Yesterday was a day full of house meetings. We started off by meeting the landscaper contractor at our house. After that we grabbed lunch and headed home for an hour to prep for our next meeting – A/V (Round #2). That’s all Dave’s territory. Finally we headed out to Whitestown, Indiana to pick out our granite. 

When we first started planning out the house I wanted to make sure that we had granite for our kitchen counters. It was included in the base price of our home, so I checked that off my list and moved on. The other places I wanted to make sure we had granite were our master bathroom  and on Dave’s wet bar, which turned out to be included in the base price. I hadn’t really given it much thought since that time. When I had to think about laminate while we designed our cabinets earlier this week, I realized that we only had laminate in two places – my office nook and our laundry room. That made me realize that we had a lot more counter tops to pick out during the granite meeting. 

We started with the kitchen. There’s more granite in this location than anywhere else. Our kitchen cabinets are an antique white, but we have a dark brown (sarsaparilla) island as a statement piece. The granite we picked needed to be able to go on either option and look great. Thankfully marbles have so many different colors in them that it wasn’t hard to find something we liked in a very short period of time. Even after we looked at slab after slab of options, we came back to the same granite that was used in the model home in our community. If you remember correctly, we’re also using the exact same hardwood floor, kitchen cabinet color and island color as that model home. I guess you could say that we kind of liked it…a lot. We didn’t go into the meeting intending to stick with the same option, but after reviewing everything it just looked so great to us….and we already know what it looks like when it’s combined with all our other options in the kitchen! 

Giallo Ornamental granite
Giallo Ornamental granite

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Fresh Start

A few weeks ago I posted about why I love Norwex. The more Norwex products I own, the more I fall in love. This morning I met with my “upline” for the very first time. Norwex is a direct sales company, so you sign up to see the product under an existing consultant. I didn’t know anyone in the U.S. who was selling Norwex, so I went onto the website, found the closest consultant to our future house’s address, and signed up. Consultants get fun bonuses like shopping sprees when the consultants under them do well and sell product. I figured no one was going to complain about having some random person sign up under them if they could reap some rewards! Anyway, My upline consultant, Tracy, reached out to me last week. She offered to sit down with me and chat about starting up a Norwex business. She’s even letting me shadow her to a party later this week! Anyway, it turns out that Tracy is fantastic, and she provided me with all these great resources and ideas. One thing she had was a list of common household products and their Norwex equivalent. That got me thinking about all the products that I’ve replaced in just the last month. I figured it would be a great time to share what I’ve learned, because cleaning is now easier, more effective, takes less time, and isn’t requiring me to use chemicals that give me headaches or allergies. 

The Basic Package: the Window Cloth (purple) and a blue EnviroCloth.
The Basic Package: the Window Cloth (purple) and a blue EnviroCloth.

Mirrors and Windows

From: Windex and paper towels or a squeegee
To: an EnviroCloth ($16.49), a Window Cloth ($18.49), and water
(P.S. the EnviroCloth and Window Cloth can be bought together as a package for 

Windex smells bad and gives me headaches. Trying to get streaks off of your windows and mirrors is a pain. Using paper towels is expensive and creates unnecessary waste. The whole process of cleaning windows and mirrors is time consuming and annoying. I didn’t need a lot of convincing that the “old” method was no good. The other day I cleaned our bathroom mirror and two closet door mirrors while Dave heated up leftover for dinner (ie – in less that 5 minutes). The wet EnviroCloth gets it clean and the Window Cloth dries it without leaving streaks. Plus, we don’t have to spend money on Windex ($4+) or paper towels any more. Norwex for the win.

Bathroom Scrub Mitt
Bathroom Scrub Mitt


From: Clorox wipes, a lot of rags, a bucket of water with Lysol, and Scrubbing Bubbles
To: Bathroom Scrub Mitt ($24.99), Cleaning Paste ($29.99), a wet EnviroCloth, and a dry EnviroCloth

I will say that I have a few items I still want to add into my new bathroom cleaning routine. I’m going to get a bottle of Descaler (a non-chemical replacement for CLR or Lime Away that’s supposed to be awesome) in my next order to make it easier to get rid of the soap scum and hard water marks. Today I just used the Bathroom Scrubb Mitt with Cleaning Paste, which I loved because you can do the whole shower and the bathroom surfaces with just that one mitt. The mitt has different textures on each side…the side shown on the picture is the regular soft side and the other side is rougher to use against stuck on scum. Continue reading

How to be a Gracious Wedding Guest

A year ago I was frantically planning our wedding. This time one year ago our wedding was just over two weeks away. Given that our first anniversary is coming up, I’m getting a little reminiscent. You’re probably going to see a few wedding / marriage related posts popping up over the next couple of weeks. What have I learned from our first year of marriage? What would I change about our wedding, now that I’m a year past the planning process? And the post idea I’m most excited about…”The Never Seen Before Wedding Pictures.” 

