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September 2010

I SWEAR I TAKE PICTURES WITH THINGS OTHER THAN MY IPHONE

So, I looked at my highly neglected digital camera the other day and realized HOLY HELL I have a million pictures on that bad boy. Events and vacations I'd forgotten I'd taken. It took me hours to upload, edit, and sort the bitches, and now, I share them with you. My favorite people EVER. 

 

 

Family Vacation to Couer d'Allen, ID

Hayden Lake
Hayden Lake 1
Hayden Lake 2

Little Sister Visits Olympia

Emmaly's Visit
Emmaly Visits Olympia

6am Fishing on Offut Lake, WA

6am Fishing
6am Fishing


Dave Mathews Band at the Gorge

Dave @ the Gorge

Dave @ the Gorge1
Dave @ the Gorge2

White Water Rafting Maupin, OR

Imperial River Rafting Co.
Imperial River Rafting Co.1
Imperial River Rafting Co.2

Imperial River Rafting Co.3

Glad we took care of that.

I feel much better.


PROOF THAT READING BLOGS IS GOOD FOR YOU


I read a lot of blogs.

This is what happens when you blog yourself. You amass all these other bloggy friends that read your work, and you read them, and before you know it there is a huge chunk of people that you know all sorts of personal information about that you've never even met.

One of the things I like about all these online stranger-friends is that they tell me things I might like.

You should buy this!

You should read this!

You should watch this!

And I cry back, "OK blog best friends!"

Because even though I work in marketing, I'm really gullible and do whatever people tell me.

I mean, I have Geico car insurance, because they have the best commercials.

I know, it's sad really.

I just really love that little gecko.



So this weekend some of my bloggy suggestions really paid off. And now I'd like to further influence you via the strangeness that is taking suggestions from people you trust, yet have never and and most likely will never meet.


Firstly, stop what you are doing, go to the nearest Trader Joe's, and buy the chocolate croissants found in the desert section.

Holly of Nothing But Bonfires suggested these beauties a while ago, and I finally took her up on her suggestion. Of course, as I was serving these DELICIOUS, crumbly, fantastic tasting morsels to my guest Saturday morning I had to do the uncomfortable thing where someone who blogs explains to people who don't blog that I bought these croissants because someone I blog stalk told me to, I mean no she didn't actually directly tell ME to buy them, but she wrote this post about how good they were, so I saw them at the store and thought we'd try them, and please stop looking at me like that. Here! Eat something tasty!

I tend to approach those situations exactly in that fashion. Talk fast, mumble a lot, and quickly hand my highly confused amigo an item of food or beverage to distract them.

Works like a charm.




The second blogger recommendation I took and now pass to you is I went and saw The Town on Sunday. I read suggestions from Laurie of Crazy Aunt Purl AND New Teacher {Finally} New Wife so I knew I was in for a good time. PLUS, Ben was looking fantastic in the previews, and Adam also read a review from some geeky movie review blog that it was a fantastic movie, so coupled with all that blog love PLUS hottie Ben McTastyness, I was in.

Thankfully the internet and my crush on Ben all delivered.

People, see that movie.

If you like action, and bank robbing, with a little love story thrown in, but not all predictable and corny, plus you also enjoy looking at Ben do pull ups then this is the movie for you.

I never pay to see movies, because wow that's expensive, and I can never get comfortable in those damn seats no matter how tricked out the theater is, and I'm always worried I'm going to kick the seat in front of me, plus crossing my legs for two hours or more always makes my knees hurt for some reason, but The Town was worth it.

I left wanting to finally find a way to be with my love Ben, felt a strong desire to go on a vacation to Boston, and thought I might have a calling as a bank robber or member of a crime family. All options will do.




See, the internet is not simply a tool to help you waste an afternoon.

It changes lives and helps you realize your dreams.

Like how you'd be a kick ass bank robber and really should be with Ben Affleck.

FALL, FALLING, FALLEN


Fall used to inspire and excite me.

Fall was the start of something new.

A new school year.

New shoes.

Crisp new paper, an unscuffed binder, unused pens by the fist fulls.

A new jacket.

New classmates.

Interesting and unknown teachers.

