrived yesterday. We were expecting it on Tuesday, but it got stuck in Tennessee because of the winter weather. I’m super-duper excited about it. I’m loving the thinness and the big screen. Unfortunately the SIM card in my iPhone 4 did not fit into iPhone 6. Sooo Dave had to run out to the AT&T store last night to get us new SIM cards while I made dinner. Anyway – I still need to find a cover. I had a soft silicone cover for my iPhone 4 and it served me well. I’m not particularly hard on my phones – I’ve never broken one or had water-related accidents with them (knock on wood). I’ve been having trouble finding soft silicone cases for the iPhone 6 online, and now that I have the phone I can see why….it has so much stuff on the bottom and the button is also close to the bottom so it would be difficult for a softer case to envelop the phone like they did in the older model. So I’ll probably be switching to a hard case that snaps on the phone. I don’t know how I feel about that….we shall see! 

Continue reading Five on Friday

Wednesday Wishes

Wednesday Wishes

This is my first time linking up with Anne at Love the Here and Now for Wednesday Wishes, but I’m doing a lot of wishing right now so I figure it’s as good of a time as any to join in the fun! Here’s what I’ve been wishing and hoping for lately:

Wishing that we could start moving into the house now. The boxes in our apartment are starting to overwhelm me, and I am so ready to start moving.

Hoping we can close on the house before our lease on the apartment is up on March 20th. I’m hoping that the weather will cooperate so we can get the concrete for our driveway poured, but the forecast right now is not showing an end to the cold winter weather anytime soon.

Wishing I could speed up the process for getting my leg / hip (SI joint) fixed. I’m done with the steroid injections, and I’ve been referred to a physiatrist and a physical therapist. Apparently that’s the next step for getting me approved for surgical fusion of the joint.

Wishing my new iPhone 6 would get here! My iPhone 4 is on its last legs. It dies with 40% battery and lives indefinitely with less than 10% battery. I can’t figure it out. Plus it’s got 16GB of space, which apparently isn’t enough for me. I always have to delete a bunch of apps and stuff before I can do software updates.  Dave’s iPhone (which was bought at the same time as mine) is doing better (but not wonderful) on the battery front, but he cracked his screen a while back. I ordered us new iPhones this weekend but they’ve got stuck up in the ice storm in Tennessee.

Wishing the dishes in the sink would just clean themselves! 

Hoping that my new Plum Paper planner ships soon. I’m sooo excited to start using it!

And finally….wishing you all have a wonderful week!

Until Later, Ashlen

Love the Here and Now

Let There Be Light!

I’m happy to announce that we’ve hit a few milestones in the house-building process!

1) We got (almost) all of our light fixtures installed last week. I never knew lights could be so exciting! Today we got electricity. Our lights aren’t only installed, but they all turn off and on! I can’t even tell you what a big deal that is for us. For the last 8 months we’ve made an effort to get out to the house during the daylight hours. At least then we can see most of the main and upper floors with the natural light through the windows. Unfortunately, unless there’s a crew of workers with awesome lights around, it’s pretty hard to see most of the basement. Not having to worry about heading out to the house the second Dave gets home from work is going to be a nice change.

2) Mirrors and bathroom hardware was installed yesterday. It looked a little odd to have all the light fixtures above the vanities with no mirror in the middle, so I’m glad to see them there. However, they’re not done painting yet, so I’m wondering if it was a little premature to go slapping mirrors on the bathroom walls? Also, the builder couldn’t supply robe hooks so we went and bought our own, but no one told us that the bathroom hardware was going up yesterday which is why I didn’t have them out at the house. So yeah – a few little details need to be worked out. 

3) We are finally getting stone on the exterior of our house! I figured the masons would be out there working on it right after the stone was delivered, but that was not the case. I don’t know if they gave up waiting for the weather to cooperate or what, but they started yesterday despite the cold-ish temperatures. They’ve got the area they’re working on tented, which means they’re going to have to move that tent each time they need to work on a new area. It’ll be slow-going, but at least they’re starting! 

Ok, moving on to the pictures (because that’s all anyone cares about!). I took a bunch of pictures the other day and almost had this post finished, but I couldn’t help but take some new ones once I had better light!

Let’s start with my office chandelier. I really liked this chandelier (obviously, because I picked it for my little space) but I don’t know if I would have called it my favorite when we were done with our selections. Seeing it in the house….it’s definitely in contention to be one of my favorites! It’s a toss up between this, the pendents over the kitchen island, or the chandelier in our entryway. 

Office Nook Chandelier Continue reading Let There Be Light!

Our Unromantic Valentine’s Day

Our Unromantic Valentine's Day

I remember when I was single. Valentine’s Day stinks for singles. It seems like every girl around you is getting flowers, chocolates, and nice dinners from their significant other. If it’s not being shoved in your face at work or school, it’s certainly shoved in your face all over social media. Heck, forget social media, you can’t turn on the TV or the radio without the sad reminder that you are woefully and pitifully alone. It’s even worse when your grandmother sends you a cute little card and your mom sends you some chocolates because, as much as you appreciate their gesture, it’s just one more reminder that you’re depending on your family for a little Valentine’s Day happiness. It’s pitiful. Well, I’m here to tell you something, single people: Valentine’s Day isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for some of us in relationships either. 

