Freckles and Smiles

What a busy day it was today! I seemed to be going non-stop at work and the day flew by. I'm so glad that tomorrow is Friday; I've borrowed a small tiller from Grace's boyfriend and plan on getting my garden in. When I picked up Amelia today she was full of stories and humorous things to say. When we first got in the car she had to tell me all about her new freckles. I LOVE that she is getting freckles; she is the perfect mix of Mark and I... dark hair, blue eyes and lighter skin with FRECKLES! "Mama, I'm getting freckles (long pause) I don't want you to wash them off, I'm gonna be like you" and she looked at me with the biggest smile. I reassured her that I would not be scrubbing them away and that she could be like her Mama. Even though I have thousands upon thousands of freckles and she has only a few, it made me smile to think she wanted to be like her Mama. With her looking up to me it makes me all the more determined to lead a happy healthy life. I want her to grow up active, excited to get out and enjoy the sun and all of the activities that come along with it. As we were driving home she was very observant today. Usually she sits back and falls asleep but with the tiller sitting on the floor behind the passenger side she had to sit behind me and was able to see me in the rear view mirror as well as my side mirror. I had the sunroof open and my window down, it was so cute to see her hair blowing all over... but then she said "Mama, I think you going too fast... slow down" so I had to lay on the brakes for a bit so she could see everything on the new side of the road. 
The beautiful view in my rear view mirror today on the way home.

Dinner ready for me when I get home three nights in a row... that husband of mine is spoiling me! Tonight he made a delicious dinner of cod and asparagus. He made a ginger, soy sauce and garlic sauce for the cod which was amazing. I wanted to eat more but was comfortably full so I figured I shouldn't go back for another helping. 
It tasted wonderful! Thank you husband.

I'm excited for lunch tomorrow! My co-workers and I were going out to lunch quite regularly a few months back and decided we were a "lunch club". Well one of our members Vicky is a temporary employee and her last day with us will be June 5th. Tomorrow the lunch club is going out for the last time with Vicky to the Chinese restaurant in town. It will be a nice treat, and great to go out again since we haven't been lately. Lunch club consists of myself, my not blood brother Jesse, my sister Grace, her boyfriend Chris, one of my greatest friends Steve and our darling Vicky. I am going to miss Vicky a lot; we have had some wonderful conversations over the past six months and I feel that we have become great friends during the time she has worked with us. She has given me some great advice that I will carry with me throughout my life. Thankfully the good ol' Facebook will keep us in touch! and I'm still promising that I will one day visit her in Hawaii when she makes the move there. 

I'm hoping for a very laid back weekend, but one that allows me to accomplish a lot around the house. I want to get my garden in, visit my Grandma, take Amelia for a walk around the neighborhood with a stop at the park, hit the gym Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, try a few new recipes, clean like crazy, perhaps take a trip up to the local frozen yogurt shop and maybe fit in some crafting. I know, quite a long list for what I envision to be a "laid back" weekend but to me these things are all relaxing and will hopefully relieve some stress. I also want to get my blog a little more complete, adding to each of my sections. No matter what I do, I'm sure you will all hear about it :) 

Have a great night!
Ashley Elizabeth

A healthier diet

Today was a great start to my healthier eating plan. I've been counting calories off and on through but the past couple of weeks I have been slacking on tracking everything. I am determined to keep this up!!! For breakfast I had 3/4 of a cup of whole grain cereal with a 1/4 cup of milk and a spinach smoothie for a mid morning snack. I think I needed to add more protein into my lunch, such as  chicken, to maintain that full feeling for a little longer.
This is my awesome lunch! My water bottle, strawberries, grapes, carrots, a 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, and amazing salad and my homemade olive oil & balsamic dressing

Today felt somewhat like a Friday, and oh how I wish it were! We are gearing up for fire season and work has been quite busy lately. I got an email today about pre-sale tickets for a singer I LOVE but I looked at the date and was instantly depressed... right in the middle of August. I wish I could buy them and go but knowing my luck we will get a fire and I will have to be at the office...missing out on all of the awesomeness of the concert. Bummer! 