Exciting challenges.

A new routine.

At 18 I became a resident of Seattle, and immediately proclaimed that fall was my favorite season. Ever. As the years progressed, fall was the return to normalcy. A chance to downgrade to part time employment and forget the hells of 40+ hour summer work weeks, to see friends absent all summer, to walk along the university grounds and marvel as the leaves turned a blinding red and abnormally colored rain boots adorned the feet of the students around me.

Fall was college football in the student section.

Pizza after a game. A beer or 12 with friends.

Nowhere to be except back in our books, and that could wait.

rainboots

Now, the only thing that changes is the weather.

Crystal clear days marked by a crispness to the air still excite me, intrigue and inspire the Southern Californian who knew only summer, summer, summer, and two weeks of rain.

But it's not the same.

Photo 2

What if every fall you changed your life?

Moved.

Changed careers.

Started all new hobbies.

Redecorated.

Would it come close to bringing back the feeling of magic I once felt every fall? Instead of feeling these crippling, hostage taking winter blues creeping in, would I instead be filled with hope?
  Photo 3


I guess in the meantime I'll just snap more pictures of the changing leaves and pretend something new is just around the bend.

Photo 4

Who knows. Maybe there is.





Ashley, the Accidental Olympian

VACATION RENTALS

It was a simple idea really.

Spend the upcoming very short Christmas weekend with Adam, his parents, and our three dogs on the Oregon coast. 

Being the anal retentive planner that I am, I was quickly crowned, 'house hunter' and began my quest to find us the most perfect beach house Cannon Beach, OR had to offer.

I very quickly had a realization that went a little something like this.

WHAT THE FUCK THIS IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE SELECTION OF PROPERTY RENTAL HOMES I HAVE EVER COME ACROSS IN MY ENTIRE LIFE DOES CANNON BEACH EVEN REALIZE THAT CHRISTMAS WEEKEND ON THE OREGON COAST MEANS RAIN RAIN AND MORE RAIN CAN THEY COMPREHEND THAT THEIR HOUSE IS 12 SQUARE FEET AND THAT CHARGING 4000 A WEEK SHOULD PROBABLY GET THEM SUED FOR FRAUDULENT ADVERTISING?

Or something.

Not willing to give up, I offered a change of location to the group, preferably one that wasn't 400 dollars a night for a shack 12 blocks away from the beach.

Long Beach, WA it was.

I found some delightful homes. On the beach, hot tubs, reasonably priced, and actually well decorated so that when the weekend was over we wouldn't have our retinas burnt off from all the shitty decorating choices.

No seriously, why are the people who rent out their second home SO FUCKING BAD AT DECORATING? You have the money to own a second home, on the beach no less, and you can't take the time to fill it with something other than disgusting doilies and so much floral print I have a seizure sitting in your living room for more than 20 minutes?

/rant


AND as you probably guessed, turned out that even though the site said the house was available, turned out in a dramatic twist, they were booked.

FANTASTIC.

Try again.

Another house.

Equally lovely.

They ask about the dogs, even though their property is listed as 'pet friendly' on the site.

I try to be honest. Listing the sizes and breeds like they asked, being sure to let them know the puppy is crate trained and passed obedience training with flying colors. I make a joke about the oldest dog being fond of napping and burrito snatching because I can't think of another way to calm their fears that I am bringing 3 crazy couch eating monsters into their vacation rental.

I shouldn't be surprised when all I get is, radio silence.

So I look for more homes. New areas, smaller towns, different locations, checking over and over to see if there is some clue that with each new listing 'pet friendly' actually means 'only pet friendly if your dog is a teacup chihuahua'.



I want so badly to punch each and every one of the irresponsible dog owners of the world who have completely destroyed this process for me. All the fuck tards who rented a house that was listed as 'pet friendly' and then let their dog pee on the carpet, the ones who brought a wet dog in the rental and let it shake all over the living room and sleep on the couch, and more than anything I want to donkey punch each person who left their maniac mutt alone in the house for hours on end and returned to a chewed couch and didn't replace it.

Irresponsible dog owners, you fucking suck and you are destroying my Christmas.

