General musings on the ups and downs and ins and outs in the life of a 30 something, unmarried, life loving, some times interesting and sometimes not, mostly happy girl just trying to figure it all out!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Today's Favorite

OK, so I just got back to work after a LOVELY 5 day hiatus with the fam. I am swamped beyond belief with work and catching up with my AC, but this was just too fun to pass up.

Please check out the return label from the AC and read it carefully! HAHA!!! I think The Hubbs should use these proudly.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pirate Pics

Pics from AC's Pirate Birthday Party! I wish you all had been there with us!

And now- I am off for some days to hang with my Sists and play!! Margaritaville, tubing, the beach and Daddy's BBQ are all on the agenda. We head out to snag Amanda Leigh from the NOLA airport shortly, hit a daquari cafe (yes- you can drink and drive in Louisiana) and land back in P'cola.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pirate Party

Looking totally and completely forward to My AC's b-day tomorrow and the party at Paradise Grill!!
I spent my weekend painting this beauty for the centerpiece of the decor:

That's right- a bling, bling (Fergiliscious) Pirate Ship! And seeing as I raided my mother's jewels for my costume, I shall match the ship. 

I wish, wish, wish you were all coming to play with us! We're dressing up as pirates, and I can't wait to see some of the guests dressed accordingly (Mama J, former Chief of PPD, Baby Z, Sam....)! 

If you decide you just HAVE to hop a midnight red eye- please come!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In a Pickle

Last night I put my pioneer hat on and did some canning! Actually, it was jarring because I used Mason Jars, and I made pickles! Bread and Butter pickles, to be exact, and they are delish! Kimmie made them last year and gave them to everyone for Christmas. I ate an entire jar in three days when I was at her house, and when I went back for the wedding I went directly to the cabinet, pulled out her last jar, and began eating away. And I really don't like pickles that much.

It's really not as hard as it sounds. It takes about an hour total. And you feel so accomplished when you look at your full jars.

Start out with your recipe. This is one of the few recipes I have used that I don't really mess with too much. It's originally from The Joy of Cooking, but I prefer my hand written one from Kimmie. I also whip out my cooking staple - a glass of wine. And as Sal had made cupcakes, I threw one of those into the mix too. It was a nice addition, I must say.

The first thing you have to do is a bunch of chopping. My sister told me to use a Mandolin, and that's probably a great idea. But I'm a weirdo that likes to have my knife and just do it myself. I usually chop up my cucumbers, onions, peppers and garlic the night before, cover them in salt and ice and put them in the fridge until the next evening. You only have to let them sit three hours, though, so you can manage your time as you need. If you do just 3 hours, don't refrigerated. Also, I use extra peppers and onions because then you can serve it almost like a small side dish. Plus- I love onions and peppers. Kimmie and Sal aren't such big fans, so they use less. (This is the spot where I mess with the recipe.)

After your cucumbers have soaked, rinse them very well, drain, and put into a huge ass pot (technical terminology). Add the cider vinegar, sugar and spices and put on about medium heat so it will start to simmer. While you're waiting, boil about an inch of water in a wide pot, turn your jars upside down and bring to a boil. Drop the lids in too. Let boil about 3 mins to scald the jars. When you're done, turn up the heat on the other pot and bring that to a boil (stirring now and then) and then turn it off.

Fill your jars, put the lids on, and set them back into the wide pot of boiling water (right side up this time) and let them simmer in there 3 to 5 mins to seal and you're done.Yum!!

Plan on making at least 2 batches. I originally made one (8 quart jars) and they were gone in 2 months because everyone loves them. The juice is amazing for egg salad, FYI.

Bread and Butter Pickles
4 Quarts of sliced medium cucumbers. (Pickling cucumbers are best. It takes about 15, but if you want more pickles and less peppers use a few more)
6 medium onions sliced
3 bell peppers (use different colors, and only do 1 1/2 or 2 if you aren't a pepper fan)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup pickling salt

Put cucumbers, onions, peppers and garlic in a container, pour salt over it and mix a little so the salt distributes. Cover with ice and let sit at least 3 hours. Drain and rinse, then put into a large pot. Add:

3 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
5 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 1/2 tsp celery seed
2 Tblsp mustard seed

Bring to boil, fill hot jars (scalded) and seal.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thank you, Smitten Kitchen

I will definitely be making these this weekend. I stole it from Smitten Kitchen (which also had a truly amazing pasta salad recipe posted I may try as well).