Last night, as well as tonight, dinner has been ready for me when I get home. What a wonderful husband I have! Tonight he made stir fry with peppers, onions and chicken, and knowing that I can't have rice he made quinoa for me! Awesome. Thankfully he made enough to have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. 
Our yummy dinner! 

So tonight I started watching this BBC show on Netflix called North & South. For some reason I've been obsessed with British shows recently: Downton Abbey, Land Girls and now North & South. I don't have any shows that I'm watching regularly now so these are a good lazy night activity. 

I am hoping to try out a few new healthy recipes this week, so I will post them in my recipes section if they turn out. I hope you are all having a great evening. I'm off to get lunch packed up for Amelia and I, and to get her little booty to bed. I'll leave you with a picture of her in the car today, my little pirate.
Ashley Elizabeth

Catching up after a long weekend

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend; my family and I went camping. Friday I took off at noon and my sister Erica, Amelia and I headed up past Hood River to meet up at the campground with my little sister Gracie, her boyfriend Chris and my parents... oh and let's not forget the four kittens we took camping! Mark had to work so he didn't meet us up in Parkdale until Saturday afternoon. It was a fun weekend, and a great first camping experience for Amelia. I didn't get any exercising in as planned but I tried to manage my portions at meal times and ended coming home the same weight that I left, even with the s'mores. Our tent was incredibly comfortable and Amelia and I slept so well (the muscle relaxers might have aided in this comfort).
A picture of my girl and I in our tent

My headache was tolerable during our trip, but the meds the doctor prescribed haven't fully eased the pain. We did a lot of lounging about this weekend, which was a nice way to spend 3 days. Saturday we spent some time in Hood River at the market and shopped at the little stores, Sunday we found a few geocaches and hung around camp and Monday we packed up and headed home. 
Chris, Grace and I

 Amelia in front of our tent

 Amelia and her Pappy

 Our first night

 Yes, we took 4 kittens camping

My parents with Amelia

So Grace and I are both in agreement that we could definitely improve our eating habits. I tend to do really well for a week or two and then fall right off the wagon. Tonight after work I stopped at the store and bought a ton of fresh produce and plan on making up a huge salad tonight, along with some chicken, and have it all ready to go for our lunches the next few days. I'm counting every calorie I put in my mouth and I AM going to get results! As for exercising, it has been hard to do much with the pounding headache but I'll get there. Thankfully the weather forecast looks good the next couple of days and Grace and I have walking on the agenda for our lunch break tomorrow. I'm glad she is so supportive!!!!! 

Well, I've got salad to make tonight for lunch tomorrow, and dinner to put away, and kittens to take care of and a little girl to get ready for bed so... I'm off for tonight. Good night all. 
Ashley Elizabeth


Good Evening All,
Let me start off by saying Thank You to all of the people checking out my blog. It really is amazing to log on and see hundreds of views daily from people all over the world. So my last post was in regards to the headaches I've been experiencing. I made it into the doctor today and hopefully we are on our way to getting rid of this nasty guy! So just a basic overview of what I've been experiencing... I like to describe it as that infection feeling that is incredibly painful, yet itches at the same time. I feel as though something is inside my head eating my brain, which is a nasty visual but the only way I can describe the feeling. I've had migraines since the age of 12 and have gotten quite used to them as they occur more often now than they ever did back then. My migraines vary anywhere from two days to eighteen days and are pretty typical migraines, but this head pain I'm experiencing is a whole new ballgame! The doctor I saw today believes that what I'm experiencing is sort of a battle between migraine and the most severe tension headache one can experience. I've had some serious swelling in my temple area and at the base of my head that comes and goes regularly now. He said that my muscles are so tense, probably triggered from a migraine or some sort of stress, that they are swelling. Because my muscles are so swollen and tight they are essentially squeezing my brain, which is why I get that nasty feeling of infection in my head. Since I have been unable to get more than a few hours of sleep per night my brain never gets a chance to rest, which explains the problems I'm having remembering things and focusing... I'm sort of burnt out at this point. Also, when my muscles enlarge (or swell) they trigger horrible chest pains, which then adds more stress. The doctor has put me on a muscle relaxant to try and get the two main muscles to calm down, a really low dose beta blocker to help my heart chill from the stress and a pain medication to deal with the overall headache. Hopefully the combination of the three will be the cure! I can only hope.