Shitty dog owners of the world, if you ruin my Christmas weekend by making me either A. finally agree to rent a double wide trailer 400 blocks from the beach JUST so we can bring the dogs, or B. force me to end up caving and sending Oly to the boarders over Christmas just so I can have my beach front Christmas weekend I am coming after every last one of you.

You've been warned.



Ashley, the Accidental Olympian


CHOCOLATE, CHOCOLATE CHIP ZUCCHINI BREAD

This year my garden has given me many things. 700 foot tall sunflowers, beautiful basil, green onions, delicious cauliflower, and more zucchini than I know what to do with. I was a tad out of my mind when I planned my garden, and I thought it would be no big deal to have FOUR zucchini plants. Two in the garden, and two outside in a planter.

Why I thought I needed four plants is still a mystery.

But here we are in late September, three plants pulled up and one still producing, and I am STILL drowning in zucchini.

Thankfully there are a million and a half tasty recipes out there for zucchini beyond grilling, steaming and sautéing. Sites like Tasty Kitchen helped me take some monster zucchini off my hands and turn them into something even Adam, a self professed zuke hater, LOVES. 


Here is what we need to get started.

  • 3 whole Eggs
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil (or 1 Cup Applesauce)
  • 2 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla
  • 2 cups Shredded Zucchini (You Don\'t Have To Peel Them)
  • 2-½ cups All-purpose Flour
  • ½ cups Baking Cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • Handful Chocolate Chips Or Mini Chips

Photo

Once you assembled your items add the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla extract to a bowl.

Photo2

Then mix it up into a sugary mess, and add in your shredded zucchini (please forgive blurry iPhone images!).

Photo5

 Once you've got your wet ingredients mixed, add all your dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

Photo6

Now add the dry ingredients to the bowl with your wet ingredients. If you have a mixer, and you're like me and suffer from extreme chicken arm syndrome, I suggest you use it. Life is easier when you aren't straining against a mixing bowl. 

Once you've whipped your wet and dry ingredients together you get to add the best part.

Chocolate chips.

YUM. 

Recipe calls for a handful, but I think that is pathetic and lame, so I throw in probably 3/4 of a bag.

Stop judging me.

Photo7

Now that you've mixed all the goodies together fill two loaf pans with this tasty gloop and pop it in the oven at 350 for about an hour.

When it is all said and done you'll have a loaf of chocolate fantasticness.

Photo8
This bread can be enjoyed many ways. Cold = tasty. Heated in the microwave with Cool Whip/ice cream = Fucking party in my mouth.

I'm not going to tell you what to do, I'm just here to provide you with the facts.


Want the printable recipe? Check out the post on Tasty Kitchen.

Big thanks to Pioneer Woman for making me fat.

No seriously, there are FIVE loaves of this bread sitting on my stove top cooling right now. And let's not talk about the 6 or so loaves I've already baked over the last couple months. 

Someone save me from myself. 



Ashley, the Accidental Olympian


LOOK! IT'S FRIDAY! NO BRAIN! PRETTY THINGS!

Happy Friday.

Here's a game we're going to play today.

I'm going to show you a picture, and if you want to know the snappy/witty/FANTASTIC tag line that goes with it you can click the image and be taken to my new site Still Life, With Ashley.

If you don't want to know the captions, or look at the new site, that's ok! (Listen, I killed that waste of space, so if you click that link you'll be taken to a whole lot of NOTHING. Sorry, total buzz kill I know. But, the pictures are still here!) Maybe instead I can weird you out by showing you some seriously unrelated images that when shown in succession appear to make little to no sense.

Ready! OK!

Camping

Sunflower

Olyanteater

Scarf

Fish


Lovely. Thanks for playing along.

Can I go home now?




Ashley, the Accidental Olympian


CAPITALIZING ON LIFE


This past weekend Adam and I went white water rafting in Central OR. I'd jumped on a 50% off Groupon (if you don't already receive Groupon emails, then you need to sign up for that ASAP!) for a full day of white water rafting earlier in the summer, and last weekend was finally our chance to cash in our tickets.

