I can’t believe that it was only a little over a week ago when I announced that excavation on our house was underway. We (ok, not us personally, but the hard working construction crews) have made some major progress in that time! Overall we have a lot going on with the house building process right now. Let me just say, custom building is not for the faint of heart. Instead of option A, B, or C we have every option in the world (that might be a tiny exaggeration, but the options can feel endless). It’s an insanely daunting process, and it involves a lot of meetings. In addition to all of our selections meetings, we decided to hire an interior designer. We met with her for the first time yesterday and she is putting me so much more at ease about our design selections. Tomorrow we meet with the company that is designing our kitchen cabinets, our wet bar, our laundry room, and all our bathroom vanities. Side note: I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around going from our one tiny bathroom (with only one sink) to a house with 3.5 bathrooms. I am so ready for more space in so many ways. Anyway, if I tried to fit all the juicy details about all of our house updates into one post it would end up being insanely long, so I’m breaking it up. Today you’re going to get to see all the progress that has been made on the construction. Dave and I head out to the lot every evening after he gets home from work. We walk around the lot and take a lot of pictures to document the progress. Then we usually drive around the neighbourhood several times to get ideas for our home and see what other people have done with their selections. Yesterday we paid special attention to the stone (for about the 100th time), and shingle colors (for about the 3rd time), and creepishly took pictures of a random neighbour’s home (for the 2nd time, I kid you not) because we like their stone combination. 

Without further adieu, the progress in pictures….


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Don’t Try So Hard

I really like reading ‘the “florkens”‘ (who doesn’t?), but when Kate announced her “Don’t Try so Hard” link-up, featuring pictures of yourself without your hair and makeup done, I wasn’t sure it was really for me. Why? Because I don’t try that hard….every single day. I can’t be scared of what the world thinks of me without being all dolled up because you’ve all seen it before. I’m still trying to figure out makeup, and one of the only times you’ll find me wearing makeup is if I’m going out for a big-ish event. Dinner with friends might qualify, depending on my mood. I’ll definitely throw on mascara for a wedding. Ya get me? 

Try not to hate me and stop reading my blog forever and ever when you read this, but….I never had acne issues. Not even as a teenager. I would break out a bit on my forehead when I got really stressed, like during exams in college….but other than that….my skin is relatively acne-free. I don’t really have any secrets to pass along about my naturally acne-free skin. I don’t use a special face wash (ok, I don’t use any face wash at all…just water on my face in the shower…) or creams, or moisturizers, or anything. I know about 90% of the females on the planet will want to kill me for not having to deal with this, but I have no control over it so please don’t hate me! 

Anyway, my blemish-free skin didn’t require the use of a lot of makeup as a teenager. I was a competitive golfer, and frankly I knew I would be hot and sweaty anyway, so I didn’t worry too much about trying to look great every day. So missed that whole part when you learn all about makeup (P.S. – where do you learn these things anyway? Magazines? Friends? Mothers? Sisters?…not that I have any of those….). 

I am a tad more particular about my hair. I don’t like whispy pieces flying all over the place. I used to straighten it fairly regularly to keep them in control, but recently I found that if I use Aquage silkening oil in my hair before I blow-dry, it ends up fixing most of my whispy issues. Everyone who has lived with me will tell you that I spend at least an hour drying my hair….and I can’t deny it, because it’s completely true. There are two reasons for this. 1) My hair is insanely thick and I have a lot of it. It does actually take a long time to dry. 2) People (my parents when I was younger, and now my husband) don’t bother me when I’m drying my hair. It’s complete “me” time. I’ve usually used that time to just sit back and relax, and forget about everything else going on in my life. I read a book, I play a game on my iPad, catch up on the news, whatever. Occasionally I do use that time to be productive…like replying to e-mails, or researching something on the internet. But most of the time, it’s just relaxing. It doesn’t really have anything to do with looking good. 

Despite the fact that I have acne-free skin and thick hair, and despite the fact that I go out into the world without a whole lot of primping, I’m just as self conscious as every other woman out there. Pictures of myself aren’t really any different…these days I rarely find myself truly happy with any picture that I see of myself. But – this link-up is all about finding the beauty in our own natural selves…so here are a couple of photos where I didn’t try that hard and I still feel beautiful.

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We took this picture a few months ago on our house lot. We went over to check it out and I decided to take a selfie…just us on our land. My eyes are squinted, my bangs are insanely long, it was a bit chilly and my cheeks are all rosy, but I’m happy…and that is a beautiful thing. 

