Friday, July 8, 2011


... I am glad to have put this poem up on my wall:

i am a little church(no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
-i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth's own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying)children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope,and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
-i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring,i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

by e.e. cummings (he's my fave!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Speaking of Canada pictures, I just found this one on my desktop, too. We were being the tilting head pugs. Dad could barely make it through one tilt without cracking up completely!

So funny. I love this picture.


Isn't this picture cute? It's from the Canada trip, courtesy of Dave or Holly, and it's definitely one of my favorites of all time.

Oh hi there.

Has it really been so long? Life has been a whirlwind in the last month or two. I've been traveling just about every weekend and all of these trips have been wonderful and (mostly) relaxing, great chances to catch up with friends old and new, and fun times to explore new country. In between those weekends away, life has been steady and yet hard, stressful, and discouraging. Stretching, one might say. It's that combination of glorious highs and wearying burdens that has kept me away, but on this hot July night I'm back to catch you up.

Dave and I flew to North Carolina to attend his great-grandmother's 100th birthday party. One hundred! Amazing, right? It was really fun to get to meet Grandma Dot (I have my own Grandma Dot already and now I have two!) and spend some time with Dave's family. We also went to the beach, which I told Dave, "is right out of books that I've read!" To which he replied, "You mean Nicholas Sparks books?" Zing. He could be right. Anyway, totally different than Hawaiian beaches, but still pretty great. On our way home, our flight got delayed for hours, but luckily the NBA finals were on, so we kept ourselves entertained.

Just because these were on my phone... food. I had basically zero time to grocery shop in June which made for some serious eating out. Latte art by Dave, Chicago's new Chick-fil-a (!!), Grahamwhich (soo good), and finally, just to prove that I don't only eat junk food, the salad bar at Whole Foods.

And finally, good and bad things that took place in June. Bad: We had lots of storms in Chicago and one particularly strong one knocked this tree over in my front yard. Also, Kate's car got broken into on my watch. Boo. Good: Lots of good dog-spotting. I managed to snap these two pugs without walking into any live intersections (points Ashley). And my first (and longest!) roomie, Kari, came to visit me in Chicago! She's been teaching in Senegal for the last year, so it was wonderful to see her.

So that's what's been going on. There was also a camping trip (including raccoons and waterfall hikes) where I got in touch with my Indiana roots, but I haven't nabbed those photos yet.

Pardon the absence. Life happened and I felt paralyzed by it. July will bring some more travel, a wedding, a move, and who knows what else...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I left my heart in the Pacific North West...

Okay, maybe it's exaggerating to say that I left my heart in the Pacific North West. But man oh man, did I love it up there! We spent three days in Seattle and three days in British Columbia on Vancouver Island (with two days of traveling in between there).

It was pretty much the most perfect weather with gorgeous views of downtown Seattle and Lake Union from our condo.

And then perfect weather in BC, too. I was awestruck by the Olympic Mountains off in the distance, across the Juan de Fuca Strait. Yep, we were lucky enough to stay RIGHT on the ocean with that as our view. I stared at it a lot.

A highlight of our time in Seattle was our Pike Place Market food tour. Could there be something better than learning about the history of a new place while sampling food all along the way? I think not. Plus, we started with donuts. STARTED WITH DONUTS. You know it's going to be a good afternoon when you eat dessert first.

While on Vancouver Island we visited Butchart Gardens to see their amazing gardens. (Family photos were a stop on the tour.)

I also enjoyed strolling around downtown Victoria, which was super colonial and cute.

While on the West Coast we traveled twice by ferry and both were fun trips. A combination of a great view and a great place to play cards is hard to beat, right?

I can't wait to go back to Washington State and BC, because there is so much more to see! I hear the city of Vancouver is really cool, so hopefully that will be a future stop on my world tours.

P.S. It's wicked hot in Chicago. I've got the fans on full blast and I'm hoping to sleep better than last night...

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Oh wow, it's been two weeks since I last posted?! I'm currently sitting in my room watching the lightning crack, the thunder roll, and the rain come down... and hoping it stops soon because I have a flight to catch! I'm off to the Pacific Northwest this week for some much needed vacation with my family! I cannot wait.

I'll be back with photos and stories of our adventures, but in the meantime, here's what's been going on lately...

There have been some weekend coffee dates.

Kate and I ventured out to Michigan Ave for a movie and it was a gorgeous day!

Hyde Park turned green and leafy!

Work has been really busy, as is evidenced by my overflowing inbox.

I almost walked into traffic in my efforts to snap this photo of a shiba inu.

I designed this cover and was thrilled to receive the printed book! (The cover was even more awesome before the author rejected it, for the record.)