The weekend was everything it was supposed to be. Camping, nights by the fire, a chance to meet up with an old friend, exhilarating white water rafting, cocktails in late afternoon sunlight sitting along the Deschutes, suntans, laughter, terrifying shrieks as the boat plunged into another rapid, waking to the sound of a babbling river, perfection.

Even more enjoyable though than the weekend itself was the realization Adam and I had while sitting next to the Deschutes, cocktail in hand, reflecting on our day on the water.



Our boat consisted of a guide, Adam and I, and five strangers. Three of which were entirely unmemorable, and two that will probably continue to stick with Adam and I for quite some time.

In our boat was a couple, I'm guessing in their late 60's, early 70's. When I first spotted them, I assumed they were the parents of the 20 something couple also in our boat. And I wont lie to you, I thought to myself, Great. A bunch of stodgy old people who are going to be all weird about getting wet.

The first go round of 8 miles the older couple sat in the very back. The dry spot in the raft and I couldn't help but think to myself, TYPICAL. Yes, I was falling back on good o'l ageism and being an asshole.

But then on our second go round, after we'd been loaded up in a school bus and our nearly toothless driver Dave dropped us off at our second put in in the river, the older couple said they wanted to sit in the front. The place Adam and I had just been sitting in that most closely resembles the Sea World splash zone. Freezing cold, most likely to be thrown out of the boat, thrill zone.

Adam and I exchanged glances.

Throughout the next five miles of river I was absolutely blown away. After each rapid, after each instance of being hit with a wall of FREEZING cold water, of being nearly thrown out of the boat on multiple occasions, both the woman and the man would look back at the rest of the boat, smiling from ear to ear, screaming, high fiving, and literally out of their minds loving every moment of the splash zone.

They were completely and totally alive.

Everything I had thought about them was a lie.

For the remainder of the trip they hooted and hollered, they whooped and screamed as our boat slammed into waves sideways and nearly filled our boat to the top with frigged water. They grabbed each others hands in celebration and paddled their hearts out. These people who I assumed would be more at home at a wine tasting, who came off as so out of their element in the first half were suddenly transformed.

They weren't with their younger adventurous kids. They weren't placating a crazy family member, they weren't trying something crazy and finding out they hated it. They were all in.




As Adam and I sat in our chairs looking at the river that night, sunburnt, tired, and still giddy with the day we kept going back to the couple. How happy they were, how exhilarated, how unusual and spontaneous, and how badly we wanted to be those people.

We made a pact to do more of these things. To spend less time worrying about the bills, and the house repairs, to be responsible, but to make more time for life. To remember that always saying, "next time, next summer, next weekend, next paycheck," means most times opportunities simply slip away.

This weekend was expensive. There's no denying it. But the memories we made, camping, rafting, relaxing was worth the fact that this week we're eating hot dogs for dinner and spending the weekend at home.
 

We could have sat at home last weekend. Spent very little money, watched tv, cleaned the house, walked the dog. But we would have missed out on this.

Photo


And we never would have met the couple who opened our eyes and reminded us to take advantage of every single moment we have.

I will never forget the look of that woman's face. Recently hit with a wave of water that nearly knocked her out of the boat. Her husband has grabbed her arm at the last second, dragging her tiny little body back into the raft and she's landed in the bottom of the boat in a wet heap. She's literally drenched beyond an inch of her life and she's laughing so intoxicatingly loud. She looks back at the rest of the boat, overflowing with giggles with the worlds most brilliant smile, wide open, and before we know it we're all screaming and laughing with her.

I've never seen someone so completely and utterly energized in my entire life.




As someone who is a natural introvert, someone who sometimes feels completely captive by my anxiety and fear of change, it takes meeting someone like her to remind me how easily I am able to hinder my own life if I'm not careful. How in a moment I can allow my anxiety to literally steal experiences such as these away from me.

I wish more than anything in this world that I could tell her how much she's inspired me.



Ashley, the Accidental Olympian


SICKY SICK SICK


When Adam and I first started dating, and one of us got sick we were all, "Can I get you something dear? Let me make you soup. Here love, have a tissue." We were trying to show how sweet we could be to one another in a time of need, patting each other on the back, helping out, making things easier for the one who was suffering in an effort to show just how much we cared.

