Hello, Winter!

Winter officially hit us in central Indiana last weekend. The temperatures dropped, and we got a full covering of snow…which is definitely not normal for this time of the year around here. That said, my cousin was born in an early-November blizzard in Canada, so I don’t find it particularly crazy. My favorite season in Indiana is autumn, so I feel like Mother Nature is playing a mean trick on me by skipping over the end of fall and heading straight into winter. That said, the best part of winter is the snow, so I won’t complain about the cold temperatures if there’s white stuff on the ground! 

I took this picture last weekend, when the snow was just starting to stick!
I took this picture last weekend, when the snow was just starting to stick!

Unfortunately this week I would have much preferred some slightly warmer weather. We know that insulation was going to be installed in our new house today, so last night Dave dragged me to the house so we could take pictures of all the wiring and pipes in the walls. We want to  have a reference just in case we ever need it. Dave needed an assistant to hold a measuring tape in some of the pictures and write down the location in the house that correlated to each picture number (because pictures of walls start to look the same after a while). Of course, that assistant was me. I had on a wool hat, mitts, and my Ugg boots, but by the end I was frozen solid….especially my toes. I don’t think Dave noticed it as much because he was moving around taking all the pictures, but I was generally idle and had lots of time to think about how miserable I felt. However, Dave made a good point….it’s a job we’re never going to have to do ever again. Thank goodness for that! Continue reading

House Construction Update

It’s been a while since I took a picture of the front of the house, and even longer since I posted pictures of the progress. And let me tell you – there has been progress! 

Front of House

Here’s the overview of what’s been going on:

  • Front doors – we didn’t have doors the last time I took a picture. Now we have front doors, but they still need to be painted and they’re missing locks & handles at the moment. The exterior door to the lanai was installed around the same time as our windows, so that’s not new, but now we also have a garage service door and a door from the garage to the back hall of the house. 
  • Siding – the siding work finished up this week, so now we have siding on all sides of the house! The remaining exposed area (the blue area) is going to be covered in stone. Note: this is not the final color of our siding. It still needs to be painted. 

Continue reading

Interior Paint Colors

I’ve been wanting to pick out our interior paint colors since before we broke ground on the house. Today was finally the day we actually got to sit down and make the final decision. Thankfully it was a pretty painless process, and I’m really excited with our final choices.

Porter Paint Interior Paint Color Palate

We’re using Porter Paints for all of our interior paint colors (if you recall, we used Benjamin Moore for our exterior colors). We had already picked out our trim color, Mother of Pearl, a couple of weeks ago. The trim color is going to be on our baseboards, our coffered ceilings in the great room, the crown molding, and the wainscot in the dining area. Today we picked out the wall colors.  Continue reading

Pumpkin Cookies + Halloween Recap

We had low expectations for Halloween this year. We live in an apartment that never has any trick-or-treaters, and we don’t have any kids ourselves, so there really wasn’t much to enjoy. However, we got an invitation from our friends Adam and Lacey to hang out at their place. Dave has known Adam for a very long time. They went to the same high school, and then lived together for two years at Purdue. I first met Adam and his wife, Lacey, at our wedding just over a year ago. It was the first time that Dave had a chance to reconnect with them in a while because they had been living in Ft. Wayne, which is a couple hours away from where we’ve been living in the Indianapolis suburbs. BUT…Adam switched jobs earlier this year, and that job meant that Adam, Lacey, and their two boys needed to relocate RIGHT NEAR US! I was thrilled when I heard they were thinking about making the move, and even more excited when I heard it was actually happening. They bought a house that is right between where we’re living now and where our house is being built, so even when we move we’ll still be close to them. 

I was really excited for Adam and Lacey to move down to the Indy area because Dave doesn’t really have any of his old friends from home around here. I was also excited because I had really enjoyed talking to Adam and Lacey at our wedding, so I figured we would all get along really well (and I think I was right!). Apparently when Adam and Lacey lived in Ft. Wayne they had a Halloween tradition of having people over for chili. And seriously – what a brilliant idea! Chili can cook unattended in the slow cooker during the trick-or-treating time, and then it’s a nice hearty meal that will warm you up when you’ve back inside from the cold. Speaking of cold, it was a really chilly Halloween this year in Indiana. We actually got SNOW yesterday – which is something I would complete expect in Canada, but it’s definitely not normal for Indiana. 

