The other day, I was chatting with a friend of mine and the topic of hair removal came up. Specifically, facial hair. I know it's a taboo topic and many women don't practice any forms of facial hair removal and that those who do don't always like to talk about it. But today, I'm going to get uncomfortable and talk about it. I'm pretty OCD/perfectionistic when it comes to most things in life from cleaning my home to my beauty routines. I'm not very tolerant of even small amounts of peach fuzz where I don't want it and I've been tweezing/waxing my eyebrows since I was in middle school. I've also been getting rid of the light amount of peach fuzz on my upper lip since high school. My friends who also do this agree wholeheartedly with me when I say I think it's totally necessary. My friends who don't do this think I'm totally crazy.

I think the reason women don't want to admit to getting rid of any unwanted facial hair is the fear that people will think they have massive amounts of dark hair or worse, a full on mustache. The truth is that we all have facial hair, even if it's not dark. It may be blonde or not very predominant, but it's there. Remember that friend I mentioned in the beginning of this post? She told me she does the craziest thing to get rid of unwanted facial hair. And then she referred me to this video. I'm not going to lie, I was ridiculously skeptical. So skeptical in fact that I almost didn't even watch the video because I just knew it wasn't for me. I eventually caved in and watched and by the end of the video, I was already planning a purchase. Take a peek and see what you think.    

Yes, you're right. The girl in this video is the crazy chick on The Bachelor season 15. Whether she's actually crazy in real life, I doubt. But she's got a point, right? I went to Target a few days after watching this video and found a pack of small facial razors near the makeup section of the store and tried it out. My initial plan was just to use it in lieu of waxing above my lip, but I tested it out along my jawline just for kicks and now I'm kind of hooked. You never really know that there's actually hair there, especially if it's blonde like mine, until you try to shave it off. And then you're sort of horrified and happy at the same time. I'm not totally sold on the brand I found at Target because I think they're meant for eyebrows and smaller than the razor she uses in the video, but I'll definitely be purchasing the brand she recommends. Even though the brand name is totally embarrassing.

So ladies, what do you think? Have any of you tried this or are any of you itching to try it now? Or do you think I'm totally weird?

JEFF'S PERSPECTIVE: When Ash first told me she wanted to go to the store to buy facial razors, my first thought was, great, another beauty product! She likes to buy quite a few of those. I didn't think it was weird nor do I think removing facial hair is weird. To be honest, what man wouldn't like a smooth face? I'm definitely not the controlling type and I've never told Ash to do certain things to her appearance. But the fact that she doesn't like having peach fuzz is an added bonus for me.
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Every year, some of the swanky hotels/shopping centers in Orange County host Christmas tree lighting celebrations and this year we were able to attend one at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort for the first time. The St. Regis is one of two 5-star hotels in California and we were lucky enough to start our honeymoon there before flying off to Tahiti after we got married. Ironically, the day of the Christmas tree lighting celebration just happened to be our 5 1/2 year anniversary, so it was the perfect place to celebrate the start of the Christmas season. Not only was there a huge Christmas tree to admire, there was a dessert bar, a hot coco/apple cider station, a decorated area to take pictures with Santa as well as a celebrity guest. The Make-A-Wish Foundation was there hosting a special raffle for guests of the event and the St. Regis donated everything from 1-2 night stays at the hotel to special spa packages.    

Tori Spelling was the special celebrity guest and I'm not going to lie, she was one of the main reasons I (Ashley) wanted to attend this event. I'm a huge fan and not only did I used to watch her on 90210, the original 90210 that is, I watch her reality shows and I own 4 of her books. I have yet to read them all...but I digress. I was lucky enough to be able to get a picture with her and one with Dean despite the hustle and bustle at the event. Dean was so incredibly nice and waited there just to make sure the picture we took came out. We were using my iPhone because we didn't want to bring our monster sized flash for our professional camera and trying to get all 3 of us in the photo was challenging to say the least! I was lucky enough to be able to get a picture with Tori towards the end of the event as well and after she told me she really liked the way me and Jeff dress and complimented my iPhone case, I just about died. Teeny bopper alert! We also got to see all 4 of her adorable kids including her newest addition, Finn, who is just 3 months old! 