I’m only in my late 20s, but I think I’ve heard or seen it all when it comes to wedding guests. Being on the “other side” as a bride was an eye-opening experience, but I’ve also been appalled at what I’ve heard or seen people do at other weddings. I think most brides would agree with me when I say that your guests make your wedding. They’re there to celebrate a huge milestone in your life with you. While most of your guests will bring you joy, there are always a few who will make you want to pull your hair out and cry. So here are my two cents on basic wedding etiquette. Trust me people, being a gracious wedding guest isn’t that hard. 

If you RSVP “yes”….please show up.

There are some very legitimate exceptions to this rule. If you’re hospitalized, you get a pass. You need to be with an immediate family member who had to go in for emergency surgery a few days before our wedding? You get a pass too. You are so sick that you can’t leave the bathroom for more than a few minutes at a time? I’ll tell you that you probably shouldn’t eat gas station sushi, but you get a pass too. Oh, and pictures of vomit coming out of your infant child’s mouth after you drove half-way across the county to be at our wedding are not necessary, but appreciated. That’s another totally acceptable reason NOT to show up at a wedding. Some unacceptable excuses? You have the sniffles. Take a Sudafed, use a NediPot, pack some tissues, and get your butt to that wedding. The couple cared enough about you to invite you, and they or their family is coughing up $20-$50 per head for your dinner, you should at least make an appearance to congratulate them on their big day. No one expects you to stay up dancing into the wee hours of the morning if you’re feeling miserable. If you’re really feeling that bad, at least send your perfectly healthy spouse to the wedding with your deepest regrets. The other totally not acceptable excuse? A big fat lie. For example, if you’re going to decide to not attend a wedding at the very last minute due to some stupid petty disagreement with other guests, at least have the courtesy of saying that rather than making up a phony excuse. And if you do decide to make an excuse, you should at least make the effort to get your family and friends on board so they don’t completely contradict your story on the bride and groom’s social media feeds. This is the reason why Facebook needs a “dislike” button.

Leave your drama at the door. Continue reading

Back to the Basics

This Five on Friday post is going to be a little different. I’m writing it as much for myself as I am for you, my readers. 

I’m feeling a bit stressed about the house we’re building. We started planning in early March, so it’s taken 7 months for me to feel stress about the process. I guess that’s something. Here’s the deal: figuring out the structural options was easy for me because every decision can be made using a logical process. I could ask myself a series of questions and come to an answer. How will we use this space? How does this option enhance our use for this space? Is the price reasonable? Is this something we can easily add after the house is built? After weighing the pros and cons I could come to an answer and I would be happy with that answer because I had considered everything and come to the best possible conclusion. 

There are some logical questions that I can ask myself for our design selections, and things like our appliances and plumbing fixtures all had very practical applications. For those decisions, I started off by asking myself “how will I use this?” and going from there. For example, do I need a faucet with a sprayer? If so, that narrows down my options. Brushed nickel is easiest to keep clean, so cut out all the options that aren’t available in that finish. Then cut out all of the options that are outrageously expensive. Cut out anything you think is ugly. Soon enough you narrow it down to something that is functional, aesthetically pleasing to you, and in your price range. I can deal with that, and it’s a logical process so it doesn’t stress me out at all. I can be happy knowing that I’ve considered my options and made the best choice. 

So why am I stressing out? Because we’ve headed into selections that are not as easy to narrow down based on practical application. Take cabinet hardware…there are plenty of knobs and pulls that are functional. All of these knobs and pulls come in similar finishes and are in a similar price range. So how do you choose? Another great example is paint colors. There are endless options, and one isn’t necessarily better than another for any logical reason. The choice becomes even more difficult when you’re getting advice from multiple different people, and you get advice from one person that directly contradicts the advice of another person. Who do you listen to? Who is more qualified? One person thinks this option is brilliant and another person thinks it looks ridiculous. How do I choose!? 

Yesterday I headed back to Pinterest and Houzz to remind myself of the style that speaks to me. Dave and I are the only people who will be living in this house, so the only thing that matters is that we like the end result. I appreciate other people’s opinions, but now it’s time for me to return to my vision. 