I don’t like to head over to any get-together empty-handed, so when Lacey invited us to come over I immediately started thinking about what I could bring. As a baker at heart, my mind always goes to desserts, and I knew that I already had all the ingredients for my favorite fall cookie in my pantry. 

I got this pumpkin cookie recipe from the mom of one of my teammates on the Butler golf team. She used to bake these for the team when she came to watch tournaments in the fall. Everyone absolutely loved them, and I’m so glad I have the recipe so I can make them for myself (and Dave, who likes them a lot as well!). 

Pumpkin cookies - a sweet delicious autumn treat // A Diamond with Sapphires Continue reading

Five on Friday – Halloween Edition


#Blogtober14 – Halloween Costume Reveal

Truth: I’m not wearing a Halloween costume this year. It would be different if we had a house and were handing out candy, but that’s not the case. However, we do have some plans for this evening. We’re heading over to our friends’ house for chili and cornbread. I’m going to bake some pumpkin cookies today for a dessert (because what is more festive on Halloween than pumpkin cookies!?). Because I don’t have a picture of my own costume to share with you, I’m going to share something better: our dogs in costumes. It’s from a couple years ago, but it’s still super cute.

Halloween Dogs

Katie looks much more like a half-peeled banana from the side, but those pictures are a little blurry. Same goes for Mischa, but I love the little ladybug antennae. She hates that part of the costume the most, so we have to get pictures quick before she pulls them off. Unfortunately Abby doesn’t have a costume (yet) but I’m sure my mom will find something for her by next year. Continue reading

Home Building: It’s Not Always Easy

It’s a rainy day here in Indiana, and I’m sitting down to write this with cup of coffee in hand. It’s still the morning, but we’ve already had a house meeting today. We had one yesterday morning too. In fact, we’ve had a total of four meeting within the last week-and-a-half. 

I love to write about our home building process, and the vast majority of the time I really enjoy the meetings and watching our house come together. That hasn’t been the case for the past week or two. I’ve been frustrated, angry, and sometimes on the verge of tears. 

The lanai fireplace has been framed and has its gas line!
The lanai fireplace has been framed and has its gas line!

I know how fortunate we are to not only be building a house, but to be building a custom house. That said, building a custom home comes at a cost. Not only a financial cost, but a cost to your time. We are grateful to have the opportunity to customize the smallest little details, but after you’ve put so much thought, time, and effort into designing a space, you expect that it will be executed correctly. In the past couple of weeks we’ve dealt with one problem after another. First the incorrect furnace was installed, then we discovered that we had only been priced out for two HVAC zones instead of four. That meant we needed to pay for two more zones and the contractor had to spend an extra three days installing the new zones and fixing the problems with the original zoning. Then we discovered that the ducting created extra bulkheads in our basement, one of which is currently running straight into the wall where Dave wants to mount a gigantic projection screen. The water heater was installed in the wrong location, which was when we realized that the recessed area of concrete in the unfinished space in our basement wasn’t as large as it was supposed to be, so that needs to be fixed before the water heater can be moved. Then we found out that we had a gas line run to the wrong location, which we’ve just decided to leave in place because we can make it work in its current location.  Continue reading

#Blogtober14 – My Favorite Book

I’ve got a quieter day today, so I’m back to linking up with #Blogtober14 and using their prompts! Today’s prompt is “your favorite book.”

Helene in Between Blogtober

Picking one favorite book is tough, but the one I’ve re-read more times than I can count and am always recommending to people is “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Beredt. It’s an absolute “must read” if you ever plan on visiting Savannah, Georgia. The movie is also really good, and it stars Kevin Spacey and John Cusak. Kevin Spacey uses the exact same southern accent in House of Cards that he used in Midnight of the Garden of Good and Evil. As good as the movie is, the book is better, so make sure you read it first. 

The other book that I absolutely have to recommend is “Mountains Beyond Mountains” by Tracy Kidder. It’s all about Dr. Paul Farmer, the found of Partners in Health (PIH), and his work in Haiti. It focuses a lot on his fight against tuberculosis. I think it’s one of the most inspirational books I’ve ever read. 

It wasn’t that long ago that I posted a list of my 10 favorite books of all time, so I’ll re-post it again in case you missed it and are looking for a few other options

My Favorite Books

You can find most of my favorite books, along with the books that I’m currently reading, over on my Goodreads profile. If you’re on Goodreads, add me as a friend because I love to give and receive book recommendations from anyone and everyone!