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Last week, we hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our place for the first time. We've hosted holiday dinners in years past, but never Thanksgiving. It was Jeff's first time cooking a turkey and his first time baking an apple pie. I was pretty confident about the turkey, but skeptical about the apple pie. I'm happy to report that the dinner as a whole was successful, we had plenty of food to go around and no one got food poisoning. We called just to make sure a few hours after my family drove home (: As promised, here's a quick review of what worked and what we'll do differently next time. Because my mom is pretty sold on us doing all the cooking from now on!

WHAT WORKED: We basically rocked out all the side dishes. And I say we because contrary to popular opinion, I actually know how to cook. I just don't like cooking as much as Jeff does. I made mashed potatoes, something we've actually struggled to make delicious in the past, and they were really good. Following a recipe and improvising slightly with what to mix in worked in my favor this time. Jeff made his mom's recipe for broccoli cheese casserole and everyone loved it. Even me and my dad and we don't even like broccoli! I made my great grandma's recipe for cranberry sauce and Jeff made my grandpa's recipe for stuffing under my dad's direction. We also had a light salad and store bought rolls. We tried to keep the oven as clear as possible so we didn't disturb the turkey.

WHAT WE'LL DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME: I don't want to say the turkey didn't work, because that's not entirely true. We all ate turkey and we all agreed it was the most moist turkey we'd ever had. Even my 89 year old grandpa and he's tasted quite a few turkeys over the years. Jeff followed this amazing recipe which included a special homemade brine, a giant bucket in our fridge and a special thermometer attached to the turkey while it baked in the oven.

Here's where things went slightly astray. The placement of the thermometer in the turkey is critical and complicated. If you place it in the wrong spot you get an inaccurate reading for the turkey as whole and either over or undercook the bird. In our case it was slightly undercooked in one spot which was the part we didn't eat. The parts we did eat were definitely cooked, but Jeff and I were slightly spooked. Hence calling to make sure no one got food poisoning! Next time, we'll be more careful with the thermometer placement and once the turkey comes out of the oven (you're not supposed to open the oven at all while it's cooking) we'll do a few tests in different spots just to make sure.

Now let's get to the pie. Overall, it was a success and everyone had a slice. Some even had seconds. But there's one thing the recipe and the overly confident lady at the store forgot to mention: covering the crust on the outer rim of the pie with foil. It looked amazing when Jeff put it in the oven, but shortly after we saw it browning and browning fast. There wasn't much we could do because we knew it had to bake for a certain amount of time, so we waited and held our breath. The edges were slightly burnt, but the rest of the pie was fine. So it wasn't a total disaster. It wasn't even a disaster, but when I smelled it burning in the oven I thought we were going to have to use my peppermint ice cream for dessert. Thankfully everyone liked the pie and my gallon of pepperminty goodness was spared.

Aside from the meal and burning off all the calories I consumed cooking parts of it and cleaning up, my absolute favorite part of the day was taking some family portraits, which is something we rarely do with my side of the family. As a photographer, I'm usually the one taking the photos and I'm rarely in them. This is always a problem when we want to take a family photo and usually Jeff is the one taking it if I want to be in it. This time we got smart and used a makeshift remote and a tripod so we were able to take multiple photos with everyone in them. We also gave my mom a quick tutorial so we could have a few photos with just me and Jeff together. And momma rocked it out. 

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With Thanksgiving less than 24 hours away, I thought it was the perfect time for a favorite things post. One thing I'm also grateful for that isn't included on my favorite things list this time is that we're hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my family tomorrow. Jeff will be doing most of the cooking, including his first attempt at cooking a turkey and baking a homemade apple pie. I have very high hopes for the turkey because we're using a killer recipe (more on that on Monday) but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't slightly worried for the apple pie. Pies are complicated things in my mind and I felt like we needed a test run before our actual Thanksgiving dinner.

After overhearing us discuss said apple at Target earlier this week, a random lady assured me that making a pie was easy. This was right before she proceeded to share some pretty specific instructions for apple pie making and then told me that she was going to purchase a pricey $26 pie from a bakery for her Thanksgiving dinner this year. While I appreciated her tips and tricks for making our first apple pie a success, somehow she didn't completely convince me. Here's hoping that famous "easy as pie" saying is actually legit. I'll be sure to let you know first thing next week.