Here’s the style I’m loving:



I love a lot of things about this Pin. Just like in our house, this living room has hardwood floors, coffered ceilings, white trim, and bookshelves flanking a fireplace. Right now I’m loving stacked stone fireplaces, and this is a perfect example of how I want our fireplace to look when it’s finished. I also picked oil rubbed bronze hardware for our cabinet doors in the great room, so I was happy to see that this room also had cabinets with darker handles.  Continue reading


The other night Dave and I were talking and I said “I don’t want to get a sliver.” Dave said “What?” so I repeated myself three times, and each time I spoke louder and louder, until I realized that Dave could hear me just fine. He had no idea what I meant by the word “sliver.” Every once is a while this happens to us. I say something and apparently it’s not an American term, or a Midwestern term, and Dave gives me blank stares. Apparently sliver is one of those terms. It gave me the inspiration behind this next post – a few terms you should probably know if you ever have the chance to head up to Canada! Continue reading

Don’t Throw Stones…

“Don’t throw stones at your neighbors’, if your own windows are glass.” – Benjamin Franklin

Well, if we were throwing stones before (we weren’t) we need to stop….because we have glass windows! I seriously can’t keep this blog updated fast enough with house progress. The crazy thing is we’re building custom….so technically, this kind of progress is “slow.” That boggles my mind because I can’t imagine a house going up any faster than ours is going up right now. Our crew works so hard. They get there at the break of dawn and work until dusk. Take a look:


Let’s take a look back to just over a month ago. We had a big slab of concrete and that was about it….

Backfill Continue reading

What’s on our DVR

TV Shows

Fall is here, which means the return of our favorite TV shows. The Good Wife premiered last night, and that’s getting me excited for all the goodness that’s coming later this week. Here’s what will be scheduled to record on our DVR:


Big Bang Theory
Network: CBS
Premiering: 09/22/14 (today!)
Time: 8/7c
Why watch?: Sheldon Cooper is the funniest character on television. The entire cast is great, and the writing is brilliant. Thank you to CBS for moving this show from Thursday to Monday, because last season our DVR could barely handle all of the Thursday recordings while we had practically nothing to watch during the rest of the week. Continue reading

CANvitational 2014

Kim is training to be Dauntless.
Kim is training to be Dauntless.

Normally I’m not much of a social butterfly, but lately I’m feeling like Miss Popular. Last week my friend Steph and I headed to Broad Ripple for dinner. Steph and I know each other from our college days at Butler, and Broad Ripple is just down the street from campus. I haven’t been back to that area of Indy in a while, so it was great to see some of the development that has been going on in that area. We headed to a restaurant called Flatwater where we sat outside, enjoyed the nice fall weather, and grabbed a bit to eat. Steph just recently moved back to Indianapolis from southern Indiana, and I’m super happy to have her back! On Friday, my friend Kim told me that she was looking for someone to go to CANvitational with her on Saturday and it took about two seconds for me to tell her that I was IN. Kim is my friend who is constantly on the move. If you ever see me trying new things and or doing something totally out of my normal routine, Kim is probably by my side!

CANvitationalKim managed to win two free tickets for CANvitatoinal, including early admission. My husband was kind of jealous that he was left behind, but he just went on a guys weekend in Chicago so….tough cookies. This is the second year for CANvitational. It is hosted by Sun King Brewing, which is pretty much my favorite local brewery. Of their “house beers” (available all year round) I love Wee Mac Scottish-style Ale. I really want to do a brewery tour one of these days…but I’m getting off topic. CANvitational features craft beers from breweries that can (get it? CANvitational?). There are breweries from all over the Midwest and all over the country, including a couple from the United Kingdom. Over 40 breweries were there, and every brewery had at least two different beers available for sampling. No, we didn’t try them all!  Continue reading

Friday Five


Fall Mantel Inspiration – Aimlessly Elegant

I love fall, especially here in Indiana. It’s no longer oppressively hot and humid, but it’s still warm enough to enjoy the outdoors. The leaves, the sweaters, the pumpkin spice lattes, the pumpkin cookies….I love it all. We don’t have a mantle yet (next year tho….). Here’s a fall mantle I saw on Pinterest that I thought was gorgeous:



I’ve Adopted. I’ve Shopped. And Now I See the Difference – the florkens

Are your pets from breeders or from a shelter? Kate talks about where all the members of her pack are from!

Our family dogs were always from breeders. A big part of that was because I was allergic to the Cocker Spaniel that we got when I was young (also named Katie, not to be confused with the current Katie-dog, but they look similar to each other…). Don’t worry, Katie ended up having a long wonderful life with our close family friends and we got to see her all the time. After my parents learned about how Bichon Frises are hypoallergenic, they got Holly. Years later (well after I had moved out of the house) they got Mischa, whose is half Bichon Frise and half Shih Tzu. She’s also hypoallergenic and barely sheds at all. Thankfully I grew out of some of my childhood allergies, and dogs don’t bother me anymore. That allowed me to consider all different kinds of dog breeds when I got Katie-dog. I really wasn’t focused on a particular breed (although I do have my favorites), but more on size and compatibility with other dogs. I was also pretty biased toward female dogs. I took a leap of faith by adopting Katie from a shelter, but I haven’t regretted it for a second. She’s a spectacular dog. When it’s time for us to adopt again, I have no doubt we’ll head back to a shelter. 