But in this heat, I will happily sip these, and probably take the booze advice at the end. Hey, I'm ME!

Stolen recipe:
raspberry limeade slushie

Raspberry Limeade Slushies
Serves 4, generously
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup raspberries
1 cup water
4 cups ice
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup soda water
Lime wedges, for serving
4 chilled glasses, if you’re feeling fancy (or are interested in your slushie staying slushy longer)
In a blender, blend the lime juice, raspberries, water, ice and sugar until slushy. Pour into glasses. Top off with about 1/4 cup soda water and garnish with a lime wedge. Drink quickly enough to get a brain freeze.
If you’re averse to raspberry seeds (I generally am, but was feeling rushed that day), you can puree the berries first, press them through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the seeds, then put them back in the blender and add the rest of the ingredients. I will note that the seeds were far less annoying than I’d expected them to be, likely because they’re less noticeable with the added texture from the ice.
Also: I probably don’t need to tell you how good this would be with booze.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Football Season

Hallelujah and Prise the Lord- its almost football season again!! I am on the countdown for September 4th, girlies, and I have ants in my pants!

My true love, LSU, will be back on the field. If I knew how to post music on this thing, I would play you my phone's ringtone so that you could feel the goosebumps shoot up your arms at that starting drum roll and the Tiger Rag!
Unfortunately we open the season in the Georgia Dome. But thankfully the band sounds amazing anywhere, the fans will drive, Bourbon and beer are sold in Atlanta, and North Carolina's blood will look just as good on that field. I'm awful, I know. But I bleed purple and gold!
And also...
I'm debating how I feel about so many new Saints fans in the mix after the Super bowl win. I mean, on the one hand it's about time. On the other- they don't deserve true fan stature if they haven't loved that gold Fleur de Lis all the years that it was sadly, sadly black... Thoughts??

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Party City & Pirates!

You may be asking yourself, in this massive heat wave, what in the world to do with yourself on a hot Saturday afternoon when the very last thing you want to do is be outside.

T and I just happen to have the answer for you, and it's:

That's right, folks, Party City has the most ridiculous and random assortment of items in a volume that will entertain you for a good hour, two if you happen to be ridiculous.

We managed to locate, and try on, all of these things. T is my friend because she is game for these adventures. Here you will find a few of our fave Party City items: a Cleopatra hat, crazy glasses, an orange ant you can wear on your finger (???) and a pirate hat. Fun personified!

The also have a rather lovely assortment of Piñatas. Among my loves was a rainbow pony, a huge ice cream cone (which I almost bought and mailed to S for Christmas) and a Pirate- which, if it hadn't been $40, I would have purchased for our planned extravaganza on the 24th.

But this was really the purpose of our visit:
That's right, pirate party supplies!!! And if you find yourself near Pensacola Beach on the 24th, be sure to come by the Paradise Grill (dressed as a pirate or we'll kick you out) to celebrate the birth of the remarkable AC!!! Consider yourself invited.

My Wrist

For Kendall, AC and Sarah,
The watch isn't Michael Kohrs, it's my mom's and the one bracelet is an antique dogwood pattern. I started to pile more on (I try to be trendy!) but I went for simple this morning. And I'm liking it.
PS- also love my ring, which my mom bought me at an estate sale when I was about 13. See, I do vintage!

I love all you chic ladies, though!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fashion Post

With all of the fabulous fashion posts from AC and Kendall, I just couldn't resist posting some of my better fashion outfits for the benefit of all.

T shirt: Tiger Mania
Shorts: Who knows? Probably Wal mart
Hat: Louisiana Conservation Association via Jessie
Trout: Intercoastal Canal
Dog: God Himself!

T-Shirt: Target
Hat: Random gas station between FL and NOLA
Boa, beads and flowers: Dirty old (and young) men in the Irish Channel Parade

Fleece: Target
Jeans: Cruel Girl
Boots: Stolen from Katie
Ear Warmer: Shannon
Horse: Sally

Jeans: Thrift Shop
Belt: ???
Cami: Express
Sweater: Victoria's Secret
Hat: Odd store in Georgia

Hat: Texas Quarter Horse Youth Association (via Katie)
T shirt: from Niki
Small Nephew: also from Niki
Mud: from the ditch

T Shirt: Designed by S and I, reads "Chip Force"
Shorts: Gap, stolen from Niki
Sweat: Courtesy of the 100 degree Texas heat

