1.30.2013

BEAUTY: SUGAR SCRUB

Whenever winters rolls around, my skin always seems to freak out. I didn't realize just how dry my skin really is until I married Jeff who is at the very opposite end of the spectrum. Regardless of the season, I always have to lather up with lotion every time I shower and pretty frequently during the day after I wash my hands. Jeff on the other hand hates the very idea of applying lotion simply because his skin never gets even remotely dry. Some guys have all the luck!

This winter my hands have been so dry and red and I recently decided lotion/cream alone wasn't cutting it anymore. So I went in search of some kind of sugar scrub I could use to exfoliate the skin on my hands. I checked two stores I frequent, Target and Sprouts. One didn't have the kind of selection I wanted and the other had a great selection but I didn't like the pricing. So I took matters into my own hands and decided to make my own sugar scrub.

I searched google for a scrub that was not only easy to make, didn't require the use of expensive essential oils and one whose scent wasn't too strong or flowery. And this is what I found with that criteria. I decided to half the recipe just for ease of storage and I substituted extra virgin olive oil with extra light olive oil so the scent wasn't too heavy. Here's what I came up with!



Sugar Scrub

. 1 1/4 cups sugar
. 1/2 cup extra light olive oil
. 2 tbsp lemon juice (I just used the juice from half a lemon)
. 6 oz. mason jar

It's only been a day since I started using this scrub on my hands and I'm really liking it so far. My hands feel so much softer and I feel like it makes my hand lotion that much more efficient, if that even makes sense. FYI: the sugar settles pretty quickly in the bottom of the jar so it definitely has to be shaken or mixed before each use as the olive oil likes to sit at the top of the jar. I might try adding more sugar to the mix for a different consistency, although that might be defeating the purpose of a sugar scrub in the first place. Clearly, this is just me being perfectionistic. Also, it helps to wash your hands with soap after you've rinsed off the scrub with water because there's definitely an olive oil residue that likes to hang around after the sugar granules rinse off. Happy sugar scrubbing everyone!

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1.27.2013

STYLE: RYAN GOSLING & THE INFAMOUS CHUCK BASS

We're only less than one month in to 2013, but I'm officially declaring this year the year of opportunities. Today is Jeff's first day at his new job and it's one we're really excited about. So in honor of the occasion, today's post is our first post about men's style. With his new job in mind, Jeff searched the world wide web for work appropriate clothing that he would be stoked to wear. His top three search terms? J.Crew, Chuck Bass and Crazy, Stupid, Love outfits. That last one obviously refers to all the amazing clothing that Ryan Gosling wore in the film. And that's definitely something he and I both agree on! Here are a few of Jeff's current favorite ensembles, as described by the man himself.

As much as women have a big crush on Ryan Gosling, I have a man crush on his character's wardrobe in the movie Crazy, Stupid, Love. Additionally, I also have a man crush on Chuck Bass' character and his character's clothing as well. Not everything they wear in these roles is something I would wear myself, but for the most part I really liked their style in general. In my opinion, a custom, tailored suit can do wonders for a man's wardrobe.

Left: I like the navy blue suit paired with the brown shoes. Right: I like the material of this suit because it's so classic.

Left: I like the idea of wearing printed shirts with a suit. Right: This is more of a business casual look that still looks nice without it being a suit. 

Left & Right: Sweaters add diversity to the business casual look and I like how each one, although both paired with a button down shirt look completely different. I also like the bold color of the pants on the right. 



All of the clothing featured above (aside from Ryan Gosling and Chuck Bass) is from J.Crew.

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1.25.2013

STYLE: INVESTING IN TAILORING

Ever since I can remember, I've always had a hard time finding clothing that fits me correctly. And the idea of purchasing clothing online without knowing how a particular brand fits or trying it on beforehand absolutely terrifies me. I wish I was one of those girls that could wear anything from anywhere and have it fit perfectly, but I've accepted the fact that I can't. And this is reiterated to me almost every single time I ever try on clothing at Target. As I've come to know my own style, I've figured out where I should and shouldn't buy clothing and what brands suit my body type the best. I've also figured out that I can find shirts that fit me 10x easier than I can find pants that fit correctly. As a result, I started to invest in professional tailoring at a young age and now more than ever, I'm totally obsessed with it.

