Linky Love – Friends & Family

Since its Friday, and I’m trying to share some of my favorite blogs, I thought I would continue with blogs that I follow because the authors are my family, friends or friends-of-friends.

Cooking Therapy – This blog is written by one of my oldest and most treasured friends, Julie. She is a special education teacher, and one of the ways she balances out her work life is by creating in the kitchen. She offers so many fabulous recipes, and I’m guessing you already have the ingredients on hand for most of them! One of the reasons I love this blog is because when Julie and I were in college we decided to cook a turkey for a Thanksgiving meal, the same day that we had about 15 younger college girls from a small group spending the night at our apartment. Neither of us had ever cooked a turkey, and well, I have to say, that we have both come a long way in honing our cooking skills since that fateful fall day.

Love Wins – My youngest sister Kathryn does a fabulous job at writing about social injustices that she cares about deeply. She started the blog after spending a semester in India working with orphans, and she continues to advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Little Creek Life – Athalia is a dear friend of mine who lives just minutes down the road from us. She blogs about “living in the mountains on a five acre swamp.” Having grown up off the mountain, she often blogs about the idiosyncrasies of living in the high country. She has a quick wit, is a budding photographer, and is a fantastic writer.

Sheri’s Blog – Sheri is a former supervisor of mine, and is one of the best mangers I have ever had. She is incredibly thoughtful and strives to make a difference in people’s lives. She currently lives in the US, but has lived, with her husband Kenyon, in Cambodia and Mozambique in the last few years. She blogs about everything from traveling and living overseas to cooking and leadership skills.

From 3 to 4 – Some good friends of our recently adopted a little girl from Ethiopia. This is their blog about overcoming adoption obstacles, growing as a family, and raising children. This is one of the few blogs that often makes me cry when I read it!

My Travels – My sister Elizabeth has traveled all over the world, but she currently lives outside of Bangkok, Thailand. She teaches 4th grade at Global English School and currently has her hands full with 25 students who speak a range of English. She knows the best places for haircuts, massages and cheap clothing – I visited her for a few days this spring, and we had a blast!

So, there you go. My favorite “friends and family” blogs.


Welcome – thanks for hopping over from my old site! Don’t forget to change your RSS feed or reader to the new address – Thanks for your patience while I work out any last minute kinks with the design of the new site.


I’ve been on Yale’s campus this weekend at a global health and innovation conference. Although most of the sessions have been quite good, I am currently listening to professor from UCLA speak on “photonics based telemedicine technologies”. I have no idea what that means, and I don’t even understand the pictures on the PowerPoint so I thought I would show you a picture of the bell tower in campus.

Before I left Matt told me to say hey to Rory, but unfortunately I haven’t seen her yet – probably because tv characters don’t exit in real life, but I can always hold out hope, right?


Ducks and Coffee

Well, thanks to Stick Boy Bread Company, I actually got out of bed at 7:05 this morning. No, they didn't come knocking on my door, however they did lure me out of bed with promises of free coffee and cookies for their 9th anniversary! Right now I'm sitting at my desk, drinking the superb Larry's Beans coffee, Costa Rica style, that Stick Boy sells and eating an almond croissant. I was going to take a picture of the croissant, but I accidently ate it first. All of it. It is the most amazing thing they serve, except for the wedding cake they made for us. I want another one. It was so delicious. And it also had almond flavoring. I love almond flavoring.  

Ok, enough about almond flavoring. Its September 1st. What? Where did summer go? Even though the first day of fall isn't technically until September 22, in my mind the beginning of September marks fall. A few trees have started losing their leaves, the days are growing shorter, and the nights are growing cooler. In case you didn't know, I love fall (except for 2009 when I had to gear up for it.) I'm really looking forward to fall this year, but I can't figure out where summer went. Is it really already September 1st?! I want to go to the beach one more time, go camping at Grayson Highlands, plant more in the garden, and pick more blueberries! There just isn't enough summer!

Yesterday we decided to eat up as much summer and sunlight as we could, so we took a picnic dinner to Trout Lake. 

DSCN8775Don't you love this picnic basket? Thanks Suggs family for such a wonderful wedding gift!

DSCN8777I love seeing how the colors of green change throughout the spring and summer months. In the spring, everything is a bright, neon green, signaling new growth. At the end of summer, the leaves start turning a deep, dark green, as if the trees know to prepare for the upcoming winter. 

DSCN8783Matt surprised me with Camembert cheese – one of my favorites! 

DSCN8789The pesto, tomato and mozzarella paninis took no time to throw together, and combined with cheese and crackers and grapes, made for an excellent picnic meal. And it used up some fresh tomatoes – which are literally taking over our kitchen. And our back porch. And our freezer. And my sleep.

DSCN8778As soon as we arrived, the ducks came to greet us. I took hundreds of pictures of the ducks, as any good blogger would, but I promise to spare you most of them!

DSCN8782We spent about an hour and half watching the ducks. I love how they all have different colors and designs on their feathers.

DSCN8796Check out these two little love birds.