1. X Factor - I'm gonna just be realistic here and come right out and say that American Idol isn't going to be around forever. They got rid of JLo and they've added Nicky Minaj to the judges panel this year. If that doesn't kill the show, I don't know what will. But fortunately for us, there's X Factor. The first season was a bit shaky as they were figuring things out and thankfully they got rid of last year's horrid host and replaced him with Mario Lopez and my personal fav, Khloe Kardashian (I mean, Khloe Kardashian Odom). Jeff and I were lucky enough to attend a live taping of the show a few weeks ago and I'm really liking it this season. I also really like how they show how all the contestants are ranked in terms of votes. Now if they can just get rid of CeCe Frey and her ever changing style.

2. Antibacterial Hand Soap in Candy Cane Bliss - Peppermint scented or flavored anything is always at the top of my list at this time of year. I always get some form of peppermint scented soap at Bath and Body Works every December and this year, I decided to extend the party into January by purchasing 2 bottles.

3. Red by Taylor Swift - I never really jumped on the T-Swift bandwagon when it began, but for some reason I felt like I needed this album. I have various other Taylor Swift singles, but I'd never actually pulled the trigger and purchased an entire album. I'm happy to say that this slight impulse purchase definitely paid off. I listened to it in the car all the way to Big Bear and half of the ride home. I like to credit Taylor for getting me both up as well as down that windy mountain without feeling car sick. And now I think I'm a T-Swift fan.

4. MAC Cremesheen Glass in Dynasty at Dusk - There's this guy that works at the MAC counter at Nordies and I'm telling you, he has a major talent for picking out the perfect shade of lip gloss. I tested this theory a few times and every time, he works his magic and I walk out an ecstatic customer. One of his latest picks for me is this color. I told him I needed an every day gloss to replace one I'd been using that ran out and he picked a shade with a slight gold shimmer to it. This is without even knowing how much I love gold. That's when I asked him to stop working for MAC so he could just come to my place to do my makeup everyday. Then he picked out the most amazing shade of bright pink gloss.

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I've been waiting forever to see this and I'm happy to say it completely exceeded my expectations. I read the book earlier this year and it's the only one I've read cover to cover in the Twilight saga. It's such a different experience when you read the book beforehand and for me, it typically takes away from the movie because I'm sitting there comparing it to the book. Not so with this one. I don't know if it's because it's been almost a year since I've read the book and perhaps I've forgotten a few things, but I felt like the movie matched the second half of the book really well and what wasn't exactly the same didn't take away from my experience reading the book at all. One main difference from the book was a major scene that was added to the movie. It was a scene I felt like I was wanting from the book, but never got, so the addition of it really surprised me and fit in more perfectly than I ever imagined it could. I'd been listening to the soundtrack in the days before I saw the movie and really liking it, but after seeing the movie, it made me like the soundtrack even more. What I also appreciated was the pacing of the film. Breaking Dawn Part 1 had so much to cover and some of it felt rushed to me, so this was a nice departure from that. I loved this movie so much that I've officially added it to my top 2 favorites of all 5 Twilight Saga films and I'm counting down the days until I can purchase it on DVD. Or see it again in theaters (: (5/5)  

Yes, I know. I'm a man and I watch Twilight. I've watched all 5 movies and this one was definitely my favorite. I usually lean toward movies that are more action based and this movie fulfilled my need to see action. I didn't know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised with the entire movie. If you're going to watch a Twilight movie, I think this is the best one to watch. I also read the book Breaking Dawn. I know...I lost my man card a long time ago. I think I disagree with Ash in terms of the book matching the movie, but the screenwriter did a very good job getting all the main points across from the book without straying too far away from the text. And where the movie did stray away from the book, it really added to the movie and made it that much better. That's something Ash I agree on when it comes to the book vs the movie. I totally enjoyed the music that accompanied each scene and felt like it really added a lot to the movie. Fellow males out there, if you're going to lose your man card, this one is definitely worth losing it for. (5/5)   

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In preparation for hosting (and cooking) Thanksgiving dinner for the first time this year, I wanted to take a particular recipe for a test drive to make sure I didn't ruin one of our Thanksgiving sides. Our family loves both mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, so it's always difficult to decide between the two at Thanksgiving. I wanted to come up with a vegetable side that we could put in place of the sweet potatoes, just because 2 potato dishes seemed excessive. I did some research and found a recipe for Carrot Souffle that I thought would be the perfect compliment to the sides we've already selected. I was really happy with the way it turned out and I'll definitely be making it next Thursday for our big dinner. 