I like to think it is similar to those crazy animal mating dances you see on the Discovery Channel. In turning up the compassion meeter when the other person is sick you are showing your new interest that you are maternal, that you can care for them when they are hurting, and ultimately that you will not let your future children die in a fire or be eaten by badgers. 

Or something.




Now fast forward a few years.

Overnight it pretty much became fall in the Northwest (Hi rain. I didn't miss you.) and as usual, I'm sick. Nothing totally horrible, but enough to make me want to do nothing more than lay in bed and wonder what is wrong with those ladies on The Real Housewives of NJ.

No seriously. What is their deal?

That show is such a train-wreck I kind of don't want it to come back next season.




So Adam comes home yesterday and there I am, tea in hand, laying in bed, watching my tv.

I cough.

He winces.

I scrunch my eyes in confusion because, "What the hell? Does my coughing cause you pain?"

Then I get to hear about how I kept HIM up last night coughing and how he was THIS CLOSE to going and sleeping on the couch, and HOW DARE I continue to cough the entire time I was getting ready for work this morning. I should know better, SENSITIVE SALLY WAS TRYING TO SLEEP THROUGH HIS 14 ALARMS THAT GO OFF TWO HOURS BEFORE HE NEEDS TO BE AT WORK THAT I'VE MYSTERIOUSLY LEARNED TO SLEEP THROUGH BUT SUDDENLY HE COULDN'T'T SLEEP THROUGH LIKE USUAL BECAUSE I WAS COUGHING.

Of course my first reaction is to be angry.

Who the hell is this guy?

I'm SICK if you haven't noticed!



But then I remember how over the last couple years I've become the sort partner where when Adam gets the hiccups, a completely involuntary response, quite similar to say, a cough, I get absolutely livid and have been known to tell him to either hold his breath till that shit stops, or leave the room.

There is also a LOT of eye rolling on my part.

Because obviously he is doing this to make me mad.


We can only conclude that my compassionate maternal instinct demonstrated in the beginning of our relationship was also completely and totally, for show.

I hate it when it turns out we're both assholes.





Ashley, the Accidental Olympian


OLY DREAMING *UPDATED*

I want to be all, "Look what I did over Labor Day Weekend! I went to a huge, amazing concert, I bought a new bed and felt very grown up, I cleaned my house, I 'autumized' my garden, bla bla bla," but I wont.

Because even more exciting than the craziest, pseudo Woodstock concert of amazing, even better than buying the most awe inspiring bed in the history of beds, even more so than the fantabulousnes that is a three day weekend, I can't stop laughing about this movie.

My dog, is weird.

So damn weird.

Please note her tongue hanging out of her mouth. Oh, and also note how she punches herself in the face.



Exciting things, like my life besides watching my dog dream are quite possibly to come once my three day weekend freedom hangover wears off.


*UPDATED* Another reason why you shouldn't post with a buzz on, you'll look at your post the following afternoon and see a plethora of incorrectly spelled words. Damn you wine.


Ashley, the Accidental Olympian


BEWARE, CLICHÉ COMING THROUGH

I'm well aware that it's completely cliché to talk about how shocked you are in the beginning of a new month that yet another month has come and gone.

I get it, THIS IS A CLICHÉ REALIZATION I AM HAVING.

But I am incapable of stopping myself.

In the spirit of embracing my very pathetic realization, let's look at some pictures of my garden shall we? 

If I look at this pictures of sun, and blooming, and an abundance of life I can hopefully block out the fact that I've been wearing a rain jacket to work lately and I've had to resume my morning ritual with Oly where she refuses to go outside and do her business because GASP! there is water on the ground.

I mean, even though the tomatoes aren't ripening, I was extremely successful at growing mutant 12 foot sunflowers. Sunflowers so tall I am barely able to photograph them without balancing on one leg on the garden fence post while praying I don't get hit with a stiff wind and land on my strawberries.

Tall sunflowers
Sunflower closeup 

And for good measure, I'll even throw in a shot of my home grown dahlias. Next year, I'm planting 700 million of these beauties. I don't know where, but I'll find a spot.

dahlias


So tell me. Is it still summer where you are?

And if so.

Can I visit?



Ashley, the Accidental Olympian