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If you want to see me in my natural state….this is it. That’s me in bed snuggling with Katie-dog. Of course Katie’s “awww” factor distracts from the fact that I’m right there next to her, but her presence always relaxes me and I think my general contentment can be seen in my face. 

Thanks to Kate for hosting this link-up…go check out all the other lovely ladies without their makeup on! Is it bad to admit that I’m surprised how GOOD everyone looks in their natural state? Seriously ladies…I think a lot of you would be just fine if you didn’t try so hard every single day! 

Jade and Oak


Until later, Ashlen


Friday Favorites

Another week down, and it’s time for round two of Friday Favorites! I have a decent amount to share for my Five on Friday today, so I’ll be dedicating one and two to my favorite blog reads this week, number three is my favorite purchase of the week and four and five are little life updates from the Mathew household. 


Parenting Choices: When a Parent Crosses the Line - A Dish of Daily Life

Michelle has some great content on a lot of different topics. I particularly love her recipes. But this week I’m sharing one of her “op-ed” pieces because I agree with her 100%. Honestly, I don’t really have the guts to post such an opinionated piece, but I’m really glad that Michelle is braver than me! Here’s the gist: a woman posted a blog post about how she provided her 14-year-old daughter with her first joint. As a mother of teenagers, Michelle provides a great response (in my opinion). 


Celebrating the Bride – All the Joys

Not only am I linking up with Meagan for Friday Favorites, but I’m sharing one her posts from this past week because it just looks delicious. 

Sparkling Lemonade with Limoncello

See? Looks delicious, right? Meagan made it for a bridal shower, and I’ll definitely be tucking the recipe away for use in the future! Continue reading

House Floor Plan

I’ve had a request to post the floor plans for the new house. At first I thought “haven’t I already posted them?” but a quick check and it turns out that I have never posted them on the blog. As soon as I tried to get screenshots I realized why I’ve never posted them….they needed a decent amount of manipulation before I could get them into a usable image from their original PDF format. Unfortunately the labels are pretty small, so it is hard to read everything, but these should give you the gist of house. Of course once we actually get the house built I can do a fancy little home tour with lots and lots of pictures. 

If you want to go back and read about how the floor plan came into existence you can read about the start of it here, here, and here

Here is the floor plan of the house….

Main Floor
Main Floor

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Welcome to our Hole


We waited and waited and the day finally came…the day we got a hole!

On Friday morning we headed out to our lot to meet with our builder for the very first time. He was out there with the excavator and they were surveying our land. Our land is on a bit of a slope, so if you are looking at the land from the street the left side of the house (where the driveway will be situated) is higher than the right side of the house. It was really interesting to realize that the main floor on the right size of the house will actually be over 4′ higher than the ground. We also learned that we won’t be able to use the RockWell window well that we were originally planning on using for the basement egress window in the spare bedroom. The window is on the lower side of the house, so it is not going to end up requiring a full window well. We were originally considering doing a timber well, but decided to go with RockWell because of the insane price difference. Now that we can’t use a RockWell, we’re actually getting a small (1′-2′) timber well. Because the well will be so short, it will allow people in the basement guest room to have a decent view! Continue reading

Friday Favorites

So many link-ups, so little time. I think I might be able to combine all THREE of the linkups I want to participate in today into ONE post. Seriously.

We’ve got Oh, Hey Friday with Karli and Amy



Then one of my other favorite girls, Meagan over at All the Joys started up Friday Favorites….

All The Joys Friday Favorites
With Friday Favorites you share your five favorite blog posts that you’ve read in the past week. I think she picked a great week to start this up because I am sick and tired of all the negativity in the news lately. Ukraine and Russia are still going at it, and manage to shoot down 300 innocent people out of the sky, which also happened to be the second Malaysian Airlines tragedy this year, Israel is invading the Gaza Strip (for the billionth time), Syria is right next door and in the middle of a civil war, and I’m assuming ISIS is still taking over Iraq but there’s so much other horrible stuff going on that it’s not even making the news any more. Oh, and apparently life in other countries are so bad that people are trying to flood (illegally) into the United States in hopes of a better life. I love my Nightly News with Brian Williams, but if he doesn’t start adding more “Making a Difference” reports to his half hour I might need to take a break from the overwhelming amount of negativity I have to see each night. Anyway, Friday Favorites will be a great way to find other bloggers, put a smile on our faces, and share a few of my favorite reads with you! Which brings us to…

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To Build a Home

I’ve had the song “To Build a Home” by the Cinematic Orchestra in my head a lot over the past few months. The problem? We haven’t actually started to BUILD a home…yet. “To Plan a Home” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it…know what I mean? We were delayed a while back when the blueprints we being prepared because the company was down an architect. I get it, that’s cool. We finally got the blueprints finished and all of our permits approved by the city at the end of June. I thought we would walk the lot with the builder and architect then start excavating within a week. WRONG. 

