Socknado!

 

Laundry Armageddon 2014

Laundrageddon-turned-Socknado

Laundrageddon turned into Socknado! I unearthed about two dozen pairs of socks for donation or wear. The Socknado purge also led to another purge of nearby drawers. Goodbye ratty socks and things, hello neatly folded socks and clothes!

I took out a huge bag of trash last night, and 90 percent of the bag was full of the aforementioned purged ratty things. I have another metric ton of usable clothing to donate to Genesis Women’s Shelter.

Before I got ready for work this morning, I added even more clothes — professional-looking stuff that I’ll never wear again — to the donate bag. One question that came to mind was: Why did I move this stuff at all, knowing I didn’t want or need it?!

This evening while unpacking another box, I decided to keep something that I haven’t used in several years. It’s nice, I like it, and imagined myself wondering in the future where this particular item was. But I realize that this internal conversation is how I ended up keeping so much more stuff than I should have.

I hope Future Ashley is better at purging stuff. I also hope Future Jeff is as patient with said purging!

 

Cleanse and purge for a new year

Friday, work gave me a birthday cake so good I teared up. Next time you need a cake, allow me to suggest the red velvet from Nothing Bundt Cake, mine was the Center of Attention edition. Being the center of attention was a little nerve-wracking, but totally worth it for that cake!!

Such a decadent indulgence means I need to work it off, right?! I gave myself a day off from unpacking and organizing.

For my birthday, I gifted myself with a pedicure, lunch, solitude, and a few (ok, 12.5) units of botox. After a late lunch with family today, we came home to chip away at the unpacking and organization stuff. I unpacked another box, but more importantly, I launched Landrageddon.

Laundry Armageddon 2014

Oh, the socks!

Unintended consequences of unpacking, organizing, and Landrageddon: The socks! Oh, man, the socks! I knew I had some unmatched socks floating around, but after gutting my sock drawer and emptying one of two laundry baskets, these are the unmatched socks I’m facing!

And still, I have another laundry basket to wash…

Selling it!

Way too much of my brain has been focused on lead generation for too long! I find myself continuing to struggle with maintaining a branding mindset, which is odd because my passion for marketing is actually more branding than lead gen! I guess shifting between the marketing languages one speaks is like shifting between any other languages one knows.

If I knew of anything I could so easily sell right now, it’s getting a massage. And the power of sound-proofing. And the wonders of clean sheets. And the glee of being engaged.

I had the best massage yesterday. I can’t recommend Julie Burkhart enough! We worked together years ago, and I loved her so much. She was a nail tech with an awesome sense of humor and great attitude, and I was a naive esthetician thinking that every esthetician was in the business for the same reason I was — to help people. Julie has been a massage therapist since then, and wow does she have the touch! Unlike many massage therapists I’ve had, she does not skimp on the reflexology on the hands and feet, nor does she torture the legs with excessive pressure to the shins. She was not afraid to dig into serious problem areas, AKA my softball-sized left shoulder knot that has been festering since the beginning of January. If you ever need excellent help from a genuine therapist, ask me for Julie’s details!

I’m wearing my Fitbit again after losing the case for it that clips onto my clothes. If I could sell a pedometer to anyone, I would tell you how informative it is to at least know how much you move around and, likewise, how much you don’t. The sleep tracking of the Fitbit is also really informative.

Parenthetically, one of the great things about having a fiancé is that he reaches all the tall stuff for me! Seriously though, I love coming home to him every day. I enjoy being engaged more than I thought possible! Everything is different, but I can’t explain it.  Perhaps it’s our new home, or learning new communication techniques, or just spending more time together. Note to self: Get engaged to Jeff every time you can. He is endearing.

Marshmellows!

First, I want to go on the record to say that I’m so happy to be on the gleeful side of change.

Veronica Mars movie

Veronica Mars movie

Second, what I asked for  for my birthday was to see the movie Veronica Mars. Hoo-to-the-ray, we saw it tonight! Friday nights I generally prefer to chill at home, but Jeff was up for it, and so we saw Veronica on the big screen!

That movie had so many references to the TV show that I need to watch it again. And again, and again, and again. I can’t wait to own it and have every line memorized. I know I missed a lot of jokes and many references, but the ones I got were, to quote Logan, epic.

Oh, Logan.

I’ve read some reviews of the movie, and the majority of them are by people who never saw the show. The comments range from the movie being too dark to having too much voice over. These were characteristics of the show, and a nod to the film noir detective stories. Jeff was only vaguely familiar with the show, and he thought the intro set the movie up well enough to catch viewers up and set the tone for the film.