On Chip: Air Force uniform
Small Child: his daughter

Horrible top: Sally's closet
Horrible skirt: Sally's closet
Mismatched socks: Sally's closet
Opossum Slippers: Sally's closet via New Zealand

Jeans: I have no idea
Boots: Steinmart
Sweat Shirt: Goodwill store in Walworth, Wisconsin
Hat: hand knitted

T shirt: Storyville Baton Rouge
Hat: LSU Bookstore
Earrings: Jessie
Look on my face: complements of my drunken sister acting retarded while waiting for the game to start

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the mushings and fashion choices of your not-so-chic friend.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Instructional Post: How to Bathe a Horse

It just so happens that T and I are excellent horse bathers. We have spent years honing our skills (me: 20, T: about 13), and we simply can not be beat. So, in the case that you ever find yourself desperately in need of horse bathing skills, we are here to help.

First, start with dirty horses. T and I had no problem finding these as it was 100 degrees out and has been for weeks. Case in point, Baby and Smoky:

Be sure you have plenty of time- there is no rushing here! T and I were at the barn for at least an hour and a half.
Tie your horse somewhere secure and near a hose and arm yourself with shampoo (a lot), conditioner (a lot), a brush, curry combs or plastic scrubbers (your preference), and a sponge.
Wet and shampoo the tail first- and I mean REALLY clean it. Scrub the tail bone, everything. Then rinse and pile in the conditioner so it can soak in while you bath the rest of the horse.
Hose the horse completely, I had to do Baby twice as he was seriously disgusting. Then squirt on the shampoo and lather up. Scrub, scrub, scrub- then rinse and repeat! I do my second go-round with a brush and scrub, T sticks with the plastic scrubber. This takes major elbow grease and no skimping!
Rinse well.

Next, add even more conditioner to the tail and coat the horse's entire body with conditioner. Let sit for at least 10 minutes, 20 is better. At this point, your horse will likely look as if it has been swimming in the oil spill; it's OK, this is a good thing.
Things to to while waiting:
Tell horseback riding instructor not to let any kids ride bareback for a few days because they will slide right off.
Play ball with the dog
Was your horse's face
Rub the conditioner in like a massage
Relax in the shade
Catch up with your buddy!
*Note, it is normal for the horse to fall asleep at this point (see Smoky)

Completely rinse the horse- head to toe. If it's 100 degrees out, move your horse to a shady spot. Brush the horse with a clean brush so that the hair is laying down flat. Comb main and tail until you can run a comb through with no snags. Spray the horse with conditioner if you like, especially the mane and tail. I'm a Vetrolin Shine girl, T goes for Cowboy Magic. Braid the tail if you like so it stays cleaner longer. Clip the whiskers and bridle path for a really nice touch.

When you're finished, the horses should look something like this:
(Pardon Smoky, he was still kind of napping...)

You, on the other hand, should look like this:

General rule of thumb: if you don't look completely disgusting when you are finished, your horse is probably not clean enough.

And... to end the process perfectly, if you're me you drink this, a blackberry margarita! YUM!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dressing Fergie

OK, so I call AC my Fergie because of her amazing funkiness. I just love it!
Here are a few outfits I would really love for her to wear:

This would be fun because she could just put on a simple, black sleeveless dress and I could buy some of the new colored duct tape and wrap it around her- viola, instant Ferginess!

Airport business planning meeting attire

Perfect for the times when i call her needing to be rescued. Seriously, if you showed up in this, Ash, I would feel ridiculously safe.

It rarely gets cold enough in P'cola for ear muffs, but now I really wish it did.

Overhauls for visiting me at the farm

Ac, I'm fairly sure you actually tried these pants on the first time we went shopping together

LeaP ropes course event

And, finally, the Fergaliscious outfit I want to wear:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Eternal Little Man

Apparently I'm in a mushy mood this week! I was in the bathtub reading Garden & Gun (a great magazine about the South) and the story was about the life of this dog. It was cute and hilarious! It reminded me (in a roundabout way) that I wrote this a few days after my sweet horse died. So I thought I'd share to give him some of the props he deserves. It's a bit long- read it if you have time. And PS- that sketch of him is a Christmas Present Katie did for me. Isn't it amazing?

I can’t even remember my life before him, but then again- I was only eight when I met him and began horseback riding. And in retrospect, I was pretty sure he would kill me when I was eight and I certainly never thought it would get to this point because I think I hated him a little at first, as I was surely scared to death of him. He had his own personality; his own ideas and his own way things should be done. And he wasn’t shy about telling you how it should be done. I finally gave up trying to ride him and learned to just ride with him instead. That was really the only way to go.