On to what's new... We are gearing up to go camping this weekend. I'm super excited as it will be our first time camping with Amelia. I'm taking half a day off tomorrow and driving over with my sister Erica, and Mark will meet us over there Saturday after he is off work. It should be a great relaxing weekend. Tonight when I got home from work Amelia said "you went to work for too long Mama, I missed you so much and so much" then she followed it up with a tight squeeze and a huge kiss! I'm a lucky Mama. If the meds are working by tomorrow night or Saturday I plan on starting the C25K. I figure the weather will be nice and cool in the evenings and it will be great scenery, and maybe I can get my sister Grace to join me... although she is so much faster than I am and can go a lot further. Perhaps she will take pity on her sister! I had planned to make some treats to take camping but decided I really don't need the calories. Of course I will take stuff for s'mores, because you can't go camping without, but that will be all! When I get back I plan on posting my weekly loss (or gain) in my weight loss section, but as you all know I'm too self conscious to post my actual weight... maybe one day. At least it will push me to work a lot harder if I'm posting my ups and downs for you all to see. Well, with Memorial weekend almost here and a camping trip to pack for I am off for the night. I will post all about our camping adventures when we return Monday evening. I hope you all have a safe and fun weekend!
So Serious!

Ashley Elizabeth

A Mess of a Day

Hello All,
It's been a few days since I've written, but I've been under the weather. For the past few weeks I've been battling a headache that won't let up. Laughing, hearing others laugh, music, elevated voices and pretty much anything but silence has been sending sharp shooting pains through my head, sometimes so excruciating that I can't help but start bawling. This morning it took everything I had just to drag myself out of bed and appear somewhat functional at work. I had an interview today for a position that would be the next step up from where I currently am and I was hoping I could will the issues I'm having away and deliver a stellar performance... needless to say, I failed! I completely bombed my interview and ended up having to step away from my desk a few times after to sit downstairs in the dark, crying and gripping my head to try and ease the pain. I spent both of my breaks at work calling every medical group that I could in the area and each one had at least a month wait time for new patients... a month more of this, UGH! Tonight when I got home Mark had cleaned the house and cooked dinner for my family. It was so sweet of him to do so much and I thoroughly appreciated not having to lift a finger when I walked through the door. After crying off and on for hours my mom decided (yes, she can still tell me what to do) that she was going to take Amelia for the night so that I could head to the ER in hopes of gaining some relief. Since Mark wakes up so early for work I told him to stay home and sleep, it would just be a lot of sitting around and Grace had offered to take me up.
This has to be one of the most horrible pictures ever!

The doctor gave me a heavy dose of morphine and some fluids in case I was dehydrated... haha, me being dehydrated is such a joke considering I drink more water a day than anyone else I know, but whatever! For about an hour the morphine helped but it made my chest heavy and uncomfortable, and I am still feeling the nauseated from it. The doctor wasn't able to help too much with finding the cause, but he did refer me to a physician who will be able to see me in the next 2-3 days, which is much better than a month. So this is quite the downer, unexciting post but I'm hoping once we work towards a solution for my headaches I will be able to start the C25K program! Well now it's time to hit the sheets, the anti-nausea medication is starting to kick in and I'm pretty sure I can lie down now without the room spinning. Good night and sweet dreams to you all!
Ashley Elizabeth

Girls with Guns

This week was a rough one. I'm not sure why, but I am beyond exhausted and worn out after the past five days. It's not that work was overwhelmingly stressful, just busy enough to keep me going. I love being busy and having a full list of tasks to complete, it gives me a sense of value that I wouldn't get if I were to just be sitting at my desk spacing out. As all of you know, it's May... yes May and we had our first fire of the year. It was unexpected and we were all a little caught of guard, but I'm glad we got this one to get us in the fire season groove. For those of you that don't know, I work for the Department of Forestry and we bring on seasonal crews each summer to fight wildland fires. I started out as a seasonal dispatcher and have been a permanent employee for 5&1/2 years now. Our fire was only 8 acres, but since we are not yet in fire season and our crews are not on yet, it was a little bit of a blood pumping rush getting the call.