In my opinion, a good tailor is worth their weight in gold. For me, a good tailor is someone who is relatively affordable, has a decent turnaround time on services and someone who can make recommendations when I'm unsure as to why something doesn't fit as well as it could. Because let's be honest, I'm always trying to keep myself in check when it comes to being too perfectionistic about the way I look or the way my clothing fits.

Last fall I finally caved and jumped on the colored pants bandwagon. Not knowing exactly how long this trend would stick around, I didn't want to invest the kind of money I typically invest when it comes to pants, so I found a few reasonably priced pairs that didn't fit me perfectly, but were decent enough for me to tolerate because I loved the colors. A few months later, I realized that these pants I was originally so excited about weren't getting any use because every time I'd put them on, I'd hate the way they fit. Initially I told myself I wouldn't send a cheap pair of pants to the tailor because it wasn't worth it, but recently I caved and took one pair in to see if it made a difference. I'm happy to say that by simply adjusting the way the legs fit has made all the difference. Now I don't feel so frumpy every time I put them on and even though they wrinkle up a lot more than I prefer, I actually want to wear them more often.

Here are some before and after photos. The pair on the left, which is the same style and brand as the one on the right, has not been altered. The pair on the right was tailored to fit more like a skinny jean and to fit my legs better.



I'm a firm believer in buying cute clothes and following the trends that best suit you and your body type. But sometimes we get so caught up in a pattern, style or a good deal that we forget to recognize whether or not a particular article of clothing is actually flattering. No matter how cute something is, if it doesn't fit correctly, it's not going to look good. Sure, I make exceptions from time to time, but for the most part, I'm a stickler when it comes to fit. Because when you feel good about what you're wearing, it makes all the difference.

-Ashley

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1.23.2013

WEDNESDAY RANDOM

I'm not going to lie, I haven't been very great at keeping my very broad and not at all specific new year's resolution/theme so far. This year has been full of change so far, mostly good, but it's throwing me for a loop! Our schedule has been so packed lately that I find myself so exhausted at the end of the day. So exhausted that I don't even have the energy to practice my nightly ritual of watching an episode of Gilmore Girls to clear my mind before I go to sleep. I'm definitely not feeling balanced at all. So just to keep things real, instead of posting what I had planned on posting today, I'm going to embrace the chaos and do a post of all the random things floating around in my unbalanced mind. We'll return to our regularly scheduled programming on Friday. Here goes.



. I finally listened to Justin Timberlake's new single last night and I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.
. I'm unusually excited for spring this year.
. Especially because polka dots are going to be big this spring and I'm already obsessed with them.
. It's not shocking, but I'm really liking this season of The Bachelor.
. Along with Kourtney & Kim Take Miami.
. I'm serious.
. I feel like the Kardashians are just like us...except with copious amounts of money.
. YOLO.
. I recently purchased a floral print purse.
. I haven't been craving Chipotle nearly as often as I usually do.
. No, I'm not pregnant.
. Don't worry, that's a good thing.
. I'm slightly disappointed in the selection of films being released over the next few months.
. I'm excited to drag Jeff to see Safe Haven on Valentine's Day this year.
. Even though he doesn't actually need to be dragged because he sees chick flicks very willingly.
. Valentine's Day is my second favorite holiday.
. I got a sewing machine for Christmas and I'm scared to use it for the first time.
. Jeff is worried about me attempting to sew curtains for the mini redecoration going on in our living room.
. I have no clue how to reupholster furniture.
. I need to learn because I'm really not liking our ottoman right now.
. Sprinkles Ice Cream is opening in CDM this Spring and my hips are excited.
. I didn't go to yoga last night and stayed home to blog and eat fatty mexican food instead.
. I've decided that today I'm either going to drink a fountain coke OR juice some greens.
. Same thing, right?