He is gone now, and I struggle with missing him. My thoughts to memories, mostly happy memories. And I started to realize that even my not-so-happy memories of him are actually happy in many ways. The day I thought I was going to die going through that first ditch taught me to trust him. His illness when we were both 17 taught me persistence and strength – and also that horse blood does actually wash out of clothes. The disaster after disaster of my four shows long showing career; that you don’t have to have a ribbon or someone’s opinion to let you know where your talent lies; that beauty is only an opinion that gracefulness isn’t always found where people think it needs to be placed. When I left that show ring after my beautiful horse lost a halter class to a donkey… I never looked back and never let anyone judge him again. If only I’d been able to teach myself that lesson about me sooner. Anyhow- I guess we got our final justification when we won a blue ribbon for our photograph in a photo contest. We always were prettier than we were talented. Sigh… someone has to do it.

If my reminiscing goes on long enough, I move on from “life lessons” to actual memories. The feel of those first loped steps and then never looking back; Sally (my instructor) yelling at me over and over, “Heels Down! Keep your HEELS DOWN!”; painting him like an Indian pony and braiding his hair and tying bows on him – the poor emasculated animal; the way his tail looked after a bath and hours of grooming; that crazy- free feeling of grabbing his mane in my hands and holding on for dear life at a run. The hours I spent just sitting on his back in the pasture, riding around on him all summer; friends and I trying to learn that trick they do in John Wayne movies where you ride and grab the girl’s arm to swing her up. I slammed into his side so many times. And trying to learn to jump up over his rump? That is obviously only a trick done in movies with trampolines and all it gets you in real life is a slam into your horse’s rump. Poor patient animal. To the end of his life, I always took particular pride in his following me without a halter or lead line and hearing parents tell their kids, “look at how he just follows her.” Self-centered, yes, but hey, we all need our moments. The day I used him as a ladder to climb over a fence and rescue a dog, sitting on him and holding a little child in front of me so they wouldn’t be scared the first time they loped, the feeling of “rightness” whenever I sat on him- just knowing I belonged there.

I told him two things in the last minutes of his life. I reminded him that for years he was my only friend, and thanked him. And I told him to meet me at the gate when I get to Heaven. And even in his pain, he leaned his head on me and gave that sweet little exhale of breath that always meant, “OK, I love you”.

My tears still come, sometimes in a trickle and sometimes pouring out. And I will always feel the hurt of the moment I had to walk away from him, to the house, knowing that I would never see him again. Or never in this life. Because loosing someone that is a part of you is painful- it truly tears away a part of your heart. But sometimes the scars left behind aren’t ugly. Sometimes they’re a reminder of something beautiful and make you remember what you were before and what you have become. They can remind you of times you cherish deeply and that made you what you are. They keep you from forgetting.

One time my sister told me that Little Man always looked to her as if you could just put a bow tie on him and take him to a party. So true. He was elegant and handsome and truly majestic in the way he carried himself. He was proud and true. And he had the characteristics we should all strive for in ourselves. Simple right and wrong, pure love, no judgment. We all know he had his ornery, pain in the butt side- but that just made him human. He was not fake, not pretentious. He was just always himself and always 100% real.
Don’t be sad for me- be sad for all of the children who will never know what a true lope feels like- but not for me. Because what is there to loose in this life? All the good we will see again in Heaven, along with mounds of wonder we can’t even imagine. Picture him like I do, groomed by the angels and gleaming next to his mother in the light of the glory of God- so much more beautiful than the sun’s light, waiting with his mother in a beautiful pasture behind the “place He has prepared for us” in Heaven just waiting patiently- like they’ve always waited for us. And I know he is there, because I know Jesus is coming back on a gray horse. (I know, I know- the Bible reads “white” horse. But John was not an equestrian and he had no idea that “white” didn’t exactly mean white. He meant gray, I’m sure of it.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Stuck on the Bottom

I have been butting heads with my life lately. I want it to go one way, it is going another. Or staying another, you could say. I feel stuck. And I've been thinking and praying a lot about all of that lately. Last night I was thinking about my Daddy, and his analogy of being "Stuck on the Bottom" popped into my head.