Kate, Melissa, Dave, and I took in a Chicago Fire soccer game. We had a great view!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dispatches from the kitchen

Two things.

First of all, Ashley and I made this asparagus, goat cheese, and lemon pasta for dinner a few weeks ago and it was amazing. Amazing! And really simple, too. The hardest part is really just having all the right ingredients available. You should try it out.

Second, that same night I decided to make another loaf of beer bread since it was so easy and I still had some beer leftover. So I got busy mixing away and consequently mixed up the instructions. The recipe calls for 1 tsp salt and somehow, in classic Ashley fashion, I got it confused and added TWO TABLESPOONS of SALT to my flour and sugar mix. OOPS. I've been informed that that is six times too much salt. Oops x 6. So I quickly scooped out as much as I could and hoped for the best. It turned out to be pretty salty, but still enjoyable. Whew.

Out of town-ing: Michigan

Giant rolls of paper to be made into books!
Last week I went on my first business trip to visit one of our book printers! I'll admit it, I'm a big nerd. We got tours of the printing presses, the folders, the gathering machines, the binders, the stampers... it was really cool. I took so many pictures and asked my fair share of questions. It was fascinating to see how much work goes into the actual printing of a book--work done both by machine and by people.

The color mixing room.

Books go by on the belt after having the covers applied.

It was so cool. Yep, I'm a nerd.

Out of town-ing: South Carolina

I've spent about half of the last 10 days out of town, for both business and pleasure. So let's catch up, shall we?

First up: pleasure. I went home with Dave to spend a weekend with his family...

Remember how Dave and I take a photo on the bridge in downtown Greenville whenever we're in town? Here's the newest shot for that album.

Doesn't everything look green and beautiful?

And check out this tree that has had its roots exposed over the years. Cool view, huh?

The reason we picked the weekend we did was that Dave's little sister was doing an end of the year reading for one of her creative writing classes. I was really impressed with her, and her classmates', work.

A highlight of the weekend was spending a few hours outside playing putt putt. I did terribly, awfully. However, I got a hole in one towards the end and it definitely lifted my spirits! I did a little happy dance. (Okay, it might have been a big happy dance.)

I'd also like to note that I got a sunburn one day. I guess it's been a long time since my skin has seen the sunshine?

It was a wonderful weekend and I was sad that it had to end and work had to begin again on Monday! Isn't that the story of most vacations, though?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I'm inspired...

I saw this video pep talk by Ira Glass today and was thoroughly inspired. Inspired enough to listen to it several times through. This was so good for me to hear right now:

"It takes a while, it’s gonna take you a while, it’s normal to take a while and you just have to fight your way through that. OK? You will be fierce, you will be a warrior and you will make things that aren’t as good as you know in your heart you want them to be, and you’ll just make one after another…"

I'm going to repeat that to myself over and over, even in -- especially in -- the midst of feeling inadequate and impatient with the work I'm producing.

[via the donut project]

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sunshine? Yes please.

Forecast for this weekend in South Carolina? Perfect. So excited to go on a mini vacation!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Half Acre Brewery

 Our very own Lee is a dedicated worker at Half Acre Brewery here in Chicago, and tonight he gave us a tour of the place!

We were celebrating the beautiful weather and weekend at a burger place right next door to the brewery when Lee offered to show us around. So we jumped at the opportunity.


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dispatch from the Kitchen

I made a loaf of bread today! Beer bread. It was delicious and really easy because there was no waiting for it to rise or anything. You should go make some. I used Bells Oberon for my beer, but I think you can use any kind you like. We used it to make amazing grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. I'll definitely be making this again!

(The recipe for the bread and the sandwiches is on this page.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Groundbreaking new obsession...

picture from here
Great Danes! If they didn't grow to be almost twice my size, I would really want one of these buggers. They're just so loopy and zany looking.

I saw an adorable dog out on a walk tonight with huge paws. I thought it was a full grown Dalmation but when I got closer, I realized it was in fact a Great Dane PUPPY.

So of course I've been looking up pictures of the dogs (and Dave has been contributing some video research). I bring you my favorite video...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Birthday Week, pt. III

We're going to have to skip part II since I don't yet have the pictures. I have to get them from a few people...

On the day of my birth, April 21, I awoke to sunshine. Sunshine! (It had been, and continued to, rain all week. All. week.) I got some fun presents from my roommates, including a cast iron griddle that will take my pancakes up a notch. (I used it on Saturday and it was definitely an improvement! Not to mention I felt super official.) My parents had sent me a birthday package so I ripped it open (in 5 year old style... I can't help it! I love birthdays!) and found a gorgeous new blouse. Birthday outfit, donned.