If an AMC is near you: Go see Veronica Mars! It’s witty, chock-full of pop culture references, suspenseful, with a big dish of mystery.

Veronica Mars Team Logan Team Piz

Veronica Mars Team Logan Team Piz

P.S. Don’t tell my fiance, but I’m both Team Piz and Team Logan. And Team Dick!

This one’s for my ladies!

Angela posted about her jam this morning, Discoball World. It’s a good jam! But here’s one I’ve been rocking out to today while packing, packing, packing:


Honestly, though, I still have no clue what he’s saying, even after all these years. I know the first line, the ba da dap part, and then “… if I save some money, and keep my grades UP!” Don’t care. It’s still a great jam.

Year of Life Changes: He popped the question edition

I have a fiancé! His name is Jeff, and a few weeks ago he said to me, “I just want to be a hero for you.” And he is. He’s the hero I never knew I needed, but still everything I’ve been praying for.

He was concerned about ruining the romance and element of surprise, but I could only handle so much unknown stuff to worry about, so he did confirm that a proposal was forthcoming early this year. I’ve been alluding to it, but I didn’t know any details. I even told a coworker on Friday that I was convinced that he didn’t have a ring yet. He had reservations for dinner last night at Mercy Wine Bar, one of my favorite places and where we had our first date almost two years ago. At dinner, I could tell he was nervous, and I was, too. If the huge pile of leftovers in the fridge are an indication, we hardly ate.

He proposed with a rose

He proposed with a rose

I have snapshots in my mind of Jeff walking toward the table after dinner with a long-stemmed rose in hand and a huge grin on his face. Aww! right? Oh wait, why is that rose sparkling?! He got to the table and said, “I love you!” and I said, “I love you, too!” And then he was down on one knee in front of me and I saw the ring and I was vaguely aware of a dull roar around us as people realized that there was a proposal in their midst. I wish I could remember what he said exactly, but it was something about how happy he is with me and would I marry him. I said yes, but I was shaking and oddly scared to let him put the ring on. I was afraid it wouldn’t fit — what an odd thing to fixate on in that moment.

We took some time to sit together and just bask in the moment, assisted by the champagne our server brought out to us, but that didn’t last too long. We walked to the nearby Whole Foods for some champagne and dessert, went back to my place and sat out on my balcony to talk about the experience because it was a gorgeous night after a beautiful warm spring day. (Today, however, it’s freezing and ice is falling from the sky. Welcome to Texas, y’all!) It was too late to call my parents, but Jeff couldn’t wait, and I couldn’t either, so we started sharing the news.

Aquamarine engagement ring

Aquamarine engagement ring

About the ring: Very early 2013, Jeff took me to a jewelry store under the guise of wanting to walk around the mall for awhile. He would have moved heaven and earth that day to get me any ring in the store that I said I wanted, I have no doubt. Why do I believe that? Because he did move heaven and earth to get me the ring that I eventually wanted, and he did it in a timeframe that was comfortable to me and best for us.

I’m one of those tree-hugging, people-loving, think-global-act-local, put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is anomalies in Texas. As part of that, I did not want a diamond. I have a conviction about the diamond industry, and I want no part of it. I have a whole rant about diamonds; I won’t get into it because I already know it, but I hated the idea of Jeff spending his hard-earned money on some belief that “diamonds are forever” because of a heinously funded marketing campaign that started in the 1920s to convince people that a man should spend X times his income on a particular rock or metal. (OK, I worked most of the rant into that. Whoops.)

I wanted something different! Jeff and I are special snowflakes, and no one else’s relationship is like ours, right? After a lot of deep reflection and discussion — I made the joke more than once that if a sapphire is good enough for Princess Diana, it’s good enough for me! — we started looking at everything, everywhere. I’m obsessed with Art Deco, sapphires, and making sure my relationship with Jeff is perfectly us. Our first date was on my birthday, so I thought it would be so sweet to have aquamarine, my birthstone, in our ring. I was adamant that Jeff not take on any debt for a ring. Basically, I set some tough limitations on the poor guy’s options, because it’s easier to go to a big box ring store, get credit, and buy a diamond. To me, that just reinforces what’s wrong with that industry, but nobody asked me. Luckily, Jeff cared about all of my concerns and wishes.

So much of the unique stuff we found and loved was expensive, and that was disheartening. I had a chat with my college roommate about what I loved and the realities of the ring industry, and I realized that I really wanted a specific look. After that, I researched like the crazed researcher that I am and found a jeweler in Boston that offers highly customizable pieces with certified jewels.

