Raw what?

One of my favorite blogs is Casual Kitchen.  This blog appeals to a big range of people, I'm sure, but my personal interest comes from a place of not really caring about food and nutrition but feeling like maybe I should care.  Daniel's tag line is Cook More. Think More. Spend Less.  And he delivers.  He makes it easy for me to get a little bit interested in cooking and nutrition.

I was really struck a couple of weeks ago when he posted a 7-day series on a raw food diet trial.  Raw food might be briefly summed up as food that isn't cooked - isn't dead, some say.  It doesn't appeal to me as a lifestyle at all (I heart me some bread and cheese and chocolate, thankyouverymuch) but I think I could take a few pages from the Raw Foods book.

So what Daniel did is eat a raw food diet for 7 days, and then each day he posted what/when he ate and included notes from the day.  You can see the full archive here.  Seriously, check it out.

Sounds boring, right?  WRONG.  I thought I would end up skipping this series of his, but it was actually fascinating to see what exactly constitutes a raw food breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Who knew soaked and sprouted wheat berries could be awesome?

I might actually give them a try.

Once I find my magic bullet, that is....


a big announcement from the western homefront

After nearly a week of alternating between panic attacks and extreme excitement, I am ready to announce that there is a new member of the westernmost (as far as I know) contingent of the Gainer/Daoust/Shultz/Bowden families.

Her name is Aurora, but she goes by Rory.  She is a beautiful three-month-old brown package of piddle border collie and I am investing in a Bissell Spot Shot very very soon to save the carpet.  When we brought her home, she was about the same size as Eli, but a little taller and with a bigger head.  She outgrew him overnight.  She still looks like a stuffed animal, though.

Her name, Aurora, comes from a town in the Denver Metro area, where we will probably be spending a lot of our time since our Denver neighborhood shares a border with Aurora.  She is not named after Rory Gilmore.

(Brian didn't go for my suggestion that we name her Aurora Borealis and call her Rory-Bory.)   (Sometimes I call her Rory-Bory anyway.) (UPDATE: Brian came around.)


happy birthday boy

I would like to take this opportunity to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and readers.  (And if you're a reader but not a friend, let's fix that!)  We are spending the holiday with another couple from church - a retired minister and his wife, as well as a couple other guests of theirs.  We are having turkey and pie - and as best I can tell, nothing else.  AWESOME.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish my super secret spy husband a very happy birthday.  For super secret spy reasons, I won't say exactly when his birthday is, but it's always around Thanksgiving, so there you go.  Happy birthday, love.  You are still my favorite, and I'm grateful for another year with you.


emergency knitting

Knitterly fans of Gilmore Girls might remember the episode of the knit-a-thon to save the bridge in Stars Hollow.  Lorelei wore a (totally rad) Knit Or Die shirt.  I recently had a Knit Or Die moment, myself.

It'd been weeks - WEEKS - since I'd been able to do any real crafting, any knitting or sewing whatsoever.  And after spending a week-plus with nothing but boxes and an ornery papillon to keep me company, I had a moment of desperation.  I needed to knit, and I needed to knit right then.

So did I turn to the pillows I've been working on since June, for a friend?  Even though they are entirely done and only need a pillow form and some seaming?  No.  Did I turn to the two pairs of socks for a different friend, a bartering agreement in which she bought me two football tickets in exchange for two pairs of socks?  No.

I needed something easy, and I needed something mindless.  It was time for a dish rag.  Here's an early progress shot:

This is my first time using a grand old dishrag pattern.  It's called Grandmother's Favorite (Ravelry Link) and I'm pretty sure it's been a dishrag standard for eons.  The yarn is a Japanese yarn that our cousins, currently stationed in Okinawa, sent me many moons ago - as best I can tell from the label, it's acrylic and has antibacterial properties.  I call the colorway 'fabulously orange.' I came across it today while unpacking, and I decided that it was time.

I consider knitting a part of my homemaking.  If I'm not knitting something for sale, I am knitting something to be used or to be given as a gift.  I used to feel guilty when ignoring the giant to-do list in lieu of some knitting, but not anymore.  I like to think of it as growth.