After work I had planned to take the bus to Dave's house where we would have dinner together. As I walked out the door and started walking to the bus stop, I saw from behind a person sitting on a bench. I thought to myself, "The back of that person's head doesn't look like anyone I normally see here." And then, "That person's jacket looks a lot like Dave's jacket." And then, "Omigosh! It's Dave!" He surprised me and came to pick me up from work! (This is one of my highest luxuries. As a takes-public-transportation-everywhere person, getting a ride ranks up there with a bubble bath or a chocolate dessert. Seriously.)
Dave -- surprise in Hyde Park!

We made stir-fry for dinner (my favorite) and watched 30 Rock (my favorite!) and ate strawberry shortcake (my favorite!).
Vanilla Bean macaroons -- this one was my favorite

He gave me some fabulous gifts as well. A lovely bag from a vintage shop in Chicago (I've been on the bag hunt for a while!), macaroons (I've been itching to try them for months), an awesome ceramic travel mug (such bright colors!), and a bouquet of flowers that are brightening up a dreary last few weeks of April.

Modeling three of my birthday gifts -- blouse, bag, bouquet
It was a lovely birthday and I'm so thankful to my friends and family, near and far, for how special and loved they made me feel. I've got long thank you notes coming to all of you!

At work on Friday, feeling very colorful

Birthday Week, pt. I

Birthday week was so awesome that it's going to encompass several posts. I'm pretty lucky to get so much celebrating, no?

Tuesday evening, Paige took me to dinner to celebrate my birthday! She's currently on a week long adventure in North Dakota, so we celebrated early at Socca* in Lakeview.

It was a stormy evening and the lake looked particularly dreary and eerie. But it's okay, because we had wine and frites and Italian food to warm our bellies.

I got a goat cheese and roasted peppers pizzette and it was one of the most amazing things I've ever tasted. I am definitely going back!

We had a grand time, even running through the rain to get home. I'm so blessed to have a friend like Paige! 

(Paige, I miss you; come back from the frozen North!)

*Can I just say that I find it terribly annoying when websites play music? I do. Beware, this one blasts music at you.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


My roommates abandoned me this weekend... *tear* So I had to entertain myself without them. [Love you guys! You too, Kate, even though you don't read blogs.]

Dave and I had a lazy, rainy Saturday. (Remember how I said it was 80 degrees last weekend? We're back down to 30s-40s and raining! Sigh.) I made my famous pancakes, we played cribbage (I CAME BACK FROM BEHIND AND WON! I'm attempting to rub it in, but Dave doesn't read blogs either... too bad.), took naps, made some delicious white pizza, and wished for summer by eating some neighborhood ice cream.

I also played with my iPhone. I love this photobooth app!

Thankfully my roomies all returned from near and far today and we're having a movie night.

Happy Palm Sunday!

P.S. I'm writing this from my new computer! And it's starting to look like spring!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


On Sunday, Chicago was given the gift of SUN and WARMTH and BLUE SKY. Can you tell from all those caps that we had long been awaiting a day like that? Oh we had been waiting for weeks, months maybe. And the day didn't disappoint. It was in the 80s and glorious. I didn't know Chicago was home to so many babies and dogs! The beaches and the streets were alive with people all enjoying what was the first glorious summer day -- a summer day oddly in the beginning of April?

I spent as much time outside as possible: running, antiquing, walking instead of riding the train, and grilling for dinner. It was fabulous, fabulous!

And I found a vintage Hawaii-United Airlines sign!

We're back down to the 50s now, but oh Sunday.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Today I ran 3 miles.

It's more than I've run in several years. I ran 'em outside. And I'm really proud of myself. So I took a photobooth strip to celebrate.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spring! Flowers!

I'm going to start buying fresh cut flowers more often.

Snow Ice

Last night Dave and I went on a date to commemorate our first date three years ago (see the post below). We went to this small Italian restaurant (since we went to an Italian restaurant on the first date) and it was tasty -- and kind of odd because we were the ONLY ones in there. It was Wednesday evening, so I guess that's not a very busy night...

For dessert we ventured to Cloud 9 in Lakeview. They specialize in Taiwanese "snow ice" which is the closest thing in Chicago to shave ice. It's fluffier than Hawaiian stuff and made with real pureed fruit rather than syrup. Imagine eating frozen cotton candy and you're probably getting the right picture. It was definitely no Island Snow, but I'll take what I can get here! I got the mango and Dave got green tea. We both got sweeetened condensed milk drizzled on top. In Hawaii we call that a snowcap. And it's delicious no matter where you are.

Snow ice. It's going to be the big summer thing.