As you have probably figured out, I grew up fishing with my Daddy; in Cocodree, Grand Isle, Pensacola... I was (and am) my Daddy's fishing buddy. We fished the bottom with weighted lines a lot to get the best trout. And I had a special propensity for getting stuck on the bottom, tangled up in rocks, garbage, a dock, even old graves in south Louisiana, where the coastline recedes yearly. I would, of course, get immensely frustrated and yell (probably scaring away all fish in the vicinity), "Daaaaady, I'm stuck on the bottom!" And he would patiently come and untangle my pole- usually laughing at me. I still do this to him. But every now and then, I would just think I was stuck, when actually- I had a HUGE fish! This would, of course, lead to squeals  and demanding my pole back and much excitement.

My senior year in college, our sorority asked the senior's parents to write a letter of encouragement to their daughters stepping out into the world after graduation. Guess whose parent was the only one who responded? Yep, my Daddy. This was his life advice to me, and I still keep it tucked in my Bible.

Dear Sweetpea,
I know this will be read in front of your sorority sisters, so I will try not to embarrass you. First, I want to tell you how much I love you. Words can't convey it, but those big hugs can. I am the luckiest daddy in the world (for those of you that don't know it, she still sits in my lap- and I love it). I also want to say how proud of you I am. I would be just as proud of you if you were at another school, but it is fun to have another gung-ho Tiger Fan in the house...
I don't know what is coming after graduation. This is an anxious time in your life. I understand. I have been through it. Don't be scared to make a decision. We can talk over the pros and cons, but but you always have the final say in your life. You have a good heart and common sense, continue to use them. Even if you make a decision you regret later, it can be corrected. Your mother and I will always be behind you. Remember that whenever you think "you are stuck on the bottom," it just might be a big fish.
Love, Daddy

#1: If you aren't crying right now there's something wrong with you!
#2: This is great advice for all of us any time we're facing a tough spot and what seems like an inability to make a change. You might feel stuck, but you never know what's really happening.

Thank you, God, for a Daddy that believes in me.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Apalachicola, My New Love!

Umm, Apalachicola is my new favorite place! We will definitely be going back!

As always, for me a trip revolves heavily around food. I was NOT disappointed. You know I had to lead with Apalachicola's famous oysters- so, so fresh and yummy! I ate one before I could even take a picture for you. Then we had cucumber and feta salad and I had oysters and artichokes sautéed in champagne and cream served over spinach and baguette. YUM! Mama had friend shrimp, which she ate so quickly they were gone before I got a pic. And lastly, our post dinner and shopping picnic on our fab balcony. 

The town was very cute and picturesque. It needs a little development help (I may be willing to volunteer for that), but it's quaint and adorable. The shopping was random and fun, our hotel suite was completely perfect and the water we were surrounded with was beautiful.

Of course, as you know, I got to bring my sweetie Van and Mommy brought little Pixie. Van was in heaven, surrounded by water. She swam most of the trip in the Apalachicola River and in the Gulf. I nearly died of happiness getting to swim with Van in the Gulf on St. George Island. That one tiny pic that looks like a dot in the water is actually me and Vannie G. I asked Mama why she took a picture of that couple hugging in the water and she told me it was me and Van.... what can I say?

And, to cap it off, a picture of Mama with her shrimp boat. My Mama has always romanticized shrimp boats and wanted one. She asked Daddy if they could retire on a shrimp boat and he answered that not only could they not retire, they could not retire to a shrimp boat. Oh well, here's to dreaming. And please note the rhinestone white sunglasses!

All About Ashley

My photo
Spring, TX, Southern, United States
Playing with and keeping up with my nephew and niece take up a lot of my time. Van Geaux takes up the rest of it. Work is an afterthought most days! I like to be outside- but not when it's too hot. I get bored at my desk all day. Niki keeps my world spinning and without her and AC I'd lose it. My work ethic crashes at 4 p.m. daily and I live my sweet puppy and my hedgehog whenever I am not at Niki's. I truly believe naps are quality pass-time events, and sometimes I say bad words at work. I'm pretty sure I'm insane on multiple levels and I believe rules don't apply to me.
It seems that my life is quite entertaining. I didn't realize this myself, but was informed of it by my friends- who are rather entertained by tales of my life occurrences.

I'm far from a professional writer. These are just stories, comments, and other items for simple amusement. Hopefully it's a fun read, as Shannon plans to edit it into a book one day! Maybe we'll become famous, and maybe we'll just have some good laughs at my expense (and some other characters in my life). Either way, happy reading!