I've had some horrible headaches lately, constant pain varying from a dull pain to a sharp, shooting excruciating pain. I feel like a drug addict with all of the pills I pop lately. I've had a hard time doing anything this past week because of this headache. Today at work I got the worst pain I think I've ever felt in my temples, it brought tears to my eyes. I'm in search of a doctor in hopes of finding resolution to this issue. I think once I'm able to control these I will be able to be more active and walk or jog without the pounding going on. Well that's enough of the headache talk!

Tonight I went shooting up in the hills with my sister Grace, her boyfriend Chris and my bro Jesse (he's my brother by choice, not blood). It was a ton of fun. I was worried that it would cause my head to hurt worse but the earplugs we had worked wonderfully! After shooting we went out to dinner, a completely unhealthy dinner that I am now regretting. I had a chicken burger with onion rings and I hate the way I'm feeling now; so sluggish. 
My sister and I with the guns! By the way... Grace and I hit the target first shot!!! Not too shabby if I do say so myself. 

I've never been into running, in fact I believe I hate running, but for some strange reason I have a strong desire to start. I know I will not be any good at it; I figure I will start out running as far as I can and hope I can go longer and longer each time I try. I have been debating between starting the C25K or just winging it. I downloaded the app for the C25K and have tried it a few days, but I think I may be better off just heading out the door with my music blasting on a mission to run as far as I can. I will keep y'all posted on my progress. As for my weight loss, I haven't done well at all the last two weeks. I don't know what it is lately but I want to eat non-stop. I know why I was craving everything chocolate last week but it shouldn't have carried over into this week. I am pretty sure I need to do a complete removal of carbs/sugars from my diet and refrain from eating that junk in the hopes of getting back on track. I've added a couple of pounds to the scale and I hope to take them back off, along with a few more. Monday's weight in will be interesting. The gym is going to be my best friend this weekend... as well as playing outside with my Amelia. Well it's late and my bed is calling. I will leave you all with a few adorable pictures of the kittens we found in our shed last weekend. They are growing so fast and are so fun!
 After their first bath. They aren't litter box trained and had been jumping where they had gone potty.

 She is such a sweetie!

 The wild man of the bunch
The two little ladies, both total sweethearts!

Ashley Elizabeth

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of the amazing Mamas out there! I am so blessed to have been raised by the best mom in the world, and she has taught me how to be a great Mama. Today was dedicated to spending time with my little girl Amelia. I can't even imagine my life without her; she is the most wonderful part of my world.
This silly girl lights up my world and makes every day wonderful! 

So yesterday was truly a lazy Saturday. We slept in until 8:30, cleaned up around the house, Amelia and I went grocery shopping then we ended the evening snuggling (Amelia slept in my arms for 3 hours... Heaven). I love when she grabs her blanket and bunny, and heads for my lap. Her and I have this amazing bond that I don't believe will ever be broken. At about 9:30 last night I decided that I had to get off my butt and head to the gym. Luckily my gym is 24 hours; it isn't staffed at night so I was the only one in the entire place. I got there around 10:10pm and immediately hopped up on the elliptical. I have this love-hate relationship with that machine; it kicks my butt and I hate it for the first 15 minutes, and then I realize how great I feel and I don't want to stop. Since it was so late I just did 40 minutes on the elliptical and ended my workout with a very brisk 10 minute walk on the treadmill. Oh how great it feels to finally be hitting the gym again. This last week was hard for me; I wanted to shove anything chocolate in my mouth. 

I believe I posted a while back about being able to fit into a size smaller pair of jeans... well here is a picture, not the most flattering picture by any means but I'm pleased with the smaller number (even though it really isn't small).