Until later, Ashlen

Five on Friday

I don’t know where this week went. Time flies when you’re keeping busy, I guess. This week we were busy again with house building, so let’s start there. 


House Building Update

Yesterday we had our interior trim meeting. I thought that meant we were going to need to pick out all of our interior paint colors, mirrors, and bathroom hardware accessories (like towel bars and toilet paper rolls). Turns out that comes later (like, next week). During this meeting we picked out interior doors and picked the interior trim paint color. That’s the color that will be used on things like our our baseboards and our fireplace mantle. Not quite as exciting as picking out mirrors or paint colors for the walls. The winner was Mother of Pearl by Porter Paints.

Porter Paints Mother of Pearl

We had already made a lot of decisions about our trim prior to signing our contract, which made this meeting super duper easy. We actually might need to take out the ceiling trim in Dave’s office because it would probably look pretty odd with the sloped vaulted ceiling. We decided that it didn’t need to be added anywhere else so….#winning. I was reminded that we had added the 4′ Wainscott around our dining nook area, which made me swoon (again). 

Last time I posted we had just discovered that our water heater was installed in the incorrect location, and the pit that contains our sump pump pits wasn’t created large enough. Turns out both of these problems can be fixed, which made me uber happy. I really wasn’t sure if they could make changes to our concrete foundation, but apparently it’s possible…whoop whoop! We had to run out to the house in the middle of the day yesterday because we were told that the electrician would be finishing up and would need a fan that Dave is purchasing himself so it could be installed. All of Dave’s electronic / A/V stuff is going in a closet in the basement, and he’s figuring out how to make it work so it won’t overheat. Apparently that includes installing a super quiet bathroom fan in the closet. The problem? Dave had just decided to add this fan and didn’t actually have it yet….and apparently it was a “special order” kind of product at Lowe’s and Home Depot. So we went out to the house so he could talk to the electrician….who wasn’t there. In fact, the electric work hasn’t been started yet. Whomp whomp whomp. In this case, the apparent delay was a good thing because Dave was able to purchase the fan at Ferguson’s (where we bought all of our plumbing fixtures) and he’ll be able to get it to the electrician when he actually starts working on our house. 

When we were out at the house we found out that the soffits were being installed. I didn’t know what a soffit was until yesterday, but apparently it’s the underside of the roof that goes all the way around the house. I think the same crew (or at least the same contractor) puts up the exterior siding, so I’m hoping that’s done soon. I would also love for our front doors to be installed, because they’ve just been sitting in the garage for weeks now.



Aquage Silkening OilToday’s #Blogtober14 prompt is the one beauty product you can’t live without. Right now that’s Aquage’s Silkening Oil Treatment. It’s kind of pricey, but you only need one or two pumps at a time so it lasts quite a while. I just rub it into damp hair before I blow dry and it decreases the amount of time it takes to dry my hair and it makes my hair soft and smooth. Love it!


Helene in Between Blogtober



Let’s just talk October in general.  It’s turned into a pretty special month. Obviously we celebrated our first anniversary this month, and when we got married last year I was aware that our anniversary would end up being the day after my aunt and uncle’s anniversary. What I didn’t realize was that we were actually adding to an already-existing string of anniversaries all on one side of my mom’s family. It turns out that anniversaries to celebrate every day from October 9th to October 12th. How cool is that!?

Kim's 30th BirthdayOctober is also a big birthday month for our family and friends. Of my four bridesmaids (aka 4 of my favorite gals in the world) three of them celebrate birthdays in October. The fourth is a July baby, which is the best month to have a birthday (but I’m only a little biased, being a July baby myself). So HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Steph, Kim, and Abby, and to Dave’s Aunt Wanda who also celebrated her birthday this month! 

We went out last week to celebrate Kim’s big 30th birthday! We don’t live too far away from downtown Carmel, Indiana, and that was where Kim got her friends together. We started off at Muldoon’s, an Irish Pub, and later in the evening we headed across the street to The Pint Room. The Pint Room opened not that long ago (this summer I think?) and whenever we pass by it’s always packed. Now that I’ve had a change to check it out, I can definitely see why. They’ve got an insane number of beers on tap. If you’re into beer at all, you’ll definitely be able to find more than one thing that meets your fancy. 


Blogger Love

Of course I’m linking up with Meagan again today for some Friday blogger love!