-Ashley

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1.21.2013

FAVORITE THINGS: BIOLAGE, MAC & POO-POURRI

I'm just going to be honest and come right out and say it: 2012 wasn't a very good year for us, overall. It felt like a year of waiting for things to happen, waiting to move forward and waiting to develop the kind of patience needed while I waited for things that were out of my control. Whenever it's time to ring in the new year, I always imagine what kind of year it will be and always anticipate good things happening throughout the year ahead. But when 2013 arrived, I was so afraid of disappointment that instead I just sort of crossed my fingers and desperately hoped things would go better than they did in 2012. 

I'm happy to report that while 2013 hasn't been absent of trials thus far, it has been so abundant in miracles, both big and small. It hasn't even been a full month, but it seems like every time we turn around, something unexpected and good is happening to us. Some might refer to it as luck, but I once heard it said that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. And I feel like after 2012, that is exactly what is happening and I honestly couldn't be more grateful. So in the spirit of the gratitude I've been feeling so abundantly lately, I thought it was the perfect time for a favorite things post.

1. Biolage Hydra-Seal Leave-In Creme
My hair has been so dry and filled with static this season and my normal lineup of products just wasn't cutting it. So I asked my stylist for help and she recommended a creme leave in conditioner. I found a Biolage version of the product she recommended, crossed my fingers and gave it a try. And I'm officially obsessed. Depending on the type of fabric I'm wearing and the humidity levels, my hair does get slightly static filled from time to time, but it's a heck of a lot better than it was before and a lot easier to control. But perhaps what I'm most excited about is how it makes my hair feel. It can be used when your hair is damp or when it's dry, but when I apply when my hair is damp, just before using a hair dryer, I'm always amazed at how silky and soft my hair feels. And I love that you can apply it more than once during the day, depending on how dry your hair feels. Totally sold on this product.   

2. MAC Pro Longwear Eyeshadow in Uninterrupted
A friend of mine who works at the MAC counter at Nordies recommended this color to me. She affectionately told me that it kind of looks like the color of baby poop, but that it looks amazing when it's actually applied. I was in the market for some new crease shadows and when she applied this one, I died. She was so right about it being amazing. And I really like how it brought out my eye color.

3. Poo-Pourri    
I love instagram for so many reasons and now I have yet another reason to love it. A friend of mine posted a picture of this bathroom spray she loves called Poo-Pourri and commented that it's something every hostess should own. So I investigated, purchased and now I'm sold on it. Let's be honest here, it's just like the book says, everyone poops, right? I know it's not a very classy topic of conversation, but this bathroom spray will change your life. Instead of using an air freshener in the bathroom, you simply use this to spray the toilet bowl beforehand and it saves you any embarrassment afterwards. If you're still confused as to what this is, I'll spare you my description and you can look it up on Amazon. Just be careful though, because you might end up buying it (: 

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1.18.2013

CUISINE: PEAR, WALNUT & RICOTTA CROSTINI

I've always loved the idea of small, easy to eat appetizers. It seems like there are a million different combinations that can be created using bread as a base. I recently saw this crostini recipe and really liked the idea of combining a typical pairing like bread and cheese with unexpected toppings like pear slices and walnuts. Ash and I frequently dine at Zpizza and I've ordered their pear and gorgonzola salad many times, so this recipe was right up my alley. It's not only tasty, but elegant looking as well so you're sure to impress your guests should you decide to serve it at your next party.



Pear, Walnut & Ricotta Crostini

. 1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
. pear slices
. walnut pieces (I used candied walnuts from Trader Joe's)
. coarse salt and ground pepper
. honey

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1.16.2013

DECOR: IDEAS FOR OUR LIVING AREA

We have loathed our couch for many years now. It seemed like the perfect fit when we first got married, and navy blue was exactly the color I wanted, but it's been almost 6 years now and our style has definitely changed. We were fortunate enough to get a new couch as a Christmas gift from Jeff's parents and this past weekend, we finally brought it home. It's a thousand times more modern and sophisticated than our old couch, not to mention that it's actually comfortable enough to take an afternoon nap on, but there's one big problem I'm having that I noticed as soon as we got it situated in the living room. The new couch is a totally different color than our old couch and I'm feeling like it doesn't match very well in our living area now.