What do you do when you need a break from the world for a little while?


lisa leonard

Almost as soon as I started reading blogs, I read about Lisa Leonard.  Seriously, this lady has fans all over the place.  She does customized silver jewelry and other stuff.  Her work is simple, unique and really just plain cute.

I haven't yet had the disposable income pleasure of owning one of her pieces, but there's somebody I've had my eye on for a while now.  It's called the Sweetheart Tree pendant, and I love it.  You can see it here. There's just something about it.  Brian and I, we aren't really monogram or crest people, but we might be initials-carved-in-a-tree people.  A little whimsical, a little old-school, a little childish youthful.

In the past few months, a number of Lisa Leonard giveaways have popped up in the blog circles I read, and I thought I would share a recent one with you, brought by SimpleMom.  SimpleMom is one of my favorite blogs, even though I'm not a mom, and I am happy to point any and all of you in that direction.

You can read more about SimpleMom, Lisa Leonard's designs and the giveaway here.



Where I come from, we pronounce the word 'style' as something more like 'stah-ll.'  Incidentally, as a newly minted Westerner, I am becoming even more familiar with my own southern accent.

And as a newly minted housewife, I am becoming dreadfully familiar with my distinct lack of personal style.  In the process of setting up a new home, I am somewhere between unpacking and arranging - not quite to the decorating stage, but a lot of stuff is out of boxes and looking for its home.  In my last home, this intimidated and depressed me - something that can somewhat be attributed to a weird, crippling insecurity and somewhat attributed to mental and physical exhaustion.  In my new home, I am in a much better state of mind and of life in general.  And while the transition from worker bee to happy housewife has required an adjusting period for sure, I am much less anxious about the decorating efforts that I know are soon on the horizon.  (I like to think of this as progress!)

So with the recent advent of internet access in my apartment, I did some catching up in the blogosphere, and I was stoked to find out about Ethan Allen's online style quiz, meant to pinpiont your personal style from one of several overarching genres.

My result is Villa.  Ethan Allen describes Villa as the following:

Villa is romance reinvented. A high-end “decorator” look. Refined without fuss. Serene yet strong. Pedigreed while also modern. Inspired by French and Scandinavian design. A mingling of carved woods. handcrafted artisanship, and the dressmaker detail.

Some of this is accurate, but some I'm not so sure about.  Wood and handcrafted artisanship, yes please!  Scandinavian design is fine in small doses, but the frilly florally French romance, not so much (I would peg myself as being more 'world' or 'global' in this aspect).  And I don't know what to make of 'dressmaker detail' although given my appreciation for little details, I'm guessing this is accurate.

Did you take the quiz?  What do you make of your style - does it fit into one of Ethan Allen's categories, or are you somewhere else entirely?



So you mean the 'hiatus' post I wrote never went live?

Ooops... sorry guys :)

WELL.  Let's recap the past few weeks:

My husband finished his seminary education back in August.  A couple of weeks later, he was offered a job in Denver, Colorado.

I spent much of September and most of October trying not to hyperventilate, on account of the moving across country at precisely the exact same time that my responsibilities at work were kicked into high gear.  All the work events and whatnot went really well and I did not, as anticipated, stroke out at any point.

On November 1, Brian was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA).  I fondly remember this day as the day he proved a few less-than-stellar personalities in the seminary realm WRONG, COMPLETELY WRONG YOU JOKERS WHO SAID HE WOULDN'T MAKE IT, AN ACCUSATION BASED PRIMARILY ON THE FACT THAT HE DIDN'T KISS YOUR BEHIND AND CRADLE IT IN FLUFFY DOWN PILLOWS AND HANDSPUN SILK IMPORTED FROM ...WHEREVER SILK IS MADE.  jerks.  [end rant]

Packers came on Thursday, Nov. 5, and loaded all our crap personal belongings into boxes.  Movers came on Friday the 6th, which was coincidentally my last day of work (I KNOW.  Take a freaking break, Ashley.).  And while the preceding couple of weeks had been very bitter-sweet (or bitter-exciting as I liked to say) Friday was mostly comprised of Bitter.  I worked until closing time, got one last meal in what had become my beloved hometown with Brian and Kyle (aka my best-guy-friend), and set to work cleaning the house.  Which had become very dirty as I had not really done any cleaning in it in the previous 2 or 3 months.  On account of all the other stuff going on, and a mild bout of some kind of gastrointestinal awfulness.