Top: Mischa and Holly in their Colts sweaters. Bottom: (L) Holly and Mischa, (C) Mischa and Katie, (R) Esmia, Mischa, and Katie
Top: Mischa and Holly in their Colts sweaters. Bottom: (L) Holly and Mischa, (C) Mischa and Katie, (R) Esmia, Mischa, and Katie

Esmia, the pup on the left in the bottom right photo, is Mischa’s sister from a different litter. Yes, they are very difficult to tell apart. It looks like we might have another identical-looking dog in the family by the end of the year…but more on that another time.


Any people say you need a human kid to be a parent – Notes from a Newlywed

This week Amanda pointed out all the crazy things we do for our pets. I agree 100%. While I’m sure that every parent reading this post is a spectacular parent, I’ve spent some time working in pediatrics and I can definitely say that the pets in our family are definitely treated better than some human kids out there. I’m not saying that it should be that way, but that’s just the reality of our world. I totally get Amanda’s point. If you’ve ever cleaned doggy diarrhea out of the carpet at 3am, you know what being a pet parent is all about. 


Why I Plan to Stay on Antidepressants – Maybe Forever – by Lynn Shattuck on purple clover

This link popped up on my Facebook feed yesterday. It was shared by Bring Change to Mind (BC2M). If you haven’t heard of Bring Change to Mind, I highly recommend you check it out. The website it and you can check out their Facebook page here. It is a non-profit organization started by Glenn Close that is dedicated to ending the stigma against mental illness. Glenn Close’s sister has bipolar disorder and her nephew has schizophrenia, so mental illness is something that is near and dear to her heart. One in six Americans suffer from some form of mental illness, so even if you don’t think you know anyone with a mental illness….you probably do. I first learned about BC2M when they put out this PSA (made by my favorite director…Ron Howard) back in 2009:

Anyway, this article is definitely a good read for anyone with depression or who has a family or friend with depression. Some depression is situational, meaning that it is caused by big traumatic events in your life like a divorce or the death of someone close to you. It’s much easier for patients with situational depression to get off antidepressants in the long term because they can recover and heal from the incident that caused the depression. Clinical depression is a whole different beast. We don’t fully understand clinical depression (or any other mental illness for that matter) yet, because let’s face it….testing on the brain is difficult and invasive when a person is still alive! We have theories about chemical imbalances in the brain that might occur in various mental illnesses based on the known actions of the drugs that improve symptoms of these conditions. We also think there’s some genetic component, given that mental illnesses can “run in the family.” Mental illnesses can be tough to fight without medications (although there are A LOT of great options to supplement the effectiveness of medications…therapy, exercise, pets, a strong support system, etc.) because there’s no other great way to combat the chemical imbalances that seem to cause symptoms. 

What I loved about this article is that Lynn talked about how she tried to go off her medication during pregnancy and breastfeeding. If you can manage that, I applaud you. Unfortunately Lynn struggled when she was off her medication so she and her health care providers made the decision for her to re-start her antidepressant. For her that was the safest and healthiest option. She considered her options, consulted with professionals, and made educated decisions…and that’s awesome.

I also loved this quote from the end of the article:

Many people liken taking medication for depression to taking insulin for diabetes — it’s just what you do to stay well. I take antidepressants for the same reason I put my contacts in my eyes every morning — because it helps me see clearly.


IWYP By: Whitney Ellen – I Wore Yoga Pants to Work


This is the first IWYP shirt that I’ve been really tempted to buy because a) it’s cute and b) I love long sleeve shirts. I still have a week left to decide if I should make the purchase, and it’s really tempting, but I’m actually leaning against ordering it because in a couple months having money to buy furniture is going to be more important than cute shirts. Sad, right? What do you think? Should I spend the $32 or save it?

Happy Friday y’all!

Until later, Ashlen 

All The Joys Friday Favorites

Framing the House: Part 2

In an attempt to “catch up” with our design selections we have been scheduling appointments like mad and I’ve been super busy trying to make sure that our change orders are finalized and signed. Even though we made the selections for our kitchen appliances, kitchen cabinets, and plumbing fixtures ages ago, we just signed off on the appliances and cabinets today. We had a bit of sticker shock when we saw how much we went over budget on our plumbing fixtures. It was a little outrageous. But I’ll get to that in a minute. I know everyone wants to see pictures pictures and more pictures….so that’s what you’re going to get first!

Last time I posted pictures the first floor was mostly framed but there wasn’t a ceiling on it yet. Since then we got a first floor ceiling, the second floor was framed, we got stairs up to the second floor, and we just got a roof! The roof was being assembled in pieces in our front yard, so we didn’t a ton of progress for a day or so, but then it all went up at once, which was very exciting. 

This picture shows the half bar and the theater area.
This picture shows the half bar and the theater area.

Framing - Basement-Spare-Room Framing---Great-Room Framing - Loft Continue reading