I'm not about to take the new couch back and I actually really like the color a lot better than our navy blue couch, but because it's such a neutral color along with the rest of our living area, the room is definitely going to need some light revamping. The second I realized this, the wheels started turning in my head and I immediately started thinking about a color palette. Jeff totally freaked out when he heard me talking about all my ideas, urging me to take it one step at a time and not rush into anything drastic. So I decided to create a mood board to actually show him that there's method to my madness and that if he'll just sit back and relax, our living area will look a thousand times better when I'm done with it. And even if it doesn't, the peace that will come from not hearing me complain about it will be well worth the trouble of revamping.

Because we live in a small apartment in Orange County, our living area consists of the living room on one side of the room and my "office" on the other side of the room. We have one large gray accent wall, dark furniture in the living room area and a white desk, turquoise set of drawers full of office supplies and mustard colored curtains in the office area. All of this worked with the navy blue couch, but now that our couch is a lighter gray, the color scheme needs to change.

The new color palette I've chosen for the room includes accents of coral, a blue that I can only describe as a mix between teal and navy, and gold.  

















































4. gray striped rug

The furniture and walls in the room are neutral colored and I really like how the lighter gray on the accent wall looks with the coral. I've already acquired the coral colored pillow and I absolutely LOVE how it looks on the couch! It even sort of matches the mustard colored curtains, but I feel like blue curtains would look a lot more rich in this room. The blue fabric swatch is the type of fabric I'll be looking for when it comes to curtains. I also want to use the same fabric for a DIY ottoman for the living room. The ottoman we have now just looks awful, especially with the new couch and I think an ottoman with some color will help to brighten up the living room portion of the room. If I can find a rug similar but less expensive than the one shown above, I will definitely add it to the living room. And as for the turquoise set of drawers in the office, I actually have another set of drawers just like it that I'm using for storage that I haven't painted. So I'll likely paint it white to match my desk and switch out the turquoise dresser so things look more cohesive. Wish me luck!

-Ashley




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1.14.2013

STYLE: 2013 GOLDEN GLOBES FAVORITES

I've been watching award shows ever since I can remember. My mom was my biggest influence when it came to watching them and the Oscars were always the most important award show in our home. Even to the point where we'd have Oscar parties. To this day, I still watch award shows, but not just to find out who will win which awards. Nowadays, it's all about the fashion! I've blogged about my award show fashion favs before, but this time I'm including a hair/makeup category. Because good style isn't just about the perfect dress or a fabulous pair of shoes. It's the entire look. Here are my favs from this year's Golden Globes, organized by category.

THE DRESS

I think I'm just a sucker for sparkles, but I'm crazy about Isla Fisher's dress! 


Yes, another sparkly dress. I don't think this is the most flattering picture of Connie Britton from last night, but I still think she looked great in this dress. 


HAIR/MAKEUP

Normally I'm not a big fan of pomp style hair, but Julianne Hough's looked feminine and pretty. I also really like her makeup. I really, really wanted to like her dress and although I'm a huge fan of gold, the embellishments killed it for me because they were more punk rock than feminine. 


Not a big fan of how revealing her dress was on top, but I love Kat McPhee's hair and makeup. For me her hair looked effortlessly chic.


I'm a HUGE Giuliana fan, but I'm not crazy about her dress this time. However, I did love her hair and the accessory she wore in it that you can't see in this picture. I also loved her berry lip color. 


I'm not crazy about J-Law's dress either or her makeup, but her hair was GORGEOUS. One of the best updos of the evening. Do people still call them updos?


ENTIRE LOOK

Amy Adams is always flawless and this look was no exception. I love how her hair was sort of art deco style, but not over the top. And that dress is absolute perfection on her. 


I think I'm just having a Nashville moment right now because I loved both Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere's dresses. But what I really loved was Hayden's hair. Just a simple blowout that looked so amazing with her dress and her makeup. She looked fresh and beautiful.


I know, I know, all the dresses I like this year are all neutral colors! This is a pattern with me. But I also really like Jessica Alba's dress! The color is beautiful and the statement necklace she wore is a great compliment. I also really love her hair and how she added a tangerine hued lip.