All The Joys Friday Favorites

This week I highly recommend that you check Notes from a Newlywed and the florkens for this week’s edition of their “Going Natural” series. Why? This week’s focus was cleaning products. Amanda specifically mentioned Norwex in her post, and Kate talked about Method. Those are pretty much my new “go-to” brands for everything cleaning-related. (Don’t worry guys, I checked, and Norwex doesn’t test any of its products on animals, so it’s also a “win” on the cruelty-free front). 

Just within the last couple weeks I’ve started using Norwex’s Blue Diamond product as my all-purpose bathroom cleaner (as much as the Norwex cloths can do for some places with “just water,” that wasn’t going to cut it for places like the toilet). With the Blue Diamond and the Norwex Ergonomic Toilet Brush, I managed to get the bowl clean faster than I ever imagined possible. Don’t worry, I won’t be sharing pictures of our toilet bowl with you, cause that would just be weird. If you’re interested in going green with your cleaning, let me know because I can suggest some Norwex products that will definitely help you out!


This Weekend

Dave is at a conference in downtown Indianapolis today and tomorrow. It’s close enough to home that he doesn’t have to stay in a hotel, which is nice, but it means that he’ll be leaving early in the morning and won’t be getting home until late at night. So what’s up for Katie-dog and me this weekend? I’m going to be checking out options for our bathroom mirrors for the house, finishing up and ordering our Christmas cards, and working on a super-secret project (which is something I’ve been working on almost daily for months now, but it’s super-secret, so obviously you’re not hearing a whole lot about it!). I’m hoping to finish it up before Christmas, so you’ll get pictures once it’s all done. Katie-dog will be spending time snuggling with me while I do all of these things, as usual :)

Until later, Ashlen

Five on Friday Logo

Lighting Fixtures

The last time I posted an update about our house’s construction I was just starting to relax a tiny little bit because the correct furnace had been installed (as opposed to the incorrect furnace, which was installed the first go-around). Mistake caught, mistake fixed, crisis averted. Right? Sigh. Not so much. Yesterday we had a big huge selections meeting to pick out every single light fixture in the entire house. It was overwhelming, to say the least….but I’ll get to that in a bit. We stopped by the house to check on the progress before heading home, and noticed that the water heater had been installed….in the wrong location. I pretty much had steam coming out my ears. Why do I care about where the water heater is installed? Well, it is supposed to be sitting in a recessed area beside the sump pump pits. That way any drips or relatively minor leaks will trickle down into the pits and drain out of the basement. A lot of thought actually went into deciding how to lay out all the mechanical stuff in the unfinished area of our basement, so having it installed in the wrong location is really not okay in any way shape or form. The other problem is that it was installed right where we are supposed to have built-in shelving installed for storage. You know, for things like Christmas decorations. We’re limited on storage space in the unfinished area, so taking some of that space away from me is definitely not okay. I really like my Christmas decorations, people. Don’t mess with a girl’s Christmas decoration storage space or you’re going to have a problem on your hands. Not to mention that we’re paying a not-too-insignificant sum of money to have shelving installed in an area that is now filled with a water heater. GRRRRR. Okay, rant over. We’ve asked construction to come to a halt until we can meet with the construction manager once he’s back from vacation next week. I would love to be out of our tiny apartment ASAP, but having things done correctly is more important than having it done quick. Sigh.

Now on to the fun stuff….we got to pick out all of our lighting fixtures. For whatever reason, we were totally not prepared for this meeting. We were asked “what do you want?” and they were met with blank stares from Dave and me. Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration. I knew what I wanted for our exterior lighting….but that was it. So why don’t we start there?

Exterior Lighting

Our house is a Cape Cod style, so when I started looking at exterior lights I wanted something that would be consistent with that style. Turns out when you Google something like “Cape Cod house exterior lighting” you get a whole bunch of pictures of an exterior light made by Hinkley that they call the “Cape Cod.” Now, my parents were just in New England on vacation and they spent a bit of time on Cape Cod. I got an e-mail from my dad about these exterior lights that they saw on practically every house in the area. Turns out the lights my father referred to looked almost identical to the “Cape Cod” lights I had already found (and decided that we were going to use). So here they are: 

Cape Cod Exterior Lighting


The one of the left will be used over our front door, the one in the middle will be used on each side of the garage doors, and the one on the right is the lamp post that will be at the end of our front walkway. 

Quorum Galveston Patio FanLanai Continue reading