Jeff got me exactly what I wanted: A bezel set aquamarine with a white sapphire halo in white metal. Dreaming about a ring is a superficial thing, I know. I always believed that pining for the perfect ring is kind of a mean measure of “did he listen to me?” As much as I loathe these tests, I love that my fiancé went beyond my wildest dream! Perhaps I’m a hypocrite in that story because I didn’t want bling, but I wanted bling. I wanted something with sentimental value. And I so got it. When I stare at the ring for too long, I start to cry. Jeff, my hero, understood my sentiment without judgement and made my dream a reality.

I know I’ll have so much to write about the actual wedding stuff, but we’ve decided to wait a bit to get started with that. We can’t wait to celebrate our life together and our families and friends, but we are enjoying the glow of the recently engaged! I have a finacé!

This week in my Year of Life Changes

This week, I left a great job with people I really loved. I really meant to be cool, but I got emotional saying goodbye. People I really respect and admire made effort to compliment me or wish me well, and that overwhelmed me a little bit.

Then I started a new job! I’m so jazzed about this job, I literally can’t sleep for the buzz in my brain about it. I’d been having anxiety dreams about showing up to the new gig and them not knowing who I am. Luckily, I showed up and they said, “Hi, Ashley! We’re so happy you’re here!” I work with several very nice people, and I’m thrilled to be there. I am excited — out of my head excited — for this opportunity.

Packing for a move

Packing for a move

To round out my Year of Life Changes, I started packing today for my move in early March. My boyfriend took me to Sam’s Club so he could get gas and I could order new tires for my  car (even more changes!). He didn’t get gas, and we ended up not ordering tires from the store, but he ordered the  tires on his iPhone app. Not to waste a trip, I managed to find several things I couldn’t live without. I found moving boxes to get me started. Then I found a bunch of other stuff that I couldn’t live without. And a sweater.

Parenthetically, Sam’s Club offers a Soda Stream starter kit for $60 with two 2-liter containers. The same kit goes for $113 at Macy’s, which was on sale last weekend for $99. Should future Ashley still be in the market for a Soda Stream, go to Sam’s!

Packing. Ugh, I don’t love it. I’ve been covered in dust for hours, but I have cleared a good chunk of my bookshelves. I have a ton of breakables that I question moving or giving away. I have a ton of clothes and DVDs that need the same examination.

My mom offered to help pack, which would be awesome, but she isn’t supposed to lift more than five pounds or bend over. I worry about her pushing her boundaries if she’s packing my stuff all alone. Although, I have a lot of breakables, and if I had constructed boxes and packing material, perhaps she could wrap up the breakables. I could keep at the boxes and clothes, and maybe Mom could do the delicates!

Just today’s thoughts.

photo credit: Betsssssy via photopin cc

The sweet side of life

Let’s dig dirt: I had a bad relationship. It destroyed me. I don’t like to talk about it. But I learned a ton about myself (and narcissists).

After that, I had an anthem, which I haven’t listened to for some time until tonight. It’s an awesome anthem for anyone, but I like it for myself tonight because of all my recent life events.


I’m about to rock an awesome job at an incredible company, I’m about to move away from a crazy landlord, I’ve been reaffirmed for at least the 100th time that my Mr. and I will get engaged soon. Very soon. This is relevant because loving someone who loves you back is incredible.

I wish love would come to you, if it hasn’t yet.

Apple pie Valentines

I spotted a heart-shaped pocket pie press at Target and was inspired to make my boyfriend a little Valentine treat. He loves apple pie — my apple pie, to be specific — I thought, “Hey, this will be great! He’ll love it. How hard can it be?!” Uh, so, so, hard. But so worth it!

Heart-shaped tartlet press

Heart-shaped tartlet press

I couldn’t find any examples or recipes of an apple pie version, so I had to experiment. My initial attempt was pretty awful for a couple of reasons, mostly my technique, and somewhat my recipe. Initially, I didn’t flour the press or chop the apple filling finely enough. I also didn’t know to use egg white on the inner edges to seal the dough.

First attempt at apple tartlet

First attempt at apple tartlet

My first attempt turned out very blob-like. I just slapped and hacked with no finesse or insight. I knew a little better for my second attempt, but not much.