Hey everyone, Ash here! I know what you're all thinking...Carrot Souffle sounds disgusting, right? I had the same reaction. But I tried to be open minded because I knew if it tasted good, it would be an absolute hit. I was also very persuaded because there was vanilla extract and sugar included in the recipe. I'm happy to report that being open minded this time definitely paid off. The texture was not like carrots at all. In fact, the finished product had the same texture as whipped sweet potatoes and tasted very similar as well. Had I not been told beforehand, I would not have even known there were carrots in the recipe. The best part is that it actually tasted like a dessert! Any time you can get me to eat veggies and actually enjoy it, it's a good thing. I can't wait to share this with the fam next week!   

.7 cups chopped carrot (about 2 pounds)
.2/3 cup granulated sugar
.1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
.3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
.2 tablespoons butter, melted
.1 teaspoon baking powder
.1 teaspoon vanilla extract
.1/4 teaspoon salt
.3 large eggs, lightly beaten
.Cooking spray
.1 teaspoon powdered sugar

Cook carrot in boiling water 15 minutes or until very tender; drain. Place carrot in a food processor; process until smooth. Add granulated sugar and next 7 ingredients (granulated sugar through eggs); pulse to combine. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until puffed and set. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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I'm the first to admit that I complain far too often about how displeased I can be with the weather in Southern California. I'm ridiculously blessed to live in a place where the climate is so mild, but when the rest of the country was welcoming the fall season with scarves and boots this year, I was running my A/C more often than I'd like because it was 90 degrees in October. Then Jeff and I took a weekend trip to Big Bear, CA. I was so looking forward to actual fall weather and while it was so fun to get to wear a sweater without sweating (pun only slightly intended), I ended up slightly freezing my butt off. Oddly enough, I think it made me appreciate our weather at home a bit more and since we've had a few days in the 60's and 70's over the past week, I am now feeling content.

This post isn't just about my weather preferences, it's about how to dress in seasonally matched attire even when you live in a place where the weather doesn't reach seasonal extremes. A mild climate if you will. When fall officially began this year, I started to get frustrated with my wardrobe because I wanted to wear fall clothing, but it was way too hot. First I decided to start making the shift to fall clothing with color and prints. If I couldn't wear boots or a scarf, I'd wear short sleeves and cropped pants, but in fall colors and prints. I also started wearing more close toed shoes instead of sandals. Once the temperatures dropped from the 80's and 90's, I started mixing in fall pieces like sweaters and scarves, still combining them with cropped pants or shorts. On days where it's in the 70's and I'm itching to wear boots, I'll typically pair them with my favorite leggings and a short sleeved shirt or cropped sleeved sweater.

Although we aren't blessed with too many colored leaves and I don't have a fireplace at home to make it really feel like fall, I'm learning to embrace more mild temperatures during my favorite season of the year. Drinking the occasional carmel apple spice from Starbucks doesn't hurt either.

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You know those girls who seem to look effortless without really even trying? I'm definitely not one of those girls. I wish I could just roll out of bed, throw my hair up in a bun and go, but truth be told, looking effortless takes effort. Or maybe that's just the perfectionist in me. My friend Laurin on the other hand, she's definitely one of those effortless types. She always styles her hair in the most adorable messy buns, so I thought it was high time I ask her about her hair secrets. Here she shares with us how to create an adorable messy bun, shown here.

1. Gather hair into ponytail but only pull hair halfway through elastic (Laurin says thin hair elastics like these work best) 
2. Gathering the bottom half of the ponytail as you go, twist elastic. 
3. Pull elastic over to the other side of hair, creating a bun. 
4. Twist elastic again.
5. Loop elastic over the bun to the other side. This step can be repeated on the other side depending on how thick your hair is. Repeat until the elastic feels secure.
6. Mess up the bun to your liking and tuck any remaining strands of hair into the elastic or pin them with a bobby pin, depending on how you like it to look. 
7. Optional: Give your messy bun a quick spray with your favorite hair/finishing spray and you're good to go! 

*This tutorial was done with freshly washed hair, but Laurin says that the dirtier, the better! Perfect for those days when you know it's time to wash your hair, but you don't have the time. 