Do you know what's wrong with this picture? THERE'S NO HOLE!
Do you know what’s wrong with this picture? THERE’S NO HOLE!

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Cody & Amanda’s Wedding

Honestly, I’ve been looking forward to this past weekend for so long that I have to admit I’m just a little sad that it’s behind us. It certainly lived up to its expectations. Cody and Amanda are such special friends to us, and we were thrilled to be there on their wedding day. As you’ll recall, Cody was an usher at our wedding and will forever be a part of our story given that he introduced me to Dave. I can’t take credit for introducing Cody to Amanda, but I can take some credit for providing him with his second cat, Huxley. That counts for something, right?  

Ring-Bearer-and-Flower-GirlAnyway, on to the wedding recap. We showed up at Valle Vista, a golf club in Greenwood, IN for the 6pm ceremony. The ceremony was in a gorgeous indoor / outdoor area near the putting green. It was covered, and there were fans (thank goodness, because this Canadian does not handle the hot and humid Indiana summers well at all), but we still got to enjoy the fresh air. It also allowed the bride to be driven up in a horse-drawn carriage. True story. Obviously it was the first time I got to see Amanda in her wedding gown, but she had described it to me a bit in advance. Her description of the dress was spot on, and it looked exactly like I had imagined it in my mind. Obviously she was gorgeous, but the thing I loved most was that the dress was just so Amanda. It’s hard to describe, but if a wedding dress can emulate a person’s personality, this one did to a tee. Continue reading

Oh Hey, Friday!

I was pretty excited to hear that there is another Friday linkup starting while the “Five on Friday” gals are on vacation. Thanks so much to Karli over at September Farm and Amy over at The Farmer’s Wife for putting “Oh Hey, Friday!” together! 


For this very first Oh Hey, Friday! I’m pretty excited to continue updating everyone on our house building process. This week we went and picked out….KITCHEN APPLIANCES! You know you’re old when you get excited about kitchen appliances. Whatever. I love spending time in the kitchen, but my current appliances can drive me a little bonkers. I will definitely be moving into my dream kitchen in 6 months or so! Continue reading

Bye Bye BMW

Dave and I were glad to see the month of June in the rear view mirror. July (so far) has been much better to us, albeit a little on the chaotic side. I feel like today is really the first day this month that I’m getting to sit down with a cup of coffee to write a morning blog post, which is always a great relaxing way to start the day. Anyway, here are some updates from the chaotic Mathew household…

Obviously we’re still dealing with Dave’s car accident. The claim was referred to the “Total Loss” department, so we were pretty sure they were going to say his car was a total loss. Apparently not. We think they really over-valued the car, but whatever. The thing was….we were originally planning on putting the car up for sale in October. The collision repair shop couldn’t get the car back to us until the end of July (about 5 – 6 weeks after the original accident date)! We would have to pay the deductible, which was no small sum, and we would be trying to sell a used car that had been in an accident. It really didn’t make a lot of sense. Instead, we decided to take a cash settlement from the insurance company (the estimated cost of repairing the car minus the deductible), because that amount was just a bit less than we figured we would have sold the car for in a couple of months. The problem? We were then left with the car. A car that needed to be removed from the collision repair center but couldn’t be driven anywhere. Dave contemplated having it towed back to our apartment and then salvaging and selling the remaining parts. I wasn’t a huge fan of the idea. We would have to pay to have the car towed to our place, then Dave would have to put the effort into dismantling the car in the middle of the summer heat, and then figure out how to sell the parts and ship them to the buyers. We might have got a bit more money out of the car, but it sounded like way too much of a hassle. Instead, Dave actually ended up finding a buyer for the car. It sounds insane, but Dave called up the shop where he normally takes the car to ask if they had any suggestions. It turns out that the owner of the shop was looking for a car to fix up for his grandson. Given that the bulk of the repair costs were from labor, and this guy could do a lot of the labor himself, it actually wasn’t a bad deal for him. Plus, he could tow the car away from the collision repair center and take it off our hands completely….and we got a bit of extra money out of the car. It was pretty much a win-win situation. I think we both felt a bit better knowing that the car would eventually go to a kid who would enjoy it rather than to a scrapyard. I guess we’re just a little sentimental. So….the BMW is no more. It’s still a little sad, because Dave really loved his car and has been driving it since he graduated college. 

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