SOME OBSERVATIONS...

1. How is it possible that Claire Danes had a baby just 4 weeks ago?! She looked amazing!


2. I would have liked Kate Hudson's dress a lot more had the neckline been different. For me, it's too much and I feel like she needed to have her hair up with that much detail up top.


3. My least favorite ensemble = Sienna Miller. Enough said. 


What were some of your favorite looks from last night?

-Ashley

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1.11.2013

THE BOOKS I SHOULD BE READING

I have this really bad habit of buying books and magazines and never making time to read them. A new book will be released and I'll hunt it down to purchase it, browse through its pages once I bring it home, sometimes making time to read the first few chapters, and inevitably it will end up sitting on a specific shelf of my bookcase collecting dust. This process has happened over and over again and yet I always find myself justifying yet another book purchase to Jeff because I believe the scenario will somehow be different because it's by this author or it's in that genre. So this year, as part of my unexpected implementation of a new year's resolution, I'm going to attempt to incorporate more time to sit down and read. Attempt being the key word here.

Here are a few of the books I hope I will actually make time to finally read, along with some of Jeff's picks as well. After seeing how quickly he read the entire Hunger Games series when I'd never actually seen him read a book he wasn't assigned to read, I became a believer in his hidden affinity for leisurely reading. The random things you learn when you're married to someone long enough!




HIS
1. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


HERS
1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
2. It's Good to be Alive by Jack Rushton
3. Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

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1.09.2013

BEAUTY: HOW TO DEPOT MAC EYESHADOW

I paid my very first visit to a MAC cosmetics counter when I was 18 years old and I've been wearing MAC makeup ever since. As a result, I've acquired an embarrassingly large collection of MAC eyeshadows over the years, all in single eye shadow form. A friend of mine who is a makeup artist saw my eyeshadow collection once and introduced me to MAC eyeshadow palettes as a way to better organize my makeup. And I've been determined to purchase a palette ever since. The thing that has been holding me back, along with a lack of free time, is not knowing how to depot single MAC eyeshadows so they fit into a palette.

Having eyeshadow palettes is not only helpful to organize a large number of single MAC eyeshadows, but it's also really helpful when you want to keep a certain color collection together so you can remember what shadows you like paired with other shadows or so you can keep track of colors that look best on your crease or on your eyelid for example. You can purchase eyeshadow specifically made for a palette, but just in case you're like me and you've already acquired single shadows you want to organize, you'll need to depot your existing shadows in order to add them to a palette.

I'd been wanting to add this one color to a small palette I've had for while now to complete this particular color collection, so I finally stopped procrastinating and learned how to depot a single eye shadow. And that's exactly what I'm going to share with you today! Here goes.


Step 1: Pop out the small pot of eyeshadow sitting in the container using a small tool. It doesn't matter what kind of tool you use. I've seen some people use their nails and I've seen others use the metal end of a hair bow. Whatever works for you.


Step 2: Now that you have the pot of eyeshadow removed from the container, you'll need to separate the silver palette-ready container from the outer black plastic pot. You can separate the two by heating the bottom of the plastic eyeshadow pot for 5-10 seconds, or until you start to see a hole form on the bottom of the pot. Be sure to use something to hold the pot while you heat it because the plastic will get hot! We used tweezers because we're ghetto fabulous. 

Step 3: Once you see a hole form in the bottom of the plastic pot or you see the plastic warping, use whatever tool you'd like (we used the same metal tool we used in step 1) to push through the bottom of the pot and pop out the silver palette-ready container.

Step 4: The silver palette-ready container might be sticky, so you can always add a magnet to the bottom because MAC eyeshadow palettes are magnetized. I decided to just put the original sticker from the single eyeshadow container on the bottom of the silver container to control the stickyness and use it for reference so I know what color it is. If you want to remove the sticker, just heat the eyeshadow container for a few seconds and peel it off. If it doesn't come off easily, heat it up for a few more seconds.



Step 5: Save your empty MAC eyeshadow container(s). MAC will give you a free lipstick/lipgloss/eyeshadow for every 6 empty containers you bring in.  