Here’s the thing about Valentine’s Day: everything is ridiculously expensive. Red roses are at an absolute premium, as is any other red-colored flower. Good luck getting a restaurant reservation, especially if the big day falls on a weekend like it did this year. Even if you can get a table at your favorite eatery, you’re likely to get stuck with a fixed-price menu that doesn’t include your favorite dish but does include about 10 courses for a gazillion dollars. You end up leaving so stuffed you don’t even want your husband to touch you for fear that you might vomit everywhere. As I said, this holiday isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. 

Dave’s usually pretty great with holidays. I mean, he stinks at planning ahead so if I want reservations somewhere I would need to make them for us well in advance because he won’t think about it until 11pm on February 13th (or the hour before any other birthday / anniversary / holiday). However, he will get up in the morning and sneak out (which isn’t very difficult because I sleep like a log), and find a place selling flowers and chocolates to bring home for me to discover when I wake up. That’s all very nice, but it’s expensive. This year for Valentine’s Day, I requested he do none of it. 

I know, I’m crazy. What girl doesn’t like flowers and chocolates? Here’s the thing: I like flowers and chocolate but I love other things a lot more. I had already told him that our FitBits were early Valentine’s Day presents to each other, but I don’t think he really believed me. I think he thought I was just saying that and I would still expect the normal gifts on Valentine’s Day morning. That wasn’t the case. I could think of so many other things we want to buy together for our new house. We just spent a decent chunk of cash buying a washer, dryer, and fridge for Dave’s wet bar. We had been debating on adding some extra landscaping to improve drainage…to the tune of a few thousand dollars. We want to buy furniture for the lanai so we can enjoy it this summer, and bar stools for the kitchen and the man cave. We need a new kitchen table and more chairs and couches than I care to count at the moment. We want to buy LED light bulbs for every light in the place, we will need to buy a lawnmower soon after getting into the house, and we don’t want to be completely broke at the end of this process. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not doing all of these things (and more) right away…it’s going to take years. The thought of spending over $100 on flowers, chocolates, and dinner seemed ridiculous when we could be putting that money towards things in our house. Things that will help us enjoy each other’s company for years to come. 

So what did we do for our very unromantic Valentine’s Day weekend? We slept in on Saturday. I fell asleep reading a book Friday night so I actually woke up in the previous day’s clothes. I continued reading my book while I drank my coffee, and Dave slept some more. I took a shower, then Dave suggested that I give Katie-dog a bath. She was stinky, so I couldn’t refuse. He’d been trying to get me to do it for a couple of days. The problem? She’s a sweet little angel for me until I put her into a tub…then she’s a nightmare. She’s generally a nightmare to Dave, but is meek and well-behaved when he puts her in the bath. Go figure. I prefer he give her baths, to say the least. He’s done it the last several times though, so it was definitely my turn. I bathed the little imp while Dave acted kind of like a back-seat driver, telling me where I needed more shampoo and how to rinse all the conditioner out of her fur. At least he was there to hand me a towel for her when we were all done. I wrangled Katie-dog into the towel, then proceeded to let her “spin dry” for a bit before capturing her for the blow dryer. She survived, and she smells much nicer now. After drying my hair a bit we called my parents. After that, I hunkered down and got ready to watch the Butler vs. Villanova basketball game and Dave headed out to the grocery store for some frozen pizzas and wine. In other words, Valentine’s Day was not that different from any other Saturday in our household. I would have preferred that Butler beat Villanova, but alas not everything could go my way. At least it was a close game against one of the best teams in the country. And hey, we’re still sitting #2 in the Big East, aka the toughest basketball conference in the country! 

While the day was kind of unromantic and normal, it was actually pretty great. We relaxed, we had fun, we enjoyed spending time with each other. Isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is supposed to be all about?

Until later, Ashlen

House Update: Plumbing Fixture Installation

House progress this week has been slow but steady. We’ve had a few things going on simultaneously. First, we started to get our plumbing fixtures installed. We now have all our toilets, sinks, shower heads and almost all of our faucets. The only faucet we’re missing at this point is the one for the garden tub in our master bathroom. We also got most of our lighting fixtures installed this week. I’ve got pictures of the ones installed on Thursday but not the ones installed yesterday. Once I get pictures of all of them I’ll put them up on the blog. Hint: we’re in LOVE with them. They’re beautiful. The other big thing going on is the installation of our electrical outlets and light switches. Between that and the light fixtures, Dave has been running around trying to get supplies. We’re supplying a bunch of LED light bulbs, and Dave pretty much bought our area out of surge protected electrical outlets. We’ve been running all around the city this week getting supplies!