A smaller size pair of jeans. I hate that I carry all of my weight in my tummy area... why can't it be in my butt. I need a little more junk in my trunk! 

So today was a wonderful Mother's Day, but I missed my Mom terribly! She wasn't able to make it down this weekend, she lives 8 hours away. The remainder of this post is going to be picture heavy :) Just warning y'all. 
Not even an hour after I became a Mama, with my Mom and Grandma... 4 Generations! Brings a smile to my face on this Mother's Day.

First thing this morning Mark, Amelia and I headed out to a local donut shop. We never eat donuts so this was quite a treat for us. We picked out some delicious ones and enjoyed them with some chocolate milk. After that we headed home. Amelia and I got ready to head over to my Grandma's house and Mark worked in the yard a little bit. While I was in the bedroom ironing Amelia's dress, Mark came running in telling me that I had to head outside with him, he didn't know what to do. Not knowing what he was talking about, I chased him out back to our shed. He lifted up a box and underneath were four baby kittens. We didn't know whether or not to leave them, but knowing how much our neighbors hate the stray cats of the neighborhood we decided to bring them in. They are the most adorable little things and we hope to find good homes for them. I'm sure they wouldn't have made it long with all of the mean boy cats roaming the neighborhood... so now we bottle feed. 

Feeding time, and Amelia is such a good helper

After we got the kittens settled we headed over to my Grandma's. Mark spent the evening at his Brother's house, but I wanted to hang out with my Grandma this Mother's Day. I'm glad he got to spend time with his mom, even though we are only 10 minutes away from her we go months without seeing her because of the busy schedules we all keep. For Mother's Day Mark and Amelia got me an orchid, I've been wanting one for such a long time. It is incredibly beautiful. My little sister Grace got me a gift card to Starbucks... oh my goodness she is awesome. I gave up spending money at all on eating out or getting coffee and tea drinks so a gift card is very much appreciated. At my Grandma's this evening we had a great dinner and got to visit with two of my Aunts and one of my Uncles. All in all... fabulous Mother's Day! Below are a series of pictures of my Amelia; I love her to pieces.
 My girl and I (sorry for the mega cleavage!) 

 She LOVES watermelon

 Taking a break from running in the sprinkler to enjoy some watermelon


 sweetest ever!

 She ate about half of a mini watermelon on her own

Well I hope you all had the most wonderful day! Mother's Day is always a good day to reflect on the blessings God has given me and to be thankful for all that I have. Until tomorrow...

Ashley Elizabeth


I love the weekends! but at the same time I hate them. Weekends remind me of how much I miss out on with Amelia while I am at work. It seems lately that we are always on the go Saturdays and Sundays, leaving us little time to just hang out. Today was great. This is Mark's weekend to work so Amelia and I slept in and lounged about until he got home at one. We decided to head over to my Grandma's because her lawn was in desperate need of being cut and Mark is usually the one who does it for her. While he worked on the landscaping us ladies sat inside and watched the Kentucky Derby, which I have become a major fan of. Amelia spent a good portion of the day playing with some of my old Polly Pockets that I had found. She loves them! and it makes me smile seeing her play with all of my old favorite toys.

After Mark was done with the lawn we headed out to enjoy the little bit of sun that was poking out from the clouds. Amelia had a blast running around, playing chase and wheelbarrow and catching bubbles.
 Riding the "pony" that my sisters, cousins and I all rode as kids


 run run run

 I LOVE this girl!

 Hanging in Grandma's raspberries

 Catching Bubbles

 My Loves


Tomorrow I really need to bust my butt in the exercise and eating healthy department. I've got one pound to go until my first reward and I'm hoping to make it by my Monday weigh in. I think I will start off the morning with a walk, clean house throughout the day and then hit the gym hard tomorrow night. Grandma sent us home with four mini/individual sized meat loafs so we will have that for dinner tomorrow along with mashed cauliflower. Sounds Yummy! Oh and I went to the grocery store tonight, coupons in hand and saved almost $60 and spent $90. Not too shabby for my first major couponing experience. I'm not sure I will hop on tomorrow to post since I have a huge list of tasks to complete but I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the warm warm sun shows itself. 
I will leave ya tonight with a picture of Amelia playing with one of my most treasured friend from my childhood. I think it is adorable that Amelia's favorite stuffed animal is a bunny, just like this friend. 
Ashley Elizabeth

Her first COACH!!!