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1.07.2013

BEAUTY: MY NEW FAVORITE BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE

I've been on some crazy diets in my lifetime. During my college years, I used to be really restrictive when it came to certain types of food/drink. Those who know me now and know how much I love my fountain cokes will be shocked to know that for years, I didn't drink any soda. Some time during my early 20's I reached a point in my life where I sort of threw all the rules I'd learned about dieting out the window. I was so afraid to just eat what I wanted for so long and when I finally got to a point where I stopped restricting myself, I actually lost some weight and started to feel good about my own body image. Once I stopped analyzing my diet so much, I had time to pay attention to my body a lot more. If I was hungry, I ate. And I stopped feeling guilty for what I was eating, even if it wasn't exactly low in calories or saturated fat.

I quickly came to the realization that I'm not actually a big eater and I think a lot of the initial unintended weight loss came down to portion size. But perhaps the biggest lesson I learned is that my body knows what it needs to feel balanced. Nowadays, I don't diet and for the most part, I'm lucky enough to be able to eat what I want. I realize that this might drastically change as I age, but for now, I just try my best to keep things in moderation and incorporate healthy food into my diet as often as possible. One rule that I do try to follow as much as possible is to try to eat healthy during the day so that I don't have to feel guilty for eating whatever I want for dinner. So I'm always on the lookout for healthy breakfast, lunch and snack ideas to avoid eating the same things every day.


I recently came across this Oatmeal Smoothie recipe and decided to make a variation of it for breakfast one morning. And it completely blew my mind. Not only is it healthy, it actually fills you up and tastes amazing. And it helps to keep your digestive system regulated...just trying to keep it real. But perhaps the thing I like the most about it is that I can change up the taste by only changing one simple ingredient. I've been making it a few times a week for a while now and I'm still not sick of it. So if one of your new year's resolutions is to eat healthy or you're like me and you're trying to live a more balanced lifestyle, then this is definitely something you'll want to try. Here's my variation of the recipe for a single serving.

Oatmeal Smoothie

. 1 cup ice
. 1/2 plain lowfat yogurt
. 1 banana
. 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
. 1/2 cup of frozen fruit (my current favs are strawberries and pineapple)
. 1 tablespoon of honey, as needed*

*I find that I only need to add honey if I'm using a more tart fruit such as raspberries. When I'm using strawberries or pineapple, I don't add it.

Mix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth and you're good to go!

-Ashley


  
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1.02.2013

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS


I'm not a huge fan of new year's resolutions. At least not for myself. I've found that often times, they only end up in disappointment when not fulfilled because they're typically large goals that involve major changes. Instead, I prefer to set smaller goals throughout the year. And as a perfectionist, this has always suited me best. But this year, I decided to switch things up a bit.

The month of December was a stressful one for me. I think the holidays tend to put additional pressure on everyone, not only in the form of overly packed schedules and managing finances when it comes to gift giving, but also in the form of evaluating your own life. We all have that idea of a picture perfect holiday setting and when our lives don't quite measure up to that picture we have in our heads of how we think our lives should be, in all aspects of it, it's depressing. I did a lot of reflecting during the holidays and one thing that became very clear to me is that my life as of late, has been very unbalanced in so many aspects. And that's something that I know, needs to change.

So this year I've decided to actually make a new year's resolution. It's not one that involves a detailed plan or one whose outcome can be quantified in simple terms, but rather one that includes a sort of over arching theme for how I want my life to look.

My new year's resolution can be summed up on one simple word: balance.

I want to live a more balanced life. More balance between work and play. More balance in terms of diet and exercise. More balance with my schedule. And more balance in all the things I can't think of at the moment, but I know need to be more balanced. I really feel like with more balance in various areas of my life, it's going to eliminate a lot of unnecessary stress and help me to live a more healthy existence both mentally and physically. I don't have a long list of specific steps I'm going to take, so I'm going to make a lot of it up as I go. And when things need to be modified, I'm going to go with the flow. Because it's all about balance, right? And I officially feel so weird saying the word "balance" now because I've typed it way too many times. I think you get the idea.

-Ashley

What are some of your new year's resolutions this year?


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