Many thanks to Laurin for sharing her hair secrets with us! 

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Truth be told, we don't get the opportunity to go on very many vacations these days. So when a client so generously offered to let us stay in her family's cabin in Big Bear, CA during the weekend we were scheduled to photograph her engagement session there, we jumped at the chance. The temps were in the 80's and 90's in Orange County last weekend, so being in mountains where the highs didn't go past the mid 60's during the warmest part of the day was absolute heaven.  Along with the fresh air, colored leaves on many of the trees and a warm fireplace to enjoy at night at the cabin.

We were so excited they named a restaurant after one of Jeff's many obnoxious nicknames. Bet you'll never guess who came up with this particular name.

We stopped to take in the scenery halfway through our trip down the mountain. It really feels like a different world up there.  

Not only are we mastering the art of self portraiture with both of us in the photo, some of us are working on individual self portraiture as well (:

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It's a rare thing that we get the opportunity to wear scarves in Orange County. But whenever the temps dip below 70 degrees, I jump at the chance to add a comfy accessory to my outfits. I found the idea for this scarf craft from the mothership of all great ideas (Pinterest), but decided to change it up just a bit to better tailor it to my own style in terms of the process, print and color.  

. fabric paint (aka paint that can be used on fabric)
. a paintbrush
. a large eraser
. a scarf

1. Start with a freshly ironed scarf. The more wrinkles in the fabric you can eliminate, the better.
2. Cut eraser to desired shape according to what kind of print you want on your scarf.
3. Dip your newly created eraser stamp in some paint and stamp away!
4. Use a paintbrush to correct any areas that might not have stamped evenly.

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Jeff has been literally obsessed with this year's presidential election. Every day he keeps himself up-to-date with all the campaign happenings and he even got to attend a fancy shmancy debate watching party for the last debate. Heck, we even dressed up in political costumes for Halloween! And just take a look at these patriotic pancakes he made for me. So needless to say, we're really excited to have the opportunity to go out and vote tomorrow. And I'm really excited to wear an "I Voted" sticker. Happy voting everyone!

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Truth be told, we're creatures of habit when it comes to eating out. We always end up frequenting the same restaurants and ordering the same things each time we go. Every so often we'll switch things up and dine at our favorite waffle sandwich restaurant, but of course, we typically end up ordering the same things every time we're there. Recently, a friend of ours told us about a new waffle sandwich restaurant called The Iron Press that she said was even better than the one we've been going to. So we decided to switch things up and give it a try.

We shared the tossed green salad with vinaigrette dressing and an order of waffles fries with the garlic aioli dipping sauce to start us off. We both liked the salad and agreed that the dressing was unusually subtle in taste but good. The waffle fries were good but the dipping sauce we ordered separately we felt we could have done without because it was just okay.

The concept for their waffles sandwiches is basically the same as what we're used to, but the presentation, sandwich combinations and environment in the restaurant is what really differentiated the two establishments. The cuisine at The Iron Press felt like more of a full and complete meal than what we've become accustomed to at Bruxie and the environment felt a lot more urban and sophisticated. We're used to eating outdoors at the Bruxie location we go to so being able to sit in an air conditioned building and watch the sandwiches being prepared while we waited was awesome! I wanted to order the breakfast waffle sandwich minus the meat, so the server told me to order the grilled cheese waffle sandwich and just add the egg to it and that by doing so I'd be saving a few bucks, so that's exactly what I did. The sandwich was delicious and definitely filling and I love that it actually had a pan fried egg instead of an omelet style or scrambled egg. I also love that every sandwich comes with a side of syrup and that you don't get charged extra for it. We didn't have room for a dessert waffle sandwich, but I have no doubt we'll be going back for one some time in the near future.

One of my favorite TV shows on the Food Network is Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and critiquing and seeing how food is made is one of my favorite things to do. The ambiance at Iron Press is awesome and  it's a place where you and your friends will definitely want to hang out. I don't drink beer, but one of the owners mentioned that there are 27 different kinds of beer on tap from all over the state of California. I ordered the Prosciutto & Gruyere waffle sandwich and not only did it taste great by itself, but also with syrup which was not something I was expecting. I plan on going to back because I really want to try the Fried Chicken waffle sandwich, which I'm told is their most popular. I definitely would recommend The Iron Press because both the food and the atmosphere are fantastic.

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