Let’s get to the pictures of our plumbing fixtures! One of the things I was most excited about was the vessel sink I had picked out for our powder room and the water-pump style faucet. 

Powder Bathroom Sink

I’m loving that faucet! Originally we were looking at a shallower vessel sink, but eventually we decided to with this deeper option. I’m really glad we did, because otherwise water would be splashing all over the place.  Continue reading House Update: Plumbing Fixture Installation

Book Review: The Girl You Left Behind

The Girl You Left BehindSynopsis

Part One of this book focuses on the life of a woman named Sophie Lefevre who is living in a German-occupied French town during WWI. She lives with her sister, young brother, niece and nephew at the family’s hotel while her husband, Edouard, and brother-in-law are off fighting in the war. She and her sister are made to cook and serve dinner to the local Kommandant and some of his troops each night. Before the war, Edouard, an artist, had painted a portrait of Sophie. Sophie insisted on hanging the picture in the hotel, and it caught the eye of the Kommandant. Despite her antipathy towards the Germans, Sophie’s feeling towards the Kommandant eventually soften. When she finds out that Edouard has been taken prisoner, she approaches the Kommandant and requests that he help return Edouard to her in exchange for the portrait that has enthralled the Kommandant. 

Part Two of “The Girl You Left Behind” is mixed between being set in the present time and the continuation of Sophie’s story during WWI.  In the present time, the portrait of Sophie Lefevre is owned by Liv, a young widow. Her husband, David, was an architect and the painting was given to her by him as a wedding present. On the anniversary of David’s death, she is drowning her sorrows in a bar when her purse is stolen. The bar owner’s brother, Paul, is a former policeman and offers to help her. The two eventually start dating, but when she eventually invites Paul into her home he sees the portrait of Sophie. He works for a company that looks to find stolen artwork and return it to their original and rightful owners. Coincidentally, Paul is working on the case to find the portrait of Sophie for Edouard’s family, who had noted that it was missing in a recent audit of his works. The painting had not been seen since WWI, when it was presumably stolen by the Germans. After breaking the news to Liv about her painting’s history, they get into an embroiled legal battle over the rightful owner of the portrait. Determining the rightful owner means finding out everything possible about the painting’s history, including how it came to be in the possession of the woman owned it before David. The book jumps back and forth between Sophie’s life at the end of the war and Liv’s attempts to find out what happened to Sophie and the painting almost one hundred years ago. 

Review

LOVED this book! I enjoyed reading Part One, but it honestly left me wondering why people had given this book such wonderful reviews. While it was enjoyable and interesting, it wasn’t particularly special on its own. Part One is basically there to provide you with the basic background of the story, while Part Two is where all the drama and suspense occurs. However, Part Two would not be nearly as amazing without all the character development done by the author in Part One. By Part Two I was so engrossed that I couldn’t put the book down…which is how I managed to read the thing within 24 hours!

I’m usually annoyed when a book has a predictable ending. This book was interesting because some parts of the ending were very predictable while others were a complete surprise. I also liked that some parts of the story don’t have a perfectly happy ending. I hate when books tie up all their story lines with wonderful happy conclusions because it makes the story seem too perfect and unbelievable. Unless it’s a fairy tale, it shouldn’t all end happily-ever after. That said, I don’t like books that are gruesomely depressing either. This book leaves you feeling happy overall at the end, but there are enough solemn moments to make the story realistic. If you look at the entire cast of characters, you end up feeling bad for several of them. I don’t want to say much more because I don’t want to give any spoilers away, so I’ll just say this: if you haven’t read this book, move it to the top of your reading list!

One little thing about this book that took me aback for a second was how the narrative is written. Everything about Sophie is written in the first person and the past tense. However, the parts about Liv are written in the third person and the present tense. Did that stick out to anyone else who has read this book? I’m assuming that was completely intentional by the author, but it kind of threw me for a loop when I started reading Part Two. I know Kate Morton switches between first person and third person when switching between the past and the present in her books, but I’m pretty sure Morton writes her “present time” narrative in the past tense. I think most novels I’ve read are written in the past tense, because I’m having a hard time thinking of one written in the present tense. My point is – I found it a little jarring at the beginning of Part Two to go from the first person past tense to the third person present tense. I felt like I kept having to reread some of the sentences because my brain kept wanting to put everything in past tense and that wasn’t what I was reading! It was fine after a while, but it did interrupt the flow of the book a little bit. But, if that’s your biggest complaint about a book….it’s got to be pretty good, right!?

This is the first book I’ve read by Jo Jo Moyes. My mom told me she had read “The Last Letter from Your Lover” and had a “meh – it was ok” review of it, which kind of surprised me because I thought “The Girl You Left Behind” was fantastic. That said, my mom and I have slightly different book preferences. I’ve added “One Plus One” and “Me Before You” to my reading list. I’m hoping that I find Moyes’ other books are as good as this one!

Until later, Ashlen