First attempt looks like I made the apple tartlet with my feet

First attempt looks like I made the apple tartlet with my feet

I Googled around, and although the pie press is pretty popular with the mommy bloggers, no one else I found made apple versions. I read as much as I could and put the advise I found to good use, I think. I started with a pretty high-level instruction and then found a detailed, step-by-step instructional blog with images that made sense to me. Armed with more knowledge, I kept experimenting.

Additionally, I decided that because most recipes were calling for two tablespoons of filling, I needed a more finely diced apple filling. I hoped that with a finer filling, I would be able to push the two tablespoon rule.

After chopping, I mixed in my traditional apple pie filling ingredients.

apple tartlet filling

Apple pie filling, diced finely for tartlets

Like the instructions suggest, I used the bottom of the press to cut the shape out of dough, lay the dough in the press, brush the edges with egg white, and place two or three tablespoons of apple pie filling in the center.

Filling the apple tartlet

Filling the apple tartlet

Following Mrs. Dragon’s advice, I placed the second dough cut out over the filling, and then pressed the crimp side of the press down. I then dumped the raw tartlet onto a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet. I didn’t like the back side, so I flipped it crimp-side-up.

Decent apple tartlet potential

Decent apple tartlet potential

I brushed the tartlets with egg white and sprinkled them with sugar. I’d pre-heated the oven to 400, but the crescent roll directions called for 375. My rationale was that the filling needed the higher temp to really bake. I set the timer for the recommended 13 minutes. The egg white browns the dough considerably, so a temp of 375 would allow the tartlets to bake two or three more minutes to soften the filling before browning the dough.

Apple tartlets turned out nicely, and smelling just like my apple pie!

Apple tartlets turned out nicely, and smelling just like my apple pie!

I’m quite pleased with how these turned out. They smelled just like my apple pies, so these will taste great. No filling spilled out, despite the fact that I didn’t poke a whole in the dough.

I’m not sharing any packaging details because I’m writing this before Valentine’s Day and I haven’t decided what to do yet. If whatever I come up with is worth sharing, I will!

Happy February, and happy baking!

EDIT TO ADD: My Valentine suggested that I should have taken a picture of him enjoying the tartlets, which is a great idea. Too bad I didn’t think of it when I gave it to him! He reassures me that he loved his gift. :)

You have a personal brand. Yes, you.

your personal brand

Your personal brand

Have you seen those stupid Facebook status updates about flashing a cop to get out of a ticket? Or the lovely bathroom updates? Not bathroom updates like people are renovating their master suite or guest bath! Updates about issues we’ve all faced while using the facilities. If you’ve been lucky enough to have missed those inappropriate status updates, I envy your Facebook friends list.

The first time I saw one of the updates was actually on reddit, but then I saw a few show up in my Facebook feed. Today, I received a message from a Facebook connection (for now) that reads like it was written by a seven-year-old, or possibly a non-native English speaker. I hope for my Facebook connection’s sake, it was copy and pasted from whatever troll chain letter this person received. The grammar alone is offensive enough, but the content makes me rage enough to take to my blog about it. Here’s a portion of the chain message, and I won’t post the entire stupid, disgusting thing, so it’s safe to read:

Is a game and i had to be a sport now u have to be a sport and post on ur status one of these without giving an explanation and see who falls for it liking or commenting on the status 1) [disgusting, offensive, and misspelled] 2) [also misspelled, and inappropriate for social media] 3) [the speeding ticket one] 4) [ew] 5) [wildly inappropriate]. Be a sport and do it -this is what happens when u comment on stupid statuses like this one like I did

I did not, nor would I comment on any of these status updates. Actually, these are the types of updates that I filter from my Facebook feed. I don’t have to “be a sport,” and neither should you. The way you represent yourself online matters. Everything you put out about yourself counts toward your personal brand. In this day and age, almost all of us are findable on search engines. Personally, I absolutely expect employers, associates, and professionals I respect to Google me. I can’t call myself an experienced marketing and social media professional without paying very close attention to my entire online presence.

Maybe you’re not in marketing. Maybe you’re not even a professional who cares about your reputation. Maybe you’re thinking none of this applies to you, although I can’t imagine a person in the first world for whom this would actually be true, other than a hermit with a large trust fund. Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom who just uses Facebook for fun. I don’t know why you would ever think so little of your own influence that you would forward or engage in this kind of chain letter-type immature behavior. It’s baffling to me that people don’t realize that once you put something out there, it is always out there.

Like the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo said in the Facebook movie: The internet is written in ink, not pencil.

Even if I haven’t convinced you that your online presence is a large part of your personal brand, don’t ever think I’d compromise mine for your entertainment.

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