So, this will be a quick post as it is late and I'm exhausted. Amelia and I just got home from a fun trip shopping with my sisters followed by a yummy dinner. I love it when us four girls get together and hang out, it isn't often that we are all free at the same time. After work I met Erica, Grace and Amelia at the outlet mall and when I got there Amelia was beyond excited to show me all of the things Auntie Erica had bought her. First was a hot pink fuzzy North Face hat, then some light pink puffy North Face slippers... and last but not least, Amelia's very first Coach purse. Now she matches her Mama, both Aunties and her Grandma Tami!!!!

After checking out the new Maurice's store (a favorite of my sisters and I) we went to Gymboree and I got Amelia the cutest shirts! Mr. Clarke would be proud, all three are TENNIS shirts! Now she is all set to play with Mama on the court this summer. I can't wait.

After shopping we went out to dinner. Erica said she was treating Grace and I which was super nice! I wasn't planning on going since I gave up spending money on eating out but she wanted us to go. My sister Erica has such a generous heart, it seems like every day she is doing something nice for us. I love her to death!

Well I said this would be a quick post, I'm off for the night! Oh and one more thing, I finally figured out how to get the "followers" gadget on my page so if ya like my blog... follow me! And hopefully I will have a little more to offer in a post tomorrow, after all we are trying a new turkey chili recipe and I want to let you all know how it turns out.
Ashley Elizabeth

Back in the Saddle Again... or the elliptical

So... I did it! After nine months without hitting the gym once I'm back at it. I didn't realize it would take just one trip to motivate me. I feel great and forgot how much I loved going. Even though I get very little time at home with my family at night, the hour I spend at the gym is some "me" time that I never get. I thought I would be dying on the elliptical but I was quite impressed that the huffing and puffing didn't get too out of control. Thanks to my little sister for sneaking in with me, she doesn't have a membership and since she is only living with us a short while it would be pointless for her to pay the membership fee. The gym will definitely be a part of my weekly routine again, and I am excited!

Oh, I almost forgot to share some great news!!! I fit into a pair of jeans that are a size smaller than I  normally wear. I tried the jeans on a few months ago and there was no way those babies were going to work but this weekend, after frustration with my lack of pants, I decided to try them on and to my surprise... they fit! It could just be the brand because my old jeans still fit just fine, but seeing that smaller pant size is a little motivating.

Me on my 27th Birthday

My birthday was wonderful yesterday! I had decided that I would count calories as best I could, but I wasn't going to skip out on cake. When I got to work my old boss had two cookies sitting on my desk... now these aren't just any cookies, they are the best snicker doodles I have ever had. I enjoyed one and decided I would save the other for another day. For lunch my co-workers took me out to lunch at a local cafe (the same place that makes the cookies). It was so sweet of them to buy me lunch. I work with a great bunch of folks. After work I headed in to my Grandma's house. It is our thing to celebrate our birthdays at her house, it is nice and relaxing without having to spend gobs of money on everyone eating out. My mom made yummy enchiladas and we had the best cake ever! Chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling. TO DIE FOR!!!! I was good and passed on the ice cream, the cake was plenty and so incredibly delicious.

 My Birthday cake... we didn't put all 27 candles on, this was plenty. Thankfully Amelia helped me blow them out. 

 The yummy Snicker Doodles I got for my birthday

My sister Erica made this pitcher for me. She went to a ceramic painting place and it turned out awesome. For those of you that know Erica know that she was not the arts and craft girl that I was growing up. She did a wonderful job and I absolutely love it! I have made a nice spot for it in my China hutch. It is probably my most favorite thing that she has ever given me. 

Well, it is getting late and I am wiped out. Off to sleep I go! 
Ashley Elizabeth