Related aside/shout out: my super-awesome boss friend and her teenage daughter came to help out.  They were life-savers.  Brian also roused some troops to come help clear out the millions of boxes from the attic - something that would have taken us hours.  (Boxes, you ask?  Well...knowing we would probably be moving in the year after Brian finished school, we saved every box that came across our threshold in the 2 years we'd been married.  We had many boxes.  Many.  Boxes.  And then that blessed institution, the church that hired Brian, sprang for packers and movers, so we didn't need any of them.)

Our greatest fear was confirmed that day, as well.  Our air mattress is no longer with us.  I have been racking my brain trying to figure out where it could have gone, and the last thing I can remember is taking it to Delaware for my brother's wedding.  I'm hoping it's floating around my mom's house somewhere, although she assures me it is not.  So we spent the night at my boss friend's house. And it was exactly what I needed.  Too busy and too many people for me to get caught up in emotional hoo-hah and bawl everywhere, but relaxed and hospitable enough that I could sit back and be emotional anyway.  Without the blubbering.

Saturday morning, we got into our overstuffed car and left.  It didn't take Eli too long to borrow himself a tunnel nearly to the back of the car.  That dog has an awful lot of funny packed in his under-8-lbs frame.

I think we were about half an hour on the road when we realized that we'd left everything in the fridge and freezer.  And even if we wanted to turn around, it would do us no good as we were effectively locked out of the house.  I am STILL kicking myself about the 3/4 bottle of wine from our friend Melissa that I planned on enjoying in my first week(s) as a housewife.  It's from Duplin County!!  Extreme sadness.  I hope my landlord enjoys it.

So that's it.  We made it.  We're here, all our crap personal belongings are here, and everyone seems to be settling into his/her/its place.

Actually, if I'm completely honest, in the battle between Ashley and The Boxes, I think The Boxes are winning.  Updates as warranted.  Unless I get stuck in a corner.  (Again.)


literary affairs

I recently finished my second novel in 4 months in which the protagonist has an affair. In both cases, the protagonist is a middle-aged woman who has been married a while and feels stale.  She embarks on a new journey - goes home, gets a new job, whatever - and there, she meets someone.  There's instant mutual attraction, blah blah blah.  She shakes off her guilt and is madly in love with her new guy.  They start to envision a future together.  And THEN, he says something weird or she learns something important about her past, and she reverts back to being happy with her husband.

These books make me really angry.  I shake my finger at these women and urge them not to be so carefree about tossing their marriages aside.  Marriage as a commitment and a way of life and I care about my own marriage too much to be 'moved' or even entertained by a story about someone being careless with hers.

I guess you could say I'm too married.

What kinds of books do you avoid because they rile you up too much?


Weekend recap and Monday-Monday

Big things are happening at home.  This past weekend, Brian was ordained.  It's official - he is a Minister of Word and Sacrament, and more concern-worthy, I am a Minister's Wife.  I should probably take a moment to go through all my archives and remove every instance of the word 'hell' (all what, three of them?) - just in case.

After a nice dinner with Julia - the last NC friend on my list to see before we left - I drove down to Concord, NC to be with Brian and his family.  Brian had left for Colorado more than two weeks earlier, so it was a happy reunion.  Saturday was an early Thanksgiving meal with Brian's family and some very close family friends, topped off with a round of trick-or-treaters at the door.  Sunday, of course, had Brian's ordination.  We got in late last night and the general mood was one of contentedness and complete exhaustion.  Brian has a lot of things to do to get us ready to move, and I have made him several lists to help him - because that's what any good Minister's Wife would do.  Also, my mom came up last week and made a bunch of freezer meals for us, so we don't have to think about food.  Thanks, ma!

This will be my last Monday at work.  I think I am mostly done being sad about leaving - or at the very least, I am more excited than sad at this point.  I had a real cryfest last week and I've been focused on the mechanics of moving, ever since. 

Richmond, I love you, and I am sad to be leaving you.  Denver, you'd better be ready to step up.

We have begun the days-away countdown.  Five days.  I've thought about installing one of those little count down thingers on the blog, but who has the time to research those?