*Update – my husband just informed me that these are two female ducks. Hum.

DSCN8791I like to think we kind of resemble them.

DSCN8810Of course, we fed the ducks. I may or may not have purposefully saved some of my sandwich for them. I will say that they like mozzarella cheese.

DSCN8820_editAnd here is the most interesting observation of the evening – ducks have purple/blue-ish iridescent feathers under their wings! I don't know why – maybe to attract other ducks?

What are you doing to take in the last of the summer?

Dreams of an Address Label

I feel like I'm finally an adult, like I've finally grown up and become a viable person in the world.  Why, you ask?  Is it because I've been married almost a year?  Or because I've been at a full time job for almost 4 years?  Or because we're about to plant our second garden?  Or because we just bought our very first piece of furniture, a sofa?  

Nope.  Its because someone finally sent me these silly address labels!

DSCN7180I can remember growing up my dad would have sheets and sheets of address labels in his drawer – from St. Jude's Children's Hospital or some other notable charitable organization.  I was always so jealous that I didn't have any of those, and I couldn't figure out how to get someone to send them to me.  Sure, I could have easily ordered personalized address labels – they aren't even that expensive.  But I wanted the free ones.  The ones that most people consider junk and shred.  Oh man, I craved them!  

Finally, the day arrived.  I've acheieved one of my greatest dreams (dreams on par with making my own bread and organizing my office, not dreams on par with vaccinating all of the world's children), and I don't even know how it happened!  They just came in the mail from the Arbor Day Foundation. No, I haven't supported them before.  I haven't ordered anything from them.  I haven't even given them my address, from what I can remember.  But they came through for me.  Maybe I'll even send them a little money as a thank you for fulfilling one of my dreams. 

Now, I've only got 17 labels left.  I need another organization to step up … 

Bag Inventory

So this is random, but I thought it might give you a funny peek into my life.  I decided to give my purse a quick cleaning, and this is what I found:

  • 4 things of chapstick
  • bag of dried thyme
  • 4 knitting needles
  • bottle of agave nectar
  • 3 knitting needles
  • ez-roll garlic peeler
  • tube of toothpaste (no toothbrush though!)
  • sunglasses
  • brush
  • 5 hair clips
  • 4 starbursts
  • 3 reese cups
  • keys
  • computer cleaning cloth
  • 2 half-knit baby booties
  • 1 coffee mug
  • 1 glass container of half eaten homemade yogurt and granola

What random things do you have in your bag or wallet today?

44 Days in a Nutshell

Since I've been gone for so long I thought I would give you a brief photo update of things we've been doing the past few weeks.


I'm working on a new quilt made out of Ugandan kikoys, and I finally finished cutting everything out.  I'm hoping to start piecing everything together this week.  


We've been eating sweet potato everything, but my favorite is roasted sweet potatoes with fresh sage!

We bought an entire bushel of apples from a grower in Western North Carolina …

and because of that I made apple everything … pies, tarts, brownies, etc. 

We've started furniture shopping for a new leather sofa … I got sidetracked with this beautiful chair, but it was more than our entire sofa budget!  Maybe another time … 


Most of my free time the past few weeks has been spent knitting … and it has been so therapeutic.  This is a pair of fingerless mittens that I finished just in time for the first snow in the high country!  This is homemade almond biscotti I've been making and eating like crazy.  


Knitting with a latte …


and the finished product.  Don't you love these?!  (I know it looks like I only have three fingers but the fourth is hiding in the glove.)


We've been taking in the change in seasons …

and enjoying all sorts of fried food at the Woolly Worm Festival.


I live for funnel cake at fairs!


The garden finished and we harvested the last of the veggies!  Look how good our carrots look!

And probably the best thing about the fall, my new purse from Jogi Originals.  


Yes – it has been exactly 44 days since I've blogged.  44 days.  I'm admitting it, right here, up front, so that I can get on with a post.  I've got zillions of things that I've done in the last 44 days and lots of things that I want to share with you, but I just couldn't do it.  I'm not sure what happened – It had been 1 or 2 days since I'd posted … then all of a sudden it became a week and I thought, "Man, its been a week since I've blogged – I really need to, but thats a long time."  Then one week turned into an entire month, and I thought, "Just blog Ashley.  Just do it.  You've got tons of things to write about – what are you waiting for?!"  But I didn't.  Then a month turned into 44 days … and I decided I'm ready now.  I don't know what the deal was – maybe I just needed a break.  Maybe I just needed to experience fall before I could tell you about it.  Maybe I just needed to live my life a little bit.  I don't know, but here I am. 

And now I'm getting over it and starting back, and oh boy do I have things to share with you!  I've been knitting and cooking and quilting and state fairing and football gaming and re-orgainizing, and a thousand other things.  Check back later this afternoon and I'll have photos of some things we've been doing the past few weeks (or 44 days to be exact!) I can't put them up now, but I knew if I waited until the ambiquous "later" to put them up, it wouldn't happen and the 44 days would turn into 67 …